Mrrrp vs. the Scotties...

As reported by Leslie Fish

Well, there's the one about Mrrrp and the neighbor's Scotties...

This was back when we lived in Chicago (same apartment where the Bluejay Massacre took place), and into the house next door moved a lady with a fussy collection of glassware and two thoroughly-spoiled Scots Terriers. The neighbor let the dogs out in the back yard all day, where they'd happily spend their time trying to terrorize every dog, cat, human or drifting piece of paper that passed by. What they lacked in size they made up in volume, and they proved their enthusiasm by jumping up and down alternately at the fence; when one was on the ground the other was in the air, and then they'd trade places. This grew annoying in short order.

One day while I was out, Mrrrp decided to do something about those noisy dogs. I heard about it second hand, from two different sources.

The first I heard was, on the way home from work, when I stopped at the corner grocery to pick up some canned catfood. I was approaching the check-out counter with my arms loaded when I saw a lady, whom I vaguely recognized from somewhere around the neighborhood, leaning over the counter and yattering vigorously at the storekeeper about "that horrible black tomcat" who had, she swore, attacked and beaten up her dogs, then chased them into her house, trashed the place thoroughly, then ran out before she could hit him with her broom. The storekeeper nodded sympathetically as he rang up her order of dogfood, and glanced at me with no more than a raised eyebrow. I took the hint and turned around, neatly hiding my armload of catfood, and pretended to be terribly interested in breakfast cereal until the lady paid for her order and left. The storekeeper said nothing as he rang up my order, but I noted that he snickered a lot. I headed home, wondering if "that horrible black tomcat" just might have been one of my gang.

The next piece of the puzzle I learned from our out-front neighbor (remember, we lived in a "coach house" on the alley; the main house was in front), a classic drag-queen named Gary. He was quite a decent neighbor, though I had trouble looking at him for very long without giggling, and often invited me over for a bit of gossip and a glass or two of blackberry wine. I saw him waving frantically at me from a window as I passed the house, heading for my apartment, so as soon as I'd unloaded the catfood I headed over to Gary's place. He welcomed me in, handed me a cut-crystal glass of blackberry wine and promptly gave me an earful.

"You've simply *got* to keep the cats inside for a few days," quoth he. "The next-door neighbor's just *hysterical* over your big tomcat."

Remembering the scene at the grocery, I innocently asked why.

"Oh, I saw the whole thing," said Gary, with a delicate shudder. "Those nasty Scotties were out in her back yard, making a hellish racket as usual, and I saw your tomcat jump right over the fence -- cleared it as neatly as an Olympic jumping-horse, he did -- and land just *smack* on the head of the Scotty who was up in the air at the time. When they both hit the ground, the cat was on top and raking away with all four feet. The dog-fur simply *flew*, my dear! And the dog was howling in a very different key."

What, I asked, did the other dog do?

"Oh, he ran around both of them, barking ferociously, until he finally made up his mind -- or got up his courage -- to charge at the cat. *That* was his mistake, I can tell you. The tomcat *leaped* off the first dog and came down on the second, and began raking him even more, ah, forcefully than the first. You should have *seen* the fur fly -- literally fly."

Did the dogs gang up on the cat, I worried.

"They did try, I'll give them credit for that, but the attempt didn't last long. The cat simply went into Kung Fu mode, lashing out at one, then the other, then the other, then the other -- *wonderfully* balletic, and most *astoundingly* fast. Bruce Lee would have been utterly *green* with envy."

How long, I wondered, did that keep up?

"Not more than a minute, I'd say. Both dogs came to the same conclusion at the same time, broke from the clinch, and ran for the far end of the yard. I must say, dear, that your tomcat was not at *all* magnanimous in victory. He chased after them. In fact, he chased them all around the back yard at *least* three times, getting in a few good swats at their tails, and they were absolutely *shrieking* with terror. Ah, that must have been what made the lady open her back door, more's the pity."

Why a pity, I queried.

"Well, the dogs saw their chance and took it. They *streaked* for the doorway, never minding that their mistress was blocking it, and...well, I really can't say exactly how it happened, but they knocked her *right* off her feet and onto her, ah, fundament -- which is probably why she wasn't able to stop the cat."

Stop him from what, I asked.

"My dear, that doughty feline warrior of yours ran into the house after them. He soared right over the prostrate lady...uhm, no, now that I recall, he *did* land on her in mid-leap, and jumped off again. I couldn't see what happened after that, except that the lady managed to get to her feet and ran back into the house, screaming. After that, all I could make out were crashings and screechings and howlings up and down the house for the next ten minutes or so -- ah, long enough to smoke a More Menthol all the way down -- and then I saw the cat come running out the back door, down the steps and across the yard, with the lady -- looking *much* the worse for wear, I must say -- chasing after him with a broom."

Did she hit him, I demanded.

"Oh no, dear: she never had a chance, outpaced from the first. He came leaping over the fence again and ran around to the other side of your house, where I lost track of him. All I can tell you is that he was *certainly* undamaged, and looked, I swear, dear, most *awfully* pleased with himself."

That, I commented, I could well imagine.

"The lady herself wasn't anywhere *near* as graceful under pressure, I must say. Such language! And from someone who makes such effort to keep an elegant household, too. Oh, not that I've ever been inside to see, of course -- to judge from the looks she gives me when we pass on the street, she wouldn't let me across her doorstep -- but one can tell *so* much from views through the windows. If you'll look out here, you'll see that her hallway window is filled with shelves simply loaded end to end with her glassware collection... Oh dear, it isn't there anymore..."

And indeed the indicated window was quite, quite empty.

At that point a recent memory surfaced, something I hadn't thought of at the time, but which now took on new significance.

I recalled that nobody had barked at me when I came home from the grocery store.

Pondering that, I took my leave and strolled across the tiny courtyard separating Gary's house from mine. As I passed the neighbor's yard I cast a look over the fence.

The Scotties were out there, all right: huddled under the back stairs with only their noses poking out, quite still and utterly silent.

Just as an experiment, too quietly for any human inside the house to hear, I said "Meow", in my best equivalent of Mrrrp's voice.

The two noses jerked back into the shadows under the stairs.

I managed to refrain from laughing as I went into my apartment in the coach-house, but I made a point of looking for Mrrrp.

He was stretched out on the sofa, purring softly, licking one of his forepaws, looking perfectly innocent. Not a hair was out of place.

I did allow myself a chuckle as I opened a can of the catfood.

For all the rest of the time I lived there, the Scotties were blessedly silent. On the rare occasions when they ventured a cautious yip at me, I found that a mutter of "Rrrowr" was enough to make them run under the back stairs and make no further sound.

And peace and tranquility ruled in the neighborhood.