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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Game of Life (09/11/08)

TITLE: The Indelicate Demise of Darwin
By Chely Roach


This is all my fault.

I said, “That’s it! We will never have another cat!” If I believed in jinxes, this would’ve been a textbook case. Within ten days of uttering those words, “He” appeared on my porch. The fluffiest, hungriest orange Tomcat I’ve ever laid eyes upon, pounced from the hedges and attacked my unshaven calves…wearing nothin’ but a purr and a Harley Davison collar. Apparently, some cold heart moved off of my street, and left my new friend “Harley” behind. You already know where this is going; “I’ll feed him and find him a home,” quickly morphed into “I guess we have another cat.” Yippee.

For me, reincarnation falls into the same category as jinxes…I just don’t roll that way. But, if I did believe in such things, I would be convinced that Harley was a Mayan warrior in a past life, who believes that I am some tuna wielding goddess…and my front porch is the altar to the temple. Ugh.

The list of his frequent sacrifices are too numerous and nauseating to hash out, but I am sure the little critters of my neighborhood wet their fur at the sight of the color orange. Besides the mice that he so gingerly lays upon my walkway almost daily, I have also found a flurry of grey mockingbird feathers decimated across my porch mat. Ironically, the mat reads, “Wipe Your Paws”. I think we all know who is mocking who…

Up until Labor Day, the worst “gift” Harley has ever bestowed upon me has been the innocent heart of some unsuspecting creature. On. My. Porch. Mat.

You might be wondering, what could be worse than that?

For the holiday weekend, my sister, Marcia was visiting. Fifty hours of maniacal sibling fun and food. Seriously, we pig out on “home” food, and giggle like school girls. Saturday morning Marcia found out why I have a garbage bag full of empty coffee cans on my back porch. Harley spent the evening playing his favorite hunting game, leaving the usual rodent sacrifice to the goddess-of-the-Cat-Chow. When we were walking out the door we discovered his lovely present, to which I didn’t bat an eye. I went back inside and quickly returned with my trusty blue coffee can, opened it, and used then lid to scoop the varmint into its tomb. Presto…”coffin can”. Game over.

But Harley had other plans. When the moon appeared we needed a junk food fix, so Marcia and my other sister Rene’ ventured off to find us chocolate and caffeine. Moments after the screen door slammed, Marcia’s face reappeared through the mesh, “Uhhh, we have a situation out here. Uh, Harley has another victim.”

“Okay, I’ll can it up in a minute.”

She broke the news, “Um, no, uh, this one’s still alive.”

I looked beyond her to see Harley patiently sitting behind the sweetest little unconscious squirrel, “Aww…”

Dead rodents I can manage; wounded Disney characters, not so much. I can hear my mother’s nagging voice, “Don’t touch it! It could have rabies…or the plague!” And her three disobedient little girls passed the clinically in shock squirrel from hand to hand. I went inside and found a medicine dropper, nuked some milk, and put a cloth diaper in the bottom a toddler size purple shoe box from the Children’s Place. We put the little bugger in the box, and I squeezed drops of milk into his mouth. And to our surprise, he took it, kneading his front paws in the air. When the dropper was empty, he actually woke up. It didn’t take long to discover that our little friend couldn’t move his back legs. Harley had probably gotten a bad rap…our friend was probably shoved out of the nest by his own momma.

Marcia broke the silence with this gem, “Well little buddy, I think we just named you Darwin.” I believe we all knew that if we didn’t laugh we would cry.

I managed, “Well, I’ll put Harley inside and leave Darwin out here.”

“Are there any other cats in the neighborhood?”

“Well, yeah!

Marcia articulated slowly, “Then…aren’t we just making him a box lunch?”

She was killing me with her logic.

So we put Darwin’s box in the enclosed back porch. By morning, he was in baby-squirrel-Disney-character-heaven, and the purple shoe box was placed ceremoniously in the dumpster next to the previous day’s coffin can.

New game rules, Harley:

Dead rodents=fine.

Live, cute orphans =Humane Society.

And yes, Mother, I washed my hands…with soap.

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Member Comments
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Dee Yoder 09/19/08
Oh! So funny and so true! I had a cat who laid his "victims" out in rows...right in front of the mailbox. So embarrassing when I didn't get them off the porch before the mailman came with my mail; it looked like a critter morgue or something. Love the dialogue and tongue-in-cheek humor.
Joy Faire Stewart09/19/08
Oh, I love the humor, "coffin can", Wipe your Paws" mat... and the last lines are perfect!
Yvette Roelofse09/20/08
I loved the humour in this, and I felt a little sad for the squirrel too. I had thankfully few experiences like this with my late cat -- the ones I had were bad enough. Oh, and btw...squirrels bite HARD! ;)
Marijo Phelps09/20/08
I like your sense of humor. And I suspect you have definitely adopted a few cats in your time. Thanks for writing this!
Shelley Ledfors 09/21/08
I LOVE this entry! It's even better now that I know from your hint that it is true! Very well written, engaging and funny. Great job!
Jan Ackerson 09/21/08
This is a masterpiece of voice, and definitely my pick for the week. Love, love, love it!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/21/08
You have added a "flourish" to Masters with your delightful humor. I love your story.
Celeste Ammirata09/22/08
This was a lot of fun to read. Great job, from a fellow creature lover. :-)
Lauryn Abbott09/23/08
This was delightful! A sad story for Darwin, but an absolute treasure to be sure. I too, have ungratefully received little offerings from an otherwise loving kitty. I could tell you a story about a big cat, small rabbit, and a childrens Easter Egg Hunt (think Easter Bunny...), but I'll save that for another time. Great job! :)
Scott Sheets09/24/08
What a fun account with a fun engaging flow. Though I must caution readers that the first half is not ideal to read while eating a turkey sandwich. Great Job!
LauraLee Shaw09/24/08
This is GREAT, especially with the pictures! Well-written and out of the box creative.
Leah Nichols 09/24/08
Very well-written story. I love the line: "On. My. Porch. Mat." LOL :) Excellent job!
Tessy Fuller09/24/08
I loved this - especially the coffin can!! LOL
Joshua Janoski09/24/08
“Dead rodents I can manage; wounded Disney characters, not so much.”

“And yes, Mother, I washed my hands�with soap.”

LOL @ those lines! This was hilarious! I loved the complimenting pictures that you added to the message board. Poor little Darwin! If there is a squirrel Heaven, then I'm sure it is packed to capacity right now.
Peter Stone10/02/08
Chock full of humor cat lovers will appreciate. Reminds me of my first cat, who 'forced' me to watch her eat several dozen mice, rats, birds, (and one HUGE moth) over several years. A suggestion - you could have left out most of the intro part of the story, and focused more on the coffin can and squirrel, adding more dialog from the kids etc. Necessary parts of the intro could have been threaded into the story as reflections, etc.