PET SPOTLIGHT: CHRIS F. HOLM AND BINKLEY

binkleygrumpy I had no idea what I was in for when I picked out Binkley. Or, for that matter, when I named her.

She caught my eye some thirteen years ago, a tiger-striped little curlicue of gray and black sleeping on the topmost rung of a carpeted play structure in the kitten room of the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA. At the time, it was her tiny paws, her enormous ears, and her pale chin angled skyward that grabbed my attention. What I should have noticed was the fact that this adorable ball of fur small enough to fit into a teacup had somehow made it to the very top of a six-foot play structure.

This was the first of many strategic errors.

As for her name, I had it picked out long before I met her. She’s named after Michael Binkley of Bloom County fame. I thought it was cute. Only later as she, starved for affection while we slumbered, began to wake us up at night — yowling, scratching at the walls, even learning to pop open our medicine cabinet so that she could knock its contents into the sink — did I stop to reflect upon the moniker with which I’d saddled her. Michael Binkley, after all, spent many a night in his father’s room, prattling on about his myriad anxieties while his poor old man tried in vain to get some sleep.

We thought she’d grow out of it.

She never did.

binkleybellySeveral times a night, I’m awoken by affectionate headbutts from a rumbling ball of fur. I shouldn’t complain. My wife, Katrina, has it worse than me. See, Binkley’s realized that when Katrina sleeps on her side, she creates a perfect Binkley-blanket-fort (my side-sleeping-blanket-fort is apparently too spacious). But, much as Binkley loves climbing under the covers, she can’t stay in for more than a few minutes before she gets too warm. As a consequence, Binkley bugs Katrina to let her into — and then back out of — bed all night long.

That makes her kinda sound like a pain in the ass, doesn’t it? That’s fair, I guess; she is. She’s also the sweetest, most affectionate animal I’ve ever had, and I’ve had plenty. (Loads of cats; a few fish; a dog named Sherlock; rabbits, briefly; a Mallard duck.) She meows up a storm though the door every time we come home until we finally unlock it, and then follows us around as we draw curtains and turn on lights. She thinks every time you walk past the stairs, it’s because you want to nuzzle her (there’s a spot at which, poking her head out through the balusters, she’s right at smooching height.) She likes oatmeal like some folks like heroin; you haven’t lived until you’ve seen the lengths she’ll go to for a taste. She’s kinda clumsy, as cats go, and she’s developed a funny habit of apologizing to the inanimate objects she bumps into and/or falls off of (with, yes, more nuzzling.) And she’s been passed-out on my lap for darn near every word of fiction I’ve ever written.

I keep telling her, her job’s to set the record for cat longevity; I’ll happily give up another thirteen years of sleep, if it means thirteen more years of headbutts from that tiny purring hooligan…

binkleykneadingChris
Chris F. Holm was born in Syracuse, New York, the grandson of a cop who passed along his passion for crime fiction. His work has appeared in such publications as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, and THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011. He’s been an Anthony Award nominee, a Derringer Award finalist, and a Spinetingler Award winner. His Collector novels, published by Angry Robot books, recast the battle between heaven and hell as Golden Era crime pulp. He lives on the coast of Maine with his lovely wife and a noisy, noisy cat.