On Saturday night, my mother went to dinner with my aunt and my uncle. They live a few hours away from us and so when they come, rather than leave their three boys with a sitter and worry, they leave them with me. Cassie comes over sometimes, but they love the cats so much they usually behave pretty well.
Well, they'd gone out to dinner and I expected them back maybe at midnight. Cassie and I enticed the boys to sleep through building a tent of sheets. All the cats were thrilled at the change of scenery and we ended up burrowed under a mountain of blankets in the family room. You could hardly step anywhere for fear of stepping on a boy or a cat.
The littlest boy, Jordan, in first grade, had Cocoa, who really was just his size. Alex, the middle child, nine, had Locket. James, 11, had Buster. I had D'Artagnan and Cassie ended up with Jordan, because he was scared and wanted to hold her hand.
Anyway, it wasn't even midnight and we were all asleep when all of a sudden D'Artagnan jumps on top of me and starts kneading my shoulder. It hurt like heck and, needless to say, it woke me wide awake.
"Stop," I whispered. "Stop, D'Ar!"
That was when I heard it.
Something in the kitchen fell with a crash. I sat up immediately and D'Ar jumped off me as if to say, Finally!
I am not one of those people who knows karate or anything. In a fight, I might win because, as a few elementary fights taught me, I'm scrappy and determined, but other than that, I don't have any special skills. I also have an overactive mind that was rapidly churning out facts that I didn't want to digest.
The odds were: two teenage girls, three boys, and five cats against at least one person carrying Lord-knows-what.
James sat up too and whispered, "Don't worry, Lily. I have a green belt!"
Great. So we've got two teenage girls, two boys with no martial arts experience, and an eleven-year-old with a green belt. Oh, also five cats.
I looked for the phone. It was on the tv cabinet across the room.
I shook Cassie until she woke up. "What?" she demanded.
"There's someone in the kitchen!"
She sighed. Cassie thinks I panic too often.
We heard something crinkling, like a plastic bag only stiffer. Cassie froze, her eyes huge. "Oh...my...gosh."
By now the other two boys had woken up.
Jordan was clutching Cocoa so tight her eyes were bugging out of her head. James reached over to free her. "This is not funny, Lily! This is a joke, right?" Jordan whimpered.
"It's okay," James said. "Lily and Cassie will figure out what to do."
"We need the phone," I whispered.
"I-I'll get it," James offered. "I mean, I do have a green belt."
"It's a nice offer, James, but your mother would kill me if I let anything happen to you," I said. I looked at Cassie. "Cass, watch them."
I crawled out of the tent and moved slowly towards the door. D'Artagnan kept a half-beat ahead of me.
The wall the cabinet sits on is also the wall of the kitchen and the phone sat on the edge closest to the doorframe. I crept up carefully, listening fiercely. I heard nothing... except for a strange crunching noise.
I grabbed the phone, but then something occured to me and I forced myself to peer around the corner into the kitchen.
The dry food bag had fallen on its side and there was a slender ringed tail switching from side to side in the opening.
Buster Baddie. The criminal mastermind.
Happy April Fool's Day from all of us here at Cat Philanthropy!