By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
GRAY CAT CAME IN THROUGH OUR PET FLAP. WE LIVE NOT FAR FROM Griffith Park, in a border region where many animals don't know they're wild, where they stop scrounging for bird eggs and beetles when they discover warm places with piles of free food. For years, we have entertained opossums, skunks, even raccoons, on top of the expected neighbor cats. Until Gray Cat.
Gray Cat kicked them all out. He was wilder than the rest put together. He was monochrome, lean and mean, with a long head like a snake and one tiny nick in his right ear, which he must have gotten young, before he became the baddest creature in the county.
Gray Cat came in every day and ate all our cat's food, which was okay. We microwaved six chicken thighs for our cat one time, left them on the counter to cool, and came back to find every one gone, bones and all, like they were never there. That was okay, too, because it was so impressive. The bangs in the night and the screams of other cats thrashed by Gray Cat were not okay, because they woke me up a lot. Our cat, unscathed due to his cowardice, nevertheless became permanently terrified. And then Gray Cat started spraying, leaving big orange acrid stains on doors, walls and bookcases.
I decided Gray Cat had to go.
One day I heard him crunching on our cat's kibble. I sneaked out the front door and around to the back, where I stuck my foot through the pet flap so Gray Cat couldn't get out. He looked up at me through the glass in the back door and ran farther into the house.
I followed, closing the metal cover of the pet flap behind me. I got a broom and chased Gray Cat from room to room. He was fast and quiet, hard to find. He fled into the bedroom, and I shut the door.
That's when we really got into it. Gray Cat bounced around the room, flying up the walls, climbing up the curtains; the curtain rod bent, and cat and curtains tumbled down. He slid under the bed; I yanked it up onto its side. He ran under an end table, and I dived after him, knocking off the lamp and breaking it. I pulled the mattress into a corner and pinned Gray Cat behind. Then I came at him with a cylindrical wicker laundry basket and a pillow. I pushed the mattress closer and closer to the wall, till there was no place for Gray Cat to go except where the laundry basket waited. He didn't want to go in. But I squeezed the mattress tighter and tighter against him, and he had to. I scooped him up into the basket and stuffed the pillow down on his struggling head. I jammed another pillow in on top of that. Gray Cat could not move.
I knelt on the floor, holding down the pillows. I was panting heavily, shaking violently. My heart was hammering. My arm was bleeding where I'd cut it on the bed frame. The room looked like a tornado aftermath -- furniture upended, books and sheets all over the floor. Holding the top of the basket against my chest, I carried it to my tool shelves, grabbed two bungee cords and strapped them across the top to hold the pillows.
I knew what I was going to do next. I would not take him to the pound. I didn't want to kill Gray Cat. I admired him. I would just drive him far away and let him go.
I got almost to the car when I realized I didn't have my keys. I thought Gray Cat couldn't escape. He hadn't moved since I'd trapped him. So I set the basket down and ran for the keys. I returned just in time to see him squeeze his head from under the pillows, pop out and streak down the street.
Gray Cat didn't break his routine; he was eating our cat's food the next day. He was cunning, but not smart. I trapped him again soon after, using the same method as before, but this time with less damage, and in a secure cat carrier. He looked at me from behind its wire grate and let out a low moan. It was the only sound I ever heard come from his throat. He was sure he was going to die.
I drove Gray Cat to Glendale, five miles away, and opened the cat carrier. He bolted out, zigzagged down the road and disappeared. It was the last time I saw him.
Now we have skunks again. Many, many skunks.
ANNALS OF FANDOM: The Weird Al Experience
IT WAS WITH A MIXTURE OF NOSTALGIA and trepidation that I approached the helium-filled figure looming over the midway at the Orange County Fair. Hawaiian shirtclad arms pointing heavenward, poodle perm plastered to plastic skull, he beckoned. I'd have thought that the accordion-playing satirist "Weird Al" Yankovic had fallen off the cultural radar, but looking up at his giant inflated likeness at the entrance to the Weird Al Experience, I began to realize that I must be mistaken. And then a docent confirmed it: "He's big, bigger than ever!"