Hubby banged inside through the back door. “We have to do something,” he declared, punching numbers on his cell phone. “That kid’s breaking my heart.”
Didn’t have to ask what he was talking about. For three days we’d driven past our neighbor’s little girl, standing in her yard waiting for her Kitty to come down from a tree.
No telling what sent Kitty twenty feet up into that pine in the first place; maybe a stray dog, or maybe a coyote since they’re bad around here lately. But the original consensus to leave her alone and she’d find her way down when hungry enough wasn’t working.
Day one: Kitty screeched and yowled. Her young owner made several trips to the edge of her yard during the day, begging Kitty to come down and play.
Day two: Kitty screeched, but not quite as vociferous as the day before. Her owner spent more time at the edge of her yard, alternating between begging her to come down and outright crying. Hubby scowled, hands tightening on the steering wheel, every time we ran errands and passed that little girl, tear-filled eyes huge in her heartbroken face. (His nickname should be ‘Loli’ Pop, because when it comes to kids, he’s an all day sucker.)
Day three: we were worried. It was hot and Kitty hadn’t had anything to eat or drink in seventy-two hours. She barely mewled and didn’t lift her head when called. Her owner dragged
a blanket to the edge of the yard and refused to come inside again.
Rescue plan discussed, ladders, safety lines and supplies were assembled. Even a large quilt to be held open by the corners for kitty to land in, just in case she took exception to rescue and decided to demonstrate the feline version of a twenty-bladed Sushi chef and had to be dropped. I cleaned that up a little for the blog. The original male version referenced ape poop and a serious, graphically expressed reluctance to physically experience of high degree of clawmanship.
Once this bunch of stone-cold, hard-core men rallied around the pine tree holding the cat hostage, I skipped inside to do what every gracious Southern hostess does for a social gathering. Make iced tea. Turns out I didn’t have to rush. Rescue didn’t happen right away. One rescuer had a bad back and couldn’t lift things, two were deathly afraid of heights, and the remaining one not afraid of heights had his ribs taped from being kicked by a cow. He couldn’t reach and stretch even if he climbed the ladder. So this rescue had to be a joint effort.
The two afraid of heights lifted the ladder into place against the tree and hubby held it anchored. After considering things (read this as having a big-eyed little girl cling to his pants leg and beg for her kitty), one of them decided it wasn’t that high. He could handle it. He made it to the fifth rung before he turned white and woozy, and was forced to retreat. The second height challenged fellow made it to the eighth rung. Hubby split his time between shooting me glares for my running cell phone commentary for my daughter’s benefit, and coaching his man upward and onward. I had to talk loud. The guy climbing shook so hard the sliding sections of the ladder banged together like giant castanets. Knew hubby’d actually been listening when he repeated what I’d told my daughter. “You need to get down, man. You’re about to rattle every rivet in that ladder loose!”
Was forced to hang up then. Had to climb up behind the guy now frozen in place, situate myself tight behind him and do a tandem descent. My heels are still sore from having to repeatedly kick his foot off the rung he was on and force it to the next lower one. What is with these country boys and steel-toed boots? Reaching the ground called for another round of iced tea.
That left Cow Kicked Man. He went up, bottled water in one front pocket, can of tuna in the other. He couldn’t reach without wincing, so he twisted off the cap and drizzled water at the junction of the tree limb to lure Kitty close enough to grab. Nothing. The can of tuna was cracked open next, a small bit dug out with a finger. He settled the can in the crook of the tree and proffered the loaded digit. Kitty hissed and spat, showing an impressive length of fang. He wisely wiped the tuna on the limb, then hacked and spat himself after he stuck his tuna-wet finger in his mouth without thinking. “Pine tar,” he choked, embarrassed. He tossed the offending can into edge of the woods. Growling sounds issued from Kitty both impressive and absolutely evil. “Now you want it?” he challenged the cat, disgusted.
I was distracted enough with an idea for a Vampire Cat story hubby had to call to me twice. Grabbed a quilt corner and got positioned under the limb as our climber went two rungs higher and set a foot on Kitty’s limb. Looked like she’d have to be bounced out. He pressed down slightly, then let the limb snap back up. Kitty changed the way she faced and we moved in the direction she’d
leap, gripping our corners tight, expectant.
Cat still in the tree. He pressed harder, bounced the limb higher. We scrambled the other way, quilt stretched between us. Our catch cloth remained empty. While we moved around like a land version of a screen saver, he stomped on that limb until it whipped through the air and he was sweaty. And that cat still wasn’t shaken loose. We heard a chirring behind us about the time he whooped and pointed down. Like a cross between a Vaudeville act and dysfunctional flag corps, we stumbled up the road, putting hasty distance between us and the huge coon snacking on discarded tuna while he watched the dinner show. “That’s the son of a bi–” the guy on the ladder swallowed what he was going to say, stretching it to “–iii-scuit eater tearing up my trash!”
Think that coon made the difference, even if the end was anti-climatic. Kitty hated the idea something else got her goodies. She crawled along the thin limb, sinking her claws like talons, and finally reached the closest piece of the rescue unit. He squinched up imagining multiple puncture wounds, expecting her to climb him in the same manner. Imagine our surprise–and his relief–when she slipped inside his shirt and curled around his torso.
He came down that ladder quick, before she could change her mind. Kitty returned to her ecstatic owner, much congratulatory back-slapping ensued. Everyone packed up and left, and hubby and I decided to walk back to the house rather than ride. I kind of like strolling beside my home-grown hero, his arm slung around my shoulders and him wearing that crooked little grin.
Hmmm, now what should he get as his reward . . . .