So, the Mad Tortie slunk through the grass, every line of her intent on the little rodent being marinated by an extremely excited Odd Trundles. I can only surmise she thought she was going to snatch a snack from the Jaws of Bulldog Fate. A tiny pre-tea comestible, perhaps.
She had not reckoned on the snack seeing her, taking a deep breath, and wriggling out from under Odd Trundles to streak across the yard towards her, screeching, “FIEND! VILLAIN! TO ARMS, TO ARMS! I SHALL SAVE THEE, FAIR BIPEDAL PRINCESS!”
Tarzan was still busy laughing. Miss B, caught in the act of dominance-humping Odd Trundles, suddenly realized something was running and she ought to chase it, but since she was in an, erm, compromising position, she actually fell over trying to get untangled. She landed on her back, paws flailing madly, screaming “HEEEERD IT!” and poor Odd, thinking that he’d done something wrong but not knowing exactly what, took off running. Unfortunately he was pointed at the same damn tree that starred in the SQUIRRELPROOF 5000 DEATHRIDE.
The tree that, no matter how many times Odd head-butts it, refuses to move out of his way.
“STOP!” I screamed, and poor Tarzan almost had a heart attack.
“TO BATTLE!” Beauregarde yelled, and leapt for the Mad Tortie.
Who slammed her brakes on and dug her claws in, suddenly unsure how to handle a snackable that was on the attack instead of fleeing. Beauregarde bounded through the grass, and almost caught her. She is, however, a cat, and that means quick-ass reflexes. She reversed, and took off, streaking away towards the corner housing a dogwood tree. This meant Odd Trundles could see her and change course by a fraction, and of course by this time Miss B had managed to gain her feet and get some traction.
So there went the Tortie, her tail puffed out like a bottle brush, pursued by the bulldog-slimed baby squirrel, who is perhaps as big as one of Odd Trundles’s paws, then Odd Trundles, barely missing the tree and trundling as hard as he could, and finally Miss B, who didn’t know what the hell but something was running and by God, she was going to chase it.
Normally the Tortie can leap for the top of the chain-link fence and be gone in a heartbeat, but that leap requires a bit of setup. She visibly realised she wasn’t going to make it, turned a 180 in the middle of a fern, dashed past Beauregarde (still yell-squeaking “BATTLE! BATTLE! BLOOD AND GLORY!”) and sailed over Odd Trundles, who tried to halt his forward motion and got piled on by Miss B, who had just reached warp speed.
Beauregarde: “HONOR! GLORY! IN MY LADY’S NAME!”
Odd: “NEWFRIEND OUCH WHATHAPPEN OHNEWFRIEND *fartwhistle* WHERE AM I?”
Miss B: “AUGH! MUST HERD! MUST HERD! MUST HEEEEEEERD IT!”
Tarzan: *half-dead of laughter*
Me: *slackjawed amazement*
The Tortie finally realised she was running from a snackable, and something deep in the dim recesses of her catskull informed her this was a violation of the natural order. Consequently, she skidded to yet another stop next to the upended bicycle, and started her usual coping mechanism when she suspects something out of the usual has occurred, otherwise known as GROOMING AND IGNORING.
Since she wasn’t running, Beauregarde almost ran into her, and the Mad Tortie, instead of fleeing, resorted to another default: hissing and giving him a filthy look. Miss B, having re-achieved warp speed, apparently thought the tiny, slather-soaked puppy was about to flee in a different direction, because she sailed past both Beauregarde and the Tortie, pausing only to nip at empty air before curving off to run a lap or two around the garden box, behind the shed, along the back fence, and careening around the dogwood.
Odd Trundles, heaving, puffing, and blowing–this was quite a lot of exercise for such a rotund gentleman with so compromised an otolarhyngic system–trotted to a mild-mannered stop, dragged himself another few paces, and began to lick at Beauregarde again, who had perhaps come to the conclusion that none of these windmills were going to tilt back at him, because he simply hunkered down under Odd’s tongue while the Tortie studiously ignored both of them.
Tarzan, wiping his eyes, finally gathered enough breath to talk. “This…is…bizarre…” he panted.
I didn’t trust the sudden calm. “WELCOME TO MY LIFE. B—–!” I used her Full Name and my You Are My Child tone, but I was reduced to actually chasing her, grabbing her, dragging her up the stairs, and all but tossing her into the house, where she proceeded to tear around the upper floor, spreading dirt and excitement and fur everywhere.
Trundles was only coaxed away from his new friend by peanut butter clinging to my fingers, and I had to nurse him up the steps while Beauregarde twitched his tail and tried to engage the Mad Tortie in fisticuffs. She ignored him, but while he was so fixated on her I got Odd up the stairs and inside as well, where Miss B, out of her tiny little mind with excitement, immediately pounced upon him and demanded he play. Of course, his paws were dirty too, and they knocked over the piano bench, and–
What? Beauregarde? Oh, I stamped back down the deck stairs to find the Tortie slinking away under the gate, and Beauregarde trailing her, chittering madly. Tarzan, having regained some sort of control over himself, greeted me with a merry, “Hey, do you have any peanuts?”
“NOT ANOTHER PET,” I fumed in reply. “NOT UNTIL ONE OF THEM DIES. AND THAT MIGHT BE SOON IF THEY PISS ME OFF ANY MORE.”
“COME BACK!” Beauregarde screamed. “FIGHT LIKE A QUADRUPED, YOU COWARD!”
“No, I think maybe I can lure him away, and leave him in someone else’s yard.” Tarzan peered around the corner of the house. “If there’s peanuts or something…”
So that was how Tarzan ended up coaxing a baby squirrel down the street with a fallen apple from the neighbour’s tree, like some sort of sheepish Pied Piper. Of course, Beauregarde only followed him because the Tortie, interested in what Tarzan was carrying, trotted along at his heels. So it was a six-foot former swimmer and a mad tortoiseshell cat sauntering down the street, chased by a teacup-sized squirrel who kept yelling about his princess and his honor, not to mention cowards and tormenters.
Tarzan returned with somewhat unseemly haste and dragged the bike into the garage to finish working on it, I went inside to clean up, and we both hoped we’d seen the end of Beauregarde the Doughty, last glimpsed under a neighbour’s truck with the Mad Tortie, who had–you guessed it–decided that she might groom him as well, since the dogs had sampled him so thoroughly.
I don’t even know.
Well, at least, that was the last Tarzan saw of him. There was later, when the damn squirrel tried to waltz in through the French door–but that’s (say it with me) another story.
(UNTIL SOME DAMN THING ELSE HAPPENS…)