Subject: Manse Diaries: The Wonderful Smiths

Date: 27 Sep 1997 00:00:00 GMT

From: nospamum@radix.net (MegaLiz)

Organization: MotPU: Where Binary Moodswings are ALWAYS on the Menu

Newsgroups: alt.foot.fat-free, alt.slack

 

 

[Long boring story]

 

Today I drove past the Wonderful Smiths' house and noticed that it is

vacant. Not just vacant, but abandoned. Where have they gone? Were

they ever really there?

 

The reason I will always think of them as the Wonderful Smiths is that

I had one of the most enormous Slack wollups of my life in their back

yard, and I give them all the credit. At the time all I gave them was

an expensive bouquet of flowers, because they were the sort of people

that would just love that sort of thing. The only time I met them and

their back yard I imagined that they had lots of grandchildren who

adored visiting there.

 

To explain what happened in their back yard, I'll have to start

writing about cats. The only time that I met the Wonderful Smiths was

preceded by a time of cat disappearances. Cats disappear ALL the time,

but six years ago there was a bad rash of missing cats. Ahem. The

first to go was my neighbor's cat, Chong, a big nasty Siamese. Then

his twin, Cheech, stopped showing up for cat chow. We began to

speculate that Meathead, the creepy pobucker next door was the

cat-napper, but that didn't seem likely, since his only near virtue

was an extremely sentimental love of animals.

 

About a week after the second Siamese went missing, the unthinkable

happened. My Kitty disappeared too.

 

To explain anything else about this, I'll have to start writing about

Kitty. Kitty was my twelfth cat, not that I had that many at once, but

the twelfth ever. Out of twelve cats she was THE BEST, the most

unusual. She hated everyone except me. With me she behaved like a dog,

greeting me, KISSING me and displaying all sorts of uncatlike friendly

behavior. She had three other names before I settled on Kitty: there

was no point in calling a cat Swanky when it only answered to Kitty,

no matter how foolish I felt when we went to the vet.

 

When I realized that she was gone I was frantic. I wished they'd taken

Ted Koppel instead. Ted was the anti-cat, the most stupid, filthy,

lazy, worthless, towel-peeing-on feline that ever lived. Ted's

presence in my house was mocking me once she was gone, but I STILL

couldn't kill him. I couldn't give him away, either. Even though I

hated Ted, I'd have to hate someone else ever more passionately to

make him their present. He was just that bad.

 

So I kept Ted and made posters. The posters presented the most basic

problem of the cat-finding mission: Kitty was very difficult to

describe. She was EVERY cat color and had every cat pattern. Her fur

was neither long nor short. She was a delicate, declawed

psychedelicat.

 

As soon as possible, I called the city's Animal Control Officer. She

said, "I can't say just what I've scraped off that road lately. They

all look alike. I can tell you we don't have any LIVE cats here now."

 

I called the county's Animal Control office. They encouraged me to

bring a picture and make a report and then they helpfully REFUSED to

describe the cats in custody. I'd have to come to THEM in any case.

 

Pet Hell is not a place to visit in that county, it managed to be

depressing and horrible in every way. Only twice was I able to force

myself into that nasty rundown building and speak with the harried,

hippie volunteers about Kitty. The first time they pushed a bunch of

"handouts" at me that described the horrors of kidnapped pets turned

into lab animals. Great. Now I could have pamphlet-induced nightmares.

 

The second time I visited Pet Hell, I went with my mother. We were not

lucky. When we were leaving, a big old truck backed up to the building

near her parking space. A large dark man opened the back of the truck

as we were getting in the car. She started the ignition and said quite

suddenly, "Don't look." Naturally, I looked. It seemed that he was

hefting a sort of frying pan. He tossed it in, grabbed another, which

I then heard thump into his vehicle. That wasn't any kind of cookware,

I saw, but dead cats being lifted by their rigorous tails. This itself

was bad enough. It was made infinitely worse for having been witnessed

with my MOTHER. Now SHE was going to be having nightmares.

 

Advertising was my last resort. After two weeks, I placed an ad to run

for a month in the local paper. I got a couple of leads that

dead-ended with me trying to interrogate teenagers about a cat they

MIGHT have seen "a while ago."

 

I gave up for a time. Kitty had been gone for a month and I began to

suspect that the charming Animal Control cupcake had mistaken her for

squirrel guts. The guilt was hard to deny. Who let her out? Who let

her out knowing that Cheech AND Chong had vanished? Who couldn't

organize a proper search, whining about job and baby and school and no

time for cat hunting? I was a rotten pet owner with only a rotten pet

to show for it. Ted was still not among the missing.

 

At six weeks after the disappearance, I decided to make one last

effort by expanding the search and placing an ad in the big city

newspaper:

 

LARGE REWARD

Well-loved female cat, small,

DMH, declawed, spayed, multi-

colored tortoise shell with

some stripes. MARYLAND.

 

The kooks really went for this one. I had a call from a woman who said

she was dying and wanted to find a good home for HER cat. Suddenly

everybody wanted to give me some OTHER cat. I was pissed that I had

paid real money for really bad prank phone calls.

 

A few days after the ad ran, the Rev took a call. Exhausted and jaded,

I had to be persuaded to go to see these people. A very shy feral cat

had been visiting their shed. They fed it and they THOUGHT that maybe

the streak they'd seen through binoculars fit my half-assed

description of Kitty. They were impossibly far away. How could a

little bitty declawed cat have traveled SEVEN miles? How could she

have possibly crossed the INTERSTATE? Just do it, he said. So we went.

 

I was glad we'd done it as soon as we got there. It was a sweet old

house in a semi-rural neighborhood. The windows looked like they

opened with cranks, every one. The Wonderful Smiths brought us in

their home, even though the shed was really what we came to see. They

admired the baby and told a long story about how they had first come

to notice the wild cat in the woods behind the shed. This cat was fast

and jumpy and preferred to eat at night. Asking when they had fed it

last, I was amazed that they had gone ahead and fed it on schedule,

after dinner, completely blowing any chance we might have of coaxing

it out of the heavy underbrush.

 

Stifling my annoyance and wholly skeptical of the idea, I walked with

them down the slope of their enormous back yard toward the dilapidated

shed. The Rev stepped away from the group and called to the cat loudly

for a few minutes. I felt stupid. The Wonderful Smiths felt stupid.

The Rev looked pretty stupid and I loved him like crazy just then. He

came back up the hill to us and made thank-you-for-your-trouble noises

at the Smiths.

 

Quite suddenly, I didn't want to leave and handed the baby to him

instead. I called out softly as I moved forward, peering into the

bushes, "Kitty-Kitty-Kitty-Kitty..." I heard a cry and felt adrenaline

pulse - one beat from my chest to my finger tips.

 

"Kitty-Kitty-Kitty?" Another cry and rustling noises. I couldn't

breathe. The Wonderful Smiths were still chatting with the Rev,

oblivious. Goosebumps.

 

"Kitty-Kitty-Kitty?" A cat burst through the foliage, meowing over and

over. I didn't have to look more than a split second to know it was my

very own indescribable psychdelicat. She walked right to me and let me

pick her up. I cried enough to bathe her on the spot.

 

The Wonderful Smiths refused to accept my reward. "We don't take money

for doing the right thing," said Mr. Smith. So I spent all the reward

money on flowers for them.

 

 

A month later I got a call from a stranger who claimed to have found

my cat in North Carolina. He wanted the reward so that he could bring

her to me, he said.

 

"FUCK YOU!" I said.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Stand up for NICENESS!

Strike a BLOW for good manners!

 

Subject: Re: Manse Diaries: The Wonderful Smiths

Date: 27 Sep 1997 12:01:20 GMT

From: Sketchy Albedo <revjack@radix.net>

Organization: wee voices

 

[RJ comments:]

 

:We began to

:speculate that Meathead, the creepy pobucker next door was the

:cat-napper, but that didn't seem likely

 

I used to see Meathead out in his back yard burying things at 3:00am.

If you ever looked at him, he would stop doing whatever he was doing,

including crossing the street, and glare hatefully at you until you

looked away. He looked like John Entwhistle.

 

:When I realized that she was gone I was frantic. I wished they'd

:taken Ted Koppel instead. Ted was the anti-cat, the most stupid,

:filthy,lazy, worthless, towel-peeing-on feline that ever lived.

 

Ted the mighty hunter used to bring home roadkill. He once presented us

with a dead squirrel that actually had tire marks on it. I'm not making

this up. After a year in our house he finally noticed the second hand

on the wall clock and spent three days trying to kill it.

 

 

:I was glad we'd done it as soon as we got there. It was a sweet

:oldhouse in a semi-rural neighborhood. The windows looked like they

:opened with cranks, every one.

 

Their living room was filled with those highway sawhorses with flashing

lights on them, whatever they're called. Many, many, many flashing

light thingies. It was surreal.

 

 

:"Kitty-Kitty-Kitty?" A cat burst through the foliage, meowing over and

:over. I didn't have to look more than a split second to know it was

:my very own indescribable psychdelicat. She walked right to me and let

:me pick her up. I cried enough to bathe her on the spot.

 

 

That was the sorriest looking cat I'd ever seen. Fleas, ticks,

chiggers,leaves, twigs, brambles all over it, and skinny as hell.

When it finally figured out it was us, it wouldn't shut up. MEOW MEOW

MEOW MRAAAAAR MEEEEEAAAAAH MROAOAOA MAOOOOO MEOW MEEEOW MEEEEEEEEOW

MRAK MRAK jeeze, it wouldn't stop.

 

 

:The Wonderful Smiths refused to accept my reward. "We don't take money

:for doing the right thing," said Mr. Smith. So I spent all the reward

:money on flowers for them.

 

They were nice people.