I watched with trepidation as the tail-lights of The Lady's van receded from view down the long driveway. Something didn't feel right at all. I looked at Tiger, seeking some sign he felt it too. He merely shrugged and buried his face in the kibble dish, gnashing and crunching as if he would never eat again. That was when it struck me. What if they didn't come back? What if that really were the last bowl of kibble!? I had to take action.
I gathered my little band of comrades in arms. Tiger, the muscle. Gracie, the stealthy one. Anime, the devious one. I, of course, was the brains of the operation. The plan was to use Tiger's girth to force open the door where the kibble was kept. Anime would then scale wall to reach the shelf and throw the bag over the side. I would then tear open the bag, releasing enough food to keep us alive until another source could be found. Gracie's part in the plan was to huddle under the bed and worry that we were going to be caught. In hindsight, hers was the only part played to perfection.
Tiger had just bashed himself against the door for the millionth time when we heard a sound from outside. It was a car. Tiger's face lit up. "See? I told you they were coming right back." He then trotted over to the door to greet them. Anime and I shared a quick glance of doubt. We both knew they had taken a lot of their things with them for a "quick" trip. The door burst open and there, silhouetted in the doorway, was a hideous man-beast! He roared and stomped into the living room, sending Tiger scuttling away, fearing for his very life. Anime was already well on her way to the space under the bed to join Gracie. That left only me.
I decided to face to this hairy man beast cat-to-man. There might just be a chance I could scare him away. He lumbered forward. Against my will, my eyes closed and I began to tremble. Moments passed and I had not yet been attacked. With trepidation, I carefully opened one eye. To my astonishment, the beast had filled the kibble dish and was pouring water. What manner of trickery was this? As I watched, he pulled out the special treat bag from the place that only Big Pinkie knew. He tossed a few down to me. I wasn't sure whether to trust this offering, but Tiger was ruled as ever by his hunger. His stomach led him by the nose into the kitchen and he gleefully ate the treats. I watched him carefully, but saw no sign of trickery. Momentarily reassured, I ate from the next batch of treats offered up by the hairy creature. At second glance, the beast was not so hideous. Why, he was furry enough to be almost half-cat.
Moments later, Tiger was curled up in the beast's lap as he watched television. I stalked quietly around the couch and hissed at Tiger, "What do you think you're doing?"
"It's OK," he replied. "It's Brandon. Don't you remember him? He does this every year when the uprights go off on vacation. He feeds us and hangs out on the couch. He's actually pretty comfortable dude."
Brandon... Brandon. It was fuzzy, but I could remember something about a big, hairy beast named Brandon that came around. Every year? I couldn't quite make out any memory from that long ago. The big ball of fire in the sky had disappeared way too many times since then. But if Tiger had chosen to trust the beast, then so would I. I leapt into his lap and discovered that Tiger was right: he was pretty comfortable.
We spent the next several days lounging carefree and well-fed. We were alone for stretches, but each time we were on the verge of worry, the hairy man-beast would arrive. He was jolly and warm and slightly squishy. We couldn't have asked for more. Then, one day, it wasn't the beast that lumbered through the door. It was Big Pinkie and the Lady, looking exhausted and sleep-deprived. It looked very much like we had gotten the better end of the bargain. Until next year Man Beast... until next year.
|The Hairy Man-Beast. He frightened us, but we miss him.|
So that ends my tale. Heart warming and horrifying at the same time. Come back tomorrow gang. Tomorrow is my take on the Fall TV schedule. Don't miss it!
Neyland D. Catt