“LIZA!” Harold shrieked, waking me up from my third nap of the day.
Yawning, I opened one eye to see him rushing into the room.
“Someone stole da fur off mah tail!” he exclaimed. “Ah woked up and it was missin’!”
Now, I would like to say that Harold wasn’t the sharpest tack in the box. But the fact was that he was more like a chewed eraser in a box of tacks. Okay, I’ll say it, Harold was dumb, d-u-m-b, dumb.
“Harold,” I sighed, “Nobody stole the fur off your tail.”
“Yeah they did!” Harold twisted his tail around, showing me where once a bushy yellow tail had been, there now was nothing but a skinny, naked tail. “They tooked all mah fur.”
“Harold,” I rolled my eyes as Dad switched the channel to the news. “You did that yourself.”
The yellow, nasty cat in front of me laughed, “Right, why would Ah steal mah own tail fur?”
I wagged my tail, patting the couch next to me to motion for Harold to sit down. I didn’t really want him on the couch. He smelled bad. But we needed to talk.
As he hopped up, I started in my most soothing voice, “Harold, honey, you need to clean yourself. You’re full of stickers, your fur is matted and the motor oil is making you flammable.”
“Ah do clean mahself …” Harold started to say, but I had to interrupt him.
“Yes, your belly,” I nodded as Dad changed the channel back to Green Acres. “But the rest of you needs some cleaning too. The humans give me baths, how about …”
“Aw hell no!” Harold barked. “They ain’t gettin’ meh in that tub.”
“It feels good Harold and you won’t have all those stickers …”
“Armor,” he corrected me.
“They’re mah armor for when Ah battle da udder toms over mah ladies hand,” he explained.
“Okay,” I said with exasperation, “You put your tail on the stove last night and it caught on fire. Mom put you out.”
Harold looked at me and blinked twice, one eye after the other, “Ah think Ah would remember if’n Ah was on fire.”
I shook my head, “Honey, you don’t remember where you live.”
The cat puffed up, “Ah do so! Ah live at elebenty forty o’ twelb Aberdobich Court.”
I had to sit and think about what he had said. It was so random and … not even English. Had there even been a real word in any of that?
“Harold,” I cooed, “those aren’t even words.”
“They are so!” the cat huffed, “And Ah’ma gonna find who stole mah tail fur!”
He jumped down off the couch and padded to the back door. There he meowed … sort of … until the Dad let him outside. Assuming he would be fine, I laid my head back down on my couch and listened the rhythmic thump, thump, thump of the son, Pickle, outside throwing his orange ball through the steel circle. It was soothing, quiet.
It would have lulled me to sleep if I didn’t hear the growl of a tomcat outside.
Wait … I had to stop and listen, lifting my ear to get a better idea of the sound. It wasn’t a tomcat at all. It was a pussy cat.
Great. Harold had gone a’ courtin’. Or so he called it. See, Harold wasn’t exactly a ladies’ man. The girls thought he was gross, smelly and the stickers weren’t their cup of tea. I honestly believe that most of the beatings he got came from pussy cats, not actual tomcats. And this was going to be another one.
I padded to the back door as the fight broke out. Whining and scratching at the door, I let Dad know that I wanted out as well.
“Fine, go help him out,” Dad groaned, reaching back and sliding the door open. He knew I was off to save Harold … again.
It was Miss Lucy this time. She was a fat, ill-tempered and vile calico pussy cat. Running out the door, I barked as loudly as I could, but she was taking the opportunity to beat Harold up as badly as she could.
The pussy cat scratched and bit poor Harold, flinging mats of yellow fur all over the yard and bloodying his ears. Using all four legs, she scratched and kicked while the poor yellow tom did nothing to defend himself.
“GET OFF HIM YOU BITCH!” I barked, rolling the pussy cat up in a ball and sending her flailing toward the fence.
“You better keep that thing …” she started to say, but I was in no mood to hear her.
“I will kill you Lucy,” I growled, letting the fur on my back stand up, “You and I are coming to terms one of these days,” I threatened.
Spitting at me, the female cat jumped onto the fence, “I look forward to it,” she hissed.
Turning around, I looked down on poor Harold who was sitting in a ball at my feet. Battered, bloody and missing patches of fur, he looked more pitiful than I had ever seen.
“You okay big guy?” I asked, nudging the ashamed tomcat.
“Why don’t anyone like meh,” asked Harold. He wouldn’t look up at, he just stared at the ground.
Sitting down next to my friend, I licked his wounded head, “You’re sweet, kind, friendly and the best cat any family could ever want Harold. They’re jealous.”
That’s when I spied my chance. There were Harold parts all over the yard!
“Hey!” I exclaimed, “You solved the case Harry!”
“What?” he looked up pitifully.
Rushing over to one of the piles of yellow fur, I snatched it up. Quickly, I scampered back to Harold and dropped the stinking mass in front of him.
“You’re tail fur!” I exclaimed, knowing he couldn’t tell the difference. “You solved the case! It was Lucy the whole time!”
Harold looked at the fur at his feet and then back up at me. Blinking one eye and then the other in that lazy way he always did, he smiled up at me. His motor was running … sort of. Dad liked to say he had a rod knocking so his purr came out in a choked sputter. Pushing his chest out with pride, Harold picked up his mass of fur and padded toward the house.
Yes, Harold was gross and dumb. But he was my Harold.
Author’s Note: Yes, Harold the cat was real and he really did catch his own tail on fire without knowing it. Thank goodness Mom was there to pat him out before he burned up. Harold was dumb, smelly and the best cat anyone could ever have in their family.
Rest in peace buddy, we all miss you.