Here I am again! before I begin, I would like to thank all who sent good wishes for my partner's operation and recovery - in particular, Angie, Lance, and Bailey. We send our heartfelt thanks. My partner is making an excellent recovery and we are awaiting the results of tests on the stuff the doctor removed. Happy days.
Now then: I have just returned from a lovely holiday in Wales, which I did not deserve. I had lovely food, which I did not deserve and had lots of lovely walks and games on beaches, none of which I deserved. I suffered a terrible accident necessitating emergency veterinary treatment and got beaten up by three horses - these I deserved. For I have been a very, very naughty boy.
Even my most devoted friends and followers will be rightly ashamed of me. I did a bad thing. I shudder when I think how despicably I behaved. It involved the new friend - "the eyes from behind the hedge" - if only someone had warned me about keeping company with him; but, alas, I was not guided into a smoother path.
To set the scene: whilst my partner was in hospital, a friend of the family came to stay in order to care for me. His name was Sandy and he is a very nice Scottish gentleman - in his early 80s, but still sprightly and full of fun. One fateful evening, the French windows were open (despite it being dark outside) and Sandy was engaged in watching a DVD about steam trains. Glancing outside, I spotted my small rodent friend gesturing to me from the end of the garden. I tiptoed out to join him.
"Tonight's the night, my friend." he said, his eyes glittering.
"For what?" I asked.
"Some fun with kittens." Ah yes, the kittens. My chum had often alluded to them, but I hadn't fully grasped his meaning - now it would all become clear. "Come on!" squeaked my friend, nudging aside the broken fence post. I cast a look back into the living room; Sandy was engrossed in his DVD and had noticed nothing. I squeezed myself through the gap with an excited shiver as the thrill of being naughty dashed throughout my body. I followed my friend across the road and into the little alley alongside the garden of the house opposite my own. We stopped by a gate. "Push it open," whispered my friend, "It's not fastened." I gave the gate a shove with my shoulder and the gate swung open.
"How did you know it wasn't locked?" I asked, incredulously. My little chum snickered.
"I've been keeping an eye on this house." he replied, "They've got kids - and they never shut the gate behind them. In we go." I followed him into the garden and up to the side wall of the house. "Get up there." he muttered, gesturing to a window, beneath which was a garden-tool storage-box alongside the dustbins. I climbed carefully up the box/bin ladder and stood looking down at the ground. I couldn't see my friend anywhere. I looked around, straining my eyes, but he'd completely disappeared.
"Right then." said a voice beside me, startling me so much that I almost fell off the bins. I managed to stifle a yelp. "Look in there." hissed the water-rat, who had somehow appeared at my side. Goodness only knows how he got up beside me. I tried to ask, but he shushed me. I looked with him through the window into the kitchen of the house. In the far corner of the room, in a cardboard box lined with blankets, lay a tortoiseshell cat (with collar + bell), nursing three tiny kittens. They hadn't yet opened their infant eyes, so they must have been fairly newborn. Two of the kittens, one black and white, the other pure white, lay in the box suckling milk from their mother and the third kitten, a tortoiseshell, was struggling furiously as his mother tried to wash his head. We watched in silence. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my rodent chum licking his lips. His eyes were glinting and a broad smile displayed his horrid yellow teeth. The struggling kitten nipped his mother and we watched as she disciplined him. My friend laughed. "Woah - he's a feisty one!"
"Um, why are we here?" I ventured to ask.
"Look at 'em, mate." he replied, "Look at that tender young flesh. Have you ever wondered how meat like that tastes?"
"Come on, son. Don't pretend you haven't thought of it. Fresh... pure... unspoilt... mmmn..." I knew it was wrong, but as my friend continued to whisper in my ear his scent changed. He smelled more wild, like a hunter. From somewhere deep within me, primal, feral urges welled. Urges and instincts long buried - a primitive bloodlust, beyond my control, gripped me, and everything that was Jasper was cast aside.
"What are we going to do?" I growled, saliva drooling from my fangs. My veins coursed with anticipation of the hunt and desire for the fresh, pulsing meat.
"You're going to hop about on the lawn, making a racket to distract the parent. While she's dealing with you, I'll get in and out of the catflap, grabbing the kids. We'll finish 'em off in the hedge together."
"Yes! Yes!" I snarled, eager to get my prize bellyful. I jumped silently down onto the lawn and prepared for action.
"Oh, hello." muttered my friend, looking through the window again. "Where's mother gone?" Before I could answer, there was a blinding explosion as something came pummelling into my flank with the full force of a speeding locomotive and I was sent crashing to the ground, rolling over and over until I hit the fence .
Groaning, I opened my eyes to find the female cat standing over me. My whole body felt bruised and, as I looked up at her, she slapped me across the face, her claws slashing my cheek. I yelped.
"WHAT do you think you're DOING?" she yowled at me. I whimpered at the pain in my cheek. "How COULD you?" she screamed, "How could you?! They're just babies! I saw you at the window!" She proceeded to call me a selection of obscene names while I struggled to get free. Every time I wriggled she slapped me again. I began to howl pitifully and she relaxed her grip a bit. "Get out." she hissed into my face, little bits of spittle flying at me with each word. "And if I ever, EVER, catch you in my garden again I'll tear off your fat ar*e and make you wear it as a hat. Understand?"
"Y-yes. Thank you, madam." I squeaked, "I'm sorry madam, I truly am." She spat at me again and was about to say something else, when she gave a roar and, in a flash of fur so fast that I could barely see her, she flew from me to the edge of the garden. My rodent companion had been quietly slinking away to safety.
The enraged cat landed immediately behind him and stabbed a claw through his tail, pinning him to the ground. He squealed and began thrashing about frantically. "YOU!" shouted the cat, "I might have known you'd be back! I warned you. Thought you'd succeed by bringing along a bit of meat-headed muscle, did you?!" She flicked her eyes in my direction. I turned and looked behind me, but there was no-one there. Whoever she was referring to had obviously run away.
"Noooo!" squeaked my friend, pathetically, "It was all his fault! He made me do it! I tried to stop him!" He started to cry. I was disgusted and utterly ashamed of him. "Boohoohoo - I didn't want to take them! He said-"
"SHUT IT!" screeched the cat, smacking him across the back of the head. "You've had your chance, rat."
Rat? Rat?! Oh no, no, NO!!! The fog of obfuscation at last cleared from my mind. My so-called friend wasn't a water-rat or vole at all! He was a RAT! No wonder he was so big. I gulped, and tried to remember if my vaccinations were up to date. A rat! How could I have been so blind???
"He's had his marching orders," hissed the angry feline, her eyes flashing in my direction again. "And you. What shall I do with you? Yes. YOU are coming with me. You will be the star part in my children's first lesson in hunting." The rat screamed again and renewed his writhing. Somehow (don't ask me how), he managed to struggle free and was off towards the river without a second glance. The cat howled in rage, but let him go. I stood watching her, as my paws seemed glued to the ground. Eventually she turned to me. "I trust I do not have to repeat myself?" she snarled.
"Er, n-no," I stammered, blood from my cut cheek trickling into my mouth. "Madam, I apologise sincerely and unreservedly. I don't know what came over me. I would never have pr-"
"OUT!" she screeched.
I bolted through the gate, back across the street, into my own garden and through the French windows. By a fortunate chance, Sandy (who is somewhat hard of hearing) was still occupied with his steam train DVD and hadn't heard the melée outside.
"Ah, there you are!" he said as I pushed my way through the curtains. I shamefully slunk to the other side of the settee, in order to conceal my injured cheek, and lay down to lick my wounds. My psychological wounds would not mend so easily. I had been duped by a rat and very nearly committed the most heinous crime in my moral code. Oh, Jasper - how came you to this?! I despised my self. But only for about half an hour. It wasn't completely my fault, after all.
The following day, I alerted Sandy to the broken fence-post. I held his tool bag for him while he nailed the post closed.
Next time: windmills, Wales - and WS...