36: Archie the Angel

36: Archie the Angel

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

Archie the Angel

The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature.

~Andy Rooney

I tiptoed to the corner of the living room. “Archie, where are you? Come out, come out, wherever you are!” I chanted.

Archie’s loud purring had revealed his hiding place behind our freshly cut eight-foot Christmas tree, but he didn’t realize we’d located his whereabouts. I peeked through the branches and spotted him rolling from side to side on the red plaid tree skirt — playfully sparring with a tiny tree branch that was touching his tummy. Archie’s black fur glistened as he nestled close to a strand of twinkling miniature white lights my husband had just put on the tree.

Suddenly, Archie’s purring became louder and he began to twitch and thrust about. Then he sprawled flat out on his back and lay motionless under the tree. I was stunned to watch our lively eight-month-old kitten become subdued and induced into a state of euphoria from inhaling the intoxicating scent of the fresh pine.

I motioned for my husband to join me. “Look at Archie,” I whispered, “he’s intoxicated from the fragrance of the pine.”

“I think pine is the new catnip,” my husband teased. “He can sleep it off under the tree.”

The following morning, we’d hit the snooze button twice and were trying to steal another ten minutes of slumber. But Archie was wide awake and his noisy purring woke us up when he entered our bedroom. He was back to his energetic self, and leapt upon our bed and began jumping back and forth between our pillows — licking our faces and purring incessantly in our ears. There was no way to coax Archie to settle in with us and take a catnap before breakfast.

As I fed Archie his breakfast, my husband made us omelets. While we ate our breakfast, we compiled a list of things to do that weekend.

Before we left the house to run errands, we looked in on Archie, lying fast asleep in his bed. “He’s such a good-natured little guy,” I said. “How could anyone abandon such a sweet kitten?”

My husband gave me a hug and said, “Just be thankful he was dumped on our doorstep.”

Indeed. I’d never forget that chilly, rainy Halloween night. It was long after the trick-or-treaters had stopped begging for candy at our door. My husband was sound asleep on the couch and I’d settled in to watch The Addams Family television marathon. Suddenly, tires squealed, a loud, gruff voice shouted, “Get lost runt!” and a vehicle peeled rubber down the street. Quickly, I turned on the porch light, opened the front door and discovered a soaked and crying black kitten underneath the porch swing. I scurried to grab a towel and scooped him into my arms. As I dried him, he arched his back and purred. After he was completely dry, I gave him a bowl of warm milk. He arched his back and purred as he lapped up the milk. When finished, he arched his back, meowed softly, rubbed against my legs and waited for me to pet him. He was so cute when he arched his back to get my attention — I decided to name him Archie.

Our four-hour shopping expedition that afternoon was a huge success. We finished the Christmas shopping for our parents and siblings, purchased a vintage metal angel tree topper and a red personalized Christmas stocking for Archie. On the drive home, we decided after dinner my husband would place the angel on top of the tree and I’d hang Archie’s stocking from the fireplace mantel.

“Archie’s probably pacing and meowing by his food bowl,” my husband said, pulling into the driveway.

As we entered the back door into the kitchen, the sweet fragrance of pine filled our nostrils. “I love the smell of Christmas!” I said, with no sign of Archie waiting to be fed.

My husband headed for the living room. “Archie’s sleeping under the tree. Let’s feed him after we unpack the car.”

To our dismay, when we returned to the living room twenty minutes later, Archie wasn’t asleep in his favorite spot. Apparently, Archie had no plans to leave his new haven, the Christmas tree. Unbeknownst to us, he’d managed to climb limb by limb up the back of the tree. In a matter of seconds, the tree began to sway to and fro against the wall. Then we spotted Archie on a tiny branch in back of the tree, about a quarter of the way from the top of the tree.

“Archie, stop!” my husband shouted. “Don’t go any farther!”

But it was too late; the branch made a loud cracking noise and tinkling sounds of tin ornaments rang in our ears as they tumbled to the floor. Archie dug his claws deeper into the tree trunk and the tree began to tilt forward. Fortunately, it was my husband to the rescue. He reached for Archie, tugging hard, forcing him to release his claws, as the tree, laden with lights, vintage tin ornaments and tinsel crashed to the floor.

“What were you thinking? You could have been badly hurt,” my husband scolded, stroking Archie’s head and shoulders to soothe his frayed nerves.

“The top of the tree was bare, and I believe Archie wanted to be our treetop angel,” I chuckled.

While Archie ate his dinner, we lifted the Christmas tree back into the corner of the living room. Surprisingly, there were only a few minor adjustments to make to the branches of lights and tin ornaments — no breakage whatsoever.

After Archie’s stocking was hung and the metal angel was placed on top of the tree, we couldn’t help but admire our handiwork. “This calls for a glass of bubbly,” my husband said. “You grab the champagne flutes.”

Unaware that Archie was underfoot, my husband popped the champagne cork into the air and it grazed Archie’s head.

“This sure hasn’t been Archie the angel’s lucky day,” I said. “Do you think it’s true that cats have nine lives?”

My husband laughed. “I sure hope so. I think Archie’s going to need them.”

~Georgia A. Hubley

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