Ellie S. Thomas
He was just a big, white cat and we'd come by him quite by accident. We'd recently moved and our Pride and Joy moped and moaned daily because there wasn't a child on the block for her to play with.
She looked so pathetic that we were driven to desperation, and then we heard that a co-worker had a cat he wanted to give away. It really sounded too good to be true. A full grown, male cat, well-trained, house broken, and kind. We were skeptical.
At first glance, Freckles Freddy was impressive. He was large, probably close to fifteen pounds, and all white except for a gorgeous, plume-like tail that was inky black at the very tip as though he'd just dipped it into an ink pot. It reminded us of the plume pens artists draw on Old-Timey Christmas cards.
Freddy immediately adopted our child and began rubbing against her ankles and twining around her legs. He followed her every step, running when she ran, and crawling into her arms when she dropped down on the grass to rest. It was plainly a case of love at first sight and we took to him right away.
But Freckles Freddy turned out to be a sly, conniving rascal. He wandered the neighborhood and spent a great deal of time outdoors and was soon infested with fleas. We reacted so strongly to the bites that I banished him outside until the vet could give me something effective; in the meantime, he learned to circumvent me in every way.
When we found him back in the house, we scolded our daughter for letting him in. Of course, she protested her innocence and she was vindicated the morning we caught him letting himself in by the kitchen door. Who said cats aren't smart?
After that, the door was closed with special firmness so Freckles Freddy, merely changed his tactics. He ran around the house and up the big old tree in the front yard. From there it was a short jump to the porch roof where one or two plaintive meows outside Mary's window did the trick and soon they were snuggled up together. When I went to rouse her for school and found him staring up at me from the pillow, I was upset...and even more angry when I saw that her body was encircled with flea bites.
Eventually, we got rid of the fleas and Freckles Freddy spent a lot more time m the house where he loved to sleep underneath the dining room table flat on his back with his feet m the air. It was a bit surprising because he looked like he'd just been embalmed but he'd always slept that way and we got used to it. A bit later on, we noticed that he balked against going outside. That was a surprise because he'd always been an outside cat, absolutely refusing to use a litter box. We couldn't figure it out because he'd go to the door and call to go out but when we opened for him, he'd pause and listen intently. If there was the slightest sound of a motor, or a dog barking anywhere nearby, he'd withdraw and disappear. We figured that a dog had gotten hold of him in the recent past, or he'd been struck by a snow sled, because he developed a huge abcess beneath his jaw and the poor cat nearly died. He lay about and went off his food. I purchased delicacies and even put his food through the blender so he could eat more easily but until the large sac broke, he was a sick fellow.
To our relief, and happiness, Freckles Freddy got better and we started out on our postponed trip to a nearby city. We'd arranged for his care with a responsible neighbor and the last we saw of him he was standing on our front steps as we drove off. We would soon find out that he'd outwitted us again!
We spent the night about two hundred miles from home and it was bitterly cold. The following day we shopped awhile and then began the return trip. About half-way home, we stopped for a coffee break and when we ramped off, the pitiful sounds of a cat issued from somewhere in the car. I looked at my spouse in horror. "Stop," I cried, "we've run over a cat and must be dragging it along. Stop the car!"
My husband pulled into a parking lot and stopped. The cat's yowls were now very, loud. My spouse raised the hood and looked around beneath but we could see nothing unusual. Puzzled, we decided to go inside and have a cup of coffee, hoping that if there was a cat in there someplace, it would feel safe to emerge and go away if we left it alone.
We emerged from the restaurant about a half hour later and started the last lap of our journey. The cold intensified and as Murphy's Law prevailed, we had a blow-out about forty miles from home. We were on a lonely stretch and had no options but to change the tire ourselves. As my spouse worked on the tire, the cat tuned up again and became very vocal. It was a night to remember with the shuddering cold, the cat yowling like a banshee, and our teeth clattering like castenets.
Eventually we got back to town and when we sped down our street and into the driveway, our daughter looked out the window for her cat. Then it struck her.
"That's Freckles Freddy in the car. That's my cat. Get him out, Daddy, get him out!" We stared at her as though she'd lost her mind; it couldn't possibly be her cat, could it?
Once the serviceman had removed parts of the grill and horn, we dragged Freckles Freddy out of the curl of the fender, apparently none the worse for wear. We kept him in the house for a few days after his travel until we thought he could be trusted outside again. We watched him explore the yard and he seemed content but the next day, he was gone again.
We advertised for him and alerted the telephone men, the postman, and the garbage collectors, but he'd vanished. He'd apparently had his fill of the chilly North.
We can only assume that Freckles Freddy has hitched another ride and is probably soaking up sunshine somewhere in the Florida Keys. So, now that you know what he looks like, and what his habits are, if someone should find him, we'd appreciate it if you'd kindly help him get on the right bus for home.
(Messages are forwarded by The Preservation Foundation.
So, when you write to an author, please type his/her name
in the subject line of the message.)
Ellie's Story List