On Being Useful

image courtesy pixabay

“Hey Yehudi!”

The small black and white cat leapt up into the air landing on all four paws then spun to face me with arched back and puffed-up tail.

“Whoa, it’s just me!” I said in the calmest voice I knew how to make.

“Oh, hey Mylo,” she said, relaxing her tail.

“Sorry if I startled you.”

“You should be.  It’s not nice to sneak up on someone you know,” the cat answered, her left eye blinking rapidly and her whiskers twitching manically.

“Sorry,” I said again, this time bowing down a little bit to show the sincerity in my statement.

Yehudi sat silently staring into my eyes.  I didn’t say anything at first, but as the moment stretched on, I began to feel distinctly uncomfortable.  The cat sat still as a stone statue, save for the trembling whiskers, while I glanced around at the spare bedroom, which had become the cat’s sanctuary.  A minute had passed this way, then two.

“Okay,” I said, dragging out the word and backing towards the door.

“Oh, it’s not your fault, I was just staring out the window thinking,” Yehudi picked up the conversation as if no time had passed.

“Einstein’s equation for general relativity,” I asked, knowing the cat’s preclusion for meaning.

“No, I am done with that, it’s Rapi,” she said referring to the extra-large orange tabby who is the current alpha cat.


I pondered that answer for a moment.  What could be her beef with Rapi.  He is probably the sweetest most friendliest cat you would ever meet.

“Yeah Rapi!  Do you know he doesn’t think I can do anything important?”

Wow, I didn’t expect that.

“Why do you say that Yehudi?”

“Because he says that I am too little and too young.”

Her words slapped me across the face like the paw of an angry poodle.

“I understand exactly what you are saying Yehudi.  Cindee treats me the same way,” I said, thinking of the chocolate lab mix with the floppy ears.


The cat had contorted her face into one of questioning curiosity, obviously unable to comprehend Cindee behaving that way.

“Really.  Did you know …”

“Help!  Somebody help!”

I halted midsentence and tossed a glance at my companion who was already staring back at me wide-eyed.


“C’mon Yehudi, somebody needs help,” I said, standing at attention.

The cat simply looked back at me, her face a novel in nervousness, or at least it seemed that way.  The way that Yehudi twitched on the regular made it difficult to tell the difference between her being afraid or her suffering laser pointer withdrawal.

“Hold on,” she answered, then turned to gaze out the window again.

“We don’t have time for that.  What if this is an emergency?”


My mouth fell open.

“Did you just shush me,” I said, demanding an answer from the cat.

I received an answer in the form of an angry leer from the feline, who then returned her attention to the backyard.

“Cardinal down,” she shouted.

I felt my head tilt to the left.  What does that mean?

“C’mon Mylo, let’s go!”

The cat didn’t wait for a response.  She leapt from the windowsill and tore off across the family room to the back door.  I still wasn’t sure what was happening, but Yehudi seemed to know, so I trotted along behind her.

“Quick, open the door Mylo!”

It all made sense to me now.  A beautiful scarlet red bird lay face down in the snow at the bottom of the big maple tree in our back yard.  Dancing around his still body was his panic-stricken partner.

“Please help, my husband has been shot by that nasty little boy across the street,” her voice a shrill screech.

“He needs our help,” I called over my shoulder and started to dash the snow towards the wounded bird. 

I had made it about ten feet before I realized that Yehudi wasn’t with me.  I stopped and turned around to see what the hold-up was and found the little black cat still standing on the covered porch.

“Let’s go Yehudi, I need your help!  I can’t do this alone!”

“I can’t.  The snow is too deep,” she answered, her face adorned with a sickly look.

I had been so driven by adrenaline that I hadn’t realized that it was shoulder deep on me.  Yehudi was right, she would have been submerged.

“My husband,” the red bird reminded us in a not-so-subtle way.

“You go and bring him back here,” the cat called to me.

I nodded to let her know I understood, then turned and began to forge my way ahead through the thick carpet of white that stood between me and Mr. Cardinal.

“I am coming Mrs. Cardinal,” I yelled to the bird, then tucked my head down and pushed full speed ahead. 

Soon the weight of the snow began to push back against me and my adrenaline was beginning to wane and I ground to a halt.  I looked over my shoulder.  Yehudi was gone.  As I stood there tired and sucking in ice-cold air, Cindee’s words came back to me.  Maybe she was right.  Maybe I was too young to do anything important.

“Don’t stop, please, please we need your help dear!”

Mrs. Cardinal’s words filled my head and swirled around. 

“Deer,” I mumbled quietly.

I took a couple of paces back then sped forward leaping and bounding through the air the way that we had seen the deer move around inside the woods on our hiking trip.

In no time at all I had reached Mr. Cardinal, but now that I was here, I didn’t know what to do.  Despair began to creep in.  I had come so far, so close.

“Mylo, pick him up and gently bring him back here!”

I turned to see Yehudi standing on the porch, surrounded by gauze, sterile dressing, and a bunch of other medical supplies that she had dragged out of the house.  The sight of my friends and the look of hope on Mrs. Cardinal’s face had invigorated me.  I was making a difference.

I took great care to scoop Mr. Cardinal up into my mouth and with all the grace I could muster smoothly bounded back to the house with Mrs. Cardinal flitting through the air above me.

Together Yehudi and I had found some papers in the recycling bin and shredded them to build a nice little resting place nestled in a safe corner of the porch, where Mr. Cardinal lay peacefully napping.

“I will never be able to thank you two enough.  You may have saved my husband’s life,” Mrs. Cardinal’s words rolled off her tongue and surrounded us with such love.

“It was nothing maam,” Yehudi replied, her face glowing with a sense of accomplishment and joy.

“No, it was everything,” the bird countered.

“It was our pleasure, but Yehudi and I are going to get going.  You need your rest too,” I said gently nudging the top of Mrs. Cardinal’s head.

“I guess you are right.  Thank you again!”

We nodded and turned towards the house.

“We can be useful,” the little black cat squeaked with pleasure.

“Yes.  Yes we can Yehudi,” I answered, my heart filled with warmth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: