A Cat From Canada by Bassam Imam - HTML preview

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NORTH BOUND

“Kitty, you‟ve made it. Keep going to that waterhole. We won‟t be hovering over your head anymore,” said a vulture.

I looked up at the sky only to see the vultures fly away.

Although it could‟ve been a trick of sorts I believed them.

I continued walking towards the waterhole one gruelling step at a time. Beads of sweat were now dripping down my face and body. I simply couldn‟t lose any more water otherwise I‟d likely go into shock. Thereafter, I could expect nothing but death. In that case scenario the vultures would probably return.

Finally, as I got to within a few feet of the waterhole I took notice of the animal bending over and drinking. It was a beautiful golden-coloured horse. And what a site it was.

I leaped onto the edge of the waterhole and began to lick as much water as I possibly could in as little time as possible.

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After I finished having my fill I noticed that the horse was eyeing me. He wasn‟t sure of my intentions, so I began to converse with him.

“Excuse me, but forgive me for asking you, why are you way out in the middle of nowhere? Horses like you aren‟t supposed to be here.”

“I‟m a burro. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) was chasing a bunch of us burros and boy did they scare us. Luckily, I slipped away behind a large mound. I knelt down and stayed put. Incredibly, three BLM choppers flew overhead and no one therein took any notice of me.”

“Oh, I know who the BLM is they‟re the Bureau of Land Management. They do tons of good work for our country.”

“Not for us burros. We call them the Bureau of Land Murderers. Bison and burros don‟t like the BLM. In fact, we hate them with extreme ferocity. We don‟t like to be rounded up, shot at, corralled or intimidated.”

“I‟m Chip Miller, what‟s your name?”

“My name is Thomas Burro. My family has been in this country for centuries.”

“Thomas, I have Canadian blood running through my veins.

But, when I‟m here I often tell people I‟m a North American cat.

When I go up to Canada I‟m from Canada. So, I guess I‟m kind of a mixed up kitty.”

“Chip, I‟m a native Nevadan. That‟s where the big chase began. But thankfully, as you can see, I‟m free as a bird.” Chip, we better rest up for a while. We must stay still and not move if we hear an airplane or chopper overhead. However, if a chopper gets too close for comfort we have to haul ass. Look, just in case we‟re forced to split up run over in that direction. You see those trees on the horizon. That‟s Pendleton, California a small town where a kitty can fit in. There are several horse ranches on the outskirts of Pendleton. I‟ll squeeze myself into one during the wee hours of the night. No owner will complain of my presence. I‟m not branded, no one owns me and I‟m of good stock, as you can clearly see.” Thomas and I rested up until late in the night and into the A.M. hours. We awakened at 3 A.M. fully refreshed but very hungry.

“Thomas, what do you want to do? We‟re starving, and we simply can‟t stay here. There‟s no food, only water from a questionable waterhole. Normally, I‟d never drink from this kind of a waterhole, but desperation controlled my behaviour.” As we were conversing we were rudely interrupted by a humming sound coming from above.

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“Thomas, listen up! I think there‟s a giant dragonfly buzzing overhead. I think it must be twenty feet long or more.

It sounds really menacing. What should we do?”

“Heck no, Chip! It‟s not a freaking dragonfly it‟s a Special Operations Chopper (SOC)!

Chip, don‟t hit the deck, run like freaking hell!” Actually, the first thing I did was poop onto the ground then I urinated. To make matters worse, I was so stunned that I instinctively leaped onto the nearest person beside me. I ended up on Thomas‟s back.

I held onto him really tight and then I pulled and pushed on his hair as a jockey would do. He responded by running as fast as he could.

While making our attempted escape I wondered about which of us was wanted by the BLM; me or Thomas. Well, the answer to my wonderment came without delay.

“Thomas, slow down to a halt! The BLM will give you complete amnesty and a safe and uninterrupted passage to Canada or Mexico if you turn in that kitty riding you.

I just want to warn you that the kitty is wanted by the Federal Government violations for serious port of entry violations and other serious crimes. There‟s a reward of ten thousand dollars for his capture. Thomas you should do the right thing. Stop running and turn the kitty over to us. I promise you won‟t regret it.”

“Commander Williams, you‟re a freaking liar! I‟ve heard more than I can swallow about your treacherous lies!” shouted Thomas.

“What, Thomas, Commander Williams? I thought he worked for the U.S. Border Patrol?”

“No, this hard ass has a multi-purpose job. He even has a post as Director of Guantanamo. I heard he enjoys torturing humans, but cats are his specialty.”

“Thomas, you‟ve got ten seconds to slow down. I‟ll give you some lea-way to make a complete stop. This is it, Thomas.” After the ten seconds came to pass the BLM began to fire at us. It was very terrifying as Commander Williams ordered a rapid fire assault. Bullets were zooming past us but sooner or later one or more bullets would either hit me or Thomas. Therefore, I gave Thomas the best advice I could.

“Thomas, listen up very carefully. I want you to run in a zigzag manner. Just imagine that you‟re an elk being chased by a cheetah.”

“Thanks for the beautiful advice, Chip. You‟re one heck of a swell kitty.

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Now, Chip, it‟s my turn to give you some expert advice.

Crouch down like a jockey. This will reduce wind resistance. We should pick up a bit of speed this way.”

I did as told and believe me we did pick up some speed.

Thomas continued running as fast as he could. We were very close to Pendleton and a beautiful congregation of trees. All we had to do is enter the town. Thereafter, it‟d be much more difficult for the BLM to catch us. Not to mention, the legal ramifications of entering an American town during deep sleep hours. The citizens of the town would throw a fit.

As Thomas continued running something quite shocking happened. Because the BLM chopper, well, I mean Commander Williams was so intent on capturing us, he‟d forgotten about the dangers of flying at an excessively low altitude.

The BLM chopper crashed into a telephone pole. Immediately thereafter, a horrific explosion rocked the area. Although Thomas and I were relieved that the BLM were no longer on our tail, we also knew that we‟d be blamed for the crash. Under no circumstances could we be captured or discovered.

“Thomas, let‟s go into town. Over there on our right is city hall. We can sneak inside and gather our thoughts for a while. What do you say?”

“Chip, I love you ever so deeply. But as you know, I‟m a horse. I can‟t just stroll through any American town or city without being noticed. You on the other hand are a cat. You have much more leeway and flexibility in this area.

Chip, for me there‟s only one place to go. I must enter a horse ranch immediately and mix in with the other horses. You see, I can smell horse manure from afar. I‟ll follow the scent.

Chip, you and I must split up immediately.

Listen, new sirens emanating from afar are sounding and sooner or later Pendleton Police will be patrolling the area for a horse and a cat.

We said goodbye and then I leaped up onto Thomas‟s face and gave him a big hug and an Italian style kiss on each cheek.

A moment later we were on our way. Thomas didn‟t waste much time. He followed the scent of horse manure disappearing into the dark of night.

Now, I was all alone. No relatives or friends nearby and confused about where to go. City hall no longer seemed appealing because it was too close to the entrance of town.

On my right was the beautiful Pendleton Park, though. It was dark and I didn‟t detect the presence of any humans. At least for the time being, humans were my number one enemy. And because there was a bounty on my head they (humans, not all of them but many of them) would transform into salivating monsters 39

ready to get a hold of me. They love money like no other creature on Earth.

After passing the park sign I scanned the area very carefully just in case. The lights in the area were dim. That worked to my advantage.

But as I began my earnest walk into Pendleton Park I couldn‟t help but notice the sirens getting louder and louder.

But what terrified me the most is that new sirens appeared from the north of town. It meant that Pendleton Police were joining the search. Thomas and I had been pursued by the BLM from south of town.

I ran deep into the park, stopped and then scanned the area again deciding to leap into a wooded area to my right.

Thankfully, the trees and plant life therein was thick. So much so, if it‟d been elsewhere I would‟ve been tempted to call it a forest.

My position gave me a bird‟s eye view of goings-on throughout the area. Additional choppers soon converged on the crash site. In addition, vans and other vehicles appeared.

My watch indicated 5:00 A.M. In all the mayhem I didn‟t notice the appearance of dawn. The sun was getting ready to make a steady rise. This would cause the entire area to lighten-up.

Not only would I lose my visual advantage, the situation would become potentially fatal. I didn‟t think that the BLM or any other agency involved in our capture would have mercy me or Thomas. Thomas and I were likely to be gunned down on sight. No trial or investigation. As far as the authorities were concerned, we were as guilty as sin. Maybe, we‟d be blamed for numerous other unsolved crimes too.

There was a gnawing hunger within me. Although I was also quite thirsty there was a water fountain nearby.

After waiting patiently for thirty minutes it became apparent to me that I had to move on.

I scanned the area, and then ran to the water fountain, leaped onto it, pressed the control button and had my fill.

I leaped onto the grass and then ran to the other side of Pendleton Park. I‟d noticed that the downtown core was located there.

As soon as I left Pendleton Park I crossed Elm Street and then entered Bridgeport Street. This street took me straight to the downtown core. Along the way I made it a rule to scan the area after every two hundred steps that I took. There were many potential dangers nearby. Being on the alert was of the utmost importance.

When I got to within a block of the downtown core I heard the sound of dog paws pounding on pavement. When I turned to see 40

where the pounding came from I noticed a Rottweiler running towards me.

I pondered about fighting it but decided on fleeing instead. I figured the Rottweiler didn‟t know I was a wanted fugitive. Maybe he was a cat hater, worse yet a cat killer?

As soon as I turned to run away the Rottweiler stopped in his tracks and spoke to me.

“Chip, please don‟t run! Thomas gave me a message to convey to you. He found a beautiful horse ranch. He says that you should live with Robinson, that‟s me, for a few days. There‟s nowhere to hide. The state police and the FBI have been added to the „manhunt‟ to capture both cold-blooded killers.” As I pondered about what to do a flash thought lit up in my mind. The fact is I had no alternative but to take Thomas‟s advice. There was simply no place to go.

“Robinson, are you the real McCoy?”

“What, I don‟t understand what you mean?”

“I mean, are you really ready to take me in as your friend?

What do you want in exchange?”

“I just want you to love me. No one has ever loved me. My first owners chained me up all day and night to a tree regardless of the weather. See, come closer and you‟ll believe me.”

I approached Robinson cautiously, not sure whether it was a trap or some kind of a trick on his part. But when I got close enough to him I saw a horrible gash on Robinson‟s neck. There was only one way to get that gash. Robinson was telling the truth.

“So, what happened to make your owners free you?” As of last year, the City Council of Pendleton passed a city ordinance making it illegal to chain a dog outside all day and night, especially lf the elements were hostile. Maximum time is four hours except during the night, and it can‟t be raining or hot and humid.

Dog owners can fence in their dogs if they choose to.

However, this city ordinance was twofold. Dogs running around freely in any yard must be located behind a sufficient barrier for obvious reasons.”

“Robinson, I notice that you live in a yard with a white picket fence around it.”

“Yes, I carefully opened the fence door before running out to meet you. As you can see perfectly well, the fence door is wide open.

Look, please come back to the yard with me. I‟ve got tons of food lying around. Like, umm, do you enjoy eating pizza? What about German Chocolate Cake. I‟ve got plenty of both. No doubt, you can smell both.”

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“By golly, I‟m starving. Robinson, if you feed me just this once I promise that I‟ll love you from the bottom of my heart.

No strings attached or any conditions whatsoever.

But wait a minute! You told me that your first owners treated you badly. I can see the horrific gash on your neck.

Your skin actually grew into the chain. I know for a fact that you had to have surgery to remove the chain link. Each and every chink in the chain had to be removed individually.

Now, back to the point; what about your new owners? What are they like and how do they treat you?”

Frank and Samantha Garland are in their late seventies.

They‟re the best humans I‟ve ever come across. They‟re retired professionals. Frank was a college professor and Samantha was a registered nurse. They feed me the best food and I have my own doghouse.

But Chip, although the Garlands are very nice and sweet to me I need some „animal talk‟ if you know what I mean.”

“Yes, Robinson, I know exactly what you mean. Every animal that has ever lived around humans gets that gnawing feeling in their gut. We each need some time to speak to other animals.

Some animals need to speak to their own species.

Robinson, an animal can go nuts if it‟s never allowed to speak to other animals, ever. But I see you‟re doing quite well.

Your social skills are very well polished.”

“Yes, Chip, my skills are very well polished. But that‟s because I speak to other animals at least several times a week.

Some animals are very intelligent and friendly, like you.

Please, Chip, come back with me. I know it‟s early in the morning but I know that you‟re very hungry. After we eat we can sleep for several hours. Then, I‟ll introduce you to the Garlands. Actually, they may take you in indefinitely.” Although I appreciated the offer there was still something rattling my mind. Actually, it was an important question; will the police identify me?

I returned to Robinson‟s yard and continued following him to his doghouse before munching out on a very delicious pizza and also three slices of German Chocolate Cake for dessert.

There was nothing to do thereafter but sleep. And sleep we did. I was rudely awakened at noon to a heated conversation between the Frank Garland and the county sheriff.

“Frank, listen up very good. I want you to warn your wife and dog about a murderer on the loose. Actually, there were initially two of them, a cat and a horse. The cat was the commander and brains of the duo. The horse, named Thomas was gunned down an hour ago. We spotted him trying to slither himself into a group of horses on the McNamara Ranch. He went down instantly.

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I repeat it‟s the cat that we‟re really after. He‟s mean and tough. And, he‟s a cold-blooded killer responsible for wreaking havoc on The U.S. Border Patrol and the BLM.

Frank, here‟s a composite of the kitty. DO NOT try to arrest or lure this kitty onto your property. Just call 911 and tell the switchboard operator that you‟ve spotted the „killer cat‟. She‟ll know exactly what you‟re talking about.

Oh, one more thing. There‟s a #25,000 reward for any information leading to his apprehension or killing. The FBI will compare DNA samples thereafter, of course. They have some of his DNA locked up in a safe place. In other words there will be no reward unless there‟s a positive DNA match.

Frank, be careful. Wendy Whitmore, the old witch called 911

a few hours ago. She claimed to have seen the killer kitty enter your yard with another person. She couldn‟t quite see who the other person was. Now, do you mind if I perform a cursory check of your yard. And, you and Samantha can perform your own cursory check in your home and garage.”

“Sheriff, that sounds just right. I pride myself in being a friendly man. However, my friendliness has its limits. I‟ll never harbour a fugitive or a killer of any sorts. So help me, if I see this killer kitty anywhere in this city, I‟ll personally call you, regardless of the hour. Can I do that?”

“Frank, you and I grew up together. Of course you can. And the same goes for your wife and dog. There‟s nothing in this world I‟d love to do more than catch the killer kitty and give you the reward on the same day.”

The conversation ensued getting spookier and spookier for yours truly. Thankfully, the sheriff and Frank were positioned just in front of the white picket fence. The exit of the doghouse was located on the other side enabling me to slither away from the danger. I was upset at not being able to thank Robinson for his generous hospitality and to wish him luck.

Unfortunately, if I‟d done that I would‟ve been spotted.

It was 12:15 P.M., hot and humid and the California sun was taking a vengeance on the population of Pendleton. I‟d made up my mind right there and then to flee northward; in essence, I was northbound.

As I started my trek away from the Garland home I couldn‟t help but notice how utterly calm it was. Except for the conversation I was fleeing there was a spook in the air.

But then, my suspicions came to pass. Apparently, there‟d been a public announcement of sorts on television, radio and the Pendleton city Website warning its citizens to stay indoors until the fugitive killer cat was either captured, killed or was no longer in town.

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I crossed Lambert Street, scanned the area and decided to take a left. I was going north.

I‟d managed to walk three short blocks before hearing a couple of choppers fast approaching. Naturally, I felt a rush of terror in my heart. Who the heck else could they be searching for other than yours truly?

I spotted a nice looking house nearby. It must‟ve been a four or five bedroom and the lawn was green and well-manicured.

But what I liked most were the two gargantuan trees therein.

There was much shade underneath them and if need be I could perch and hide. Furthermore, there was a double garage, the doors were conveniently open and within one of them was a full-sized fridge. I could smell specs of food and drink emanating from the garage.

I dashed towards the large tree on the left, hid behind it and then squashed my body flat on the ground as to not be seen or noticed. I was so damn terrified I even quieted my own breathing. My body became so silent I could hear my heart beat, and believe it or not I could almost hear the blood passing through my veins and arteries.

A pair of attack Blackhawk choppers hovered just above the treetops over the neighbourhood. They hovered in place for a couple of minutes before someone therein made a public announcement through the amplifier.

“Respected citizens of Pendleton, we have managed to triangulate the location of the killer kitty. We know he‟s somewhere on Lambert Street between Elgin Boulevard and Smith Street. We recommend that you stay indoors unless it‟s absolutely necessary. We have composites posted on every telephone poll in the city. You can receive additional information on television, radio or on our website.

We‟ll inform you as soon as an apprehension has been made.

This is Mayor Ralph Jefferson speaking.”

I was terrified at the thought of being a marked kitty.

Worse yet, they knew what I looked like. A tiger can‟t change or even modify or alter its stripes. I had no access to makeup or paint.

But there was a gnawing thought running through my head.

I‟d forgotten something very important. It related to my chances of escape. I just needed more time or a memory cue before it was too late.

I stayed put until the Blackhawk choppers left the area. In all the commotion I forgot to look behind me. The tree I was hiding behind was almost in the direct line of view of the living room, which by the way had several large windows for the occupants to peer through.

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Thankfully, I didn‟t spot anyone therein. In fact, the area was too quiet and too still. Not a single light in the whole house was turned on.

Something was up. I glanced around the surrounding area, and then the sky. There were no dangers in sight. It was time for me to make my move. I was now hungry and thirsty. I basically needed a buffet style meal without any interruption.

Thereafter, I needed to watch some television. Sleep would be the last thing I‟d do.

I cropped up my ears and squinted to get a better fix on the interior of the house. It took me roughly two minutes to realize that there really were no visible movements or vibrations therein. Although there were scents in the air they were a bit faded. Perhaps they were a few old, I thought to myself.

Like a predatory cat eyeing its prey I froze for a few seconds and then chose a target.

I slowly approached the front door with my eyes fixed onto the lock. As soon as I was within striking distance I leaped up onto the lock and then held onto the doorknob with my right paw and proceeded to pick the lock with two of the claws on my right hand.

Thankfully, it only took a few seconds to get the job done.

As soon as I heard a click I turned the door handle in a clockwise direction and then pushed in a backwards direction.

Afterward, I leaped onto the ground. Now, the door was slightly ajar. I slowly pulled it open a bit further, entered the house and then closed the door behind me.

A sweet scent shot up through my nostrils reaching deep into my brain. The occupants of the house took care of it quite well. But I wasn‟t after air freshener or carpet freshener. I was after food and drink. Well, if there was some cash lying around I guess I would‟ve helped myself to it.

Knowing that there could still be danger therein I made certain to move stealthily like a jaguar strolling through a forest floor.

The first thing I noticed however was a small chandelier above me. On the right and a couple feet in front of me was a beautiful Oakwood table with a beautiful vase on it. But what caught my attention the most was the mirror on the wall adjacent to the vase and Oakwood table. It‟d been quite a while since I saw my own beautiful face and body. I figured now was the time to reconfirm my own beauty to myself.

I leaped onto the Oakwood table and then looked deep into the mirror. Something wasn‟t quite right. I couldn‟t put my paw on it. What was it about me that‟d changed? I wondered.

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After admiring myself for a couple of minutes I leaped onto the brown carpet and then took several steps forward. I understood that I had to be absolutely certain that nobody else was in the house. I decided to check the bedrooms to see if they‟d been slept in.

I slowly strolled through the short hallway aligned with bedrooms. One-by-one I scanned each bedroom and found that the beds were made and that there was absolutely no sign of habitation for that day.

Afterwards, I entered both restrooms and found the sinks to be dry. No residual water, not even a drop on either sink. The tubs were dry too.

I turned back and then headed for the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen the first thing that I did was open the door leading to the basement. As soon as I opened the door I peered down and saw nothing but pitch dark. No one was down there.

I didn‟t bother to go upstairs or to the attic. I was truly convinced that I was all alone.

I turned on the kitchen light and then scanned the area just in case.

The kitchen contained two large fridges, a freezer a kitchen table with immaculate tablecloth, beautiful wallpaper design, two microwave ovens and light brown coloured drapes.

What I had my eyes on were the fridges. And boy did I waste no time getting down to business. I approached the fridge on the right cautiously, as a predator approaches a target. I moved seven steps forward and then leaped onto the door-handle of the fridge. I kept hold of the handle with my right paw, released my left paw and then proceeded to open the door.

I swung my body towards the interior of the fridge and then leaped inside it. I felt like I was in kitty heaven. I was literally surrounded by a plethora of solid and liquid foods.

I grabbed hold of a 500 ml carton of chocolate milk with my teeth and then leaped onto the kitchen floor. Thereafter, I galloped to the kitchen table, leaped onto it and then placed the carton on the kitchen table.

I returned to the fridge several times grabbing hold of a slice of apple pie, a bottle of pop, and a cold salami sandwich, coleslaw and a bag of chips. The latter was located on the kitchen counter next to the toaster. The sandwich was already prepared and placed in a plastic container. All I had to do was open the plastic container and take the sandwich to the kitchen table, as I certainly did.

But as I was about to dig into my delicious meal I felt that something was missing. After pondering for a short while I remembered that I‟d forgotten about the fruit salad jar.

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Naturally, I got it and then brought it back to the kitchen table.

I began my meal in earnest, enjoying every last morsel and gulp. It seemed like nothing could‟ve brought me down. The meal took me thirty minutes to complete, including the drinks.

Suddenly, the phone rang. The startle reflex it caused me was so great my body catapulted off the kitchen table. In fact, I banged my head on the ceiling.

After four rings a woman on the other end conveyed a message.

“Sharon, Jack, please pick up the phone if you‟re in. The feds have zoomed in on the killer cat. They think he‟s in one of three houses and believe it or not, one of them is yours.” What?! I was shocked. How could the authorities know that I was here? Who the heck called my location in? Oh gosh I knew that there was nothing to do but escape. But which exit could I use? There were probably federal officers surrounding the area.

And, maybe there were snipers too, given the assignment to shoot and kill. To shoot and kill a kitty saves taxpayers time, a headache and money. Under the circumstances I wasn‟t expecting a Perry Mason to come to my rescue.

I was a wanted killer cat. Who amongst the humans would dare defend me? I couldn‟t think of a single person.

As if the first shocker wasn‟t terrifying enough. The second one was even worse.

“Kitty, we know that you were a passenger on Rio Grande Airlines flight #356. You‟re the primary suspect for the terrorist act committed therein. Many humans and some animals died needlessly.

Kitty, you need to turn yourself in immediately. We know where you are. If you try to escape we shall commence firing rapid gunfire and we‟ll launch specially designed missiles. Our orders under this particular scenario are shoot-to-kill with no questions asked or mercy. Our agents will commence firing at will until you will like a bloodied piece of moon cheese; holes in every part and crevice of your body.

You now have two minutes to come out with your paws in the air. I want you to hop on your hind-legs like an Australian kangaroo. And don‟t you dare act like you don‟t know what a kangaroo is. Everyone knows what a kangaroo is.” Instinctively, I closed the window shades and then ran around the house and turned off every light I‟d turned on. I didn‟t bother going upstairs because in my brief stay in the house I stayed on the ground floor. I became as frantic as a roach does as soon as the lights are turned on.

But just as I turned back to go to the kitchen I noticed the glare of a light. Apparently, one of the rooms upstairs was 47

lit. I was dead certain that this wasn‟t the case when I‟d entered the house.

Worse yet, I heard footsteps and whispers coming from upstairs. I also heard jingles and the rubbing sounds that Special Forces uniforms make when the agent is moving. Judging from the sounds there were about a half a dozen or more agents upstairs and more were coming in, no doubt from a second floor window. The „monsters‟ were converging upon me. I had to think of an escape plan immediately.

But as I was thinking about the basic outline of my plan a flash kitty thought entered my mind. In the wild kingdom if you can‟t run from a more powerful enemy, then you hide. And hide you must, to the point of not being seen or scented. If only there was a way I could do that?

I instinctively knew that my best bet was to stay in the kitchen. The food around me would certainly be a good diversion from my scent.

Voila! I saw my solution! It was the freezer. No doubt, they‟d look in the fridge, but the freezer, now way. Hearing the footsteps of the feds descending to the ground floor I knew it was a do or die situation. They‟d shoot me on sight or haul me off to Guantanamo where I‟d lose any and all of my constitutional rights. No doubt, the President of the United States would go on television congratulating my captors. But in secret, I‟d be tortured into confessing. The feds needed a confession for the downing of the Morales Airlines. Although the airline is Mexican it took off from the United States.

Instantly, I hopped onto the freezer, slowly lifted the lid and then descended therein. I made sure to slowly and quietly close the lid afterwards. And just in time, too.

Within seconds several federal officers entered the kitchen. Just in case, I decided to dive deep into the freezer underneath many frozen articles.

“Commander Nathan, what and where do you want us to search?”

“Okay, you descend to the basement and the three of you search the rest of the ground floor. Don‟t leave anything or anyplace unsearched. Afterwards, search the yard and the garage.

Open up every single box and cranny. Don‟t have mercy or take any chances. We‟re dealing with a killer kitty. The head of this operation has given us an okay, or I should say a green light for a shoot to kill response. There are no witnesses herein.

We‟ll call it a heroic act of self-defence.” There were two officers in the kitchen. They began to search through the drawers, then the cabinets, even the washer and dryer. Within a few minutes they‟d searched everything, well except the fridges and the freezer.

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“Officer Forester, you search the fridges while I search the freezer. You never know what a killer will do to evade capture.”

“Yes Commander Nathan. I‟ll do as told.”

Commander Nathan lifted the lid and rummaged through the frozen articles. I was scared because he proceeded to remove articles therein.

At first, I assumed that he suspected I was hidden inside the freezer. I tried my best to hide, not moving a millimetre.

In fact, I was as stiff as a corpse.

But then, relief came. I was happy, indeed.

“Commander Nathan, what should I do next?”

Call in the boys we‟re going to have ourselves a ten course meal. There‟s no way a kitty‟s hiding in this house. Just look at the food that‟s on the kitchen table; remnants of salami, chips, apple pie, chocolate milk, pop and fruit cocktail. No cat in its right mind could eat this.

As for us, we won‟t eat salami. Look, Forester, we‟re going to eat steak, fries, and we‟ll get more food out of the fridge.”

“But, Commander Nathan, umm aren‟t we kind of stealing food?”

“I don‟t want to hear any of that! We risk our lives to save other humans, and sometimes we save animals. We‟re here on business. Besides, I‟m sure the owners of this house would invite us to a meal anyway, right?”

“Yes, Commander Nathan, you‟re absolutely right.” Officer Forester called in the other officers to converge onto the kitchen. And boy, did they do that.

Meanwhile, I was freezing my kitty behind. My coat began to form icicles on it. But I had to be patient and careful.

Otherwise, I‟d be discovered.

Thankfully, the feds ate really fast and didn‟t bother to clean up after themselves.

The commander‟s beeper went off and then he spoke to the field commander.

“Yes sir, are you sure? The killer kitty has been spotted in San Francisco. He evaded the police therein and there‟s an APB out for him in that city. Wow, how did he get there so fast?”

The conversation ensued for an additional minute before Commander Nathan ordered the officers under his command to cease the operation and leave the house immediately. They were to head to San Francisco without delay. Naturally, I was relieved.

However, San Francisco is a very beautiful city that I‟d contemplated visiting; I mean before I heard about the APB.

I felt sorry for the poor kitty that was going to be blamed for something that he didn‟t do. Anyway, as soon as the last of 49

the officers left the house I slowly made my way up the freezer.

Just in case, I lifted the lid an inch, scanned the area and then lifted the lid completely.

I leaped onto the kitchen floor, passing out instantly in the process. I‟d gotten as close as a kitty could ever get to becoming hypothermic.

I must‟ve been out cold for several hours because when I awakened it felt like I‟d slept for a whole week. I pondered about staying in Pendleton for the night or leaving immediately.

I decided on a compromise. I‟d eat first and then leave. There was no telling how long I‟d have to wait until my next meal.

This meal was what some animal species call a convenient precautionary meal. We do this in anticipation of possible long-term hunger or starvation at a later date. It‟s kind of an insurance policy meal.

I scanned the kitchen, deciding to reach for something inside the freezer. Being cooped up underneath all that flesh, though frozen, brought out the inner lion in me. The inner lion is within every single male cat. Females have a lioness within them.

I leaped onto the freezer, lifted up the lid and then proceeded to reach in to grab three large slabs of steak. I tossed each one onto the counter beside the microwave oven. I simply had no time to go through the process the slow way.

I defrosted and then cooked each of the steaks using the microwave, and then Frisbee tossed them onto a large plate located on the kitchen table.

I later removed a one litre bottle of pop from the fridge grasping it by the neck with my incredible teeth. I hobbled towards the kitchen table and then with all my might I leaped onto it landing beside my steaks. After carefully removing the cap from the pop bottle I carefully poured ketchup on my steaks.

The circumstances called for me to gorge on my food like an American lion. There was simply no time to eat like a polished cat, using silver utensils and wiping the blood and ketchup from my mouth.

I dug into the steaks with an incredible ferocity, hissing much and scanning the area too. The scanning part was instinctive. My forefathers and foremothers had done this to protect themselves from a surprise assault from a rival predatory species or from another member of their own species.

My paws and face were pasted with blood. I managed to eat everything on the table with the exception of a few bone bits and some fat. I‟d kind of gone into hyena mode. They finish off everything including much of the bones.

As soon as I took my last gulp of pop I burped violently, almost shattering the kitchen window.

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Glancing up at the kitchen clock I noticed that it was already 4:00 A.M. Although it was still dark outside it was technically morning.

I could no longer stay in the house. There was a possibility that the owners would return that same morning, which in this context would‟ve meant only a few hours later. In that case scenario the scattered food and drinks in the kitchen would cause uproar not to mention my presence. Calling the police would be expected.

I gathered myself and then leaped onto the window pane.

Therein, I scanned the outside looking for camouflaged agents or police. Thankfully, there were none in sight.

Pendleton was a beautiful town. Even in the dark I could see the beautiful trees, grasses, hedges, flowers and other plant life. But really, a big part of me was a city cat; I simply couldn‟t alter or modify my spots.

After leaping out of the window I scanned the area searching for a safe passage out of Pendleton. I gazed due north, finding a direct path that led me in the direction of Oregon and Washington state.

It was Junction North #345 which thankfully was within easy reach. I was lucky that the area around the sign was lit up.

Although cats have good night vision it‟s not one hundred percent like our day vision.

I continued my trek northwards to freedom. I felt like a runaway slave in the Deep South yearning ever so earnestly and intently to be free. It was at that moment that I felt a deep respect and admiration for the men, women and children who sacrificed everything to be free.

Roughly an hour into my walk dawn was beginning to set in.

I was intent on getting to Oregon as fast as possible.

California was out of the question; I couldn‟t take any chances.

As the blazing sun was slowly beginning to take its vengeance upon me I finally saw a town sign up ahead, perhaps one thousand yards or so from my position. I decided to gallop to the town not caring about how much energy I‟d consume. The walk through the junction was lonely and quite terrifying.

A throbbing problem for cats on highways, junctions and streets is the presence of human adversaries. They love to throw beer bottles at us, and sometimes they‟ll even drive onto the sidewalk to run over a kitty. This is their trophy.

The town I reached was Wagner, California with a population of ten thousand. A small town was good for me. I needed the rest before heading north. I simply couldn‟t continue onwards.

Walking on the junction zapped away much of my strength.

I entered Wagner with the intent on resting for a day or so and then moving on for a long journey. Maybe, I was still tired 51

from the ordeal of the plane crash, U.S. Border Patrol and the BLM. Not to mention the death of the passengers on the Morales Airline, including my pretend parents, especially my pretend father, whom I loved more than anyone else in the whole world.

I scanned the area then decided to walk to the Wagner Public Library located straight ahead. It was a three story building with a beautiful garden adding beauty to the area. In addition, an artificial water spring was located at the peripheral of the garden.

But as I approached the library an occurrence disrupted my concentration. A patrol car pulled over and the officer therein said something unusual to me.

“Amigo, stop walking. I want to see some I.D. and proof of U.S. citizenship.”

What, I said to myself. I‟m not from the Third World! How can anyone ask me that outrageous question? Even the president can‟t ask me that question. But, under the circumstances, I had no option but to split.

At the time, I was on Mulberry Street heading east towards The Wagner Public Library. I calculated that I couldn‟t run in the direction the patrol car was heading in. Even a cat would have quite a difficult time outrunning a patrol car.

I turned back and then ran in a south-westerly direction. I wasn‟t gonna to try to do something stupid. My game-plan was to run through as many residences as possible. No patrol car could do that. Thereafter, I‟d take refuge somewhere safe and quiet and then wait until nightfall to leave the town of Wagner.

In a flash I zoomed in on a path and began to sprint through it, like a cheetah chasing prey.

The officer peeled out in reverse and then called for backup. I was now a fugitive for the umpteenth time.

I ran through a total of six lawns, hearing sirens from all directions in the process. I was anxious for immediate escape or refuge.

My luck came when I spotted a high wooden fence. Perhaps it was ten feet high but either way, I had no choice but to climb or leap over it. My momentum was running high so I turned right and headed for the wooded fence.

The worst thing that I could find behind the fence was an unchained guard dog or two. In that case scenario, I‟d become a dead goose.

Thankfully, there were no witnesses to my incredible leap.

I didn‟t want anyone to call the police.

The blazing sun was pounding on my left side with a horrid vengeance. But I continued running anyway, picking up speed like an Olympic high jumper.

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As I leaped into the air I heard a faint sound of fluttering. Apparently, several choppers were taking off but thankfully, they were too low to have seen me. The area was full of trees and homes.

I scaled the wooden fence, barely brushing my paws in the process. Incredibly, I landed into a swimming pool.

It was there that I realized what‟d ensued earlier. As soon as I descended into the water, an incredible array of sand and dirt came off my body. It was the clean dirt that Maria had pasted on me. Seeing this, I violently shook my body to get all the dirt off me.

In all the raucous I‟d forgotten to remove the dirt from my body. In effect, I looked like a brown-skinned kitty. Now I knew what it felt like to be questioned about citizenship as a Mexican, especially a Mexican American. I‟d be pissed off as hell if I was born and raised in this country but was persistently questioned about my citizenship status.

I swam up to get some air, then shook away the water out of my face and then headed to the ledge. Thereafter, I exited the swimming pool. I was still wet, so I continued my routine of violently shaking my body. Water splashed in all directions, but given the circumstances I had to leave the patio completely dry.

I didn‟t want to draw any attention unto myself. I could now hear the fluttering of several chopper propellers in the area.

The best thing for me to do was to leave the patio immediately.

Instead of trying to scale the wooden fence I decided to leave through the door. But, something stopped me dead cold.

I scented hamburger, hamburger buns, pickles, ketchup and mustard. I glanced back only to see a large grill with lukewarm patties.

Apparently, the occupants of the home were preparing flame broiled burgers before hearing the choppers. But the thought of them peering through the living room window brought fear into my heart. I zoomed in on the window but saw no one behind it.

I trotted towards the scent of the food, leaped up onto a patio table and then helped myself to a couple of large hamburger sandwiches. Thankfully, the sandwiches were already prepared. The occupants must‟ve left in a hurry. They didn‟t think that a kitty would enter their patio and eat their food.

That was to my benefit.

I took the largest bites a kitty could endure from the incredibly large and delicious burgers devouring them like a hungry lion. Ketchup and mustard dropped onto my right forearm.

Scenting food elsewhere I almost chomped down on my right forearm. Luckily, I noticed that it was only garnish. I licked the ketchup and mustard and then resumed eating.

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As soon as I finished eating the burgers I took notice of a cooler on the patio floor nearby. Naturally, I leaped onto the patio floor, opened the cooler and then peered into it. I had a choice of pop or beer. I chose the former, twisting the cap off a one litre bottle of pop and then guzzling the contents therein. There was no time to lick the pop. I had to consume the contents like a thirsty camel.

As soon as I finished drinking my pop I heard the treading of feet emanating from inside the house. That was my cue to leave. And leave, I did. I ran to the patio door, opened it and then left. Don‟t worry I closed the door behind me.

As I was walking away from the patio I felt a sudden rush of happiness and relief. Maria and Domingo had done me an incredible service. All profiles and composites of me were those of a brown kitty. Now, I looked much different. No one would suspect that I was wanted, and that‟s the way I wanted to keep it.

But then I had a change of plans. I wanted to wash myself after the meal. I didn‟t want to stroll around smelling of ketchup, mustard, mayo and pickles.

I re-entered the patio, dove into the swimming pool and then exited it. I violently shook my entire body until I was perfectly clean and dry. Afterwards, I combed all of my hairs with my incredible feline tongue.

I left the area satiated and happy. I continued strolling through neighbourhoods for the following hour. By this time the raucous concerning the fleeing kitty had died down completely.

It was 3:45 P.M. when I decided to go to the Wagner Public Library. I entered re-entered Mulberry Street and then headed eastwards. From my current position it looked like a seven or eight block walk, easy for a healthy kitty like me.

But as I was walking a patrol car which was parked in the shade suddenly „charged‟ me. The driver of the patrol car flashed the siren lights, and then shined the high-beam lights in my face. I don‟t know why he did the latter as it was still daylight. Maybe, it was a shock method of sorts.

Boy golly, it was the same officer who‟d initially chased after me. I was so shocked I froze. Something told me to stay put and wait it out. I‟d determine my subsequent moves based on the officer‟s actions.

The officer pulled over beside me and then turned off the siren lights and high beam lights. He got out of the patrol car and began to converse with me. It was apparent that he wasn‟t after me, or the „me‟ that he didn‟t know about.

The officer was a very large man, indeed. He was stood at 6

ft. 5 in. and weighed roughly 250 lbs. He was muscular and square faced.

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“Kitty, sorry to startle you, but our police force is searching for a brown kitty. We think he‟s in this country illegally. Keep an eye on this kitty. You know, those illegal kitties will resort to anything to survive and stay in this country.

Kitty, just be careful, okay. And under no circumstances should you aid this wanted kitty. If you do, you‟re committing a felony.

Here, just hold on a sec okay. I got something for you.” I wasn‟t sure what to think of it but I stayed put as asked.

The officer reached into his patrol car and pulled out a bag. I instinctively took a deep whiff, smelling a couple of jelly filled donuts in the process.

“Kitty, you look like you‟re really hungry. Take these jelly filled donuts. One contains grape jelly the other cherry.

I can‟t drive around knowing that there‟s a hungry kitty in my city.

I‟m Patrolman Stevenson. Glad to meet you and enjoy your day.”

I grinned at Patrolman Stevenson and then walked away.

Although I was delighted with his hospitality, I didn‟t want to be noticed by the police. Also, there may have been witnesses to my entry or exit into the patio. Therefore, based on my objective analysis of the situation I decided to leave Wagner and continue my trek northwards to Oregon.

I walked away with the jitters. I knew that at any moment Patrolman Stevenson could receive a forwarded warning of a feline intruder. This time, I couldn‟t brush off my complexion.

I walked over to a large tree, rested in the shade and then delighted myself with the two jelly filled donuts. Afterwards, I tossed the bag in a garbage can nearby. I then resumed my trek.

As soon as I‟d walked for several blocks I decided to sprint to the nearest highway. After sprinting for eleven whole blocks I finally found an entry into the interstate heading north to Portland.

I scanned the area very carefully before entering through the entry ramp of the interstate. I had to be certain not to be run over by an oncoming vehicle or a vehicle from behind me. I only needed to walk on the shoulder of the highway. Sooner or later a sincere cat lover would offer me a ride. Until then, I‟d have to keep a close eye on cat haters and highway patrol vehicles. These two aforementioned groups were my worst enemies for the time being. Part of me felt like John Dillinger or Jesse James; an outcast who shunned the law. However, in my case I didn‟t murder anyone nor did I consider myself a felon in the true sense.

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I continued trekking on the shoulder of the highway until 6:00 P.M. I endured the occasional filthy words tossed at me from cat haters. Two passersby threw beer bottles and cans at me. Thankfully, I managed to dodge everything thrown at me.

Regarding the cuss words, I felt like returning the favour.

However, under the circumstances the last thing I needed was more trouble.

At just past 6:00 P.M. a gray coloured Jeep Cherokee slowed down and maintained a parallel position to me. Initially, I placed myself on red alert, ready to fight to the death if there was any serious danger.

After roughly fifty yards of trailing me a beautiful blonde rolled the window of her Jeep Cherokee and began to converse with me.

“Hi kitty, would you like a ride northward, I mean to Portland, Oregon?”

“Who‟s asking?”

“Kitty, my name is Elsa Milson. I‟m a student at McGill University in Montreal. I‟m a doctoral candidate in the field of Zoology. Actually, I‟m here on vacation.

Please, don‟t be afraid of me or shy either. I really love animals, especially beautiful kitties like you.”

“I Promise not to do any funny stuff, Miss!”

“Good, I‟ve got a lollipop for you.”

She hit the right buttons. I was craving for a lollipop.

And it was grape and mint flavoured too. I motioned her to stop the vehicle.

As soon as Elsa came to a halt I leaped into her Jeep Cherokee and then gave her a kiss on the cheek.

She grinned at me and then pointed her right index finger at the seat belt. I understood what she was trying to tell me.

In a flash, I buckled up and we were on our way.

Elsa had beautiful long blonde hair fixed in a pony tail, a freckled face, sky blue eyes, beautiful lips, and healthy white skin. She was wearing a beautiful blue and green dress that really made her look like a princess.

“Here honey, take this lollipop and enjoy the trip. Behind us is a large cooler full of cold sandwiches, drinks and slices of double chocolate cake in plastic containers. Help yourself after you finish your lollipop.”

“Elsa, I really appreciate you giving me this ride. If there‟s anything I can do to pay you back, just say it.”

“Kitty, I just want you to love me ever so dearly. I need a beautiful and intelligent kitty like you by my side to help me overcome the ups and downs in life. Especially now, I‟ve got my doctoral dissertation coming up.

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Kitty, will you be my best friend in the whole world? Then we can be roomies. I promise that I‟ll love you forever. Just love me back, please.

I respect your feline intuition and instincts. You can help me find Mr. Right and then we can move into a large house and be a typical Canadian family.

Back home in Montreal ... that‟s where I was born, I volunteered at the local animal shelter when I was an undergrad student. I was particularly fond of cats. I guess that‟s why I majored in Zoology. I can‟t wait until I get my Ph.D.

What do you say, kitty, will you love me forever?” Thankfully, I‟d managed to eat the entire lollipop and pretend that I‟d fallen asleep.

Somehow, this Elsa girl was smothering me with her relationship and love talk. Yes, she was friendly but I was a kitty on the run.

I decided to ditch Elsa at the first opportunity. However, for the time being I had to evade the lifelong commitment answer.

As I was napping in the vehicle I could hear Elsa crying.

She used a total of twenty napkins in less than an hour.

Although my eyes were closed for the most part, I‟d open my right eye a crack every-so-often to scan the area. I needed as much free travel from Elsa as possible but I also needed a break. As soon as I got it I‟d leap out of the window. How Elsa would respond was up for grabs.

But later, I really fell asleep. And by the time I awakened we‟d already crossed the Oregon state line. The highway sign indicated that Portland was 235 miles away.

It was now time to prepare for a quick bailout. But there was something sinister in Elsa‟s eyes. The lovey-dovey look had all but disappeared. She was planning something quite devious.

I glanced behind me to see a syringe full of an animal tranquilizer. In addition, there was much rope material cut into lengths appropriate to bound and shackle a kitty.

“Kitty, do you still love me?”

I had to go with the flow otherwise there would‟ve been serious trouble.

“Yes, honey, you know that I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you, in your beautiful arms if possible.

But, there‟s a problem.

Elsa, I can‟t hold it back. I need to pee-pee really badly.

I understand that there‟s a rest stop exit up ahead but I‟d feel more comfortable peeing on the shoulder of the highway. Traffic is almost zero.

As soon as Elsa pulled over into the shoulder of the highway I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and then performed 57

a leaping action out of the window. Shockingly, I‟d forgotten to unbuckle my seatbelt.

I glanced over at Elsa and guess what ... she had the syringe in her hand and was getting ready to jab me with it. I unbuckled my seat belt and then leaped out of the window.

Horrifyingly, Elsa was nearly able to jab my tail with the syringe.

I ran like hell into the exit ramp and headed to the rest stop. At that moment Elsa made a big mistake. Instead of peeling out in reverse, and then turning into the exit ramp, she exited her Jeep Cherokee instead and proceeded to bitch me out using the most aggressive phrases.

“You little creep, you used me! You deceived me! You‟re just like those other men ... I mean ... those other shelter animals!”

What, I exclaimed to myself. I‟m not a man. I‟m a kitty.

“I hope you rot in hell! I hope they send you to Guantanamo! I hope you die and never have any friends! But most important of all I HOPE YOU ARE REJECTED A HUNDRED TIMES OVER IN

A SINGLE HOUR! BELIEVE ME, IT‟S COULD WELL HAPPEN!” I really felt bad about how things turned out. However, under the circumstances I felt it better to continue trotting towards the rest area.

As for Elsa‟s final statement, fat chance. There‟s no way possible that a beautiful cat like me could ever be rejected a hundred times over in a single hour, I thought.

Soon, I stopped running. I had to get a final peek at Elsa.

I wanted to know what was happening with her.

Sadly, she was on her knees crying her brains out and pounding her fists on the ground. Tears were streaming down her cheeks like a Niagara Falls simulation.

She glanced up and focused her vision on me. I saw bloodshot eyes. But, I had to be a lion about the matter. Elsa would slow me down and get in my way. Besides, I was a cat and she was a human. It‟s not like she and I were ever going to become a couple. Unless one of us made an incredible metamorphosis things would have to stay as they are.

But I must say a small part of me felt good, well ... like a stud lion of sorts. I dumped a „lioness‟ and made her cry.

Anyway, I had important things to do.

Elsa got back into her Jeep Cherokee and then continued driving north on the highway.

I too continued on my way, but on a different path. The rest area I entered contained a restaurant, snack bar, information center, public restrooms and a mini-park.

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Before eating I decided to head straight for a bench and crash out for a few hours. Thankfully, there was a lull in the number of patrons in the area.

I leaped onto the bench, rolled over onto my right side and then closed my eyes.

I fell into a very deep sleep, having one dream after another. But the end of it all was horrifying. A bloodied Elsa, looking like a vampire was fast approaching me. In my dream I was sleeping on the same bench in the same rest area. Naturally, my body catapulted off of the bench and landed onto the ground.

Thankfully, I wasn‟t hurt. But I learned a valuable lesson; I had to leave the rest area after eating because Elsa was a real psycho case. Maybe, she‟d return and kill me, I thought.

It was 8:00 A.M. and I was famished. Scanning the area I decided to eat a large breakfast at the restaurant. The restaurant had no official name but the word „Restaurant‟ was posted in bold red letters above the front entrance.

I scanned the area then proceeded to walk to the restaurant. By now, people were gradually flocking to the rest area. I could hear heavy traffic emanating from the highway.

People were going to work and travelling. Most of the people in the rest area were travellers, of course.

I entered the restaurant smelling a plethora of foods.

Before my eyes was an extra-ordinarily beautiful hostess. Her shirt was white and her short dress was black-coloured. Her stockings were also black. Her hair was shiny jet black she was freckle-faced, cat-eyed and wore beautiful red lipstick. Her skin was milky white and her smile lit up the whole restaurant.

“Hi kitty, are you dining alone?”

“Yes, I certainly am.”

“Kitty, would you like to sit over there, beside the mini-waterfall?”

“Yes, that‟d be very nice. Now, I have a question to ask you.

Is this a buffet-style restaurant or an order a plate style?”

“This is a buffet-style restaurant. It is seventeen dollars and ninety nine cents for the buffet meal, excluding taxes.

Tipping is not necessary, but if you want to your hostess you can.”

That was a good price for the buffet, considering I was loaded with cash and had a mini-copying machine in my pouch.

“Thank you for your good hospitality, madam. Now, I‟d like to be seated.”

“Follow me please. Gosh I forgot to introduce myself. I apologize, and please don‟t complain to the manager. I‟m Teresa.”

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