Big Bob is the largest of the five cats that have lived with me for
the past ten years. I can count on one hand the number of times in those
ten years that Bob has failed to greet me as I literally slid off the
seat of my pickup truck, my arms usually filled with my purse, planner
and other paraphernalia. He was there on this particular Tuesday
evening, but the moment I saw him I knew something was wrong. Instead of
coming at a slow walk, or even his anxious ground eating trot, he came
at a dead run. He's never been a vocal cat but when he reached me he
began to "talk" in addition to his usual greeting ritual which consisted
of rubbing against my shins a few moments before throwing himself down
on the ground and wrapping his paws around my ankles. I set my things
down on the hood of the truck to free my hands then bent down to give
him a reassuring pat before the rest of the family surrounded me
demanding equal attention.
Bob's Mother, his two sisters and
nearly identical brother were milling around us within moments, and Bob
leapt to his feet to race toward the house in irritation. Halfway there
he suddenly stopped and washed an imaginary stain from his front paw
before glancing back to see if I was coming. I gave everyone a quick
pat, retrieved my belongings and followed in Bob's footsteps. He
continued on toward the house, his tail swishing angrily from side to
side, letting me know I was taking entirely too long to catch up.
A dozen images
flashed through my mind as I approached the house; had Amber brought in
another tree frog and let it go in the kitchen. Maybe a breeze from the
open windows had blown a door shut preventing access to the kitchen from
their private kitty door located in one of the windows of my bedroom.
Maybe Spidey had started collecting mice again, stockpiling them alive
and well in my bathtub. Could Bobby have "lost" another snake under the
couch and needed me to pull it away from the wall for him.
managed to get the door unlocked despite the distraction of milling cats
about my feet and balancing my belongings with one hand. I quickly
glanced around but found no foreign bodies strewn about the floor, much
to my relief. I dropped my things onto the counter and automatically
opened a cabinet door and pulled out a can of cat food. I popped the lid
and tapped the contents out onto their plate. Everyone gathered around
trying to grab up the choice bits before they magically disappeared,
that is all, except Bob. He was sitting in the middle of the floor
looking up at me expectantly. This was serious.
"I've got to
change clothes and feed the horses," I told him as I walked down the
hall to the bedroom, still keeping one eye on the floor for anything out
of the ordinary. He ran ahead of me and jumped up on the bed to wait,
his eyes wide, alert, never leaving my face. At that moment, the phone
rang and I hurried to the living room to pick up the call before the
answering machine clicked on.
It was the air conditioner
repairman, he had come by, a day early on the off chance that he might
catch me at home. He told me, he had a tale to tell. He'd brought his
dog along for the drive, an Australian Shepard. Instructing the dog to
stay outside the yard fence, he closed the gate and walked up on to the
porch to knock on the door. However, he'd failed to secure the gate and
my own dogs managed to push it open. Out they went to play with the new
stranger. In all their excitement… the new dog and one of the girls,
(from his description, I'm sure it was Spidey) caught sight of each
other. Spidey turned and ran and the dog took chase. Fortunately for
Spidey, the dog never made it, Bob intercepted the dog, smacking it
repeatedly in the face while spitting and hissing like a cat possessed.
The dog let out a yelp and ran for his owners' truck, jumping up in the
back where he believed he would be safe.
Mr. Dowdy said he just
called to tell me, "That big yella cat was sure mad." He made
arrangements to come back the following day but said, "I think I'll
leave, Tiger at home." After hanging up, I went back to the bedroom and
sitting beside Bob, let him tell me about how the big evil dog tried to
get Spidey. I pet him for a long time, until he seemed content that he'd
conveyed how anxious he'd been.
I changed my clothes and tried
to coax him off the bed to come with me. He just looked at me through
barely open eyes and remained resting in the bed. I was home to look
after things now, he was off the clock.