I watched with rapt anticipation. Rapi sat in front of the board, his face all scrunched up in deep thought. The orange cat reached over to grab one of the wooden tiles, then hesitated. Across from him sat Yehudi, an anxious black and white tuxedo cat who looked on with agitation. After a few moments of pondering the situation, the orange cat reached out and grabbed a tile and placed it on the board. He slid the letter ‘A’ across the smooth surface until it covered the star in the middle of the scrabble board, then flanked it with an ‘R’ on one side and a ‘G’ on the other.
“Rag, that is four points,” the orange cat said triumphantly.
“Nice play,” I complemented my feline friend.
There is so much talk about cats and dogs not getting along, but I have discovered that is just not true. I mean, I am a dog. A chocolate lab and Staffordshire mix, if you must know. My best friends are cats, and to be honest, I do not know if my life would be so happy if I didn’t have them for best friends.
“Turtle, that is eight points when you double the ‘T’ and “U’,” the little black cat said non-chalantly while sliding the tiles in place making sure to use the ‘R’ in rag to build off of.
“Hump,” the orange cat grumbled.
I should probably mention, that Rapi is not the most gracious of losers. In fact, he can be downright surly for the rest of the day when he doesn’t win. It is usually not a problem because the rest of us almost always let him win, but he doesn’t know this, so let’s not tell him okay.
Rapi stared at his tiles for the longest time. Yehudi, impatient as always, looked on with twitching whiskers and one rapidly blinking eye.
“Rapi?” the black cat grunted.
“Okay okay,” Rapi answered back before maneuvering his tiles into place using the ‘G’ in rag to spell out dog.
“That’s six points if you count the double letter score for the ‘o’,” he said, his face wearing a broad smile and his eyes all lit up.
“Great word,” I urged him on, even though the word was kind of underwhelming.
Yehudi wasted no time, adding the letters ‘igit’ to the end of the ‘D’ in dog.
“Digit, that nine points with a triple on the letter ‘I’,” Yehudi said with a smirk.
“What’s a digit,” Rapi asked, trying to bully Yehudi.
“These,” Yehudi answered holding up her paw and wiggling her fingers.
“Hump,” he grumbled again.
Yehudi looked over and shrugged. All I could do was shrug back. Another five minutes passed waiting for Rapi to scan his tiles, and thoroughly examine the board with the four words on it, before returning to his letters again. Another minute or two based, when finally, he pulled three tiles from his tray and slid them over form the word ‘rest’ using the first ‘T’ in turtle.
“That is seven points when you add that triple letter for that ‘S’,” the orange cat said with a toothy grin.
“Awesome, that was a long four-letter word,” I said cheerily.
I didn’t mean it to be demeaning, and Rapi didn’t take it that way either. Most of the words that the orange cat comes up with on scrabble are two and three letters long. Sometimes when he is lucky, he can get a lot of points from them.
“Wow,” Yehudi said, emptying her tray of all its tiles, save one.
One after another she slid the wooden squares into place. Rapi’s mouth dropped open and my eyes grew big watching the little black cat’s word stretch from one end of the board to the other.
“What the heck is that?” the words tumbled out of the ginger feline.
Yehudi didn’t answer right away. Instead, she began counting using her fingers to tally the points.
“Prestidigitator, that is twenty-seven points when you include the triple letter score for the ‘R’, two I’s and the ‘O’,” Yehudi said, the smile on her face ran from one cheek to the other.
“You are a magician,” Rapi said, still shocked.
“But, what does it mean,” he asked.
“Magician,” the little black cat squeaked in joy at the irony.
We all jumped in the air, then stared at each other.
It came from the front yard.
The three of us scrambled to the front window leaving the game and Yehudi’s masterpiece behind.
Three big vehicles from the town rolled to a stop in front of our house. One was a pickup truck, the second was a big yellow dump truck and the last was a strange looking thing that resembled a scorpion.
“What are they doing?” Yehudi whispered softly.
“Dunno?” I answered just as quietly.
Rapi stared ahead, unable to rip his eyes off the commotion that was starting to build out at the roadside, that is until a truck with an arm and a bucket pulled up, and then he only managed a meager squeak.
A group of town workers piled out of the trucks in their orange vests and yellow hard hats. There were so many of them that it reminded me of the clown car I had seen one time when we watched the circus on television.
Soon the chaos turned into a symphony of work, the construction team shouted and pointed. A couple of moments later the bucket was rising into the air with a couple of people.
It all began with a roar. A tall muscular looking man held out a chainsaw and sliced off a tree branch, sending it crashing to the ground.
An audible gasp filled the room.
“They are killing our tree,” a grey and white cat screeched on her way down from the top of the stairs.
“You are right Bella,” I said glancing over at her and noticing that my reflection in her eyes was the same worried face that everyone else was wearing.
Buzzzzzzzz, the man cut another limb, which tumbled to the ground and was immediately, swept up and carried away by some of the workers who waited below.
“Oh my gosh, that man is getting closer to the bird’s nest,” Rapi exclaimed, the worried look transforming to one of horror.
Zip, zip, zip, several small branches fell to the ground. The homeowners of the nest flitted their way over to our window and sat down on the ledge to watch.
The man began to attack the trunk just below the divergence of boughs where the nest had rested snuggly for years. In mere seconds, there was a loud crack. The top of the tree along with the nest lurched to the right, then began to tumble to the ground. The birds covered their eyes with their wings.
“Nooooooooooo!” I screamed as loud as I could.
We looked on helplessly until the nest hit the ground and smashed into a million pieces. The orange cat hopped off the table and ran to the corner, where he got sick. A quick glance to my left revealed the other two cats remained staring out the window in disbelief, their eyes moist, and defeat etched in their faces.
It seemed that all was lost, this day could not get any worse. That is when the scorpion looking thing came to life with a loud growl. The cats scattered, diving under the nearest piece of furniture that they could find. The men began to toss the fallen branches into the scorpion’s mouth. It was like a monster crunching down on a bunch of bones and spitting them out into the back of the dump truck.
The sight and sounds of the thing were too much. I scampered for the sofa and tried to climb under it with Rapi, but alas, I am a Labrador mix and not a chihuahua. My whole body felt like jello being shaken in a bowl. My head whipped from the left to the right, then behind me until at last I spotted the dining room table. Diving for safety, I crawled on my belly until I was under one of the chairs, where I promptly covered my eyes with my paws and waited for the monster outside to go home.
It had been hours since the scorpion had gone silent and the men and woman had stopped yelling. I had listened to the sound of the trucks pulling away and the unending mournful dirge that the birds had been singing outside our front window, yet neither the cats nor I had come out from our protective lairs.
As I lay in my spot still shaking, I heard the familiar sound of a car being locked, followed by footsteps and that delicious sound of the door handle being jiggled. My eyes darted towards the front door just in time to see it fly open. Daddy’s silhouette filled the door frame.
He looked around the room, puzzled as to why I hadn’t run to greet him. I could understand his confusion, I mean I never miss the opportunity to run around and dance with him when he comes home.
“Cindee?” his voice called out.
“Where are you?” he asked, his voice teasing.
He closed the door behind him and began to search the house, until he spotted me hiding under the table.
“What’s wrong little lady?” he asked, kneeling on the floor to scratch behind my ears.
I was filled with that warm feeling again. That sensation of home, love, and cookies. He lifted the chair up moved it out of the way so he could sit on it and give me some kisses on the nose.
“You gotta go outside?” he asked in that special way that makes you say yes even when the answer is no.
I followed him to the front door where he attached the leash to my necklace. This was just a precaution; you know in case he starts to wander off I can save him and show him the way home. That happens to him a lot. I tell him he should see a doctor about it, but he refuses saying it would be good for me to see more of the neighborhood.
“I am taking Cindee out,” he calls upstairs to Mommy. She is the boss, and he needs her approval.
“Okay, I should be done with this client in about a half hour,” she answers back.
Now that we have Mommy’s okay, we are off. I love my Daddy, but I really do prefer my morning walk with Mommy, because she walks much faster than Daddy and she lets me run after the squirrels.
We stop outside to look at the ruins of the nest and the stump that was left behind in the ground as a reminder of the tree that once stood there. I can see the look of sadness in Daddy’s face too. My Mommy and Daddy are a couple of tree huggers and I know this hurts them.
I stop here to do my business as a way of expressing my opinion of what happened here today. That’s when I see the birds, still sitting on the windowsill. Daddy tries to guide me away for a walk, but I am not in the mood today. I just want to listen to the poor homeless birds.
Daddy glanced at the destroyed nest, then looked up at the birds. His face lit up like a connection had been made.
“C’mon Cindee, let’s go” he said, the excitement in his voice was electrifying.”
I had been watching him for fifteen minutes now as he ran from closet to closet, emptying out the contents then putting it all back. Some sort of madness had gripped him, and I was starting to grow very concerned about him.
“Ah ha!,” he said, before dashing out the back door.
Rapi strolled over to me, his stomach swaying from left to right with each step. Together, the orange cat and I sat down at the big glass doors in the dining room, where we watched Daddy stalking around the back yard.
“Is it a loose screw?” the cat asked, his brows knitted close together.
“I am not sure Rapi, he has been like this since he got home,” I answered, afraid he may be broken.
“Mommy will be done with work soon, maybe she will know what to do,” I said, looking to the cat with my best fake hopeful expression.
We watched Daddy pull the wrought iron shepherds hook from along the back fence. Once freed from the grip of the ground, he returned to the house.
Rapi and I jumped out of the way when the door slid open and he came dashing in.
“I’ve got it, I’ve got it,” he said with a maniacal laugh.
“What ever it is I don’t want it,” Rapi said, a serious look washing over his chubby face.
He marched right past us and directly for the basement door.
“Oh no,” I cried, watching him descend the stairs.
This was craziness. Everyone knows basements are filled with monsters. I would not be caught dead in a basement.
“Why on earth would he risk his life going down there?” I barked out loud.
Rapi stared at me for a moment or two, his face told the story of a cat who thought his best friend was a nutjob. Just because I don’t want to be eaten by a monster. Sheesh.
Thump thump thump, Daddy came running up the stairs holding a … a …
“Birdhouse!” Rapi cried out in exuberance.
Rapi and I sat together, taking in the last rays of another day. On the other side of the front window our bird friends who had been homeless mere hours ago where now moving into there new home. The white house with the grey roof hung from the shepherd’s hook. Ma and Pa bird sat on the patio eating at their new table.
“It’s been a crazy day right Rapi,” I said, my face glowing with happiness.
“It sure has,” the orange cat answered back, equally satisfied with the day’s outcome.
“I’m glad we were able to help our neighbors out,” he added looking over at me.
“Me too Rapi, me too!”