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James R. Stout

Wild Thang and The Buick

            The neighborhood that I grew up in had some interesting characters. But hands, no, make that paws, down the most interesting character in the neighborhood was an orange tabby cat that was strapped with the name, “Wild Thang”. Let me tell you, that cat was indeed wild. He had little to no use for humans and especially humans under the age of about 20. I was in that group when I first encountered Wild Thang. I was about 12 at the time. Wild Thang was “owned” by a widow lady across the street. Heck, he might have been her deceased husband come back to haunt her. He was a rather large cat, not fat, just large. At some point in time someone must have tried to strangle Wild Thang because his meow was more like the sound of frog with laryngitis imitating a cat. He was loud too. No dog felt safe in the neighborhood when they heard his meowing and screeching.

            I’m convinced that Wild Thang really did have 9 lives. One day I decided to go out on the front porch and enjoy the late afternoon sun. Apparently, Wild Thang was exploring my mother’s azalea bushes by the porch and when I stepped outside, I startled him something fierce. First, he screeched and then he took off like his tail was on fire. He ran across the fairly busy street on the side of our house and I watched in horror as a great big Buick with a giant chrome grin plowed into Wild Thang as he was in mid-flight trying to get across the road. It was like slow motion. The car smacked into Wild Thang on the side of the head, his head nearly did a 360 degree turn and he seemed to look right at me with a look of “This is nuts!” on his face, and then several teeth went flying out of his mouth and clinked against the chrome bumper. The driver of the car threw on his brakes and stopped just as Wild Thang came to a stop from rolling several times. I figured he was dead, but if he was, then his next life took over because he jumped up screeched at the car, and then ran into the widow lady’s yard and hid in the bushes. It was the darndest thing I had ever seen.

            This is where the story gets even stranger. About two days later I got off the bus from school and walked up the sidewalk to our porch and there was Wild Thang just sitting on the porch. To be honest, I was a little scared of him at that point. But he was just sitting there looking at me. As I stepped up on the porch and started to unlock the door, he slowly walked over to me and rubbed up against my leg. What on Earth? He had never done anything like that before and so far, as I was aware, had never allowed anyone to pet him. But here he was begging for some loving. Well, I do love animals and I especially like cats and dogs. So, I sat down, and old Wild Thang crawled up into my lap and started to purr. I must have sat there about 15 minutes petting him and he was just purring. Finally, I had to get up and go in and call my mother at work to let her know I was home from school. But for the next month or so Wild Thang was usually waiting for me when I got home from school. We became great friends. Then one day he wasn’t there. Then the next and then the next day after that. In fact, I never saw him again. Maybe he found a lady cat or maybe he had been on his 9th life and something happened. I have no idea. But I learned something from Wild Thang. First, you don’t judge someone based on how they look or sound or some physical trait that they may have. Second, when someone offers you love, and I mean love in a pure sense of the word, you return the gesture with some of your love. Finally, you don’t listen to what someone has to say about someone else until you’ve spent time with that someone else. All the kids in the neighborhood made fun of Wild Thang and I suspect a few of them were not nice to him. Prior to that day with the Buick, I had tried to pet Wild Thang, but he always shied away. I’m glad that we had some time to become friends. To this day, I have a special place in my heart for orange tabbies. It pays to be kind and it pays to show understanding and love.

 

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