A Cat's Tale
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It was the meowing of the cat that first got my attention. It was the girl standing under the tree looking up at the meowing cat that received my second attention. And third. I probably would have stood there gawking all day if the very real distress in her voice hadn't diverted my attention.
"Loki, come down! You know you don't like heights."
A cat that didn't like heights? Now there was a new one on me. I did have to agree though that the cat really was looking miserable up in the tree. Despite the furry face, this cat's demeanor was 'Get me out of this. NOW!'. Now, I'm a dog person, but no way could I ignore this pretty girl's plight. I always was a sucker for a damsel in distress. Even one with a hissing black cat.
I went to stand next to her. "Hi. I'm Adam. Adam Williams. Need a hand?"
That was when I was introduced to the most gorgeous pair of slate gray eyes I'd ever seen. These were the kind of eyes that poets wrote about. As a newspaper man (feature writer in the school paper thank you), I was used to cataloging things. No way would I be able to catalog her eyes. They seemed to shift colors with every thought or passing breeze. Always gray, but first with hints of blue and then green peeking out of their depths.
I must have been standing there with a very stupid look on my face for longer than I realized. Next thing I was aware of was the amused look on this girl's face. I know my face colored a bit - a curse of my Irish heritage and fair skin - so there was no way I was getting out of this gracefully. Thankfully she took pity on me.
"Miranda Evans," she offered. "That rascal in the tree is Loki. He doesn't like heights, but every once in a while he tries to climb something and then gets stuck. The problem is that I can't climb up after him." The last was said with a nod toward her left arm, which I finally noticed was sporting a cast.
I just winced and nodded. Having broken my own arm a couple of years back, I could sympathize. There wasn't much you could do with an arm in a cast.
"Never fear, fair damsel," I cracked, "I'm happy to help. I was the champion tree climber in Mrs. Fisk's 3rd grade class. Well, until Emily Morrison moved to town."
I winked at Miranda. "She knocked me out of the neighborhood tree house and took both my pride and my title all at the same time."
Miranda finally smiled at that. "I don't think Loki will knock you out of the tree, but if you can get him down from there, you will certainly be my champion."
"Now what guy can resist an offer like that?" Certainly not me.
It was over in a matter of minutes. Thankfully the tree Loki had decided to climb was a fairly small one and I had no problem hooking my arms over a limb and swinging aboard. Loki hadn't retreated very far up the tree yet, but was watching my moves with an almost comical look of surprise. Guess he didn't expect a nerd would know how to climb a tree.
Look, I cultivate the studious newspaper geek bit carefully. But it wasn't the sum total of my existence. When I was 5 my Mom decided to enroll me in gymnastics. I loved it. 3 days a week I was allowed to go run, tumble and bounce around to my hearts content. (I was 5, you know.) My Mom received the benefit of a son who burned off all his excess energy in gymnastics class and NOT in her house. By the time I was old enough to realize that gymnastics was not considered a manly sport, I was hooked. I was also really good.
Not many people in town knew this about me. I'd outgrown the local coaches' skills years before and had been taking my coaching in a town over an hour away. Even people who'd grown up with me were oblivious.
It did make getting an acrophobic cat out of a tree a snap though.
I handed the still silent cat off to Miranda before jumping to the ground. Both cat and girl eyed me curiously while I dusted bits of bark off my palms and jeans. The cat was the first to break the silence with a chirruping meow. Miranda responded as if answering a question.
"That's what I want to know. How did you manage to do that so...so...gracefully?"
I laughed at that. "You should see me on the dance floor." I executed a couple steps.
Thankfully Miranda laughed at that and let it go. We chatted for a few minutes more and I discovered that her and her family (1 mom, 1 dad, and 1 brother) had just moved to Fairview. In fact, she had been unpacking when Loki snuck out the back door to test his tree climbing skills.
"Actually, I had best get back." Miranda looked at the cat now peacefully dozing in her arms before glancing back up.
I was wondering how to work the conversation around to seeing her again when she beat me to the punch.
"Um, since I'm new in town, I was wondering if you would mind showing me the town." Miranda just stood there looking at me while my brain emptied.
"YES!" I stood there a second, sheepish. "Uh...was that too enthusiastic, do you think?"
Miranda just laughed and leaned over the cat in her arms to give me a peck on the cheek. "Thanks. Why don't you come by tomorrow afternoon? We should have most of the unpacking done by then. At the very least, I'll be grateful for a break. I live in the old white Victorian on the end of the street." She gave a nod with her head to indicate which end of the street.
She needn't have bothered. EVERYONE knew that house.
"Aaah. You're the ones who bought the old Stone Sister house. Everyone was wondering."
The Stone Sister house was a landmark in our town. Velma and Veronica Stone were spinster sisters who lived together their entire lives. They were really sweet old ladies, but a little eccentric. Rumor had it that they were witches. Whenever they were confronted with that particular piece of gossip, they would just laugh and say that they hadn't gotten to the section in their spell book on transforming boys into toads just yet.
"Yes, Mom and Dad bought it from a pair of sisters. Did you know them?"
"Faintly. No one really knew them well. If you know what I mean. But they seemed like personable ladies. The Historic Society was heartbroken when the Velma and Veronica decided to sell and take a cruise around the world." I winked at Miranda. "Apparently the sisters were the driving force of their annual fundraiser."
That got a chuckle from Miranda and Loki even opened one eye to stare.
"I have to go before Mom puts the family curse on me for deserting her. I'll see you around 2 tomorrow, okay?" Miranda started to walk away before quickly turning around and heading back toward me.
She leaned in close and gave me another whisper soft kiss on my cheek. "Thank you for rescuing Loki." Then she was gone.
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