When I was little, all I wanted was a cat.
I knew I'd be a great mommy if I just had a kitty. I'd dream about that ball of fur, pretend it was my pillow at night. I'd squish it hard and love it with all my heart! Once I even made a paper airplane and took it for a walk because my cat would be so well-mannered, it would go for walks. I spent years dreaming about cats, until one day my beautiful aunt (who lived down the street) showed up at our door. She cradled a kitten in her arms, a black kitty with little white feet. He had a red ribbon around his neck and when I found out she'd brought him for me, I thought I'd explode from happiness.
That was before I realized Bootsie was 1/2 felis domesti-catus, 1/4 mountain lion and 1/4 crocodile.
There must be something to black cats. They're either the sweetest things ever, or the meanest. If you've met one, you know what I mean. They're supposed to resemble bad luck--that's what people say. The thing about Bootsie though, was that he held something special deep inside. My aunt and I both saw it. I knew if I made him love me, I'd have a friend for as long as he lived.
Well, Bootsie WAS NOT the sweetest thing ever. In fact (even though no one else believes me) I think Bootsie killed a cat. I found a dead cat in our yard one day--it was a brutish-looking tabby. Bootsie strutted from the bushes nearby; he was all scratched and his right ear no longer perked straight, instead it folded on itself in a crippled way. I decided that's what happens to cats that are murderers! They lose an ear just so all the other cats will know what they've done!
My family swears Bootsie didn't kill that cat, but they didn't know Bootsie like I did. They didn't understand that cat's rage!
Shortly after witnessing the crime scene, I started operation "you're going to love me." Bootsie was a cat-killer, but I'd help him turn from his sinful ways. He'd love me someday--I was determined.
So in an effort of hope, I'd chase that cat around the yard, up a tree, even into the neighbor's bushes. I'd brush him hard and love him tight! I remember tying Bootsie up in a blanket, swaddling him like a baby so only his face showed. Then I bounced him on the tramp, knowing he needed to see that it was okay to have fun and smile. But Bootsie didn't smile. Bootsie gave me the glare of death.
That afternoon as I sat singing a sweet song to Jesus, Bootsie lurked in the grass behind me. I remember feeling something wasn't quite right. I wonder if that's how the other cat felt before it died and Bootsie got "the mark." I turned around, but no one was there. So I continued singing to Rainbow Brite, telling her how she could go to church and accept Jesus. Sure she'd have to walk up and confess in front of all those people, but no one said going to Heaven was easy!
The thing was I'd been preaching to the wrong soul. Bootsie crouched behind me, ready to deal out another death!
With all the pent-up aggression a cat's ever seen, that feline jumped from behind an apple tree and attacked me something unfathomable. I wished I had my blanket! I'd bounce Bootsie on the tramp again, but not nicely this time. I wanted to play crack the egg, or dead man standing! I'd like to baby him--oh I'd show that cat. He dug his claws into my shirt and my first-grader arms barely held him at bay. I was lucky though, that beast hadn't even scratched my skin. I laughed, an evil wizard's laugh. That's when Bootsie showed me the meanest face in the world!
I felt fear, real fear as I studied Bootsie's ear and thought of "the mark" of a murderer! Visions--of the dead cat--danced behind my eyes when I blinked. Maybe I'd be next, but I needed to be brave. I thought hard and realized the only way to win this battle, was to be a pirate!
I'd always be the pirate girl who stowed away, then saved the ship and swooned the cabin boy. I flew into the moment as Bootsie stared at me. I knew we were about to have a showdown. I'd win, or sink trying.
"You scurvy piece of a barnacle. I'll rip ya from stem to stern." I didn't know what a stem or a stern was, but I'd heard those words on an old black and white movie and they sounded mighty fierce, like something a pirate girl would say! "If ya try movin', me arms'll wrap ya up like a baby codfish. I'll rock you 'til it be night night. So, don't move or you'll be rocked until I make you walk this here plank!"
I'd expected Bootsie to shake in his little white boots. But instead he didn't seem bothered by my perfect speech. He waited quietly, let me go on. Then, like a blind beggar with only one ear, he struck out his arm, clutching for treasure. Too bad that treasure was my scalp!
I screamed! Tried to throw Boosie off, but when you're part crocodile, you know how to hang on! Bootsie's claws sunk deeper into my hairline. The only thing I saw hanging by my eye WAS HIS EAR. I screamed! Bootsie HAD killed that cat. I just knew it! No one wanted to face the truth, but he had "the mark." Couldn't anyone else see it? Didn't they have eyes to see his ears!
I screamed again, harder that time, hoping my sister would hear me. She'd always save me when something wasn't going right.
"Help! Help! I'm the next victim! Bootsie is a cat-killer." I shook in pain and ran around the yard. But it was scary running like that because I couldn't see where I was going and we had a window well! I stopped nervously, even though I still pretended to be a pirate. I tried looking around, but all I saw was that damn ear! "HELP. I told you he killed that cat! Now he's trying to kill stowaways too!"
My sister ran from the house--thank God. I knew she was there because I heard the panic in her voice. I turned toward her, but still couldn't see a thing.
"BAD CAT! Bad. Let go. You let go of my sister!" she warned.
She tugged, doing the only thing she could and we played the strangest game of tug-o-war anyone's ever seen. I got whipped around, cause crocodile's don't let go. Then my sister finally won. She pried Bootsie off my face and I cried. Even though I hated crying since stowaways don't cry, but I hadn't won the battle. I'd sunk trying. Plus, my head AND my heart hurt.
But everything did turn out okay because my sister hugged me. Her hugs were the honey of life. She told me she loved me and I'd be okay. That sweet teenager even brought me into the house and gave me a free makeover. I felt better after that. She always knew what I needed. And a few days later I felt so great, I continued operation "you're going to love me" with Bootsie the crocodile.
As shocking as this may sound, I never gave up on Bootsie. A couple years later he did turn from his life of crime and we became best friends. We were nearly inseparable and the funny thing was that Bootsie liked playing pirates and even went for walks with me sometimes.
Bootsie really was the best cat in the world. I miss him dearly because sometimes I think I appreciated our bond more since I worked for it. I guess that's why I still miss that cat-killer. I'll never look at a crocodile the same again.
Today I have one question for you:What was the name of your first pet?