The cat is in the doghouse. Big time.
I am severely wounded. Big time.
As you can imagine, these two elements have a great deal to do with one another, and it is all the fault of my cat, the evil Spook.
It began innocently enough. I was sprawled out on my recliner watching television. Spook was on the windowsill next to me, surveying what he thinks is his domain. The window was open and there was a gentle breeze. I began to hear some strange sounds and looked up to see that one of the neighborhood cats had jumped up on the window ledge and he and Spook were muttering softly to each other through the screen.
I thought it was kind of cute. Usually Spook carries on something awful if another cat comes by, but the two of them were nose to nose, chatting quietly.
Now, I don't know if cats have a language. But if they do, this visitor said the wrong thing.
Out of nowhere, Spook screeched like a goosed soprano and hurled himself right through the screen. The two tumbled to the ground in a full-fledged, spitting, yowling, fur-flying cat fight.
I was alarmed. Spook has never been in a fight and doesn't even have his front claws. Plus he is old, flabby, and out of shape. Here he was, tangling with an experienced neighborhood hooligan. I was worried he'd get slaughtered.
I grabbed a flashlight and ran outside. The two had separated and were cursing at each other. When I ran toward them, the interloper scampered off, and I thought it would be OK. Boy, was I wrong.
Spook had his fighting blood up. I tried to pick him up and he spit, growled, and bared his fangs, eyes glaring malevolently as if to say, "You want a piece of me? Come on, give it your best shot!''
Each time I tried to touch him, he reacted violently.
I wasn't sure what to do. Then I had an idea. I went inside and fetched a blanket. I figured I could snare him in that and get him inside. He was pretty cagey, though. He backed himself against the fence by a bush, making capture difficult. I finally got the blanket over him and tried to wrap him up. That's when he went berserk. He twisted and howled and soon we were rolling across the lawn.
Just when I thought I had him, his head popped out and he sank his fangs into my hand. I yelped in pain, let go, and he scampered off into the night.
I looked for him for some time, then gave up. He had never been out all night before, but there wasnot much I could do. I went to bed wondering if I'd ever see him again. Frankly, at the time I wasn't too bothered by the prospect.
About 3 a.m., I woke up, opened the front door, and called his name. He answered immediately and quickly scampered inside. He tried to apologize, but I was having none of it. I returned to bed, closing the bedroom door and leaving him to think about his sins.
It isn't easy to punish a cat. But I have come up with a couple of things. First of all, payment for replacing the screen is coming out of his bank account, along with any shots or medication I might need.
Also, he is getting the equivalent of no television for a week. I usually set up his perch at the front screen door so he can watch his "television,'' which is the front yard. That's been taken away.
Some think I'm too harsh.
"After all, he was just doing what is his nature,'' one said.
It's natural for one to go after its own kind? Hah! You don't see me flying through a screen to attack elderly fat men, do you?
So now that things are pretty quiet again and returning to normal, the thing I want to know is what that cat said to him.
I know I'll never repeat it.
If you would like to purchase a copy of Tom Ensign's book ``There's More Than One Way to Skin a Human,'' which is a collection of columns about life with his cat, click here.