For Mr. Gully, with my fondest regards...enjoy, Brat!
Uncle Chuckles mutters to himself and inspects his cans with a keen eye. His fingerless gloves caress each dinted tin before deftly stripping away their labels. He tosses the bare cans into his cart. I know he’s working, but I can’t help but rub up against his legs. I weave between them and purr until he reaches down to stroke my ears. “There’s a good girl, Sniffles,” says he. I meow my agreement, twitching my tail as I take my leave.
I only require one good stroke a day. What a lucky owner he is!
I like to lay at the top of his makeshift tent and let the sun warm my fur. I lick my paws and wonder at what an odd fellow he is. His orange hair juts out and around his mostly bald head like Bozo the Clown. But I like it. He looks like a deranged angel—as if those orange tufts could morph into wings and lift him up into the atmosphere!
He’s likely not an angel, though. At least not since he sold his soul—no it’s true! I saw him wager his soul for a stick of Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum. Swear to Bast! And then after the strange dark man rolled up the contract and handed Uncle Chuckles the stick of gum, my sweet tossed the pink stick in the weeds and poured over the comic wrapper. He must have read it fifty times—laughing until tears welled up and he had to blow his nose—each time. Then he winked at me and said, “Souls. Humbag! Can’t sell what ya ain’t got, eh Sniffles?”
I roll over letting the warmth spread over my fat belly and stretch. Yup, that Uncle Chuckles is an oddity for sure. I stretch out my claws and knead the fabric of the tent. It’s not much of a tent, really. Just four sticks propping up a tattered tarp. But it makes one heck of a hammock! I yawn and sneeze. Uncle Chuckles just laughs at me. “Damn cat,” he says, but I see the rotten gleam in his eye. We’re a lovely pair, us.
He goes back to sorting his cans and I grow weary of licking myself. So I venture off to search for mice. I’m fed plenty well, mind you. But a girl needs some entertainment and nothing gets me going like a tasty treat. I’m mid pounce when I hear the teenagers coming up the hill. They only come this far down the railroad when they’re up to no good. Last time they spray painted a white streak down my back. I mean, really! A white stripe?! How original is it to paint a black cat with a white stripe? Not the future leaders of America, this lot. Well…on second thought…
Anyway…I follow the Mensa Club to see what bit of hell they intend to wreak and sure enough they’ve come to torture my dear sweet Uncle Chuckles! Can’t have that, now can we? I stalk into the tall Irises of my beloved’s garden and lay in wait for the little bastards. I watch in horror as they outfit his vegetable patch and prize wild flowers with cherry bombs. Oh sure, “Let’s go mess with the crazy old bum,” they smirk. Well, joke’s on them, cuz I’m one kamikaze cat, let me tell you!
So I lay in wait, watching where each offensive weapon is placed, waiting for the little pricks to get closer to my hiding spot. As I wait, I see my darling man crouch nearby with an armful of cans. We all stay perfectly still—the Mensa Club and their cherry bombs, myself in the flowers, and Uncle Chuckles. And then it happens! BOOM! Goes the cherry bombs! Reeeeer goes I—in full Kung-fu Kitty mode! And Thun-Thunk-Thwack! Goes Uncle Chuckles’ projectile tin cans!
It’s “genius” hunting season down on the tracks.
The Mensa Club cry and scream and runaway like good little bastards. And I sneeze with complete satisfaction. But my beloved, my poor sweet Uncle Chuckles hunkers down amid the ruins of his garden. Flowers fall in disarray. Lettuce lay flat with random chunks missing. It's a massacre. He picks up a smashed tomato—nearly ready for picking—and takes a bite. I cringe at the soil clinging to its juicy pulp. But my deranged angel gobbles it greedily. Juice squirts down his face and I lick my paws with disdain.
When he’s done gorging on the fallen vegetables, I sidle up next to him. I put my furry face on his lap and he strokes my ears. I sneeze again and walk all over his lap looking for the most comfortable spot. He licks the remaining juice from his fingers and I swear that deranged angel looked positively feline. I find a comfy spot on his lap with my ass halfway up his belly. I flick my tail in his face—just because I can—and then I take my place on my throne.
He scratches my ears and chuckles softly. “You know why I stay out here, Sniffles? It’s cuz hell is other people.” I look at him lovingly…and sneeze.