Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Cat Who Wouldn't Back Down

It was a bright and cold Sunday morning, and I was up at six, as I always am.  I dressed, clerical collar shirt and dress pants, with thermals under the dress pants for the ride to church later in the morning.

I put the coffee on, and stepped out to get the morning paper.  It being Fall before the Fall-Back, the sky was dark and clear, with just a single bank of clouds off to the east catching the first low light of the unrisen sun.  The moon was still a bright sharp crescent, flanked by stars.

My first cup of coffee downed, I leashed up the dog, and off we went down the street for her morning walk.  It's good thinking time, good time for reflection and stillness.

We got half a block down the street, and there was the cat.  The cat sat in the middle of the sidewalk, right next to a huge pile of tree-trimmings a neighbor had set by the curb.  We closed, slowly, as my witless pup snuffed and noodled around, oblivious to the feline shadow resting dead ahead.  Closer and closer we came, and I dropped my pace to give the cat time to bail.  I could see, by the light cast by a nearby streetlamp, that it was a tabby, a big healthy orange tom.

Finally, less than five yards out, it rose, and skulked off peevishly into the mound of branches.

Still, my dog noodled about, lost in some other scent, totally unaware.  Such a blissfully oblivious creature, she can be.

We walked on, our usual route through the morning darkness, and at one of her usual spots, she did her business.   I collected it up in a plastic newspaper bag, fumbling about in the dark, wet grass until I'd done my neighborly duty.

Our route returned us home, and we turned in and walked down the driveway towards home.

At the entrance to the carport sat the tabby, back on its haunches, blocking access to the door to the house.  Now, of course, the dog saw the cat, sitting right there, right dead on in front of her.  She snuffed forward eagerly, tail wagging with excitement.

I reined her in.  "Go on," I shooed at the cat.  "C'mon, scoot!"  The tomcat was going nowhere.

I eased in a little closer, waving my free arm, holding my utterly oblivious dog back.  "Shoo!  Go!  Tssssh!"

The cat only had eyes for the dog, and arched up, tail straight, hissing, fangs out.   It was not going to budge.  Fight or flight?  Pshaw.  It had backed down once, and now there was only fight in those eyes, no matter what that large hairless monkey was blabbering about.

We were at an impasse.  There, the only unlocked door to my own house, and I could get no closer without letting my softie claw-clueless-canine get into attack range.  The cat was getting all Martin Luther on me, all Gandalf the Grey.  There it stood, it could do no other, and we shall not pass.   It was dug in, back up, ready to go.

And then I realized, sentient primate with opposable thumbs that I am: I am carrying a projectile with a built in drogue for stability, and soft enough to do no harm on impact.  Still nice and warm, even.

I considered it, and found the option worthy.  I then judged the distance, and with a gentle underhanded toss, the sort of throw you pitch to your five year old when you first teach them how to use a bat, I tossed the bag at the cat.

It landed directly in front, and skidded--intact, thank the Maker--across the cement, dead on target.  The tabby leapt away, out of our path.

"What in the name of the Sweet Lord Bast is THAT," the cat's eyes seemed to say.  Then it scented it.  "You didn't couldn't have...oh!"  And it scampered off, horrified at the raging indignity of such a barbarous act.  It cast us one look back, pure disgust, and disappeared into the night.

I'm not quite sure, because it was dark, but I think my dog cast me a look of wondering admiration.

"You a cat," it seemed to say.  "Humans.  Are.  So.  AWESOME."