Saturday 01 Oct 2016

Triple Pay
AJ Robinson

I have reason to believe that the cats in our apartment complex are organized. The other night, three of them conspired to torment Juliet on one of our nightly walks. I should have suspected something right away, from the moment we stepped out the front door. No sooner had we cleared the entryway of our apartment when the first of their “agents” made his/her appearance. A small whitish tabby was standing there, and he took off to the right. Juliet gave chase, zipping between the parked cars, but the cat had a substantial lead. He made a sharp turn to the left, crossed the parking lot, and disappeared into some shrubbery. Juliet, ever the “dim bulb,” completely missed him, and instead went to the right. She scanned the area. No sign of the cat.

First operative had completed his mission.

We continued on our walk, Juliet ever vigilant and watchful. I was full of hope that we would be able to conclude our constitutional without incident. Yet, as we rounded the bend at the far end of the complex, the second operative went into action. I was enjoying the coolness of the late night air, and wasn’t even aware of the movement off among the bushes. Juliet did notice. She raced toward the small gap between two of the low hedges, and I was hard pressed to both keep up with her and play out the leash fast enough. I was sure she was chasing shadows again, but then a second cat appeared, leaping up onto the nearby staircase. He was mere feet above the ground, but that was enough to confound Juliet. She shot past the stairs, stopped, whipped her head about, raced back, looked over the area and completely missed the cat!

I decided to exercise the better part of valor, and ran along the sidewalk encouraging Juliet to join me. I had to hold the leash high in the air so as to clear the hedges, but my ploy worked. Juliet ran along between the bushes and the building. When she came to a break, she popped out and ran alongside me. Phew, trouble avoided, and we could continue in peace.

The second operative was also successful.

Little did I know that we had been maneuvered into a trap! As we came around the back of the building, I felt a very hard tug on the leash. As I had already let it out as far as it could go, there was no slack in the line. Juliet yanked the handle right out of my hand. Oh, I knew we were headed for trouble then. I ran after her, calling to her, and saw what it was that had so spooked her.

Operative number three was in position.

Sitting by the car wash station was a third cat, looking for the world the picture of innocence. He didn’t move, just sat there waiting for Juliet. I could hear the leash handle bang and rattle against the pavement. She drew closer. The cat didn’t flinch. She was nearly upon the cat, and he neatly stepped back and let her shoot by. He took off, Juliet making quite the sharp left turn to give chase, and I watched and heard, as they made for a truck trailer sitting by the back fence. It rested on some thin blocks of wood, so the space under it was far too narrow for Juliet to get to.

The cat was easily able to hide there. I raced up, still calling to Juliet. She saw me and ran around the end of the trailer. I saw her, and simply altered my course to intercept her. As she came around the other end of the trailer, she saw me, and zipped back around the way she’d come. Of course, it was a simple task for me to do the same, and this time I managed to head her off. I was there waiting for her, and was able to grab the leash handle. It took some doing, but I finally managed to drag her away and get home.

Oh, yes, the cats had pulled off that scheme with military precision.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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