Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mark and the mockingbird

When I was a little girl my cat was named Tiger. He was a dark gray tabby, the product of an ambitious Siamese mother who escaped from her owner one night. Said owner was my sister's second grade teacher and one thing led to another. My sister had Buster, a light gray tabby, and I had Tiger. While Buster, who was a bit of a lazy, slightly overweight neutered cat, lived into my 20s, my beloved lean, mean, but neutered, machine died while I was yet in high school.

I suppose there is something to be said for the non-adventurous, slothful life.

Tiger, true to his name, was a hunter. There was a field behind our house and it was a source of constant amusement and abuse for him. The latter was meted out by birds, most particularly I remember from one summer, a mockingbird.

Tiger would lie in the grass and chatter to the bird, charming it is what my mother called it. Usually it worked, but this particular bird was a bit of a freer spirit and he fought back, dive-bombing and pecking my baby until he was bald on the very top of his head. I suppose that at this point, Tiger gathered whatever testosterone he still had and each day returned to the field of battle. Noting my interference would be a lost cause and warned away by Mother, I gave up trying to protect and soothe him.

Then one day, I heard a strange muffled cry. As it grew louder we looked out the back door and, coming up the walk was Tiger, mockingbird clutched in his mouth. He laid his prize on the back steps and sat on his haunches, proudly showing to us his prize. He didn't eat it and I think the job of disposal most likely fell to my dad.

So Monday I'm sitting at my computer trying to pull some words together since I'm making an effort to get my WIP off the ground again, and as our windows were still up then, I hear a very loud rustle in the bushes. I spin my chair around and watch calico cat Duchess trot from the patio further into the back yard. The lantana is still moving. On the other side of the fence, in the driveway, is neighborhood cat Mark (so named because his brother had luxurious long yellow fur and I called him Cleo, so therefore there had to be a Mark, as in Anthony, but Cleo disappeared a long time ago). Mark is backing out of the lantana's reach and in his mouth is a spread-eagled mockingbird.

I am so impressed. Not a hair out of place, not a bald spot on him, Mark takes his prize and meanders into the roses on the other side of the yard, where he proceeds, because I check on it later, to eat every bit but the feathers.

Tiger would be proud.

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