I’ve been betrayed! Mr. V often walks around with a sour expression on his face moaning about this or griping about that. I’m used to it. His favorite word is Quiet! He says it about everything. He says it to the kettle when it boils and to people on TV. He even says it to me! If Mr. V doesn’t like something, it’s Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! But I just found out that underneath all that Mr. V is a softie! A real softie! Here’s how I know.
One morning I was feeling hungry so I went to my food bowl in the kitchen. At one end of the kitchen is my bowl and at the other end is the door to the outside. As I got to the food bowl I glanced up and I saw Mr. V crouched in the doorway feeding one of those flying rats with the fluffy tail – A Squirrel! He was talking to it, saying all the little cutie pie things he usually says to me! It made me want to vomit! If anything deserved a good dose of vinegar it’s those bug-eyed monsters.
Well, I couldn’t have that. Not in my house! So I charged it. Oooo, you should have seen that little #&% go. Up onto the railing, and from there onto the wall, and then across to the tree at the end of the porch. And I was right behind him. I would have gotten him too if Mr. V hadn’t interfered! No! Jonesy! No! What do you think you’re doing? I’m trying to catch that diseased piece of vermin is what I’m doing. And I would have caught him too if you hadn’t interfered!
Oh, was he mad! No! he kept saying to me. Bad Boy! Bad Boy! I couldn’t believe it! Me? Bad Boy? He hurt me real bad. That was when I realized. Mr. V is a softie! He likes squirrels. He’s got to be a softie to like squirrels. Next he’ll be having a possum over to tea. Well, this changes everything! This is war!
A recent article stated that cats kill billions of mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, and birds every year in the United States. Feral and strays cats were mainly responsible but pets, such as Jonesy did their fair share too. I read that a collar with a bell could reduce this statistic by a third so I bought a collar with a bell and put it around Jonesy’s neck. It was a breakaway collar in case he caught himself climbing a tree.
Within a few days I saw the collar dangling on nearby branch like a piece of discarded clothing after a fraternity party. I bought another collar. It ended up the same way. I gave up on the collars. I remembered that the article had also suggested that if cats were kept indoors, the killings would be reduced by a third. But keeping Jonesy indoors was much easier said than done for he had found ways of getting out, such as jumping from his lookout in the bathroom window to the stairs below, which is a good ten feet if not more. So other than admonishing him sternly I wasn’t sure what else I could do.
It was distressing, however, to know that I was harboring a killer of little critters since I have always considered myself at one with nature, enjoying creatures great and small as long as they didn’t leave a mess, make a noise, and kept their distance from me. Recently, however, my resolution was severely tested.
I had just entered my apartment when I saw a creature with an enormous stiff tail disappear into a hole in the side of my building – right by my bathroom! Horrific stories of unsuspecting people sitting on the toilet suddenly having their private parts snapped at by an emerging crocodile, snake, or other hideous creature now flooded my mind. I immediately called the landlord and asked him if rats were included in the rent. The landlord replied that it was not a rat but rather a possum which by law, neither he nor I, nor anyone else could remove.
I thought possums were shy creatures but this particular possum must have known the law for it delighted in flaunting its territorial rights at me. Returning home one night, I was about to climb the stairs leading to my apartment when I was confronted with a pair of bright eyes staring at me out of the darkness. The fact that the eyes were at head height was more than a little alarming because I couldn’t see how large the creature was. We stared at one another for a few seconds before the possum turned around, waddled up the stairs, and disappeared into the wall.
This happened several times and on each occasion the possum sat there almost daring me to mount the stairs before it was ready to leave. I must admit I encouraged Jonesy to try his hunting ability on the possum, but although Jonesy was adventurous he was no fool. The possum was twice his size and its claws three times as large as his.
Our confrontations came to an end when the possum was killed by a passing car. I then discovered it had been a female for it had left an offspring behind. Now I was able to persuade the landlord to remove it for fear that Jonesy or something else–I was deliberately vague—might take matters into their own hands.