My paws connected with the mattress and I put all my weight into it allowing my body to sink down into the soft cushion. I could feel the tension in the springs getting tighter until they couldn’t hang on another second.
They pushed back against me with incredible force, lifting my body up into the air. I started to flap my front legs pretending I was a bird, but the moment of weightlessness only lasted a second, maybe two at the most, before I was headed earthbound towards the bed again.
“Higher! Go higher!,” Rapi, the big orange cat with the fluffy white tummy, yelled at the top of his lungs.
“Weeeeeeee,” I cried the next time that I was launched into the air. I felt my ears flopping around when I reached my zenith. The room looked so different from up here. It’s too bad that us Chocolate Labs can’t fly, I thought to myself just before I crashed into the mattress and began to soar into the stratosphere of the bedroom again.
“What do you think you are doing?” Mommy said, glaring at me from the doorway.
“Busted,” Rapi said, his voice a little deflated.
I maneuvered myself so that I was able to slow down my acceleration and height, but now Mommy started to look a little angry that I was till bouncing on the bed.
“Would you believe I was trying to clean the ceiling fan?” I said with guilt written all over my face.
“Really Cindee? Cleaning? Come with me, I will put you to work cleaning,” she said before turning and heading down the stairs.
“Son of a …”
“Wait Rapi, we deserve it,” I said, cutting him off before he could say something he might regret.
“I guess we do,” he admitted grudgingly.
I had slowed down enough that I was able to bounce directly from the bed to floor, sticking the landing like a champion gymnast.
“Perfect ten!” Rapi exclaimed then joined me in an outburst of giggling.
Rapi pulled down a strand of fake autumn leaves that lined the fireplace mantle and dragged them over to Daddy who packed them into a box.
“It hard to believe Halloween is over already,” I sighed, saddened by the passing of another holiday.
“I know, especially because last night was such a blast,” the orange cat said, still brimming with left over excitement from the trick that Mommy and Daddy had played on us.
“Here Cindee,” Mommy said, handing a stuffed scarecrow to me.
I leapt nervously into the air, still a little jumpy from the previous evening.
“Relax, it’s just a toy,” Bella, the grey and white cat, said from her perch in the cat tree.
I gave Mommy a lame smile before gingerly grabbing it with my mouth and carting it over to Daddy, who packed it away with the other stuff.
“What’s the next holiday?” Rapi asked.
“Dunno. Hey Bella, can you check the calendar behind you to see what the next holiday is,” I shouted to her.
The grey and white cat spun around and leaned forward placing her paw against the wall to steady herself so she could study the dates on the laminated page hanging in front of her.
“Hmmmmm, it says Election Day,” she called over her shoulder.
“Election Day?” I mumbled.
I was a little stumped about what this Election Day thing was. I had heard of it before, but I just didn’t grasp the concept behind it.
“Yeah Election Day, that’s this thing that all the humans are getting worked up over. All the donkey lovers want to have some guy named Joe Biden as ruler of the country and all the elephant lovers want Donald Trump to keep on being president,” Rapi explained.
“Really? What if you love some other kind of animal besides a donkey or an elephant?” I asked.
“Then your opinion doesn’t matter,” Rapi said matter of factly.
“How can we celebrate Election Day? I mean we can’t vote, and I really am not a fan of donkeys or elephants anyway. Maybe, if there were cats or dogs instead, I might be more interested,” I asked, voicing my opinion.
The cats in the room looked at me like I had come from another planet for a moment, then Bella leapt to her feet and smiled a wide, wicked smile.
“Maybe we can have our own Election Day. I can represent the cat lovers, and you can represent the dog lovers Cindee,” Bella said, her thoughts picking up momentum.
“But what would the winner be the ruler of?” I asked.
Rapi had been sitting there watching the conversation, his head swinging back and forth between Bella and I, his interest growing more and more each second the discussion went on.
“I know, the winner could be the ruler of the gang!” Bella exclaimed.
“That’s a pretty big prize,” Rapi added.
“Let’s do it,” I said.
Rapi looked at me with a stunned look on his face. I could tell he had a million questions, but for some reason, he wasn’t asking any of them.
“So how do we decide who is Ruler of the Gang?” I asked.
“It needs to be fair. We can’t have just Rapi and Yehudi vote, because they will vote for you,” she said.
I could almost see the smoke coming from her ears, that is how hard she was thinking about this.
“I know!” Rapi shouted.
“We can have a debate, which I will moderate, then we can have all our friends that live in the neighborhood vote for who they believe will be the best leader for the Gang,” Rapi said, smiling proudly about his solution.
Bella thought about it for a minute then looked at me.
“Why not?” I shrugged.
“That seems fair,” she smiled.
“Then it’s settled, I will go upstairs and set up the stage for the debate, and we can get started in fifteen minutes,” he said, excited by the prospect.
“Your going down floppy ears,” Bella hissed.
‘It’s on!” I growled.
Now that the challenge had been made, and accepted, we all went our separate ways to prepare.
Bella and I were standing in the doorway to Mommy’s office waiting for Rapi, who was in the room putting the finishing touches on his masterpiece. In just fifteen minutes he had managed to transform the open space into a mock auditorium for our debate. The resourceful orange cat had even hooked up the video camera to the computer so that the discussion could be live streamed on the website.
He strolled up to the main microphone wearing a black bow tie and matching top hat and tapped it with his paw. A loud screech rang out and he smiled in delight that all his labors had been a success.
“Welcome to the first Cindee’s Gang debate where today we will have a chance to learn a little bit more about our two candidates and their vision for the gangs future,” he said with a smile and an uncharacteristic professional tone.
“Now let’s meet our two competitors and get this shindig started,” he shouted into the microphone. So much for professionalism, I thought quietly to myself.
First, let me introduce the representative from the Cat Party, Ms. Bella,” he said with a smile and a flourish of the paw.
Bella strolled down the aisle with her tail swaying back and forth and her face wearing a big welcoming smile.
“So that’s why it’s called a catwalk,” I mumbled to myself as I watched her gracefully take a seat and wave to the camera like a beauty queen.
“And now for the representative of the Dog party, please put your paws together for Miss Cindee!”
I stood there staring at Rapi for a moment, unable to believe my eyes. He had made quite the spectacle out of this thing.
“Miss Cindee,” he announced me again.
Taking my cue, I pranced down the makeshift aisle to the stage where I plopped down without an ounce of charm.
“Thank you for joining us ladies. So, the format for this debate is as follows, I will ask each of you three questions, please do not interrupt each other as that would be rude. Understood,” he asked.
“Understood,” Bella and I said simultaneously.
“Great! Are you ready to ruuuuuuuuuuuumble” the orange cat shouted with all the bravado of the ringmaster at a wrestling match.
I was so embarrassed I couldn’t even look at him.
Rapi pulled a card from underneath the brim of his hat and cleared his throat.
“Today’s first question is for you Ms. Bella,” he said glancing in the grey and white cat’s direction.
“Ms. Bella, what would you do if you were elected president of the Gang,” Rapi asked, his expression more serious than I have ever seen it before.
He stepped back allowing Bella access to the mic. She took a deep breath, smiled, and looked directly into the camera.
“If you are kind enough to elect me as president the first thing, I would do is take my rightful place as spokesperson for the Gang. I would immediately change the way our social media is run, shifting the focus to photographs of myself and other beautiful cats, because quite frankly, that is what people like to see. Cats!”
She smiled once again, then stepped back to her place on the podium.
“Miss Cindee, you have two minutes to answer the same question,” Rapi said, glancing over at me.
I butt walked a few feet to my left and positioned myself in front of the camera and smiled awkwardly with my ears all askew.
“Thank you Rapi and thank you friends for giving me this opportunity to talk to you. If you elected me my mission would be to change the world one kissy at a time. I would try to spread love, laughter and happiness on our social media and our website. I would do it in person too, but I am afraid of crowds. Thank you,”
I slid back to my place and couldn’t help but wonder if I had eaten peanut butter and forgotten about it, because my mouth felt strange, like when your tongue gets stuck to the roof.
“Thank you for those very nice answers, now on to the second question, this time we will start with Miss Cindee,” Rapi said straight into the camera.
“Oh, my turn again,” I said, my voice trembling.
“Yes Cindee,” he said, sounding a little agitated.
“Cindee, what would you say is your best quality?” the large orange cat said, staring deeply into my eyes.
“Well, I believe that everyone, it doesn’t matter if you are a cat or a dog, or even a human; all of us need to be loved. No, no, we deserve to be loved,” the words just rolled off my tongue without my brain even thinking about them.
I went back to my spot and just prayed that I didn’t sound like a dummy. Rapi must have asked Bella the same question while I was praying because she was starting to talk already.
“I believe my best quality is my cuteness. I have found that being cute can really get you places in the world. So yeah, cuteness, that is my final answer Rapi.”
Bella was sounding confident. She was also acting like she already had this election won. I wasn’t feeling very good. I had the sinking feeling that I was in trouble.
“Okay, final question everyone. If the Gang had a revenue source, how would you spend the proceeds? Ms. Bella, you are first,” Rapi finished, looking more and more dashing in his outfit.
“My favorite topic, money,” the cat began. “I would spend any funds we are able to procure on new equipment, especially cameras and such. I feel it is important that our spokesperson comes across as beautiful and stylish. Is there a better way to do that than with crystal clear images of me to share? Especially when we rebrand our website and social media accounts to ‘Bella and Friends!’ right?” the grey and white cat stepped aside and gave me a toothy grin.
Her comment cut me to the core. She wanted to change everything. I gasped for breath trying to overcome the claustrophobic feeling that was closing in on me.
“Cindee,” Rapi called out looking into my eyes.
I could see the compassionate look on his face. He knew how much I was suffering. I had to suck it up and answer this last question.
“I don’t know much about finances or money. I mean, I would love to have more pretty bows, what girl wouldn’t, but I would feel guilty spending money on myself when I know there are so many furbabies out there in the world who are injured, abused, have no food or home. I would want to give any money we ever make to helping them. I would ask our friends to help them. I guess I am out of date and out of touch, but I still believe in love,” I stammered and stumbled back to the dot on the floor that Rapi had set up to mark our spots.
Rapi forced a smile on his face and stared into the lens.
“Well, that is it for our debate. The polls are now open, the deadline for voting is midnight tonight, so please make sure to vote for the candidate of your choice,” the orange cat signed off with a warm smile then hit the button to shut the camera off. Once offline he huffed out a deep breath and slumped down on the floor, regret over this whole election thing filled him with dread.
Bella, Rapi and I sat in front of the computer, our eyes glued to the screen. Every few minutes Rapi would hit the refresh button and we would watch the votes come in. After the first hour Bella was leading with eleven votes and I only had four.
“Your mine butt breath,” the grey and white cat teased with a hiss. I wanted to punch her in the face so much, but violence never solves any problems, so I jumped up on the bench and looked out the window at the overcast sky.
Hours past, and truth be told, the only reason I knew was the dull dingy gray day had given away to a dark night with no stars or moon in the sky. Rain had begun to fall, the droplets pelting the window with an enchanting rhythmic sound.
“Time for the eleven o’clock update,” Rapi announced. I didn’t turn to look, but I couldn’t stop myself from half listening.
“Bella has seventy-four votes and Cindee has fifty-nine, I will check again at midnight” the orange cat explained, then stretched before stumbling over to the dog bed and falling in for a nap.
“Ha ha, it’s almost over,” Bella cried out with glee.
“You silly dog! You fell right into my trap! You bought right into my idea of an election and you didn’t so much as think about losing, did you? You didn’t even think about the demographics, did you? Didn’t even consider that cats outnumber dogs two to one in this neighborhood, and that we felines stick together. Hahaha!” she guffawed on and on.
I didn’t give her the satisfaction of acknowledging her, I just rested my head on the windowsill and watched the cars come and go down the street to the ticking of the clock.
The final hour was agonizing and seemed like it would never end. I was reminded that my time had run out by the chiming of the downstairs clock.
“Stick a fork in Cindee she is done!” Bella was still gloating.
“Be nice, Bella,” Rapi reminded her.
“Say goodbye to your precious Cindee and Friends,” she said trying to torment me even more.
“Okay, enough!” Rapi hissed.
“Let’s see the final number,” Bella said with a giant smile that ran from one side of her face to the other.
Rapi leaned over and hit the refresh button. We all stared at the screen. Well, not all of us. I kept my gaze steadily out on the street, which was now devoid of traffic.
“Final numbers,” Rapi said, his voice sounding weary.
“Bella with seventy-nine votes and Cindee with seventy-nine votes!” his voice rattled off the results.
“It’s a tie?” Yehudi said, coming into the office from out in the hallway to find out who had won.
“Yep, a tie,” Rapi said, mystified.
“How did that happen,” Bella asked stunned.
“What do we do now?” I asked unable to believe that I had made up so much ground.
“Dunno,” Rapi said looking back and forth between Bella and I.
“I know,” Yehudi squeaked.
We all turned to look at the little tuxedo cat.
“We declare nobody the winner. We have lived like this for years with nobody leading us. We always do things together and look out for each other, why does that need to change now? Wasn’t it working for us?” She asked.
Suddenly, a red dot appeared on the floor. Yehudi’s eyes lit up.
“Gotta go,” she said, taking off and following the red dot as it zig zagged out of the office and down the stairs.
“Yahooooooooooooo!” her little voice faded into the distance.
“She is right you know. Maybe some countries and some organizations need a president, but we don’t.” Rapi said what we were all thinking.
“Your right,” I agreed.
“Truce,” I said, holding my paw out to Bella to shake.
“Truce,” She said, tapping her paw against mine.
Then out of the ether came the oh so familiar sound of the cat treat bag being shaken. Rapi’s eyes grew wide, and Bella’s ears perked up.
“Treats,” Rapi exclaimed.
The cat’s started to run for the stairs, then Bella stopped and turned to look at me.
“C’mon Cindee, I’ll share mine with you,” she said with a smile.
“Thanks Bella, let’s go!” I shouted, and together we disappeared down the stairs leaving the mess that was election day behind.
I guess that brings us to right now, this very minute my friends. I have learned that voting is important, it ensures that each of us has an opportunity to take part in our government. Make sure that you take some time out of your day to not only choose between Cats and Dogs, but also Donkeys and Elephants, and after all the votes have been counted and the results are announced, remember to put your differences aside and love each other … after all, love most certainly makes the world go around.