Blossom the Cat Hunts for Treasure

Blossom the Cat Hunts for TreasureIt was a dark and dreary night and, unfortunately, Blossom was spending a time-out in the basement after putting a scratch in Mrs. Hatcher’s new leather loveseat.  Blossom hated time-outs when the last of the winter winds were on the loose, whipping up dead leaves in the window well and making the foundation creak.  Sometimes when the winds were near howling, they’d rattle the boxes lining the many basement shelves.  When the boxes were rattled, the contents in them shifted, going rustle-rustle­ or shush-shush­ or clatter-clatter. This shifting that could only be heard and not seen caused Blossom to stop in her tracks and look hard at the shadows.  Because once she thought she saw a troll.

On this night when Blossom felt jumpy as gerbil pups, she noticed one box on the bottom shelf was not as neat and orderly as Mrs. H normally kept her boxes.  A hook protruded from this box that had not had its flaps properly tucked in.  Heart picking up its tick at this unusual site, Blossom inched closer until . . . holy hairballs.  She relaxed, feeling all the gerbil jitters drain from her tail.  The box contained Willow’s old Halloween costumes.  Blossom almost chuckled at herself, thinking how she’d expected a troll to crawl out.

Digging through the gear, she fished out the pirate hook that Willow had worn over her hand and an eye patch attached to a band. Blossom was able to get both paws inside the band and, stretching it a bit, snapped it onto her head.  Slipping her paw into the hook was easy as cheese.  She shivered a little at its evil looking curve, but quickly got over it.  Holding her paw to the little light that streamed through the basement window, she meowed, “Arrr!”  Blossom the Pirate.

The chattering leaves again danced at the window, making Blossom brandish her hook paw.  But eyes drilling through the darkness, she realized she was looking at Wyatt, the garter snake that lived in the window well.  He gazed into the Hatchers’ basement, raised head moving slowly, side to side, little forked tongue darting about.  Even though snakes were a slippery bunch, Wyatt was OK in Blossom’s book because she’d let him into the basement once before and, upon leaving, he claimed he’d eaten a mouse.  Whole.  However, Wyatt was somewhat the snooping sort so she chose this night to ignore him.

Marooned in the basement and dressed in her eye patch and hook paw, Blossom was ready to search for a treasure chest, which just had to be in a room so filled to the eyeballs with old forgotten stuff.  “X marks the spot!” she cried.

One of the walls crackled, making her jump.  A gust of wind shook the house, causing one box to rattle.  Blossom’s fur felt electrical as she looked about.  Now, how was she supposed to plunder for pieces of eight if she had to keep checking her tail for trolls?  Then she had an absolute meower of a thought.  Blossom the Pirate needed a pet that ate trolls.  Real pirates had parrots.  Wyatt the snake could be her pet parrot.  If he could swallow a whole mouse, surely he could polish off a troll.

And just like that, Blossom bounced up onto the shelves until she reached the window and flung open the latch.

“Greetingssss, Blossom,” Wyatt hissed, almost floating around the glass and gracefully dropping to the floor.

“Arrr!” Blossom meowed, wielding her hook paw.  “Ahoy, Wyatt.  I’m Blossom the Swashbuckler of the High Seas and I’m on a quest for treasure.  You can be my pet parrot and keep watch for sea trolls.”

Wyatt’s long tail coiled into a circle as he raised his head, eyes searching the shelves.  “What’s in all these boxessss?”

“Treasures and trolls.”  Blossom wished she had a gold tooth but didn’t, so she pointed her hook paw at Wyatt.  “Land ho, Matey!  You will be Polly my pet parrot.  And your job is to find the trolls and eat them.”

“Yo-ho-ho!” Wyatt replied.  “I’ll seek out the marauderssss!”  Wyatt’s glassy eyes turned serious.  “But, Blossom, I want an eye patch like yours.”

Blossom didn’t want to give up her eye patch because it made her feel pirate-y. But the hook was getting cumbersome, so she said, “You can have my hook instead.”  She hoped Wyatt wouldn’t realize he needed a paw for the hook.

Wyatt’s tongue flicked about.  He appeared to be lost in thought.  “Blossom, how can I sail the Seven Seas without an eye patch?”  His smooth voice had turned just a whisker whiny.  “I know!  A pirate bandana is what I need.  Tis there a bandana in all these basement spoilsssss?” he said, slithering off.  “I’m going to drop anchor.  I’ll set sail after I locate my bandana.”

“No, wait, Wyatt,” Blossom needed to steer Wyatt in a different direction.  She tried lowering her voice so she’d sound cutthroat.  “I’m the captain and you’re my pet parrot, Polly.  Pets don’t need bandanas.  Your parrot duty is to keep watch for the villainous trolls while I go pillage for doubloons.”  Blossom huffed, watching Wyatt slip into the shadows.  Snakes were so stubborn.

“I can’t be Polly the Parrot,” Wyatt’s voice sounded muffled.  He must have gone into a box.  “Wyatt’s my name and first mate’s my game and I’m off to the Spanish Main!”  A box lid flew up on one side.  Wyatt’s head popped out.  “Shiver me timbers!  I found a bandana!”  Using his fangs he tugged at a red checkered handkerchief, pulling out an assortment of other scarves as well.  They cascaded over the side and plopped into a pile on the floor.  “Oopssss,” Wyatt hissed.  “Scarves overboard!”

“Wyatt!  I mean, Polly!”  How was Blossom supposed to search for doubloons if Wyatt didn’t take orders?  “Clean that up.  I mean, swab the deck!”  Blossom’s brain was getting mixed up.  And she’d never sail the Seven Seas if she had to babysit Wyatt.

“Aye aye, Matey,” Wyatt responded.  “Blimey, Blossom!  How am I going to get this bandana to stay on?”  He disappeared again, this time into one of Mrs. H’s Christmas boxes.  When he peered out, a string of green beads was wrapped about his slender frame. “Avast!” he cried.  “Get a load of these jewelssss.”

Blossom had to admit the beads did look pretty, gleaming against patterned snake skin.  That is, until Wyatt flipped the beads onto the floor, making a glass ornament topple out with them.  It smacked the concrete.  The glass ball sounded like eggshell cracking but broke into a million more pieces than an egg would.

Wyatt continued to wind his way up the sinister shelves, spiraling around a closet rod with hanging garment bags.  He slipped into the first bag that Blossom knew held Mrs. H’s wedding gown.

Blossom stamped her paw.  “Wyatt, if you’re not going to play Pirate my way, then you have to go back to your window well.  You’re not doing your troll duty.”

Wyatt poked his head out of the garment bag.  “Trollssss?  Blow me down, the scalawags!”  He wound his way to the floor.  “Blossom, I thought I made myself clear, but I’ve already appointed myself first mate.  Now I’m off to explore the Barbary Coast!”

Blossom tried to catch up, following first this way, then that, until her legs were a-tangle.  “Not fair, Wyatt!  I’m the boss of you and you’re performing mutiny and that’s not allowed on my ship.”  Blossom wanted to grab Wyatt and tie him in a knot.  Which would be impossible because he couldn’t be caught, he glided about like a centipede.  And he didn’t even have legs.

Blossom looked high and low but hadn’t a clue where Wyatt had disappeared to until she heard him call out, “What’ssss in this glass jar?”

Blossom’s tail was working itself into a tantrum.  Thump, thump, thump.  Wyatt had already made two messes, that she would later get blamed for, and she hadn’t even set sail.  Maybe she didn’t need a parrot anyway.  There hadn’t been any troll sightings tonight.  She was contemplating how to persuade Wyatt to go back to his window well when a box on a lower shelf went clatter-clatter.  Blossom backed up against the furnace, ears pricked and turning like radars.

Wyatt’s head popped out. “Ahoy!  What was that?”

Blossom could barely breathe.  Her brains felt as fossilized as old barnacles.  “Trolls?” she mewed.  She wished she’d hung onto the hook, she felt furless without it.  She tried pointing a toe.  “Yo-ho-ho,” she squeaked.  “There’s trolls in that box.”

“Trolls?” Wyatt’s eyes were wide and bugged as a dragonfly’s.  “Did you say trolls?  Trolls for real?  Clear the decks!  Get me out of here!”  Wyatt snaked it to the open window, slithering faster than streaked lightning.  Over the window frame he zipped, vanishing into the leaves.

The open window had made the basement frosty.  Blossom thought about leaping into the window well with Wyatt but the night air was cold as Creamsicles.  With her one unpatched eye she stared at the box, now silent.  Mrs. H really needed to clean out some of these boxes.  Didn’t she realize how many stowaway trolls could be in them?

But instead of grumping over Mrs. H’s faults, Blossom decided she’d try her paw at swashbuckling.  She sat tall, all alone and a wee bit shaky, but meowed, “I’m Blossom the Pirate and I plunder for pieces of eight.”  Just meowing aloud made her feel a little better so she did it again, this time a little louder.  “I’m Blossom the Pirate and I plunder for trolls.”  She could hardly believe she meowed such a statement.  But the meows made her feel bubbly with bravery.  So she held up her paw, without the hook, and snarled so loud her ears flicked.  “Arrr!  I’m Blossom the Pirate and I plunder for trolls and make them walk the plank!” 

Blossom’s whiskers quivered with courage.  She took one step toward the box, then a few more, then proceeded with pluck.  Settling before the box and extending a daring paw, she flipped the flap back and peered in.  There were no trolls.  Instead, it was loaded with old jewelry, perhaps belonging to Grandma Hatcher or Great Grandma Hatcher.  Or maybe someone who was already dead.  Blossom had never set eyes on so much gold and silver and pearls and gems.

Blossom the Pirate sat back and licked her paw.  She’d found her treasure chest.  Captured the spoils.  Blossom’s Booty.

Blossom the Cat Plays Matchmaker

Blossom the Cat Plays MatchmakerMrs. Hatcher had a theory about matchmaking:  Two people needed to share at least one thing in common and, if they did not, everyone had a destiny anyway.  Blossom was as sure as her tail had fur that Axel, the Hatchers’ neighbor, and Kimmy, Tulip Drive’s mail lady, were meant for each other.  And Blossom’s theory went like this:  Axel and Kimmy were the only two humans on the planet that possessed really, really red hair.  Almost as red as clown hair.  An added bonus was that they also shared a U.S. Postal thing Blossom couldn’t quite put her toe on.  At this point she could only meow that Kimmy delivered the mail and Axel retrieved it.

Every afternoon when the clock chimed three, Axel scurried out to his mailbox in his fur-topped boots, frizzy red tufts of hair escaping from beneath his stocking cap.  Sometimes he’d wave at Blossom, perched atop the Hatchers’ couch that faced out onto the snow-filled yards and street still patchy with ice.

Mrs. H could always be counted on to comment.  “Poor Axel.  He needs to find someone nice.”

Blossom marveled that Mrs. H turned a blind eye toward the two potential lovebirds.  Axel and Kimmy were as alike as two calicos from the same litter.  What spelled destiny more than having red hair in common?  Besides, Blossom nodded her head, if those two were married, maybe they’d buy a nice kitten to round out Blossom’s group of friends.  And down the road, there might be little clown-haired children that would visit Blossom and pay extra attention to her.

Midafternoon brought Kimmy zipping around the cul-de-sac in her white Jeep with the US stripes, wild red hair piled on her head like a puff of blazing cotton candy.  Blossom was sure as shellfish Axel and Kimmy needed to meet, but how?  Then one day as the mail truck made its way down the street, Blossom spotted Axel’s garage door going up and this gave her one meower of a thought.  Down the drive rolled Axel’s old sand-colored Malibu.

Blossom hopped back and forth along the top of the couch.  “Axel!  Axel!” she called.  “Look, your destiny is coming in the Jeep!”

Of course, Axel couldn’t hear her frantic meows through the window but he did see her springing about like a crazy Chihuahua.  His car paused as he waved.

“No, Axel!  Look at the redhead who delivers your bills!” Blossom tried to point with her toe.  “I think she likes tabby cats!” she added, just as the mail truck pulled away from the first cluster of mailboxes in the cul-de-sac.

“Oh!  Mail’s here!” Mrs. Hatcher said, snatching her coat to run out to the curb.

The moment Mrs. H opened the door, Blossom slipped past her and dashed over the snow to intercept Axel’s car.  But her speedy toes were a whisker late and she could only watch as the Malibu’s back end clunked into the street and plowed right into the mail truck.

“Oh!” Mrs. H gasped.

Blossom’s ears flattened at the groan of steel and tinkling glass that burst from the Malibu’s tail light.  This was followed by a long snakelike hiss as the back tire went flat, covering the icy street like liquid licorice.

One would have thought all of Tulip Drive was holding its breath.  Mrs. H and Blossom’s eyes were fixed on the mail truck, a black gash on its side.  The Jeep’s engine no longer hummed but had taken on the ugly grind of a garbage disposal.

Kimmy peeled out of her vehicle, red hair whipping about, just as Axel leaped from the Malibu.   Blossom wondered if her bouncing about the couch had caused Axel to not pay good attention to his driving.  But decided probably not, this was destiny.  Besides, Axel’s car was really old.  Blossom watched, waiting for this special encounter of love, ears pricked in anticipation of violins sweetly singing.  Mrs. H stood riveted as well.

Kimmy spoke first, shaking her finger in a scolding fashion.  “What were you thinking?  Don’t you know the mail truck always has the right-of-way?” She crossed her arms, sighed, then clipped back to the Jeep.

Blossom had seen this catty behavior before.  Visions of Sheba, the glamour kitten down the street, pranced in her head.

Mrs. H looked down at Blossom with a glint of almost amusement in her eyes.  “Poor Axel, how unfortunate.  But for those two to have an accident!  What a coincidence!”

Blossom watched Poor Axel hang his head, her whiskers quivering with hope from Mrs. Hatcher’s comment about coincidence.  If Mrs. H finally saw what Blossom had seen all along, that Kimmy and Axel were as alike as two bones from the same fish, surely she’d get involved.  Blossom felt a purr coming on.

“Let’s go back in the house, Blossom,” Mrs. H said.  “There’s nothing we can do.”

“Mrs. H!” Blossom meowed.  “Destiny’s just waiting to happen.  Lend them a paw!”

But Mrs. H was already headed back.  Blossom followed, the scamper gone from her step, hope sifting through her toes like sands in a litter box.  Once inside, she popped back onto the couch and watched the two redheads exchange their scribbles, but not in a good way.  If there were any sparks flying, they’d be coming from the pencil Kimmy scratched across her tablet with a way-too-heavy hand.  It was a wonder the lead didn’t break.

That night as Blossom watched the Hatchers sit down to dinner, she huffed.  Well, neither the U.S. Mail nor Mrs. H were going to bring Axel and Kimmy together.  But she still had one trick up her striped leg.  Obviously the two not-yet-lovebirds didn’t realize they shared the same red hair.  Hair that would bring nine lifetimes of happiness.  At least for Blossom.

Mrs. H was scooping potatoes onto everyone’s plates.  “Poor Axel.  Kimmy absolutely jumped all over him today,” she said.  “I mean, hello, it was just a fender bender.”

“Who’s Kimmy?” said Mr. H.

“She delivers our mail.”  Mrs. H let the potato spoon clatter into the serving dish.

“You’ve seen her, Dad,” said Willow.  “Her hair is fire engine red.  It’s awesome.”

Blossom sat up straight, at a total loss for meows.  Why did no one comment on Axel’s awesome fire engine hair?

Mrs. H set down her fork.  “I know I shouldn’t say this, but it almost reminds me of clown hair.”

“Seriously,” said Willow.  “Her hair’s as red as your shower sponge, Mom.”

Blossom’s ears began ringing like doorbells, the way they did whenever she had an idea as clever as potted catnip.

Blossom trotted into the bathroom and leaped into the tub.  Mrs. H’s red shower sponge rested on the side.  It was so red, it almost hurt Blossom’s eyeballs.  Blossom cocked her head, contemplating her scheme.  There was a small rabbit statue situated among the bushes in Axel’s front yard.  The little bunny was almost covered with snow, but not quite.  If the sponge was sitting on the rabbit’s head, surrounded by all that snow, it would stand out like a preening cardinal.  Knocking the sponge to the floor, Blossom grabbed it in her mouth and trotted out like she would with a favorite toy.

The plan was so simple, even a beagle could follow along.  The next time Mrs. H hurried out to fetch the mail, Blossom would sneak out with her and lay the red sponge on the statue’s head.  Hopefully, Mrs. H would have her nose to her pile of mail and never look up to see her red shower sponge in Axel’s yard.  Then Kimmy would spot the sponge when she took a spin in the cul-de-sac with her mail truck.  She’d see the statue and say, That rabbit has hair as red as mine.  But I’ve seen that hair somewhere before.  And, after Axel got his mail and headed back to his house, he’d see the statue and say, That rabbit has hair as red as mine.  But I’ve seen that hair somewhere before. 

And unless Axel and Kimmy had IQs less than that of a beagle, they would see what they’d been missing.  Each other.  Blossom’s toes tingled at her brilliant plan.

Planting the sponge atop the bunny’s head was easy.  The next day after Kimmy made her rounds, not only did Mrs. H need both arms to cradle all the day’s mail, but a big package from Macy’s came as well.  Mrs. H couldn’t rush back into the house fast enough to open it.  But Blossom was disappointed that Kimmy had missed the red-haired rabbit in Axel’s yard.  She assumed her spot on the couch to admire her fine sponge placement job anyway.

“Is that Mom’s shower sponge over in Axel’s bushes?”  Willow had come out of nowhere, causing Blossom to spring from her spot and bounce to the floor.

Willow turned to Blossom and squinted her eyes.  “How did that sponge get over there?”

Blossom turned her head to check behind her, pretending maybe Willow was questioning another culprit in the room.  Turning back, she meowed innocently, “Oh, are you speaking to me?  Sponge?  I don’t know anything about a sponge.”

“I don’t know what you’re up to, Blossom, but there goes Axel to get his mail.  Let’s see if he notices the sponge.”  Blossom jumped back onto the couch while Willow kneeled on it, her nose almost touching the window.  Blossom’s did.  They watched Axel make his way back to the house, never even looking up from his stack of envelopes.  Willow sighed.  “Men.  They never notice anything.”

“Neither do mail ladies,” added Blossom, just as the mail truck chugged down the cul-de-sac a second time.

“Why did Kimmy come back?” said Willow.

“Is the mail here?”  Mrs. H joined them.  “That looks like my red shower sponge in Axel’s bushes,” she said, eyes darting to Blossom.

Blossom proceeded to lick her paw until Mrs. H decided her eyes were playing tricks and redirected them to Kimmy, along with the rest of them.  They watched as Kimmy stopped the Jeep in front of Axel’s and got out.  She swiftly walked up the driveway, then had to wade through a few snow drifts until she stood before the red-headed rabbit.  Kimmy’s red hair ruffled in the wind as she gazed upon the little statue.  Then Axel’s front door opened and he too made his way through the snow drifts in his fur-topped boots.  The two talked for a moment.  Kimmy’s eyes looked soft as dew drops as she put her hand on Axel’s arm.  Blossom’s heart swelled.  She waited, this time rather impatiently.  Holy hairballs, where was the violin music?  It was always there in the Hallmark movies.  She’d put so much effort into this union, the least they could do was dash straight to Petco and pick up a kitten.  Kittens took time to grow up and Blossom and her buddies weren’t getting any younger.

“Well!” Mrs. H exclaimed, so loudly both Willow and Blossom jumped.  “I’m glad they made up.”  She turned to Willow.  “Kimmy shouldn’t be so mean to her brother.”

Willow shook her head.  “Brothers and sisters just fight, Mom.  That’s what they’re supposed to do.”

What?  Blossom felt like a 10-pound bag of Tidy Cats litter had dropped from the sky and clunked her on the head.  Axel and Kimmy were brother and sister?