It all started when Rufus Hareball lost his job and moved in with us. He had been working for the International Pet Patrol agency and was the best detective in the Feline Search Patrol Unit. Pet owners no longer needed the services of I.P.P. Micro chips now locate the strays and reunite the lost with the distraught.
Rufus is a tall, slender, short-haired feline, with a blunt nose and piercing green eyes. He had been the runt of the litter. Each of his paws had six toes. That’s how he became the fastest cat in feline marathon history. His sensitive stub of a nose enables him to pick up the scent of any rabid cats or menacing dogs.
Rufus had been living with us for six months. My mother, Queeny, had taken a shine to him. She kept telling me, “Tom, we must treat him as a member of our family. After all, he was the one who found you in Tibet and helped to get you back home.”
“Yeah, mom, I said, “but I need my space. He’s taken over my turf and sleeps all day.”
“Well, son, he’s been out of work for quite some time, but Rufus isn’t one to let the grass grow under his paws. He’s been going to night school, taking classes in computer technology. You won a scholarship to Julius-Yard, but you dropped out and entered a monastery in Tibet. Your uncle Garfield has great plans for you. He claims that with your tenor voice and good looks, you might even become an opera start. I certainly hope I live to see that day.”
After that lecture from my mother, I decided to spend some time with that old gang of mine who liked to explore the back alleys of Broadway. Spots, Shorty, and Socks knew lots of purr-fect kittens available for a night on the town. On one dark, midnight prowl, I found myself trapped in an alley by a pit-bull who sunk his sharp teeth into my fur and was preparing to tear my eyes out. Suddenly, someone dumped a pail of cold water down on us and I was able to run home.
Mom cleaned me up while she was moaning and groaning. Rufus had been unable to track me down because he was unfamiliar with the back streets of New York. Uncle Garfield was out on a road tour and sent me a gift of a wide, black leather collar to hide the scars on my neck.
In his spare time, Rufus had become a computer-wizard. One of his friends from I.P.P. worked for an employment agency and had gotten Rufus an interview. Immediately after having been interviewed, Rufus called us on his cell phone.
“A group of veterinarians needed some computer-savvy operators to handle their paper work. When I demonstrated by skillful, six-toed paws on the keyboard, they hired me.”
One month later, Rufus took Queeny out to dinner at “Le Chat Noir.” He had retrieved an overlooked e-mail from the Tibet hospital where he had been treated for swine. Angelica Fatima, a former nurse, had a litter of three lovely kittens. Tom had become a father and Queeny, a grandmother.