Monday, June 28, 2010

Mouse and Hawk Five

I had given up, lamenting those final few seconds of precious life. Oh, how hard and brutal a cat's life could be I thought. As if realizing the fight had all but left me the hawk's dark black eyes narrowed. Her great wings stretched open. That golden-ivory beak seemed sharper and more jagged than ever. I shuddered and could almost feel her huge talons sinking into my flesh.

Across the yard smudge edged around in front of a flower pot. One by one the mouse and squirrels scrambled onto her back and into the pot. A rose bush, filled with sharp thorns overflowed from the pot. The plant was lashed gently to a pair of thin bamboo twigs. A silver wind chime was hung from the top of the posts.

Two of the squirrels undid the ties and drew the roses aside, while the mouse climbed up and pressed his back firmly against the bamboo posts. Meantime, Smudge had gone back around, and standing on her hind legs grasped the twigs with her front paws. She pulled back with all her might, bending the twigs back with the terrified mouse still clinging to them.

"This had better work," said the mouse.

"This is a first for all of us, pal," said Smudge.

"Confident in your aim?'

Smudge shrugged. "You'll fly, that much I can guarantee. What I can't guarantee is whether you'll fly where we want, or if your gonna sail over the building!"

"Let's do this," said the mouse, "before I come to my sensesssss...."

Smudge let go of the twigs. As they snapped back they sent the mouse flying, and with it went the chattering chimes, sending up a terrible racket.

The hawk heard the chimes and the long wild and terrified shriek of the mouse turned furry missile. She turned away for just a moment, intime to get clobbered by the mouse, who, rather than tumbling away to safety, held on time, his tail and paws wrapped around the hawks face. She squealed with surprise and reeled back. At that instant I charged directly at her, slamming my hard little head into the hawkd belly.

She cried and fell backwards, briefly flailing on her back. But she was powerful and alone the mouse and I were simply no match for her incredible strength. In a single great shudder she shook us both away, sending us tumbling into the open grass of the yard, far from any saving shelter.

She stood, now fuming, shaking away grass and leaves. It was pointless to run, and fighting would only prolong the inevitable. I looked to the mouse and saw him swallow hard as the hawks massive shadow eclipsed the sunlight. I patted him gently in the head. We both knew we were done for.

"Well, this is it, little buddy," I said.

"Almost wish you'd eaten me before."

"Naw," I replied. "We sure put up a good fight. Win or lose, I'm glad I got to be in it with you."

"Really mean that?"

"More than I can say, little friend."

The hawk shrieked angrily and brought her face close to ours, enough that her fuming hot breaths pressed us back a little.

"Oh, enough of this!" the Hawk scoffed. "You puny little creatures think you can upset the balance of nature by attacking me? Now, the questionis which one of you will I eat forst. Maybe the mouse is an appetizer, or shall you be dessert? Perhaps I'll roll you up in your feline friend like a hot dog and ..."

Suddenly the hawk stopped and looked up. She stumbled back then raised her wings and cried louder and angrier than I'd ever heard. I followed her gaze and turned slowly to the most amazing thing I had ever seen.

All the animals of the yard had come out and stood behind us, looking just as fierce as they could in the face of the great hawk. There were mice, 2 skunks, an old waddling Opposum, a dozen squirrels-all spoiling for a fight, adozen excitable sparrows, two robbins,a fat pigeon and a hare. Two grimy rats scurried up, though everyone kept their distance for the smell of fresh trash all about them.

"You all think you can challenge me?" snarled the hawk.

The yard critter closed ranks around me and the mouse.

Almost overcome with emotion I stepped forward and looked the Hawk square in the eyes. "I think you have your answer. Now beat it!"

"Do you realize what you are doing? You are upsetting a system s old as the world? You think you can just change nature to suit yourself? You are all playing with fire!"

I thought a moment and turned to all the other creatures of the yard. We all lived by a simple rule, and that was to live life the best we could. Could we live simply by our instincts? Of course we could! But where would that leave us? I could see something in the eyes of all those different creatures. It was something few of us had ever really thought about. We were a community, even for all of our differences. I turned back to the Hawk.

"We are more than our instinct, and we could do what it takes to survive, but we don't want to just survive, we want to have a life, and if that means changing the world, then so be it."

"You are a fool," snapped the hawk, leaping onto the wall. "You're all fools. You can't change what's always been. You are what you are!"

"But that doesn't mean we have to wallow in filth."

"Hey!" complained the rats.

"No offense," I said. "The truth is," Ithrew a paw around the mouse, "we've already changed the world. If only in this little yard. You're welcome to join us, if you can live by those simple rules."

The great hawk seemed clearly torn, and perhaps it was too soon to overcome her nature. She turn, spread her wings and pounded them hard, lifting her into the air. She shriek loudly as she rose skyward and was lost in the sun's glare.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mouse and hawk 4

"Much to discuss?" the hawk scoffed. "Are you joking? I could eat for a week on you, cat!"

"But it is about the game," I stammered. "You know, the game. I run, you chase..."

"No," she replied, "its about eating you."

"How about some nice fat juicy worms?" I said, trying not to plead. "I'll even help you dig."

"Worms? Disgusting! What do I look like, a Robin or some annying little sparrow?" She flapped her mighty wings.

"How about McDonald's? There's a dumpster just behind the restaurant. Humans throw away tons of food; hamburger, chicken, and a meat-like substance they call nuggets.

"Sweet mother earth!" she cawed. "Now you have me picking trash like a common blackbird!"

Behind her I could see the mouse had convinced the squierrels of something. Just what they were up to I had no idea. Clearly my arguments and pleading with the hawk were having little effect. I was playing for time now.

"Just saying, I only just got into this skin recently and I'd sort of like to keep it for a while."

"Not my problem," she poked her head under the chair. We were beak to whiskers. That distnce varied as I trembled with fright. I couldn't have gotten any closer to the wall without being a brick. From the corner of my eye I spied Smudge creeping across the yard to join the mouse and squirrels. I turned and looked into the deadly serious pools of the hawk's dark eyes.

"Let me ask you a question," I swallowed hard.

"Quickly, I'm starving here."

At least I was content to meet mother Earth knowing Smudge, the Mouse and squirrels were willing to risk themselves for me. I wasn't sure I could allow them to do that. The proper course seemed to go bravely as a sacrifice. Across the yard Smudge must have seen that look in my eyes. Her gaze narrowed, warning me against doing anything rash and turned to urge the other animals to hurry.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mouse and Hawk 3

It was a desperate leap…and long! My hind legs pushed away from the patio with every ounce of strength I could muster. I prayed that it would be enough, all the while knowing that the odds favored me becoming the hawk’s supper. I heard the thunder once again as the hawk’s mighty wings beat at the air behind me. There was nothing more I could do. In mid air life and death was fully a matter of luck and physics. At that moment I was hoping luck rather than mere physics was in my favor.

I landed just short of the chair, tumbling sideways for the last few feet. With a resounding thump, I came to an unexpectedly sudden stop against the wall. It left me momentarily disoriented, shaking away the impact of the wall. When I turned I was practically snout to beak with the largest hawk I could ever have imagined.

I pressed flat to the wall, as that great feathered predator tried his best to press those broad shoulders between the legs of the chair. I pressed flat to the wall, keeping just out of reach of her powerful beak and sharp claws. For the moment I was safe, but she had one fundamental advantage. I couldn’t remain there forever. Eventually I’d have to come out and, unless the odds somehow changed in my favor, I was doomed.

Across the yard I could see the squirrels and mouse well hidden among the clustered flower pots. The pots presented something of a maze should the hawk suddenly turn her attention, which seemed unlikely. The mouse made a valiant attempt to come to my aid. The squirrels dragged him back, admonishing him for what would have been sheer suicide.

The hawks giant and jagged beak snapped murderously, close enough that I smell the scent of fresh dirt and worms on her breath. I pressed my little body just as tight to the wall as possible. Still the great bird inched closer, forcing itself under the chair. I was done for. There was no escape, and one hope left.

“Wait!” I cried. “Hold on!”
I was thinking of the mouse, and how reason and understanding had made the difference. The hawk paused in her ravenous pursuit. She cocked her head to one side and gave me the oddest look.


“We’re civilized creatures, for Mother-Earth’s sake!” I pleaded. “Can we discuss this rationally?”

“What’s to discuss?” said the hawk, standing straight.

Even though she was poised to devour me, I found her absolutely magnificent. She was strong and proud, with long straight speckled feathers. Her eyes were as dark and polished as black obsidian. For a moment, I as a lowly cat, almost felt I was violating some great natural law in resisting her at all. Still, I was hardly more than a kitten and it was such a big world that I was eager to experience and explore. Across the yard I could see that the mouse was leading the squirrels to some sort of plan. I would do my best to convince the hawk all I could. Failing that, I would stall her until the mouse and squirrels put their plan into action.

“Much, my speckled feathered foe,” I said, relaxing just a bit. “We have much to discuss.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mouse and Hawk 2

The hawk plunged straight out of the sun. I was on my back, scratching an itch against the concrete. I watch with curiosity as the shadow grew from a small spot on my furry belly, rapidly growing and taking shape. It was funny at first, and I spread my arms and legs lazily.

At first I thought, how funny that some suicidal sparrow was barreling towards me. I smile, as much as a cat can, and had this silly fantasy of simply opening my big mug and swollowing the pour bird whole. It was every predator's ultimate dream. Problem was, I wasn't the predator this time, I was the prey!

I rolled to one side at the last instant. The hawk, as terrifying and large as he was, was stunning and impressive. The instant before rolling away I spied the supreme focus in those piercing green eyes. The sheer speed of his plunge was fantastic. Those terrific piercing sharp claws opened wide. Just as I moved the claws scraped the ground where I had been only a moment before. He was already turning, his wings pounding the air to drag him skyward again. The rush of wind from those mighty wings knocked me sideways off my feet.

Fear flooded through me. It blocked any clear thought, and had my body fighting itself in a desperate rush to survive. from the corner of my eye I could already see the hawk turning for another pass. His wings opened wide, seeming to span the courtyard, as he turned sharply in mid flight. Along the far wall the squirrels and mouse dove for the cover of several nearby flower pots.

I was trapped, with only one small sliver of hope. Several black metal patio chairs were stacked at the far end of the patio. The were turned from the wall offering the only available protection. It wasn't much, but it was the only hope I had. In the window Smudge watched helpless. Our eyes met and I could see she wanted to come to my aid. I shook my head, and felt there was no sense in both of us meeting with ultimate tragedy. Behind me the hawk was completing its turn, and the relative safety of the chairs seemed farther away than ever!

My claws were useless on the concrete, and only succeeded in costing me valuable time. The hawk beat his wings once, the tips almost touching the green grass of the court yard. the sound was like thunder. My heart raced madly. If felt the seconds remaining in my cruelly young life tick away. My ears fell back as I reached of the chairs. I could feel the hawk bearing down. I didn't dare chance a look back.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I stretched my arms and legs on the patio, turning my furry brown belly towards the bright late winter sun. The world seemed a perfect place, at least as perfect as a mortal being could hope. I felt wonderful for allowing that little mouse go. The moment truly felt satisfying and illuminating, revealing a power I had never before realized.

Choice is a powerful thing. It can hold as many dangers as blessings. Often the dangers inherent in choice far outweigh the blessings, with so many of those dangers, I was discovering, as blessing. But a full knowledge on how best to use the power of choice is what separates cats from the lowly creatures of the world. That wisdom allowed me the best choice in causing the least amount of pain in the end.
So Mister Mouse was almost correct. It was about the game. More than that it was about the power of choice. A whole new world had opened to me, one that opened my heart as never before.

To be honest, I hadn’t given him the chance to live. He had earned it fair and square. He had argued and fought for his life. Being physically larger and stronger I had the power to ignore his assertion, but in doing so what did I risk? What would be the cost to my feline heart and soul? If I had decided to eat the little guy I was putting my desire above his.

To be clear, it was about desire and not about need. I had the desire but no need to eat him but not the need.

Of course, life is never that simple. There was that law of the jungle thing, and cat’s got to eat. But remember, choice is about having the wisdom to decide the path through the least amount of pain. I had a bowl full of cat food on the kitchen floor. It may have been my nature to stalk and hunt that little squirrel, but it wasn’t a necessity.
So I stretched and closed my eyes. My tail beat back and forth with a carefree laziness. Little did I realize the danger looming high above the courtyard. Not even the mouse and squirrels playing for birdseed against the far wall knew what lay concealed in the glare of the sun, biding its time and waiting for the right moment to strike…

Saturday, February 27, 2010


The mouse drew a small pair of eyeglasses from his fur and laid them across his pointed nose. His whiskers twitched once or twice, mulling over a thought.It was quite an odd scene, as you can well imagine!

“Let’s review our options in overcoming our, shall we say, impasse.

“As I see things,” I said, “A, I eat you or B, I don’t. Honestly, I’m leaning heavily towards B right now.”

“A simplified way of things,” said the mouse, smugly. “What I would expect from a creature of below average faculties, but let’s not quibble. As you have stated, that is indeed the conundrum.”

“Should I be insulted?” I was thinking that I could simply lean across and, with little difficulty, swallow him whole.

“Never mind.” He waved a tiny little paw. “Rather, let’s examine the pros and cons of each option, shall we?”


“So you decide to eat me. What is to be gained from that?”

“You’re delicious?”

“Your opinion.”

“Shall I call Smudge,” I smirked, “and we’ll have a vote?”

The mouse looked down his long nose in a scolding sort of way, then continued. “So I am eaten, swallowed and gone. The pro, from your limited perspective is lunch. But what are the cons?”

“Can’t really see any, I’ll be honest.”

The mouse frowned, pacing back and forth in a deliberative manner. “Try and keep up with my keener intellect, my raccoon-tailed predatory friend.”
Again with the insults, I fumed. He may have been stating a strong case, but he sure wasn’t helping it much. Still, I was enjoying this. I loved the role of hunter, feeling as though I was king of the world. As the mouse spoke my thoughts drifted, where I was both feared and honored by all the little creatures of the world. I was, however, still smarting from the insult, and all but ready to put an end to all this.

“I’ll try,” I replied, indignant, “to wrap my mind around your superior rodent brilliance!”

“All I can ask.” The little fellow didn’t miss a beat.

“Go on.”

“The game!” he exclaimed.

“The game?” I asked.

“The game. That’s what we risk.”

“Don’t follow.” I cocked my head. From the corner of one eye I could see Smudge throw back her head in disgust.

“Imagine that one day all the mice came you nd that you could eat everyone of them?”

“Oh, like a big mouse buffet?”

“But then what?”

“A nap?”

“No, my granite headed companion. Then the game is over. It’s about the chase, not the conquest. Like a fine meal…”

“Which would be you,” I winked, a bit cruelly. It wouldn’t be fair to let the mouse’s shots at me go by without some sort of satisfaction, short of making him a quick snack. That was, however, still a looming possibility.

“Indeed!” he scoffed. “No, don’t you see? I am the hunted and you the hunter. It defines you, but without me what are you? You would be a fat cat on a shelf, slurping down Friskies without any purpose in the world.”

“Not hearing the bad part yet,” I said, though I kind of got what he was saying.

“Here’s the deal. You let me go and I promise to run across the patio. Now and then I let you catch me, bat me around a bit. Look at reality, bub, we aren’t in the jungle. This is civilization, and we should be bound to civilized behavior while celebrating our nature. Do we have a deal?”

I sighed heavily. I wished more time to think all this through, but for now I was willing to give the little guy the benefit of his good arguments, to say nothing of his spirit. Little did I know what it would mean for me in the days to come. I held out a paw and he touched it with his. Like gentlemen we shook on the deal.

“Go with Mother Earth, little friend,” I said. With that he turned and scampered away across the lawn. At the door Smudge could only shake her head in disappointment.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mouse 6

The mouse paced back and forth before my face. My eyes watched intently. One false move on his part and I would pounce, and this time he would not get away. Still, I was prepared to listen to what the little guy had to say. He'd earned my respect fairly and I was bound to be a gentlman about it all. I was a cat, not an animal, for Mother Earth's sake! I couldn't say as much for Smudge, watching hungrily from the door.

"Make your case," I said.

He paused, glancing a bit nervously at Smudge. "A bit disconcerting with the threat of imminent death looming over me."

"Don't worry about her, my smooth-tailed friend, the thret would be there anyway."

"So, you do not come to this equitably?"

"You are still here, able to speak your mind," I said. "That should count for something."

"Indeed, though I would have preferred earned respect than merciful consideration."

I nodded and urged Smudge away with a nod of my head. When she refused to budge, hardly taking her eyes off the mouse I stood and gave a little hiss. She understood my meaning, though she wasn't altogether moved by it. With a shake of her head, as if I was being foolish, Smudge turned and disappeared into the house. I turned back to the mouse, settling to the patio on my belly.

"You're a clever mook," I said. You have both my respect and consideration."

"With the specter of violence," he observed.

"The consideration is at odds with my nature, but you have all I can offer."

The mouse sighed and nodded thoughtfully, considering the words. "Very well then. With your indulgence, my sharply-clawed friend, I will state my case...