Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It's all about Rudy

Rudy had a huge resentment against Fuzzy this morning and she wasn’t even sure he was still alive.  She’d spent most of the last week searching, questioning or sitting in Cat Club meetings.  Total naptime was at an all-time low, and she hadn’t stalked the bullfrog in days.  So, no matter what the need today, Rudy was going to stay home.  It was hot and muggy and there was a good chance of thunderstorms this afternoon.  She didn’t want to get her fur all wet when she could lie at home in front of a fan and snooze, with occasional breaks to have some crunchy food or check the lily puddle for the bullfrog.  

The Daddy had left the fan on in the living room for the cats, and Rudy arranged herself so that her belly would get the full force of its breeze.  This was heavenly…exactly how a summer day should be spent.  She dozed off and drifted into dreamland.  

Rudy walked through a field of catnip heading in the direction of a giant pile of tuna, fresh out of the can.  She bit off a leaf or two of herb as she walked, but the smell of the tuna was too alluring to stop for a good ‘nip roll.  Her head began to swim a bit as her feet bruised more and more of the catnip leaves, sending its smell to compete with the aroma of tuna.  She walked, but didn’t seem to be getting any closer to the tuna, and realized every step was taking a very long time.  She was moving in slow motion, each leg stretching out or bending back slower and slower.  Although her legs were barely moving her stomach was growling at double pace.  She hadn’t eaten for hours, maybe days even – she’d been walking that long.  The tuna glistened with moisture in the sunlight and she made her snail’s pace way to it.  

Finally she could nearly touch it with her tongue.  One more step…

A familiar but dreaded voice boomed at her, “No tuna for you, Rudy.  This tuna is reserved for cats who are doing the jobs they agreed to do.  It’s their reward for a solid day’s work.”  

The only body part Rudy could move was her head, so she swiveled it around, looking for whoever was speaking.  No one to the left, to the right, or in front of her.  The voice didn’t seem to be from behind her, so she looked up and saw Fuzzy perched on top of the tuna.  He was his usual mangy, scruffy self.  Part of one ear was missing, his coat was uneven and his tail full of brambles.  

As she stood there unable to move, the other members of the Cat Club began arriving.  They ran up to the giant pile of tuna and gorged themselves on it, making appreciative comments with very full mouths.  “Can you believe this?”   “Man, I needed this.”  “I’ve never had tuna this good!”   They obviously could see each other, because they replied to some of the other cats, but they didn’t seem to see Rudy, still down in the catnip.  “Hey, where’s Rudy?  I can’t believe she’s not here.  She’d love a snoot of this stuff.”  “Yeah, she’s never slow to arrive when there’s food involved.”  

Rudy called out, “I’m right down here guys.  I seem to be stuck.  Can someone bring me some tuna?  I’m starving down here.”  

Although there had been only the sound of cats noshing on tuna while she’d spoken, none of the cats replied or even looked in her direction.  From the top of the tuna Fuzzy said, “They can’t see me or you, fuzzball.  The Great Cat is rewarding their diligence and providing you with an instructive lesson on something.  I’m not sure if it’s sticking to your promises, helping your friends, or maybe just being nice.  They get tuna and time with each other to rest, and you get the torment of being near the tuna without getting any as well as being completely unnoticed.”

“Well, I don’t see you eating any of this tuna either, Fuzzy.”  Rudy was getting angry at the stray.  It was bad enough to be in this situation, but to be told off by Fuzzy, that was too much.  Fuzzy replied that he’d eaten long before she arrived and turned around, ignoring her. 

The cats finished their tuna and descended from the tuna hill and noticed that instead of grass the ground cover was catnip.  They chewed and rolled and ran and had a generally outrageous time playing with each other.  Rudy watched and wondered if maybe somebody would come close enough to bump into her.  Then they’d have to notice her.   The cats slowly calmed down, sated with tuna and catnip.  They carefully groomed themselves, cleaning crumbs of tuna and bits of catnip leaves from their fur.  

“Ok, this was fun, but it’s time to get back to the job at hand.”  LT gathered the group easily to Rudy’s surprise.  She figured some of the cats would want to stay longer, maybe have another try at the tuna, but they all followed LT as he walked away.  

Rudy called one more time, trying to get their attention.  No one answered or even turned a head.  She was truly alone.  Even Fuzzy was gone from the top of the pile of tuna.  Her legs were stuck mid-step and she wondered if she’d stay this way forever.  She’d die of starvation and dehydration and become a cat mummy, or perhaps a skeleton, still frozen in the act of walking to get a bite of tuna.  Her eyes misted and she said quietly to herself, “I know I should have been helping.  I just wanted a few hours for myself.  If only I could get back home I’d look for Fuzzy all day.  I wouldn’t even need a tuna and catnip reward.  Maybe some treats from the Daddy…no, not even treats.  I’d search for nothing.”  

Rudy woke with a strange cramp in her legs, as though she’d been sleeping in one position too long.  Her thoughts were slow and confused and it took her a few moments to shake out the cramp and realize where she was and what she was supposed to be doing.  Right, looking for Fuzzy.  She found Greymalkin outside studying the scent map, received her assignment for the day and headed off to check around someone’s chicken coop.  

That night the Daddy came home late from a job and announced that he was out of cat food, and they were going to have to make do with tuna for the night.  He’d get squishy food in the morning, but he was too tired right now.  

Rudy looked at the pile of tuna on the plate and slowly the dream came back to her.  She stared at the plate and wondered if she’d dare eat it.  Would the Great Cat come and smack her upside the head?  She looked around furtively and quickly ate her portion.  Ah, heavenly tuna. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

CSI - Cat Style

The printout of Zeke's email was four pages.  Rudy had at first tried to read and memorize what it said, but gave up after she'd scrolled down twice the full height of the monitor.  She hated printing things out. It involved a jump from the desk to the table to retrieve the printed pages, and after that she had to fold them to get out the cat door.  The Daddy was more than happy to open the back door for her, but how could she explain the folded papers held in her mouth?

No one had expected such a quick response from Clem and Zeke, so the Cat Club convened an extra meeting.  LT and Rudy decided it was worth the walk to the other cats' houses once they'd read Zeke's email.  If they couldn't get a better idea of what had happened to Fuzzy using all Zeke's instructions then maybe the Siamese cats were right and he had been abducted by space ferrets from the pudding dimension. 

Thankfully the weather was dry and calm.  Rudy didn't want to think about how she would have handled blowing papers or smeared ink.  Everyone listened respectfully as she read through the various ideas.  Zeke's first and most important idea was to use scent to find the places where Fuzzy had spent the most time.  The cats had already thought about using their superior sense of smell to track Fuzzy, but the problem was that no one recalled exactly what he smelled like.  Zeke's recommendation was to find the one place that Fuzzy had spent the most time and isolate his scent from any other lingering odors.  That turned out to be easy.  There was one chair in the Daddy's house that Fuzzy liked to sleep on and the other cats had avoided it, fearing a flea infestation.  So all seven cats filed in through the cat door and spent a solid half-hour memorizing Fuzzy's scent.

From there, the instructions said to gradually work outwards in a tight spiral, noting the areas or directions in which the scent was strongest.  Zeke cautioned that it wouldn't be like tracking a mouse, because it had been a while since Fuzzy had last been seen and there had been a lot of rain.  They'd be lucky to find isolated patches of scent, but those patches could lead them to somewhere important.

Every night at sunset the cats met to discuss their new findings.  Greymalkin claimed the spot under the deck to make an area map and declared it off limits to all cats.  Since Fuzzy had been the one who’d spent the most time under there, it wasn’t a big hardship.  Gradually the map took shape, and some of the discoveries didn’t make a lot of sense.  Ladybug reported that one of the strongest areas she’d found was a screen door of a house several streets over.  Rudy found several areas at Fuzzy’s ‘home’ where he’d spent a lot of time.  One was the cab of an out of service truck that hadn’t been on the road for at least ten years.  The seat had no cover and the springs were poking through the rotting foam.  Rudy thought to herself it was no wonder he’d come over and slept in their house.  

It took several tries for Greymalkin to find the best method to construct the scent map.  She first tried scratching in the dirt under the porch, but the lines got messed up every time she had to walk over it to add something new.  Next she constructed little piles of pebbles, the more pebbles indicating stronger scent.  That might have worked had it not been for her tail.  The more she concentrated the more it waved, and after it wiped out three piles of pebbles she decided there had to be a better way.  Rudy sauntered by and poked her head in under the deck.  She’d heard Greymalkin’s grumblings and offered a suggestion.  “The Daddy digs holes and puts things like the slate paver stones in them so they’re even with the dirt around them.  You might want to try that.”  

“Oh, that’s a great idea.  Thanks, Rudy.”  Greymalkin spent the next hour or so digging tiny little holes while trying not to disturb the stones in piles.  Working from the edges in towards the center she managed to construct a relatively permanent scent map.  Well, it would be permanent as long as no dogs visited and the moles didn’t decide to extend their tunnel system over by the house.  She declared it good enough for government work, giggling to herself and headed off for a well-deserved nap.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Asking for Help

To: Princessclementine@kittymail.com 
From: peepmissrudyandlt@gmail.com
Subject: Can Ezekiel help us?

Hi, Clem, it’s Rudy.  We have a problem down here.  Fuzzy, who’s one of the stray cats around here has gone missing and our Daddy is really worried.  Fuzzy was the Peep’s brother, and the Daddy’s been feeding him for years.  The Cat Club is a bit worried because if there’s something dangerous around here we’d like to know about it before it comes after the rest of us.  

Now I know Zeke really gets into all those police shows and likes to read the yarn lady’s mystery stories.  Can he give us some ideas of things we could do to figure out what happened to Fuzzy?  We’ve already checked all the roads – he didn’t end up as road pizza, and we talked to the cats in the area and none of them have any idea what might have happened to him.  

If you could talk to Zeke and get back to us we’d really appreciate it.  Oh, and I hope you’re doing well.  We’re all envious of your central air conditioning.  It’s only early July, but it’s way too hot, especially with my beautiful long fur.  It really traps the heat.  Some days I wish I was a white cat, but only when it’s this hot.  


Zeke found Clem giggling in front the yarn lady’s tablet computer.  “What’s the joke, Sunshine?”  

“You’ll never believe this.  The Cat Club wants to pick your brains for your vast knowledge of police forensics.  They want to use them to locate some stray cat.”  Clementine didn’t have a very high opinion of Zeke’s intelligence.  She was older and considered him to be only barely an adult cat.  He sure didn’t act like one, and was certainly no sort of intellectual. 

Zeke may have been younger, but he was certainly larger and more intelligent than he looked.  He’d not only read all the yarn lady’s mysteries, he’d done a lot of thinking about how cats could adapt modern forensic techniques for their own use.  The lack of both fingerprints and thumbs had proven quite a challenge, but he had some definite ideas.  He sat up very straight and looked down his long orange nose at Clementine.  In his most serious voice Zeke proceeded to explain how cats would use forensic measures, some of which would take advantage of the ways in which cats were superior to humans.  

Clementine had the good grace to look as ashamed as a cat can look.  “Zeke, I apologize.  You’re not a silly kitten any more, are you?  Would you like me to type this up for you, or would you like me to set up an email account for you?”  

“No problem, Clementine.  I’ve never given you any reason to think I have much of a brain.  I mean, I’m the cat who likes to flip over water bowls.  That’s not the kind of cat who you’d expect to have a membership in Mensa.  And thanks, but I already have an email account.  I needed it to get my Mensa membership.”  Zeke stretched and jumped off the bed.  “Just leave the window open, and I’ll forward myself the email.” 

Two hours later the yarn lady came into the bedroom and found Clementine staring at the wall.  She didn’t move when the yarn lady sat down on the bed and barely reacted when she was rolled over for a belly rub.  The yarn lady checked her nose to make sure she wasn’t dehydrated and looked into her eyes to see if they reacted and decided to keep an eye on her to make certain she wasn’t getting sick.  Finally Clem shook herself and began to readjust her view of young Ezekiel.