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Not to put too fine a point on the matter but the caretaker has lied through her teeth multiple times to Buddy, and he does not intend to let her forget it. More precisely, the caretaker has repeatedly made assertions about something over which she has no control, and she has now been proven wrong. Here’s what we mean:

Liar, Liar

When Buddy is on the porch and the train goes by, he always hurries inside, feigning concern about the caretaker:

*Hey, there, I wanted to make sure you’re safe, woman. Just wanted to stand really close to you and make sure you’re not afraid. Pay no attention to my wide eyes and puffy tail. I’m just protecting you. Yep, that’s it. Train’s gone now, so I’ll move along. Nothing to see here. Carry on.*

Truth be told, Buddy is really quite anxious about the rumbly noise and the loud, deep whistle. (It appears that the caretaker is not the only fibster in the house.) So the caretaker always pretends to feel protected, and she generally says something like this: “It’s o.k. Buddy. You’re perfectly safe. The train has its own special road that it has to travel, and it can’t go anywhere else. It’s just making that loud noise to scare the cars off its road so it won’t hurt them.” And most of the time that is exactly the way things happen. Most of the time . . .

Engine, Engine

Early this morning, an ambitious train decided it was bored with running on the same old road, so it jumped the track just a few blocks away from the Seafoam Cottage. Its little adventure didn’t hurt anyone, thank goodness, but it caused enough damage to the track and the road to make a mess of both auto traffic and shipments of cat food to points east.

Read about the train derailment

So the next time the caretaker says that everything is fine with the train or the weather or the diminishing supply of gravy-covered morsels, the cats will look at her with their all-knowing stares as a silent reminder of the day the train ran amok.

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During the epically long, hot days of the summer of 2011, the outdoor cats in the neighborhood were nowhere to be found. Either they have air-conditioned homes where they are welcome, or they figured out that the train down the road would take them on out of this town. Regardless of their heat-dodging measures, they are back now that fall is here, giving Buddy more opportunities to exercise his growling muscles. A few days ago, Tabby Lee was back. Today marked the return of the elusive Mr. Shorty, who is sort of like a cat mullet: formal white legs, with a casual tabby back and tail. If Buddy and Bear had ever had a child, it would have looked a lot like Mr. Shorty. It would have been stark raving mad, of course, as it would have been paranoid and skittish yet too lazy to do anything about it. But it would have been very cute.

Despite these diversions on this lovely afternoon, Buddy can’t decide whether he would rather be patrolling the porch or aggravating the caretaker. Thus far, aggravation is ahead by a nose—a cold, pink nose that he keeps poking into the caretaker’s head, face, and ears.

Pink Nose

Pink Nose

Then, a few moments ago, he was inexplicably gnawing on her hair. It is only a guess, mind you, but she suspects that the new brand of health food is to blame for this behavior. Something must be done to prevent waking up in the morning with most of her hair nibbled off, or perhaps her entire head missing. She halfway expects to hear him call her “Clarice.”

Perhaps it’s time to pull out the snacks for Buddy, and in turn, to give the health food to Mr. Shorty.

Quid pro quo.

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Only Acting

There is a fundamental oddness about Buddy that will always transcend normal feline behavior. If Bear follows the expected pattern of a cat who enjoys eating and sleeping and then eating some more before being scratched behind the ears, then Buddy is definitely the exception to the rule. He lives his life by fits and starts, with considerably more fits than starts. Buddy of Paranoia Eternal is the Jason Bourne of the cat world, behaving as though everything and everyone is out to get him. No noise, for example, is a mere noise. The sound of a passing train is treated as the invasion of a demon horde. The June bug that buzzes around the living room light becomes a fire-breathing dragon. The clatter of the ice-maker dropping its fresh supply of cubes can upset Buddy to the point of hysteria. The caretaker has learned to move slowly and deliberately through the house, and even then, Buddy becomes agitated when she approaches. She finds it most distressing to walk into a room and see her beloved Budster, back raised and tail puffed, moving sideways through the house like a furry white crab being pulled along a trolley cable. She means him no harm, of course, but for no apparent reason he can act as though he is being hunted. Perhaps his conscience weighs heavily on him, or perhaps he just assumes that everyone else has the same ulterior motives that lurk in his mischievous head.

Recently, even his forays onto the porch have been surrounded by a heightened sense of drama. The caretaker’s habit has been to prop open the storm door so that the cats can enter and exit as their leisure. At first, he only stopped at the door opening long enough to make sure the caretaker was setting the door prop. But now he no longer approaches the door directly. Instead, he jumps onto the bookshelf beside the door, glares at the outside world suspiciously, and pretends there is no way out, sometimes even trying to climb up the door frame (pictured below). He then pretends there is no way down from the bookshelf, so he jumps to the nearby table, hops over to the back of the couch, and howls in faux distress. The penultimate act in this demented play begins when he finally finds the floor, walks over to the door, ignores the opening, and mindlessly scratches on the glass to be let out. This act’s last scene can be hastened when either Bear or the caretaker tries to walk outside. That is when Buddy suddenly remembers the fundamental operation of the whole “walking-out-the-door” business and flies by them as though fleeing a burning building.

Buddy pretending there is no way out

Buddy pretending there is no way out

But such antics seem to use up Buddy’s entire store of eccentricity because when it is time to close up the cottage for the night, the caretaker now needs only to go to the door and call his name. From wherever he is keeping watch over the palace lawn, he hops down and walks straight in, just as though he were a tame, sane cat. This closing scene in the evening’s play is, perhaps, the finest demonstration of his thespian skills that could ever be imagined.

Curtain

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