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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Early Morning Visitor

I’m sitting on the living room couch this morning, editing… editing… editing on my notebook computer, and I catch a glimpse of something in my peripheral vision to the right. Figuring it’s one of our two old cats coming in from the backyard through the propped open screen door, I return to my fabulous writing task. Then, low and behold, here comes our fat cat, Taco Bell. You’ve heard the old commercial about make a run for the border for Taco Bell food, right? Well, I named this calico cat Taco Bell, because running after food is the only thing this cat has ever run for in the thirteen years she’s been around. Taco doesn’t run much anymore. Her speedy treks resemble a waddle more than a run, due to the many runs she’s made over the years for her food dish.

So, Taco ambles past the couch edge as if she’s hunting something, fat fury body low to the floor, and I start getting a bad feeling. We have the TV set up on a low corner glass stand with shelves. Fatso can’t get under the shelf, and as this event plays out, she wouldn’t want to anyway. She may be curious; but when you look up the term ‘Fraidy Cat anywhere, they have a picture of our Taco Bell illustrating it. I set aside the notebook computer, and walk over to the TV stand, where Taco has taken up a position at the stand’s left corner while peering underneath. I hear then what sounds like a combination hiss and hum, and Taco Bell nearly has a seizure. She smacks her head on the glass shelf, popping up from her peering position, and streaks out of the living room leaving a fat vapor trail.

I go get my gloves, flashlight and a broom, having deduced who my visitor is, but I want to make sure it’s not a skunk instead. I begin kneeling down, thinking maybe I should pop a couple Advil before getting started on this task. After spending last night out cleaning our rain gutters for a couple hours before the scheduled first rain of the season, some of my movable parts haven’t woke up all the way yet. Screw it… man up… I get down and take over Taco’s previous position. Yep, I turn on the flash light, and there’s the beady eyes, long snout, and mouth full of inadequate teeth: a very young possum. We have a lot of possums around our neighborhood, along with skunks. The smell of cats on the property keeps the skunks away, but doesn’t seem to bother the possums.

I use the broomstick with practiced ease to scoot Pauley Possum out from under my TV stand, with Pauley bravely showing me his fangs, and hissing threats. He immediately plays dead once I have him out in the open. It’s still not light outside. I get up at five, even on Saturdays, much to my wife’s constant ridicule. Since she has trouble staying up past nine most nights, and I stay up until around eleven, I even up the score by taunting her nocturnal habits. Scooping up Pauley, I consider taking him in to visit my wife; but my survival instinct kicks in, and I take Pauley out to the fence and shoo him into motion along the top.

Inside the house, our other cat, Bonnie, who has a couple years on Taco Bell has come in from the garage. Bonnie looks like the scraggly cat they tied dynamite to in ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, that shows up alive and kickin’ at the end of the movie. She’s the huntress. Over the years, Bonnie has taken on every beast, flying, scooting, or crawling anywhere around our house. Catching a whiff of Pauley, Bonnie spends the next five minutes inside the house, humming a low pitched snarl of discontent while tracking Pauley’s scent. She then runs out to the back fence and stares longingly upwards as she paces back and forth. Luckily for Pauley, Bonnie’s days of hopping up on the back fence are over. She calls off the hunt and follows me back inside, vocalizing her annoyance with what I can only describe as ‘ka kowwwwww’ repeated over and over until I refill the food dishes. The sound of the food dish brings Taco out from cover, and all is right again with the world. Even better, I get to write something instead of editing. :)


Charles Gramlich said...

Ahh, the modern cat. Hunting instincts surge to the fore, until the sound of food in the dish reminds them that they are semi-civilized.

BernardL said...

They certainly have an instinct for easy meals, Charles. :)

Jordan Summers said...

We had an opossum in our house when I lived by a lake. It took a broom and a LOT of wrangling to get that thing out from underneath the mattress where it had crawled.

I can hear the unhappy cats now. *ggg*

BernardL said...

I wish I had a buck for every possum I've shooed away along the top of my fence, Jordan. :)

raine said...

I currently have a mouse hiding out in my house.
I have a deathly, if unreasonable, fear of mice. I am not happy right now.
I also have three cats.
If you're a mouse, how shtoopid do you have to be to move into a house with three cats?!

Scooping up Pauley, I consider taking him in to visit my wife;

How could you even THINK of such a thing, lol!

BernardL said...

Get a mouse trap, Raine. It works every time. :)

'How could you even THINK of such a thing, lol!'

After three decades of marriage, I confess to being too inventive sometimes in my pursuit of entertainment. My conscience and self preservation have kept me from crossing the line into danger. :)

Miladysa said...

A most enjoyable post :-D

I have never seen a possum except on Ice Age II [I think]. How luck you are :-D

Really pleased that you rescued the little mite before Bonnie introduced herself.

BernardL said...

Thank you, Miladysa, Bonnie in younger days would never have allowed Pauley to get off the fence, let alone run in the house. :)

Barbara Martin said...

Wow, a true life adventure with Bernard; but a cute one. Cats are interesting creatures.

But, what would have happened had you taken in Pauly Possum to see your wife? You're not living dangerously enough.

BernardL said...

"But, what would have happened had you taken in Pauly Possum to see your wife? You're not living dangerously enough."

Since she was still sleeping, Barbara, it would have probably meant a lot of screaming, followed by retribution. :)

Virginia Lady said...

Well, at least your cats have some clue what to do with the furry rodents they encounter. Mine's so stupid if she catches anything, nine times out of ten her prey gets away while she plays with it, and in the odd tenth time when the small rodents can't recover, she leaves them where they fell. Puzzled as to why they stopped playing with her.

Fortunately, that also keeps the buggers outside. I get all creeped out about wild things in my house.

BernardL said...

I'm not too crazy about the wild kingdom inside my house either, VL. I have to find the story I did on the rat hunt we had at my house after my neighbor had his blackberry bushes taken out a few years back. :)

Vesper said...

What a cute story, Bernard! You have adorable old cats. I'm glad Pauley was all right... :-)

BernardL said...

Our cats miss my old dog. He used to break up all their fights, and walk back and forth while they batted at his tail. Now they have to rely on food and varmints for entertainment. :) Thanks, Vesper.

Beth said...

That's a great story, Bernard. As someone who regularly sees raccoons walk right by the back door and look in, skunks checking out what's under the bird feeder, and foxes and coyotes in the park, I can relate. Though I've never seen a possum close up.

BernardL said...

Thanks Beth. We don't get any coyotes or foxes running around here. I heard they can be pretty hard on domestic cats. :)