The owner of the cat I fed for a week, gave me a gift for my trouble.
When she called to say she had something, I was thinking along the lines of hand lotion, cookies, maybe even a Starbucks card.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think her cat, who hated me so much, picked it out.
I’ve never been a fan of taxidermy, faux or otherwise. To stuff anything other than maybe eggs and envelopes seems just plain wrong. I happen to think it’s very disrespectful to the animal, but that’s just me. I realize, Teddy Roosevelt, who would have stuffed his wife if he hadn’t predeceased her, and of course Roy Rogers, felt differently (a stuffed Trigger, Roy’s horse).
But being the polite New Englander, I thanked her before going on my merry way.
And who happened to be in her yard as I approached home, but Carmela the basset hound, so naturally I stopped to chat.
We have a little ritual. I sit sideways on the outside ledge while she sticks her head out for me to scratch her ears. I then lean down and give her rump a good rub as an extra bonus. As I’m doing this, behind my back, she goes through my bag finding the cat.
Before I could stop her, she runs into the kitchen with it.
With its paws hanging from her mouth, it looked like a fresh kill. Horrified she’d scare one of the maids, I quickly let myself into the yard.
‘”Carmela, come here…this instant,” I said, trying to keep my voice down. She did, but wouldn’t let me have it tossing it in the air and catching it like Babe Ruth. “This isn’t funny…give that to me.” But the more I tried taking it, the more she thought it was some great game we were playing.
“Carmela, that’s enough,” but I got a look like, are you kidding me, before starting to prance in and out of the house with it firmly in her teeth.
On cue, her father, slightly freaked, comes running out to find me barefoot on my hands and knees after my sandals had slipped off.
“It’s fake…it just looks real,” I said, forgetting he speaks little English. Carmela, finding the whole thing extremely funny, brings it to him just to snatch it back when he tries taking it.
Then one of the maids came out with a broom, I imagine to finish off whatever she thought Carmela had wrestled to the ground screaming at her in Spanish.
It was like a Monty Python episode, with subtitles.
Finally, I was able to grab it to show, it was nothing more than an ugly, furry toy.
This particular maid, who isn’t all that fond of me to begin with, shook her head while Carmela’s father, taking it all in stride, lit a cigarette.
Of course I gladly let Carmela keep what was now a wet, ugly cat, a fact I’ll leave out of that damned thank you note I feel possessed to write.
I should just make Carmela write it.