Monday, January 18, 2016

CHUCKLES

Once upon a time I had a cat, and his name was Chuckles. I named him so because when he tried to meow, it would come out like a chuckle instead of a regular meow. He was the runt of the litter and he wasn’t a very nice cat to look at. His head was misshapen and his legs were short and stocky. He was black with grey and white patches and he had a short tail.

Since he was the ugliest kitten, he was the last one remaining. When it became apparent that no one wanted him, my mother let me keep him and he became my cat. I had taken care of him since he was just born and I felt it my duty to keep taking care of him. He wasn’t a very bright cat. He didn’t do what other cats did. He didn’t chase after field mice or try and catch birds; he couldn’t even climb a tree. He didn’t know what a litter box was for and kept crying to go outside. He would wake me up in the middle of the night by slapping my face until I woke up to let him out. Then I would have to wait for him to do his business because if I didn’t, he would just make that awful chuckling sound outside my bedroom window until I got up to open the door. Lessons learned.



Chuckles was a lazy cat, I couldn’t teach him any tricks. He did not jump for treats, no matter how hard I tried. He did not catch flies on the window, no matter how many were buzzing against the window. He did not beg for food, no matter how empty his bowl was. But no matter what people said about poor old Chuckles, I could always count on him for warmth at night. He was a loyal cat when it came to bedtime. He would snuggle with me near my chest under the blankets and would not move until I got up the next morning. Yes, Chuckles was a good snuggler.

One day after breakfast I noticed something strange about Chuckles. His chuckle had changed. He did not meow either; it was more of a bark, like that of a small dog. And the thing about that was nobody else seemed to hear it. After a while, I got used to hearing the bark and became to like it. That morning, I noticed that Chuckles began jumping up on the window sill and barking at the birds picking at worms in the front yard, which was weird because he wasn’t interested in birds before. And when I went to the window, I noticed about a dozen dead flies on the floor near the window. I got to thinking that my cat was finally turning into a hunter. He was barking so loudly at the birds now that I had no other choice but to let him out. And you should have seen him! He was in full stealth mode: creeping and crawling up to the chickadees, until BAM! He got one! What happened next startled me a little. He not only snatched one of the birds off its little feet, but in seconds that little birdie was being digested inside Chuckles’ tummy. I was disgusted, but I could not look away; I was thoroughly transfixed on Chuckles. His behavior was mesmerizing.

We stayed out for a little while. Chuckles began barking again. This time he had caught sight of something in the grass, a field mouse no doubt. Chuckles went into stealth mode again and crept and crawled through the tall grass. I sat on the swing and watched, amazed at how Chuckles had changed. His fur had grown thick and luscious with a mane around the neck and his jawline was strong and well-defined. His legs were muscular and his paws were wide with long, sharp claws. The next thing I see is Chuckles jumping at least six feet into the air and then doing a nose dive into the grass like some crazed wild fox diving into the snow for a rabbit. A minute later, Chuckles lays a dead mouse at my feet. I bend over and pat him on the head. “Good Chuckles,” I say. Then he rips the guts open and feasts on its innards. I am not at all offended by this. I figure, eat or be eaten. I am hypnotized by his large fangs and the sound of crunching bones. Chuckles is a late bloomer and now he seems to be making up for lost time.



For the next few weeks, every day after breakfast, I go outside with him and he practices his hunting skills. He is a master now. He can climb to the top of the highest tree then jump to the next, he can jump almost ten feet into the air, he can stay still like a statue for more than ten minutes, and he is able to juggle two mice in his front paws, while standing on his hind legs. This cat is awesome.

I begin to feel like this cat is going to become famous, but it seems that no one else is interested in his skills but me. I keep telling everyone how amazing he is and all the things he can do, but nobody seems to care, and oddly, enough, Chuckles is only a master around me. No matter, he’s my cat, so that’s understandable.

Then one morning while I was eating my breakfast Chuckles jumped on the table. My mother would have had a hissy-fit if she had seen that, so I stood up and grabbed him and put him on the floor. I started to eat my cereal again when I hear this strange noise. I looked all around, but no one was there. It seemed to be some kind of mystic language, like something I heard on The Twilight Zone three nights before. I keep hearing it and the more I listen the clearer it becomes. I look down at Chuckles and he says to me, “Give me some of that cereal, will ya?” I’m sick of eating birds and mice.”  

At that very moment, my mother bursts into the kitchen, grabs the cereal I was eating and throws it into the sink, and then takes the cereal box and dumps it into the garbage. I am dumbfounded; I really liked that new cereal. Chuckles keeps quiet.


For the next two weeks I become ill. I am feverish, I have chills, and I have a severe case of the shakes. I am afraid of something, but I do not know what, and I cannot get out of bed. My mother said I was sick because the cereal had some bad grains in it. And where is Chuckles when all this is going on? He’s right at my side, with his misshapen head, his uneven fur color, and his stocky legs, telling me, “It’s going to be okay. Just go with the flow, man.”