On Jan. 31, 2000 Richmond.com ran the first version of this story, which later was edited slightly and appeared in SLANT's Dec., 2001 issue under the title: "The Case of Gus the Cat." Although Richmond.com has purged the story from its archives, Biff Downey, who owned the same Carytown bookstore Gus called home back in the 1980s, captured it and posted the original story on his web site (click here). The text below is a little preview:
"'The place has changed hands a few times since then,' Salins smugly offered. 'The problem is each owner falls in love with the cat and keeps it. But since Gus has become an institution in Carytown, each set of new owners has to find another cat that looks like Gus. The switch is made at night in order to preserve the secret. I've seen it.'
"Before I could say 'horsefeathers,' another member of the Carytown intelligentsia, who had just walked up, spoke: 'Salins, as usual you're all wet,' said artist Jay Bohannan forcefully. 'That is not only the same cat, but Gus is, let's see, yes, he's nearly 70. That particular cat is probably the oldest cat this side of the island of Lamu.'"