10: Trick or Feat

10: Trick or Feat

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Trick or Feat

Where there is no imagination there is no horror.

~Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr.

Sebastian, my tuxedo cat, dashed through the living room, with me in hot pursuit. He went into capture-and-conquer mode every time I used the feather duster. His fascination for it grew beyond merely taking it from me. Finding its newest hiding place had become one of his favorite pastimes.

I caught up with him by the sofa and grabbed the duster. “You can’t have this.” I sat on the sofa and dropped the tempting cleaning tool next to me.

He hopped up and swatted at the feathers.

“No.” I shoved the duster under my sweatshirt. “I don’t have time for this.”

In addition to my regular housecleaning chores, this was Halloween. I had to finish dusting, sweeping, and mopping before I could set out the pumpkins, scarecrows, and candy.

Sebastian flipped his tail expectantly.

I laughed and stroked his black and white forehead. “You understand every word, don’t you, boy?”

I carried the duster, still hidden within my clothing, from room to room, searching for a nook or canny my clever cat hadn’t yet discovered.

“Aha. He’ll never think to look in here.” I glanced back into the living room. Sebastian sniffed and pawed at the sofa, where he had last seen his catch of the day. I tossed a couple of toys in his direction, hoping to distract him. It worked.

“Now,” I said to myself, “time to finish my chores. Trick-or-treaters will be here before dusk.”

After the last costumed child begged his treat, I locked the front door and turned off the porch light.

Sebastian toyed with his favorite catnip mouse as I watched TV. The feather duster was tucked safely in its latest hiding place.

Later that night, I sat in bed with my book, hoping to finish at least one chapter. The first paragraph blurred on the page. “I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out who done it.” Sebastian curled up next to me as I set the novel on the nightstand and scooted between cozy sheets. I turned off the lamp and was fast asleep in minutes.

A creak, thump, and scrape woke me in the middle of the night. The LED numbers on my clock radio read 1:45.

I had lived alone for many years, so normal household sounds rarely disturbed me. But those strange noises made my blood run cold. Had some goblin invaded my home?

I climbed out of bed and, following the sounds, tiptoed into the kitchen.

TV cop shows taught me not to turn on a light when investigating a noise. If it was a burglar, I wanted to see him before he saw me.

My eyes strained in the darkness. I could barely make out the half-opened pantry door.

Another creak, thump, and scrape came from the pantry. I crept forward and opened the door all the way.

Movement on the top shelf caught my attention. I could barely make out a small, strange creature with a crouched torso. Two silvery-green eyes glowed from the Medusa-like head rolling back and forth in a wavy motion. A muffled growl sent shivers down my spine. I couldn’t move.

The creature lunged at me. I screamed when the monster landed on my shoulders, its claws digging into my flesh. Something hard hit my cheek. Then the creature emitted a familiar purr before leaping to the floor.

I turned on the light.

“Sebastian?” The nightmarish beast was my cat, his size enhanced by the feather duster protruding from his mouth. He dropped his prey and meowed his conquest.

I looked at the pantry. How did he open the door? The top shelf was eight feet high. He couldn’t have climbed up there without knocking everything off the four shelves beneath it. Did he really jump from the floor to the top? And how did he know the feather duster was up there?

I turned to my acrobat cat. He stretched up a paw as though expecting a high-five. With his amazing top-shelf flight, I considered giving him one, or at least a good boy treat.

I scooped up Sebastian. “Back to bed, little guy.”

He jumped out of my arms and grabbed the feather duster in his mouth, padding toward the bedroom.

“Uh, no. I’m not sleeping with a feather duster,” I said to his retreating backside. The ceiling fan caught my eye. Hmmm, ten foot ceilings. If I taped the duster to the top of the blade? I laughed at myself. You’re getting desperate, girl.

Two o’clock in the morning was no time to match wits with a tricky cat. I took Sebastian’s booty from him and put it in the refrigerator. As I headed back to bed, he sat staring at the refrigerator door. I shook my head. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he found a way to open it.

~Janet Ramsdell Rockey

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