Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I had been sitting in the living room with my broken foot propped on an ottoman. Make-shift ice packs of peas and carrots were placed tightly around my bandaged leg. I was trying to relax and watch a little TV. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse my cat, Bangle, scurry by. She’s an amazingly beautiful cat, a Bengal, with a breathtaking leopard spotted pelt. I know, I know….”Bangle the Bengal” you’re thinking? My husband named her. Enough said.
Her stance was that of a conqueror. Her head was held high. She appeared very proud of her stealthy prowess. Her back was straight and her body was tall. Her jaw was tightly clenched. Out of her lips I saw feathers, bright yellow feathers! She pranced by and stopped in front of me. I knew that she was mocking me. She knew that I couldn’t get up. She knew I couldn’t stop her. Her determined stare penetrated my soul. She had been the victor and she was relishing the moment.
I screamed to my husband "Jeff! Bangle has Nikki's cockatiel! HURRY!” With that she knew she would now be the prey. She was gone in an instant. Jeff came from out of nowhere. “Down the hall!” I screamed. My muscle bound husband sprinted down the hallway. He made it just as the black tip of her tail made it under my bed.
I grabbed my crutches and somehow pulled myself from up from my chair. What I saw when I finally was standing made my heart stop and my blood run cold. There were yellow feathers everywhere. I held my breath remembering the last time one of Nikki's birds met his end in the mouth of one of our cats. Nikki had been out of town. She called everyday to see how Buddy was. I couldn't bring myself to tell her that her Dad left Buddy out of his cage the day after she left town. Jeff had Buddy on the table with him as he worked on blueprints. The door bell rang. Once he got to the door he began chatting it up with the one Nikki calls “the accomplice in Buddy’s murder.” Jeff forgot that he had left the prized pet on the kitchen table. He thought nothing of it when a cat slipped by his foot and into the house.
I walked into the kitchen several minutes later. I froze as I saw an open cage door. I found scattered feathers and a pool of blood on the dining room hardwood floor. We tried to save the ravaged bird; we really did, to no avail. Poor Buddy spent the next two weeks chilling in a checkbook box in the garage freezer. We couldn't bury him until Nikki came home.
The sight of the feathers curling out of Bangle’s smiling mouth petrified me. I got light headed and thousands of thoughts raced through my mind: “poor Nikki”, “I don't want another dead bird in my freezer”, “damn cat!”, “if that bird is dead I’m going to kill that freaking cat!” I envisioned John Walsh posting my picture on “America’s Most Wanted” for cat murder. I was gonna be sick.
Through the haze of thoughts twirling through my mind I heard something. I could hear Jeff wrestling things around. “Oh Holy Mother of God!” I thought, “The cat’s under my bed with a dead, bleeding cockatiel!” The noise stopped. I could hear Jeff lumbering down the hallway. He came back to where I was standing. His jaw was set. His eyes were those of a warrior. He grabbed one of my crutches out from under me which knocked me back into the chair. Without saying a word he turned back to finish his mission. The fight was on.
Sweat began beading up on my forehead. I could hear the recovery continue. A small feather floated by on a wisp air. What were we going to tell her this time? How in the hell did the cage get left open? I began to mentally survey each of the kids' whereabouts. No one was home. Nikki must have left the cage open herself. “Thank God!” No, I mean, “poor Nikki”.
Banging and cursing were coming from the theater of war. I heard Bangle running down the hallway back toward the living room. Feathers were still in her mouth, lots of feathers, huge, bright yellow feathers. It wasn't just one of the cockatiels; it looked like she had been hunting on Sesame Street! Just as the cat ran past my foot, Jeff jumped and landed on her. My 240 lb husband was playing tug of war with a 16 lb cat and I wasn't sure which one was going to win.
Jeff dropped the dead costume in my lap and told me to wait a minute, as If I could go anywhere with a broken foot and only one crutch. When he returned he handed me Bangle's other "catches” he had found in her lair beneath my bed. There was a princess hat with a few purple feathers left on it, the feathered headband that belonged to the chickadee costume and the bare bone of a chicken leg. What a huntress Bangle is, Conqueror of all things inanimate. My heart slowed. I could again breathe. I was glad that both cockatiels lived and, most importantly, I don't have to tell Nikki "he's in the freezer".