For River, the first sign was a change in the smell emanating from under the house.
“That’s not Ugly Joan,” River whispered to Pocket.
The little Yorkie walked to the floor vent and took a whiff. “It smells like a cat to me.” Pocket observed.
For a dog whose nose looks like she ran snout first into a concrete monolith, River has a sense of smell like a wine connoisseur. She can detect the subtle differences in odors, able to separate everything that comprises the scent. Ugly Joan’s smell had traces of wet fur, lousy attitude, and old mice. The new aroma was a combination of hickory, pine nut, cinnamon, and poop. River knew it did not belong to Joan.
It did not take long to learn who was sleeping in Ugly Joan’s bed. The following morning as Pocket and River went to perform their morning doodies, they caught a cat with tan fur sprinkled with brown and a black and white ringed tail slinking out of Joan’s lair.
I am sure my sisters would have liked to question the new cat about how he came to live under the porch. Unfortunately, they forgot to translate their barks into words so they could be understood, and the intruder snickered over his shoulder as he disappeared under a neighboring house.
River was incensed. She vowed not to make the same mistake twice and lose control of her southern boarder. She would run this kitty off and guarantee only Joan, the rightful occupant, was the only kitty allowed to sleep there.
When they were left alone, River slid down the HVAC duct, landed in the crawlspace, and marched to where the cat was happily licking itself. River demanded to know what the interloper was doing there.
Calmly the cat explained that he had sublet the space from Ugly Joan. River told him that was impossible because she had no such right. The cat reached under the bed and pulled out of a contract. “It says right here under paragraph four subsection, line six, subsection seven, clause E of the cat-landlord agreement that the cat can do whatever she damn well pleases. Its standard language in any contract involving a cat.”
“That is ridiculous!” River shouted. “Who would be dumb enough to sign a contract like that?”
“It says Pocket T. Dog signed it.”
“Drats,” River thought. “Foiled again.” River made a note to attack Pocket in her sleep. It was something she regularly did, but now she had a purpose.”
Knowing that she could not legally evict the cat, River almost abandoned her cause when she thought of one more line of attack. “Why do you have a tail like a raccoon?” she asked.
“I am half raccoon, conceived under a full moon. My mom was a tabby named Sandy, who was a bit randy. They met once and decided to bone, and when he learned she was pregnant, he left her alone.”
“Do you know that rhymes?”
“Of course. All raccoons rhyme. We are great poets. That is why so many writers, like Robert Frost, lived in the woods. They needed raccoons to compose their verses. It is rumored that Shakespeare had one in his tool shed who wrote his greatest works. Lennon and McCartney had another named Rocky, but they fired him when he wrote a song about himself.”
“Is it hard having a raccoon for a father?”
“No, not at all. Every year on my birthday, he regurgitates trash for me to store up. Would you like to have some?”
River declined. “Well, the agreement doesn’t say anything about a raccoon living in Joan’s space,” she said
“Except for subsection 12.”
“No one wants to fight an animal with raccoon teeth and a cat’s claws.”
River had to admit the little freak was right. She returned upstairs and began to plan on Ricky raccoon-tailed cat’s subsequent eviction. Sadly, she had no idea how to make that wish a reality.
And the fight for her southern border continues.