Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Demoniac Cat

Nosey the Cat,
Part 1: Nosey Comes and Goes Away

Nosey was a cat. He was a male, yellow and white striped cat whom we got as just a very small kitten.

Nosey was cool. When he was just a kitten he had such an inquisitive spirit that there was nothing he didn’t get into. Sometimes he couldn’t get out. Not long after he arrived he walked head first into a small brown bag, and that’s where he stayed. We found him rolling around on the bathroom floor trying to get the bag off his head.

He loved to explore. If there was a crack or crevice or hole that he could get through he had to check it out or die trying. It was up trees, in holes, under the trailer we lived in: there was no end to the places he would get in to.

Nosey was the only cat I ever liked. I played with him. There is no other cat in history you can say that about. Sorry, but I am not a cat person as a general rule. In fact, I hate cats.

But I thought Nosey was different.

My dog, Bigfoot, was not a big fan of Nosey. More about him later but suffice it to say that Bigfoot sent Nosey up the tall poplar tree in front of the house almost as many times as the sun came up.

We had Nosey for several years while we lived on the Catawba River. He grew into a pretty large cat. He wasn’t fat like Garfield, but healthy and tall, and he always liked to play games and be petted.

That is until one fine summer day…

I was sitting down on the river bank watching the water flow by. The river comes around a long sweeping bend right above where I was at, and there is a big rock, a smaller rock that was almost an island, and then a long, wide, slow pool. From the pool the water begins to grow shallower as it flows down against a rocky shoal. The river splits around the shoals and most goes to the far side next to the Dolphin Fish Camp.

Those increasingly shallower waters are a great place to wade and turn over rocks hunting crawdads. There were crawdads in abundance, and the current swept away the dirt we stirred up fast enough that they couldn’t escape under the cover of the cloudy water. Roy and I used to wade in there and catch them a lot. I don’t know why, other than it was fun.

Roy caught the biggest crawdad I have ever seen right there in front of where I was sitting. He turned over a rock and there it went, scooting backward by scooping water with its enormous tail. Roy took off after it and saw where it scooted up under another big rock. He flipped that rock, and then another, and another, until he cornered the monster. He held up his prize and I am jealous to this day. I think that crawdad was an easy eight inches long. It was a brownish fresh water lobster! It was HUGE! Especially when you consider the fact that of all the other crawfish we ever caught, the biggest would have been lucky to hit four and a half inches. We were astounded. That was a boyhood prize to brag about. If we had owned a camera, I’m sure there would still be pictures of that unlucky crawdad floating around.

Of course the crawdad did get in one last piece of revenge and literally pinched the blood out of Roy with one of its enormous claws. I forget what ended up happening to it after all the showing it off and scaring the girls with it but it does reside in the back of my mind with intense clarity. Did I mention that I’m still jealous of that catch? Not really, but I turned every rock in that river over that summer and never even came close to catching one like that. Oh Well

Back to Nosey.

As I was sitting there watching the river flow by, soaking up the sun and just being care free and relaxed, I looked over to see Nosey sneaking along in the grass. In his mind he was king of the jungle stalking a wildebeest or gazelle. I watched him slink along for a moment then called him.

“Hey Nosey. Come’eer boy! Here! Come on now, get over here and let me pet you a moment.” Nosey just stopped and looked at me. Imagine my arrogance at interrupting his hunt.

He finally began to wag just the very tip of his tail, which was a curious habit he had. The last two inches or so of his tail would wag in slow motion when he was interested in something. After a moment or two he strolled over and crawled up in my lap as I sat there Indian-style.

I petted him, and talked to him, and scratched his ears, just like I always did. And we sat there in the sun for a long time just quietly watching the summer morning slide away toward after noon. The trees were green, the sun was bright, the shade was deep and cool, and the river just drifted by without a care. It was picture perfect. For a while.

As I sat there playing with Nosey, I was totally unaware that legions of demons from the devil’s vast array of forces had crept in and quietly taken over my once lovable cat. A nasty, horrible plan was afoot to attack humanity from a totally new and unexpected angle: the cats of the world. I guess serpents had become too obvious.

Suddenly, with no provocation whatsoever, the docile kitty in my lap became a whirlwind of yellow and white fur, claws, and teeth. It looked like the Tasmanian Devil on speed. I was frozen for a brief second in total shock at the tornado in my lap. Then the tornado latched on to my left thumb.

It wasn’t just a scratch, I was getting plenty of them on my legs and arms. The demons that had possessed my cat had driven it to believe my thumb was a shaved, pink, mouse. So Nosey tried to eat it.

Out of the whirlwind came a set of razor sharp teeth, with one target: my left thumb. The teeth found their target with all the murderous precision of the deadliest felines on the planet.

The needle-like fangs of the upper and lower jaws sank deeply right into the cartilage of the joint of my thumb. The teeth were on opposite side of my knuckle and sunk in deep. I don’t think Nosey could open his mouth far enough to turn loose if he had wanted to. And he obviously didn’t want to.

I jerked my arm back and up and down, and the cat came with it. Left, right, up, down, back and forth, and the insanely hateful creature that had once been a cat was still latched on to my thumb. Pain was racing up my arm and searing through my brain with white-hot intensity. Reason and thought were no longer a part of my existence. All I wanted was rid of the Bengal Tiger that was eating me alive.

When I finally shook him loose, Nosey landed on the ground at my feet. I don’t remember standing up, but there I was: standing on the river bank with a demoniac cat at my feet. My turn.

Faster than the cat could move I swooped down, scooped up Nosey, and flung him as far as I could throw him out into the river.

Splash! Up popped his head and here he came swimming back, as I stood there on the bank with my whole arm throbbing from the massive pain radiating from the joint of my thumb. I watched the cat swimming back…

I met the monster as soon as he stepped out of the water, yanked him up and sent him sailing even farther out into the current. Splash!

This time Nosey went with the current and came ashore way down at the top of the shoals where I couldn’t get to him. I turned toward the house and gripping my thumb tightly with my right hand as if to squeeze off the pain and keep it in my thumb only, I went up the hill and into the trailer.

Mom treated the wounds. She washed them with alcohol, (which was almost as bad as the bite itself), and put some Raleigh salve and a bandage on it. It was all to no avail. By the next day my thumb was swollen to the size of a thick broom handle, and I had blood poisoning, with a streak of red following my veins up my arm. It was a doctor visit and antibiotics for me.

Nosey ran off. I guess the demons drove him into the wilderness to scavenge for his food. I doubt that my having baptized him in the river had exorcized the demons that now owned him body and soul. He sure didn’t turn into a good, gentle Baptist.

Time to time I would see him at a distance, but it was a long time before he got close to me again. But that will be in my next story.

James Lee Frady (c) 4/16/2009