Unfortunately, I haven’t published any photo blogs for a while. I’ve gone through some major life changes this year. We fixed up and sold our house in Philadelphia and moved to Amelia Island, Florida. Luckily, we made it through Hurricane Ian, our first unwanted house guest, without any damage! I recruited a guest blogger to ease me back into this. Cosette-the-Black-Cat reluctantly agreed to get me started.
The Most Dangerous Night of All
By Cosette Marie
I heard my mangled name but chose to ignore it, savoring the warmth of the afternoon sun inside the safe, screened back porch.
I recognized the Tas’s voice, my new neighbor from across the street. He had the perfect name, short for Tasmania since he was annoying as the devil.
So far, Florida had been a major downer with the stress of moving, the new smells, and just about everything. The weather was less sticky in October, so the indoor-outdoor room had become a favorite haunt.
“Cosettie, wake up.” Tas wasn’t the patient sort, and he would keep bugging me like a mosquito determined to find my vein and suck me dry. But I hesitated, not wanting to leave my peaceful siesta for him.
An old comfy seat cushion made the trip south, and I stretched in my new straw chair. It wasn’t mine, nothing much was, but I’d claimed it last week.
“Come on C. Let’s meet tonight under the big oak tree. People are setting stuff up.” Tas added a distinct whine that was the chatty sign of a harlequin.
What a clown! He’d successfully ruined a perfectly blissful afternoon rest. Knowing there was no way to get rid of him, I opened a lazy eye and observed him balancing on the tile ledge while leaning against the screen.
Just like a dumb puppy, but maybe he’ll listen to some sense and let me return to my magical dream world.
“No way,” I said. “I don’t go out much and definitely not tonight. Go home and hide under the bed or in a closet.”
“But why?” He stretched it out into at least ten syllables.
“Oh, my goddess. Don’t you know anything, dumb cluck?” At least his presence was keeping the distracting geckos in check.
“What? What don’t I know?” Tas asked with his eyes overloaded with naivety.
“Tonight is the most dangerous night of all. The crazies come out on the night of the living dead. Don’t you know what happens? They chase us, and if we’re caught they could kill us. Throw us in barrels, string us up, skin us alive, drown us, kick us like footballs. I’m not stepping out anywhere.”
“They do all that? Why?” Tas, a macho male, was unnerved and shaking.
“Hell, if I know. Another sick game for the evil ones.” I stood and stretched, preparing to hide, unnerved by the memories of stories passed down through the ages.
“So, what do we do?” he asked.
“Lay low and hope for the best. At least it’s only once a year. It’s worse for me and my color.”
“Because your black?” Tas asked.
“Yeah. And you’re covered in a crazy cornucopia of colors, so your odds aren’t much better.”
Now fully awake, I began alternating between cat and camel yoga stretches to limber up.
Suddenly a banshee screamed from the sky and curdled my blood. I dove under my chair, plastering myself against the wall. The hair along my spine stood like a row of soldiers on high alert before heading into battle and sudden death.
Tas let out a few howls of laughter, and I peeked from under my chair.
“Who’s the dummy now? That’s just a sea bird. Harmless,” he said.
“Really?” I whispered.
“As far as I know.”
That figured. Tas was unreliable and knew close to nothing. But I soon left my hiding spot to avoid being laughed at and resumed my prior plush position with a better lookout.
Tas surveyed the neighborhood and his house across the cul-de-sac and flicked his tail as if preparing to pounce.
Besides acting like a Tasmanian devil, his name must have cursed him with a travel bug since he never sat still for long. He crossed the street so often there would be a permanent trail if it wasn’t paved over.
“You like it over there?” I asked. He had a vast ocean of a pond behind her backyard.
“Oh, yeah. Nice family and hood. Beats life in the cat jail in JAX.”
I remembered my hated life in a rescue center in Philly. “But what about the gators?”
“Well, there’s that, but I keep an eye out. No drinking down there.”
A man exited the garage across the street.
“Dad’s out. Gotta go.”
I watched him trot back across the street with his tail up, rub against his legs, and greet him with chatty attempts to communicate.
He’s so silly trying to talk like them. He even did this with my family. Now they want me to talk more. As if that’d happen. “Give it up already,” I’d flashed wordlessly to end this discussion.
I stretched my toes and extended my raggedy nails which were in dire need of a mani-pedi. But I reconsidered. These weapons might be handy if things went sideways tonight.
At least Hallows’ Eve only came around once a year. Tas knew how to protect himself so he’d manage. When humans got pesky and in his face, he did a Jekyll and Hyde switcheroo, got nasty, and bit them. But a petite ten-pound beauty like me couldn’t risk it.
Those in the know insisted we have nine lives but am I up to four or five? Somehow in the changeovers, I’d lost count, and I hated to run up my numbers unnecessarily. At ten, poof, and I’m a goner.
If Tas’s right about a big party, the evils would show for sure. Maybe I could channel an escape game plan in another closed-eye work session. Worst case, I’ll …
Karen Stensgaard has three novels out (Aquavit, Blueness, and Project Onion) with another one (Project Pepper) on the way. She’s down to just one cat since Cosette doesn’t want another feline friend. C endures Tasmania but only through the screen and for brief moments. Happy Halloween!