Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth
In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.
The Life and Times of Mister Boo
In the days of the Great Depression, on the corner of Provost Road there lived a little girl named Loretta. When they asked her “Loretta, what would you like for your birthday?” she told them, “I want a kitty.”
One day, Loretta and her family drove out to the farm to see the aunts and uncles. When it was time to go, one of the aunts reached in through the window of the car and put a little black and white ball of fur into Loretta's hand. “Happy birthday, Loretta,” she said.
The ball of fur had a pink nose and a long black tail. It looked up at Loretta with big yellow eyes. Then it peed all over her dress.
And that was Mister Boo.
Mister Boo grew up to become the terror of the neighborhood. There was no doubt in anyone's mind who was king of the cats on Provost Road and all the woods around.
Mister Boo was a fine hunter. Soon there were no more mice in the kitchen or chipmunks in the garden.
Once he even chased off a raccoon.
Not even the fish in the creek behind the house were safe from Mister Boo.
On days when Loretta's mother cooked fish, Mister Boo would hang by his claws from the screen of the kitchen door, yowling for his share.
When people talked about Mister Boo, they said, “That cat's a stinker.”
His favorite game was to wait under the dining room table, watching the legs go by.
Patiently he'd wait and wait until the legs were wearing silk stockings.
Then he'd pounce.
“Loretta!” they would call. “That cat of yours just snagged another pair of my stockings!”
One day Loretta and her older sister were playing in the front yard. A group of boys from up the hill walked by, and one of them was swinging something around and around.
“Your cat's dead,” he said.
“He is not,” said Loretta.
“He is too,” said the boy. “He got caught in a trap and he's dead. See, here's his tail.”
And he showed her what he had been swinging. It was the naked skin and fur of a long, black tail.
The Great Depression was a hungry time. Someone had set a trap in the woods, hoping to feed his family. But the trap had snapped shut on the tail of a little girl's cat instead.
Mister Boo pulled and pulled, trying to get free. He pulled so hard that he pulled the skin right off his tail.
Loretta's father found Mister Boo the next day and buried him where he found him, right on the edge of the yard. Mister Boo had almost made it home before he died.
Mister Boo is dead and gone these 75 years, but that's not the end of his story. To this day if you go to the corner of Provost Road, you will see black and white cats with pink noses, yellow eyes and long black tails still living there.
And to this day Loretta and her children and her grandchildren still tell stories about that stinker of a cat named Mister Boo.
For Mom with love
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