The next few days were filled with a thunderous cacophony of rain limiting the time I spent outdoors to a bear minimum. When the rain finally subsided I called together a meeting of The Watchers at our usual spot. The back corner of Mrs. Browns was grown with grass and wildflowers creating a dense forest only broken by the old tool shed. Mrs. Brown was old, but not quite as old as her lifelong guardian Augustus, or Gus, as we called him. Gus had horrible hearing which was unfortunate for us when we spoke to him as we had to practically yell and often create quite a ruckus. It was fortunate though that Mrs. Brown was just as deaf and never heard anything coming from her old shed.
Oscar, a tabby from down the street called our meeting to order.
“Everyone, please come to order,” she instructed.
It took some time but the chatter eventually died down to a murmur and than finally silence.
“Thank you,” she continued. “Now. We are here today to hear an account of Rissi’s watch from a few nights ago and to discuss our actions in response to it. Rissi.”
I nodded toward Oscar as I stepped forward and began to give my report.
“There is a stranger here among us” I began.
The room filled with exclamations of surprise and confusion. Everyone started speaking at once.
“But I recognize everyone!”
“Maybe they’re hiding somewhere”
“Quick lets find them.”
I tried to get control of the situation before they started a full out search party.
“Wait, wait!” I called out, “Not HERE, here. Out THERE! In the neighborhood, there is a stranger. Out There!”
“Eat pears!?” Gus shouted back.
“Out there!!!” three cars yelled back.
“Ok, ok, out there. No need to yell!” Gus replied quite flustered. He began to lick his paws.
“As I was saying,” I continued with a sigh, “there is something out There” I emphasized “ that I believe needs to be addressed> I was ruthlessly chased down by this…this…BEAST” I exclaimed.
Several cats gasped, a few ‘oh my’s’ were heard. I quickly picked up my story again before I completely lost them.
“The yappy dog up the street…uh what’s his name? That horrible annoying black one. Well he’s disappeared.” That caused more gasps and a lot of nods of approval, which probably was inappropriate but not unexpected.
“It was the last clear night we had. I was on patrol for Bobbin when I saw a pair of glowing eyes watching me. I desperately tried to escape the fierce glare of these eyes but they followed me over fences, through flowerbeds, across grassy yards, even into the road!” I was awarded many supportive exclamations for my bravery. “ I at last had a stare down with my pursuer. His taunting voice was like nails grating in my ears. His fangs dripped blood as he approached.” By now everyone had grown silent leaning closer to me, feeling the tension rising in the room.
“ Suddenly the door behind me opened and I took advantage of the momentary distraction and bolted in side the doors.” I finished with a flourish of my tail to add finality to my story. Silence followed my story as all the watching cats eyes were glued on me.
“So what.” A voice called out into the silence.
As if waking from a trance, noise started to fill the room.
“So what? So what!” I exclaimed. “Who said ‘so what’?” I demanded searching around the room for the source of this outrageous statement.
“I did,” said Gus as he stepped forward. It seemed that he could hear just fine now. “Yes. So what? We’ve had many a stranger invade our area before now. And no one gives a whisker what happened to that yappy pup down the street. We are all better off.” He finished.
“Yes, but” I tried to reason.
“Leave it be” Gus responded. And with that he turned his back on me and waltzed out. At least I think that was what he was trying to do but it was more of lumber out of the dingy shed. As if his exit was the final gavel, the meeting ended. The magical spell that my story held upon my audience was broken and they began to disperse.
I sat there, dumbfounded, my mouth wide open till I was left alone in the shed, the words from Gus still reverberating in the room. After a time I collected the shattered bits of my pride and slowly walked out in to the bright sun. Momentarily blinded by the piercing sunlight a stark contrast to the darkness I just left, a voice spoke behind me.
“I think it matters.”
I looked around me but found no source of the voice. My eyes slowly adjusted to the light as an almost inaudible thump of paws hitting the grass behind me. I turned and saw a small grey kitten with bright blue eyes walk toward me.
“I think it matters. About the stranger and the disappearing dog. Even if no one liked him.” It informed me.
“Thanks,” I murmured back.
“I want to help you,” it continued, “ my name is Jelly-Ann.”
I looked at this small grey kitten in front of me with disbelief. This small creature who could barely frighten kibble out of its bowl wants to help me with this hideous, frightening monster. I looked around me to see it maybe, just maybe, there was someone else, someone braver more capable waiting to offer their help. But I was alone except for this youngling barely out of the womb.
“Well…”I sighed finally looking back at it., “ok.” I shrugged. I had no idea what this kitten was thinking. It was insane! And I was insane thinking that anything good would come of this. More than likely I would end up protecting it more than doing anything else, but what choice did I have now? I started walking past the small kitten. I didn’t hear anything behind me. ‘Maybe it took off’ I thought as I looked over my back to check, but there it was following me. ‘Wow!’ I thought, ‘It sure is quiet. Maybe that could come in handy.’
“What’s your name again?” I asked facing forward again.
“Jelly-Ann.” It replied, her voice filled with the confidence of a full-grown cat.
“Jelly-Ann,” I affirmed.
I had no idea what I was going to do now, but I at least had one feline on my side.