Cats Playing Chicken

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I was a cab driver in Brisbane for many years.  I drove cabs basically between jobs and finally to pay for my university studies.  Of course this meant driving night shift which started at around 4pm in the afternoon and ended at around 4am.  We would drive the cab back to our depots, fill up the tank and drive home again in our cars.  This is totally unremarkable but what is remarkable is that there are things going on in the early hours when most sane people are asleep. Usually when I have casually mentioned these things to regular hours keepers they are shocked and brand me as a sadist, even though I was just going about my own business.

            The happening about which I speak is late night movements of the feline variety. Most folks just think that cats roam the neighborhood yards and propagate the species amid fights over turf etc.  Cats are thrill-seekers.  Have you ever wondered why cats are so quick in the reflexes, and they always land on their feet, well this comes from finely honing their skills during thrill-seeking exercises in the early hours. In my cab I would inevitably be driving along some deserted road, say Sandgate Road, in Toombul, just before the shoppingtown.  Virtually every night out of the corner of my eyes I would see groups of cats sitting on the sidewalk, smoking cigarettes, debating, arguing, picking fights, bulling smaller weaker cats, you know the drill. Anyway curiosity got the better of me and I bought myself one of those condensed distance microphones and I asked the lady who lived at the house to allow me to place a tape recorder to record the nocturnal feline maneuvers. This is what I heard the next day when I collected the tape.

            “Hey Sox, I saw you today out in the yard, what’s up with that?”

            “Yeh, nothing really, bloody owner’s nephew was visiting, and he wanted to play with the cat.  I reckon, it’s getting harder to be a tomcat these days with people waking me up at all hours in the day,” the black and white cat answered.

            “You got that right Sox,” a tortoise shell cut in, “my stupid owner keeps telling me to go and catch a mouse.  Yeah like, who catches mice these days, you wanna catch a mouse, use a trap for crying out loud.”

            “Hey guys, cab coming, cab coming.” Daryl yelled.

            “Ok ok whose turn is it?” Sox started organizing the gallery.

            “Me me pick me.” An excitable kitten screamed.

            “Nah, we gotta go with seniority kid, I think it’s Larry’s turn.”

            “Yeah kid, you gotta build it up, it’s a delicate timed maneuver.”

            “Why whaddya do with the cab? Asked the excited young cat.

            “Watch,” said Sox, “An experienced cat knows just when to go.”

            “See how Larry has his legs wound up tight just waiting  for the correct time to pounce off?”

            “Yeah,” replied the kitten amazed, “who would think that there is so much science in it.”

            “Ok mate the cab is just 20 meters away now, pick your time and go!” said Daryl, a stray Tabby.

            “Oh wow there he goes,” the kitten sighed,” “look at him fly, he’ll make it for sure.”

            “Don’t count your cat nip before it’s eaten kid,” Sox’s voice cut in, “remember he has to go under the cab between the front and rear wheels.”

            “I know I know, I have been watching you cats while I was in the house as a kitten, yes, he’s gonna make it, he’s gonna make it!” the young kitten screamed excitedly.

            Hmn,” muttered Daryl, “we’ll see.”

            “Hey! What was that ‘donk’ noise?” Fluffy the kitten cried out fearfully.

            “That, my young house-bred kitten, “was Larry’s head hitting the differential under the car, I’m afraid he didn’t make it.”

            “Oh darn,” said the despondent kitten, “I really thought Larry’d make it.”

            “Yeah kid, life’s hard.” muttered the jaded old Daryl as he tucked the money into his collar.  “I blew that bet tonight huh?”

            “That’s life kid, see you tonight?”

            “Yeah you betcha!?

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