As Rocky sat lazily on his humans’ shoulder watching the nightly’s, he slowly and sleekly ran his tongue along the top of his right paw then ran it across his head. Once the dust and food of the day were gone, he stood, walked around in a circle then curled up against his human’ warm neck.
It’d been a harrowing day on the street and as Rocky fell into a food coma, he dreamed the dreams of his lovely safe life, and his Turkey and Cranberry biscuits.
‘Mm mm. Biscuits,’ he said dreamily but something woke him from his sleep. His human had moved sharply and Rocky knew something was wrong in his house.
‘Marley? I thought that was tomorrow night,’ he thought as a scraping, or scratching noise floated out from the kitchen. If it wasn’t Marley…’My bowl of Cranberry biscuits are in there.’
Panicked, he lifted his head and glared into the half-light. Quiet and alert he stood proud, and safe, on his humans’ shoulder as they listened together.
‘I think something’s eating your bickies Rocky,’ his human said, ‘what are you going to do about it?’
‘What?’ Rocky thought, ‘you expect me to go into that kitchen alone?’
I do believe that was the plan. It wasn’t easy for Rocky’s human to declaw his hold on her blouse, but eventually he got the idea she wasn’t giving in. Normally his human did everything, but there was just one job that was his. Rocky was the mouse catcher.
Once his human got him to let go of her, he stood on the carpet at her feet in a pose—that could only be described as that of a Doberman Pincher—as he glowered into the kitchen and took stock of his surroundings.
‘Hm,’ he sighed and thought, ‘there’s nothing in my way and my human might put my biscuits away if I don’t go and hunt the mouse—hope it’s Marley—What if it isn’t? what’ll I do then?’
He looked up at his human and saw she was watching every move he made—or didn’t—as the case maybe, while listening to the scratching and scraping still coming from the kitchen.
‘It’s now or never,’ he thought.
He crept across the carpet sleek and slow like a lion on the hunt. As he reached the wall which had a kitchen behind it, he stopped, crouched down, wiggled his bum, then pounced out of sight of his human. She couldn’t see him from where she was sitting so you can imagine how startled she was when he came running along the windowsill, flew through the air—almost touched the roof—before landing on the dining table. As he hit the table he slid across with the table cloth and took it with him.
The pretty—hand blown glass—salt and pepper shakers slid along with him and smashed as they hit the wall. Wrapped in the white table cloth, Rocky was safe from falling debris and had somehow caught—thankfully Marley—in the cloth with him. Marley was stuck, she couldn’t go under the fridge, behind the stove or even under the washing machine because she had her small front claws—on her left paw—caught in the lace edge of the cloth. If she stopped, Rocky would bump into her—and he’s a big boy—so she kept running down towards the bedrooms.
Marley the mouse was a friend of Rocky’s and every now and then they had to put a show on for their human—it’s how Rocky gets his favourite Cranberry biscuits— but this time it’d gone horribly wrong.
Caught up in the table cloth, Rocky and Marley couldn’t see where they were going, nor what they were doing. Usually after a few minutes Marley would let Rocky catch her, their human would let Rocky outside with her in his mouth, and all would be good. But tonight, oh wow, tonight was a doozie. Their humans’ precious ornaments, photo frames, and a large bowl of small glass stones fell to the floor.
‘Oh no,’ their human cried. ‘Rocky, Rocky let it go, let the mouse go. Come to—’
All of a sudden there was a loud bang, and a cry of pain from their human. Marley and Rocky had made it into one of the bedrooms and removed the cloth. They peeked around the corner of the door to see their human was lying on the ground crying.
‘Oh no, what have we done?’ Marley asked.
‘You nip outside and see young Frank,’ Rocky said. ‘Tell him to cause a fuss so his human lets him out. Then tell him to come meow—like a badly beaten bugle—at the front windows. I’ll go and pull the curtain back, then I’ll nuzzle our humans’ neck and keep her safe and warm while we wait for help.’
‘All right Rocky,’ she said as she ran into the kitchen, out into the laundry door and slipped outside through Rocky’s pet door.
Rocky ran to the lounge room, past his human, lifted his right paw—and with his beautiful, envious long claws—took hold of the curtain. He pulled and pulled until he was certain young Frank’s human could see. He turned back to face his human. She was on the floor, lying on the stones from the bowl, holding her arm. Rocky was heartbroken. He and Marley never wanted to hurt their human. It was just a game. They only played it to make their human happy.
‘If only you could understand me,’ Rocky meowed as he walked to where she lay. ‘I would tell you how sorry I am.’
As he curled up and nuzzled into his humans’ neck, he saw young Frank and Marley at the window. They both looked worried, then he heard young Frank’s cries and shuddered.
‘They’re certainly annoying,’ Rocky thought. ‘His human should be here any minute now.’
He was getting concerned, he never liked it when his human cried. She was in pain and all he could do was wrap his tail over her face—to help wipe away her tears—and purred a loud purr in her ear.
‘Tabitha, oh dear,’ Rocky heard young Franks human say. ‘I’ll get my key. Don’t panic I’ll only be a minute.’
‘Oh Wendy. Thank you, thank you.’
Rocky felt a bit better, but he was heartbroken. He knew it was his fault, but he and Marley had been playing the game for years and it’d never turned out like this before. He didn’t move when he heard the key in the door, he stayed with his human and nuzzled her neck.
‘Oh Tabitha,’ Wendy said. ‘Tell me where it hurts. Do you need an ambulance?’
‘I think I’ve broken my arm, and my back… I think I need an ambulance. Thank goodness you were walking by.’
‘All right, don’t move. We don’t know what you’ve done to your back,’ Wendy said and called 000 for an ambulance. ‘Now, tell me what happened.’
Rocky’s human, Tabitha, retold the story of his and Marley’s almost excellent adventure and Rocky felt relieved when she laughed about the retelling of the table cloth incident—and the ghostly cat and mouse—running through the house. Blue lights flashed in through the window, and young Frank and Marley kept watch from outside. It was every cat’s worst nightmare and young Frank wanted to learn as much as he could so it never happened to his human.
Wendy let the paramedics in. They checked Tabitha’s arm and said, ‘it could have a break. X-ray’s will tell us more. Now your back. Are you able to move?’
‘Yes but there’s a lot of pain in my right hip and leg.’
‘Could be a broken hip here,’ the paramedic called to another one who was outside.
‘Just getting’ the gurney,’ the other paramedic said.
Rocky watched as his human, his Tabitha, was put on a bed that had wheels on it. He tried to climb on it to keep her safe, but Wendy picked him up and put him on the lounge as they wheeled his human into the back of the ambulance. A tear fell from poor little Rocky’s eye. The night had started out so well, so normal, he couldn’t understand how it came to this.
‘What about my Rocky,’ I heard her call and Rocky lifted his head and meowed, ‘I’m coming.’
‘Don’t you worry Tabitha, I’ll take care of Rocky until you get home.’
‘Home? What do you mean home?’ Rocky almost passed out. He’d heard about young Franks human. ‘What about lunch? What about my Cranberries? What about me?’
He was about to start wail, when Wendy walked in and picked him up again.
‘You’ll come stay with us, you pretty boy you. Weren’t you so sweet with your mummy,’ she cooed and cuddled. He looked back just as she closed the front door, watched her put the key in to lock away… Lunch. ‘We’ll come back tomorrow and clean up for Tabitha so when she comes home she won’t have anything to fall over. What do you reckon you sweet boy you?’
So far, she was sounding like a cat lover, ‘Maybe it won’t be as bad as the tales young Frank had told me? She talks like my human.’
Wendy wasn’t his human—far from it—he didn’t know how long he’d be staying, and just wanted to curl up in bed with his human.
‘Come on Frank,’ Wendy called, ‘aren’t you a clever boy for letting me know about Tabitha. I think you both deserve a treat, a nice bowl of liver each.’
‘Liver? What the hell’s liver?’ Rocky wondered. ‘Is it a treat? It sounds like a treat.’
Once they were in young Frank’s house. She set rocky down on the lounge and young Frank jumped up to care for him.
‘I’ll just be a minute little ones,’ they heard from the kitchen. After a few minutes of the sounds of slushing and slicing, Wendy stuck her head around the door and put two small bowls on the floor.
‘There,’ she said, ‘just for you two. Now don’t forget t share,’ she said as she walked back into the lounge room.
Rocky was looking confused.
‘What’s liver young Frank?’
‘Oh, it’s yummy. It’s my favourite treat. You’ll love it Rocky. Come on,’ he meowed and jumped off the lounge.
As Rocky rounded the kitchen door he saw young Frank hopping into a bowl of something red and slimy, ‘and… Is that blood?’ He almost passed out again.
‘Feign… Something to get out of eating that, Rocky,’ he told himself.
After a few nervous minutes, he walked back to the lounge and curled up on one end. He was sad and lonely without his human. Young Frank had just come back into the room when the phone rang. Wendy answered, and it was Tabitha.
‘I have a broken arm, but my hip and back are fine,’ I’ll get a taxi home.’
‘Well you’ll stay at my house for tonight,’ Wendy said. ‘I was going to clean up all the pebbles tomorrow. I’ll not have you stay there until they’re all accounted for. They’re see through and the last thing you need is to miss one and fall again… Rocky? Rocky’s fine, he’s missing you though. I’ll let him know you’re on your way home.’
Rocky heard it all and he couldn’t be happier, all he wanted to know now was which bed does he sleep in? He jumped off the lounge and scanned the rooms one by one. He saw the laundry had an old pillow on the floor and was about to walk away to check out the kitchen—cause we all know how much fun that’ll be—when young Frank squeezed past him, climbed on the pillow and started to kneed it.
‘What are you doing?’ Rocky asked.
‘I’m making sure my bed is puffed and ready for you and me to sleep on.’
‘Come on Rocky climb up.’
‘Climb up? I could step over this tiny padded piece of fluff. Where’s the proper bed?’
Before young Frank could answer, Rocky heard his human walk in the house and ran to meet her.
‘Take me home,’ he meowed. ‘They’re perfect heathens in this house mummy. Take me home.’
‘Oh, I missed you too Rocky,’ Tabitha said and sat on the lounge.
Rocky sat at her feet re-evaluating his life choices when young Frank called from the laundry.
‘Come on Rocky, pick a side.’
‘I choose the lounge if I can’t sleep with my human.’
‘Why young Frank, why?’
‘Cause we get shut in here when my human goes to bed. There’s no way out.’
Rocky panicked, ‘Locked in a small room to share a tiny padded piece of fluff… I can’t… No, I won’t do it. You can’t make me. First, they try to feed me slimy blood lumps, and I don’t even get a proper bed?’
He climbed off Tabitha’s lap and walked to the laundry door to make sure young Frank understood how wrong it all was. He was about to walk back to the lounge, to his human—to make his complaints known—but a human hand tapped his bottom and pushed him into the laundry then closed the pet door to the outside.
‘Sleep well little ones,’ Wendy said then closed the door to the house.
‘Don’t you see what’s going on young Frank?’ Rocky asked through his panic.
‘We’ve been relegated to the dungeon!’
‘Dungeon? What’s a dungeon?’
‘This, this is a dungeon young Frank… Oh dear I didn’t know it was this bad—’
‘What do you mean?’
Rocky put a paw on the **cough** pillow and as he raised another, the one on the pillow slid off and he sensed something in his universe was not right when he heard a splash and felt something cold and slimy against his perfect white fur.
‘What is my paw in young Frank?’
‘If I had to make a guess, I’d say our treat. My human puts the liver in with me in case I need a snack. Want some?’
Rocky declined and spent the night on the edge of a tiny padded piece of fluff listening to young Frank occasionally slurp at his liver bowl. At around four in the morning, a bit of day light seeped in through the pet door. Rocky climbed over Frank and pressed his nose against it.
‘Oh, the humanity of it all,’ he cried when his reflection revealed his once plump, fluffy white fur, was now deflated, and he had a red paw.
‘I’m so sorry Tabitha. I will never chase mice again.’