The moon was full. Gazing at it from the Hatchers’ living room window, Blossom studied its craters and crevices until she could pick out the face of the cat. The Meow Moon. The Meow Moon brought fun times and good luck to all cats that believed. And on this glowing night, Lilly, Willow’s best friend forever, and Riley, Blossom’s best feline friend forever, were spending the night. The promise of fun danced about like dandelion fluff. Blossom could feel it in her toes.
Dinner time brought the Meow Moon’s first sign of good luck when Mr. H noticed flashing red lights reflecting off the living room bay window. “Come look,” he said, squinting toward the end of the block. “There’s a squad car down at the Dogners’ house.”
The Dogners had two teenaged boys who were about as smart as dogs, performing poodle-brain stunts like littering Tulip Drive with their soda cans. Or crashing their cars into the garage door. Or putting frozen pizzas into a 450 degree oven and forgetting to remove the cardboard trays they were packaged in. The Dogners’ last name alone was enough to make cats shake their heads, which Blossom and Riley did as Mrs. H and the girls pulled on their coats and trotted down the street like chickens chasing feed. Mr. H called, “Wait for me!” and slammed the door behind him.
The Meow Moon had nothing to do with the Hatchers’ fascination with emergency vehicles, but Blossom was pretty certain the Meow Moon was responsible for the pan of tater tot hotdish Mrs. H left on top of the stove.
Blossom and Riley leaped to the countertop and began picking off the crispier tots that blanketed the casserole, then flicking them onto the floor. The food was still very hot and curls of steamy potato went straight up Blossom’s nose.
“Whoa!” meowed Riley. “There’s enough tater tots here to fill a litter box!”
“There’s enough tater tots here to play Tot Hockey all night long!” said Blossom. “I hope the Dogner kids did something really naughty. Mr. and Mrs. H will be down there for hours!” Blossom’s fur felt afire.
And just like that, the low, loud howl of a siren screamed from the end of the block. Dots of red light beat across the bay window like spots from Willow’s disco ball. Blossom and Riley scampered to the window. A fire truck had pulled up to the Dogners’ doorstep.
Blossom and Riley wide-eyed each other. “Pizza fire,” Riley said.
“Thank you, Meow Moon!” Blossom sighed at the huge orb, pale yellow against the black sky. Its cat face smiled down at her. The Hatchers and Lilly were still at the end of the street with the other neighbors, huddled like sheep waiting for guidance.
When playing Tot Hockey, the goal was to bat as many tater tots as possible under the fridge. Blossom and Riley skidded over the tile floor, smacking the tots this way and that. Poof! Poof! The golden pillows of potato flew under the fridge, some tapping the wall behind it.
Blossom couldn’t remember when she’d had this much fun under a Meow Moon. “Hat-trick!” she cried, whacking three tots in a row. But on her next slap shot she accidentally scooped when she should have tapped and sent the tot flying up into the air where it gracefully arced and landed in a slot of the toaster. Ching! cried the thin wires within.
Then Riley did the same. His tot did a loop-de-loop and disappeared into Mrs. H’s utensil-filled ceramic pot, making a squishy sound as it dropped down between the wooden spoons.
Blossom and Riley looked at each other.
“We aren’t focusing,” said Blossom.
“And I’m running out of tots,” said Riley.
They scrambled back to the stove for replenishments, flipping them onto the floor. Blossom noticed with the top layer of tots gone, those beneath had bits of soup and ground beef stuck to them. Oh well, they’d clean them off as they went. But they didn’t.
Blossom’s next tot shot landed atop the fridge. Riley’s nailed Mrs. H’s bookshelf, crammed to overflowing with cookbooks.
The tot assault continued with tots settling into the fruit bowl, behind the glass pot in the coffeemaker, balancing in the curve of a skillet hanging from the overhead pot rack. One tot was shot with such force it wedged right into the wrought iron curves of the wine rack.
One tot popped straight up and stuck to the ceiling. Blossom stared up at it, a little tic starting along her back. A tater tot stuck to Mrs. H’s kitchen ceiling could be troublesome.
The round of Tot Hockey went on. One tot vanished among the bottles of olive oil clustered near the stove. One settled on the small shelf of the fridge where the water dispenser was located. Another into the cute little wooden egg cups that looked like ducks. And yet another into a watering can placed near the sink. A half of a tot ended up on the TV’s cable box.
Blossom’s fur felt itchy. Their recklessness was getting out of paw. And furthermore, the red lights flashing off the window were gone. She darted to the window and peered out. The crowd down at the Dogners’ was breaking up.
“Game’s over!” she meowed. “Time to clean up the tots!”
“Just call me Zamboni toes!” Riley said, digging around in the bookshelf, then pawing about the centerpiece and plates on the kitchen table, swiping all tots to the floor. Poof! Poof! Poof! murmured the tots as they hit the tiles.
Blossom fished tots out of the spoon holder, wine rack, egg cup, batting all to the growing pile. When most tots had been gathered and grouped in the center of the kitchen, almost resembling the crowd gathered down at the Dogners’, the cats took mouthfuls of them back to the now cold casserole on the stove, dropping them atop what was left of it and patting them back into place.
Blossom attempted to snag the tater tot from the toaster but it kept slipping from her toe tips and she was afraid her paw might get stuck. She withdrew her paw and huffed. “I hope the next time they use the toaster it doesn’t smell like baked potato.”
“We used almost all of them!” Riley beamed proudly. “And didn’t we do an awesome job putting them all back?”
“There’s one still stuck on the ceiling.” Blossom fretted, wondering once Mrs. H returned, how many minutes it would take her to spot a tater tot squished to her tidy ceiling. Blossom did a check out the window. The Hatchers were still halfway down the street talking to another neighbor. She looked to the moon, its cat face grinning like that in the story about klutzy Alice who stumbled down a rabbit hole. “Meow Moon, where are you?” she begged. “Mrs. H is going to see that tater tot on the ceiling and I’ll be in the doghouse for sure.”
In the still of the Hatchers’ home, Blossom’s ears pricked. She heard a small poof!
“Blossom!” It was Riley in the kitchen. “You’ll never believe this! The tater tot just fell from the ceiling!”
But Blossom did believe it. The Meow Moon did not disappoint.
Later that night in their sleeping baskets, Riley said, “Blossom, why did Mrs. H make frozen pizza after they got home?”
“Oh, she said something about cat hair on the tater tots.” Blossom chose not to dwell upon Mrs. H marching up to the tater tot hotdish after they returned, then giving Blossom a look that could melt ice off a bird bath. If Lilly and Riley had not been spending the night, it was quite doubtful the Meow Moon could have saved Blossom from a meow-nstrous time-out in the basement. Of course, Blossom reasoned, if Riley hadn’t come over, she wouldn’t have been playing Tot Hockey in the first place.
Or would she?