and the big burnout…………
TC and I like t’ got ARRESTED T’day……..
It’s been a long winter, and we aren’t out of the woods yet, to be sure. Nevertheless, we’re enjoying a tease of spring weather this week and I wasn’t about to spend the day on my sternsheets. I looked out the window at the river and noticed a few dark spots on the ice that indicated small areas of new open water. TC was sitting on a patch of ground where the snow had melted off down by the waterfront where we usually spend our mornings during the warm seasons. I went downstairs and rapped my knuckles on the slider that opens out on to the deck. TC rolled his head around and squinted at me.
“C’mon……..let’s hit the road”, I said out loud. As if he had actually heard me, he eased his hindquarters to the vertical and meandered up the yard toward the house.
“Kibbles ‘n bits, kibbles n’ bits….”, I chuckled to myself. I once made the mistake of chanting that rather apt ditty when he could hear me, and he wasn’t pleased. One should never irk a cat.
Backalong, I guess it must have been October or November, just on impulse one day I picked TC up and tossed him into the cab of my truck when I had to make a run to the Post Office. He was frantic. He shredded the seat and left scars on my shins that would make one of them South Pacific islanders jealous. In any event, we made it to the Post Office and back in short order. He didn’t speak to me for three days, which is about two and a half days longer than a cat’s normal give-a-damn span, so I was impressed.
Funny thing is, a week or so later I come out on the stoop on the way to my truck and there he was sitting on the hood like he’d been waiting. As soon as I opened the door, in he jumped without so much as a by your leave. Well. Guess he wanted to go. Finestkind.
Ever since then, TC has been my sidekick in the truck as well as down by the water. Might try to turn him into a righteous mariner this summer if I can get the b’ot running.
So this morning, TC and I waddled out to the 4 X 4 and headed down the driveway for parts unknown and unplanned. He reminds me of a critter I had about 30 years ago named Rasputin. From the time he was a kitten Rasputin would ride anywhere with me, and his favorite spot was my left shoulder. He liked to face backwards so he could look out the truck window at where we’d been, and we’d get all sorts of funny stares from other drivers. Especially those looking back at me in their rear view mirrors. TC likes to ride on my shoulder, too, but he prefers to put his bung up against the back window and watch where we’re going, which provides me with a stream of pretty amusing facial expressions in my own rear view mirror.
I looked to the right. TC looked to the right. I looked to the left. TC looked to the left. “Clear to take off,” I mused.
I don’t know what possessed me. The sunny day and balmy 45 degree weather, the clear path with no traffic, the little patch of road sand in front of the house…………I don’t know. Whatever it was, I flexed my fingers around the wheel, shoved the gearshift into first, took ‘er up to about 2500 rpm, and popped the clutch.
TC dug in his claws and stuck his pucker to the back window like barnacle on a wooden boat and let out a hiss as the big red truck came out of the driveway sideways spewing blue smoke and gravel and setting up a cacophony of V-8 abuse and tires long past any hope of gaining traction. I glanced in the rearview mirror at the ever-lengthening ribbon of black, barely visible through the thick smoke, and chuckled an odd combination of latent adolescent pride and more timely grey haired embarrassment over the whole thing.
Ralph was sitting at the corner store sucking on a cup of coffee and negotiating a fistful of Twinkies when I topped the small rise just down the road from my house. Ralph is the Fannyflame, Maine Police Department, Animal Control Officer, Assistant Fire Chief, half owner of Pete and Ralph’s Exxon and Used Auto Parts, and plays the organ at the Fannyflame Community Church on alternate Sundays. Our eyes met just as I muttered something that sounded an awful lot like TC hissing, and TC spat out something that sounded an awful lot like…….honest to God……….”aw shit! ”
Ralph set the styrofoam cup of coffee on the roof of his car next to the magnetic blue light he had stuck out the window a minute before and strolled over. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and spat to leeward.
“Yup………kind of hopin’ things will lighten up a bit now that…….”
“WHAT’S YER FRIGGIN PROBLEM, ENNAWAY….!?” He bellowed. So much for the banal small talk.
Ralph stooped over and looked in the window, noticing TC for the first time.
“Well, I can see yer friggin’ cat don’t think much of yer shenanigans neither,” he scoffed. I hadn’t noticed before, but I became aware of the warm feeling moving slowly down my neck and under my shirt. And the smell. Two inches from my nose, TC’s golden eyes drilled into mine steady as she be. The message he communicated was crystal clear, and I’ll tell y’ whut, mistah man, it weren’t nawthin outta the New Testament.
Ralph reached around to his back pocket and whipped out his black book, but before he could get his pencil to work he started to giggle. He made another couple of tries and, slapping the leather booklet against his leg, he shook his head and looked at me.
“You git home, and when you finish yer laundry, mistah, you best give that friggin’ cat a big can o’ tuna fish because his loose cannon just saved you about $300,” he scowled.
“Honest Ralph, I don’t know what got into me,” I offered half heartedly. “I haven’t done that since I peeled two Goodyears and a differential off’n my father’s 1958 Ford………”
“Git,” Ralph huffed as he snagged his coffee cup from the roof of his cruiser and ducked to sit down.
TC continued to glare, unmoving, claws fully extended.
It wasn’t long before TC was posted by the canned goods in the pantry and I had a load of laundry churning away in the old machine by the back step.
It occurred to me that I still hadn’t gotten down t’ the Post Office yet and I wondered if the cat would want to go along for the ride, but I figured I’d best not even suggest it at the moment…….
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