The cat that looks like James Hetfield usually patrols around the tiny ramen shop by the shrine in the morning. On some days, the restaurant’s sliding door is open and he can be seen sitting inside, presumably conferring with the proprietors on some matter of importance.
One suspects his duties are taxing. By the time the afternoon arrives, he is always exhausted and can be found curled in a tight ball in the dry leaves under a nearby zelkova.
A calico and a tortoiseshell oversee the nearby park, while an immense gray tabby monitors a parking lot behind a city office. A deceptively small black cat with a long coat often stations herself near the door of a cafe, where she is able to keep an eye on the patrons and receive periodic rewards in the form of physical affection.
Everywhere you go, there they are. Cats traversing rooftops and cats threading the narrow spaces between buildings. Cats grooming themselves underneath parked cars and cats sunning themselves amongst the weeds in vacant lots. When faced with humans, they scrutinize and speculate with mild disapproval (though they will occasionally deign to be petted or accept a treat).
Even those that reside with us often seem to pass judgement as they look on, giving the impression of only just tolerating our presence.
While we go off to work on packed trains and struggle to earn the money necessary to pay for the lifestyles and homes that we have neither the time nor the energy to enjoy, they laze in patches of sun and live their lives as they wish, whether inside or out.
When they sneak off to their secret gatherings, they swig from tankards of ale and make light of our follies. What fools we seem to them, acting like we’re in charge. They know we’re middle management, at best, even as we pretend to be the bosses of our lives.