As promised Max is back to “read” to you an excerpt from his book Tails from the Park.
Tails From The Park Excerpt
Today I thought I’d spend time outside but first, I have to get Mom to open the door and let me out.
How do I do that you ask? Why, laser eyeballs. I sit a few feet from her with all my poise and natural grace, and stare at her intently. It works every time. Lately she’s been scouring the newspaper for a job. Not for her but for my dad. So it takes a little longer than usual, but in the end I get outside, as I pass through the door I often give her one of my best snorks, which she always likes.
Outside I test the air to see if there were any unwanted guests. If there were, I’d immediately chase them off which I truly love to do. Today there were no skunks, possums, raccoons or any felines who were lost. Some of those freeloaders like spending time lounging in the tall grass I call flage. On our deck my mom has a bunch of palms and lots of ferns on tables, which is good for me, lots of places to hide. From behind these pots I lay in wait for my dad so I can ambush him. I’d do my wiggle-butt for traction and launch myself out wrapping my front paws around his ankles. Then I scamper off, with my tail bent half way over.
As fun as my parents can be, sometimes it’s good to get away from them. On these occasions I go see Baby.
Baby is a beautiful calico that lately I’ve lavished a lot of personal attention on. Her coat is a mottled brown, tan and black on her all white body which is way off the charts. She’s new to the park and I’ve been helping her get used to the place with all of its wild ways. Most importantly, I have shown her who not to carouse around with. It’s hard to believe but there is a bunch of unsavory Russians here. Yep, Russian Blues. We’ve no idea where they all came from, but the other day I found a couple of these wannabe bad asses lurking around and was challenged to defend my territory. It was a mad scramble of teeth, and claws. I managed to draw blood on the biggest one. The second one took off. I just let them both go, because I’m not as fast, I am more stocky and muscular, and totally fierce.
I needed to inform Baby about this important bit of cat news. I stood in front of her sliding glass door waiting for her mom to come and open the door so I could sneak in. I saw my Baby on the couch. As she rose up, she stretched. Makes me a little faint just to think of it. She is sooo beautiful. She finally got off the furniture and sashayed over to sit in front of me. She nodded hello. Then we stared at each other through the glass door for the longest time.
I wanted to tell her about those horrible Russians. The story would end, of course, in the description of me, the hero.
At that moment a yellow cab pulled up to Baby’s trailer. Out of the rear door stepped Baby’s mom, bag in hand. She looked sort of sad as she walked up the steps. I sat up giving her my best T-Rex smile, opening my mouth and wrinkling my nose. Then I glanced over at Baby to see if she was checking me out. Yep, she was smiling too. Baby’s mom bent over and scratched me on the back of my head so I gave her a couple of snorks. She smiled that sad smile, took out her keys and opened the door. Quickly I slipped in between her ankles just before she stepped into the house. Sneaky, huh?
Baby followed her mom over to the couch in the living room. The room looks just like ours only painted green. The drapes are long and good for scratching. The couch is older, lots of carving on the arms and legs. I walked straight over and rubbed up against the nearest leg, leaving my scent on it. Just to drive Baby crazy later.
On a low table next to the couch, the phone rang. Baby’s mom picked it up and said “Hello.” Baby hopped up on the couch and waited patiently beside her mom, her long tail switched back and forth. I moved over to where Baby’s tail dangled over the edge of the couch. She turned and looked at me as I softly bit her tail. She responded by hitting me on my head with her paw. I dropped her tail and took off down the hallway, with Baby in hot pursuit. We ran into her mom’s bedroom where I hid under a bedside table. She couldn’t see me from the middle of the room, then I darted out. That’s when she tackled me and we tumbled over and over.
Coming up fast, I almost had her by the scruff of her neck when she bolted to the right. She collided with the table on which another telephone sat. The receiver got knocked off the cradle and the handset fell to the floor between us. We could hear her mom’s voice clearly. Together Baby and I leaned in to hear what was being said. The voice on the phone was low. It sounded like the other person had been crying. Baby’s mom said that she’d heard the news about her sister and had been waiting for a call, anxious for an update.
They spoke like this was a secret, her sister being sick. Both agreed it would be a big help if Baby’s mom could move back to this place called Detroit to help take care of her sister. The low voice informed Baby’s mom that the sooner she got back there the better. They finally agreed on a date to pack and vacate her trailer. Then the low voice asked what she was going to do with Baby. They talked about something called an animal shelter.
The voices said goodbye. Baby’s mom hung up. The buzzing of the phone was the only noise in the room. Soon Baby’s mom stood beside us. She bent down and picked up Baby, cradling her like an infant. Lovingly holding Baby, she sobbed.
I felt like an intruder in this moment so I walked down the hallway to the kitchen and out the open sliding glass door. Outside, the evening sky had turned dark. Angry clouds filled the horizon.
I didn’t see Baby for some time and truly missed her. A few days later I walked over to her trailer. There was an awful Russian blue by her back door. I slowed down. He stood his ground and stared at me. I came to a stop and took a low posture, my ears laying back. I took a quick look over my shoulder to see if any others were in back of me. When I turned back to face him he, was gone.
I strolled up to the glass door. Baby was there rubbing against it and purring the sweetest purr I’d ever heard. I nodded in my most cavalier way and rubbed myself against the glass as well. This was getting us nowhere.
Looking around I noticed there was an open window with a wire screen over it. The problem was, it was too high and there was no place for me to land.
I needed to think about this. As if on cue, Baby appeared in this window. A plan came to me.
I sprang up with all my might but fell short of the window. I tried again. This time my paws hit the screen. Incredibly it moved. I tried again. I extended my claws, but I couldn’t hold on. When I landed on the ground I felt a pain in one of my foreclaws. Blood trickled in between the pads of my left paw. I ignored the pain and once again flung myself up at the window. With Baby pushing from the inside and my fifteen pounds pulling from outside, the screen finally separated from the window.
We fell to the ground. I blinked at Baby. The two of us took off toward my place running as fast as we could.
Back on my deck Baby licked my wound and nuzzled me. It was fantastic. But what could we do next? Could she stay with us? My mom and dad would have something to say about that.
As we sat pondering these questions the answer drove up and parked in our car port. My mom was home. As Mom approached and caught sight of my bloody paw, she screamed and scooped me up. I tried to wiggle out of her grasp, but she managed to hold onto me.
Baby gazed up at us.
Mom jerked the slider open and in she went, but the door slid shut before Baby could get in. I meowed my most desperate meow. Mom no doubt thought I was being a wuss.
Mom cooed, “Oh you poor thing, so much blood, you are such a little trouble maker.” Followed by. “Tonight I’m going to keep you in for your own good.” With that announcement she turned and finally noticed Baby.
“Who’s you’re little friend, Max? She sure is a pretty one.”
Mom kissed me on my headbone, and then took me into the bathroom.
Faintly I could hear Baby’s sad meows calling me, from the deck.
Mom didn’t let me out that night. I think she knew something was up. In the morning she gave me extra fresh water and food before she left for work. My dad was out of town so I’d be locked in with no way to get out to be with Baby. Later when Baby did show up we talked a bit through the glass door, using our special language of meows and mews. She’d slept outside our trailer all by herself, listening to her mom call for her late into the night.
Then I remembered the hole in our bathroom floor: If you pulled the corner of the carpet back you could look down and see the underside of our trailer. Maybe she could squeeze through the hole and into the house. Excitedly I ran to the glass door and told her my plan. Like a shot, Baby took off. From outside I heard her as she started to dig a hole under the trailer skirts. I pulled back the rug and a streak of light poured onto the ground below, showing her where to go. In a minute her paw reached out of the darkness from below.
Looking down, I saw her yellow eyes peering back at me; her purrs filled my ears and my head. Reaching over with my paw we touched. I was transfixed.
More problems. First, she could only get her muzzle through the hole and more importantly, she hadn’t eaten in at least a day. I bolted to the kitchen and my food bowl. I pushed it with my nose across the slick kitchen floor. At the rug the going got tougher and slower. After only a couple of feet the bowl stopped. I’d gone as far as I could go by just pushing it. And I was still only halfway there. I sat and thought about what to do next.
Baby’s paw dropped back down the hole and out of sight. She must have been terribly hungry and utterly exhausted. Think, Max, think. I was going mad with no plan B. The minutes painfully ticked by when I saw her nose and part of her muzzle again come up through the hole in the floor. Instantly I knew what to do.
Springing to my paws, I scooped up a few pieces of dry food from my bowl, and carefully walked back to the bathroom. There I dropped small amounts of dry food to her through the opening. She ate it hungrily.
So far, so good. At least she was safe and close to me. After a while she indicated she was full. There was water out on the deck, and I knew she could smell it okay.
Our next problem: what was going to happen with her mom and what was this shelter thing?
The answers would have to wait because we both fell asleep. I had never felt so complete in my life.
Dad returned that night, which kept Mom occupied. I stayed away from the bathroom so as not to draw attention to Baby. Later I overheard Mom talking to her girlfriend, saying she thought she heard a child whimpering in the night. The sound seemed to come from under the trailer, she said.
In the morning, Mom announced that she was going to investigate the sounds from last night. My dad told her to be careful, the metal skirts surrounding the trailer might be sharp. Then he left on his job search. Armed with a flashlight, my mom walked out of the door to find the source of that noise she had heard the night before. I tried to go out with her but she used her foot to hold me back. I leaped up onto the forbidden kitchen counter and watched Mom’s progress.
She found the hole pretty quickly. Surprisingly it was quite large and I found myself filled with pride at Baby’s feat. Mom easily pulled back the metal skirt and exposed the underbelly of the trailer with its forest of jack stands and plumbing. Cautiously she bent over, then she stuck the flashlight into the opening. Then two things happened; Mom spotted me shouting. “Max, you get off that counter, you bad cat.”
‘Sticks and stones, Mom.’
And Baby flew out from under the trailer. She was up and over the backyard fence in a flash. Mom turned just in time to see that magnificent tail disappear. I heard her whisper, “So, it was her.”
Returning to the house, she picked me up off the counter and said. “I had a feeling you were involved in this mystery.” She continued, “Seems you have a friend there, buddy.”
“Yes, ok?” I thought, “but where did Baby go?”
Mom left for work and again she locked me in. All day long I lay beside the rug and the hole in the floor waiting to see if Baby would return. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I heard was the kitchen door opening. My mom walked in with her work stuff and a missing cat poster in her hand with Baby’s picture on it.
Mom walked into the bathroom, bent down and pulled the piece of rug back exposing the hole. Looking down, she could see directly into the underside of the trailer. She must have remembered it, too.
I stood up, my eyes still blinking from my catnap. Just then Baby’s paw appeared. Mom gasped, then laughed and said. “So that’s where you’ve been.” I bent over and nuzzled the side of my face on Baby’s paw and looked up at my mom.
Standing up, she took the poster and as she walked through the kitchen she grabbed a handful of my cat food. She left through the sliding glass door. In a few moments, Baby’s paw disappeared. I ran into the kitchen and jumped back up onto the counter just in time to glimpse Mom with Baby in her arms, leaving through the back gate. Sadness swept over me. I hunkered down and waited.
Night fell. People coming home from work flipped on their outside lights. Our end of the park slowly came alive. Then I heard footsteps on the deck. The glass door opened and my mom stepped in. She was holding her arms against herself saying, “Damn its cold.” She turned and opened the door wider. To my surprise, in walked Baby’s mom with Baby in her arms. She let her slide down out of her arms onto the floor. I jumped onto the floor to stand beside Baby. The two women talked. Baby’s mom asked my mom if she intended to fix something, saying that it would have to be done pretty soon. I didn’t understand what they were talking about. Then they both turned and intently looked at me. But that didn’t matter, Baby was here.
I crawled up to where Baby was sitting and submitted to her by laying on my side. She responded by licking my headbone and rubbing her cheek against mine. The women looked down from their imposing height. My mom asked. “Did you know about this?”
Baby’s mom replied. “No, I had no clue.” They smiled at each other, and then hugged as new friends do before saying goodbye.
As she left, Baby’s mom was softly crying.
And my life would never be the same.
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