GOOD OLD ED THE CAT
I once had a great friend named Ed. He was quite the cat. No, Ed actually was a cat and, a darned good one at that. I actually helped him to be born. He was in his mom’s first litter. She had a bit of trouble figuring out what to do so, I did the cord cutting on Ed and all his brothers and sisters. I had to call the vet and get the instructions. Well, it was my first litter too. Mama cat and I got it all pretty straight and before we knew it, Ed and all the rest, were nursing away while their mom purred and slept.
For the first year of Ed’s life, we lived where there was a lot of traffic on our street. We didn’t want a grey furry cat pizza out on the road in front of our house so, Ed was mostly an indoor cat. That didn’t stop Ed from being a show off and a fool. One day, I brought a twig in from outside and just put it on the living room rug. Ed’s brothers and sisters just ignored it. Ed didn’t. He sniffed the twig and looked it over a bit. Then, he held one end in his mouth while he tried to swat the far end of the twig with his front paws. Of course he couldn’t reach the far end but that didn’t stop him. Soon, with the twig in his mouth, he was running up and down the hallway trying to catch the far end of the stick. I’m not sure if he realized that he’d never catch the other end. I’ve got to hand it to him, he never stopped trying.
When he wasn’t chasing sticks, Ed honed his jumping skills. In all my life I’ve never seen a better jumper. Inch for inch all I can say is, Vladimir Yashchenko, eat your heart out. Ed the Cat has you beat. Ed wasn’t the biggest cat you’ll ever see but, I’m sure he could easily leap over the head of a six foot man and laugh or purr about it all the way home. He used to spend hours jumping from the floor to the top of our china closet. He’d jump for hours if need be. I used to check him for wings but, never found any.
Eventually, we moved from New Jersey and out into the deep forests of northern Pennsylvania. There, in our little town, it was safe to let Ed out into the yard and the word. It didn’t take long before he made friends with every person and domestic critter on our block. He was fixed so, the tom cats let him be. He was a pretty big guy so, the dogs left him alone. Ed was pretty good in a fight if it came to that but, it seldom did. The neighbors said that he’d just walk into their homes and make himself comfortable on the sofa and start purring for a scratch or a treat. All in all, he was the coolest cat in town. In a way, he was more dog than cat.
There was this beautiful creek that ran through our town. It’s called Loyalsock Creek and, there’s no better trout stream on this planet. Frankly, it’s more a river than a creek. The Loyalsock can get pretty ugly during the spring floods or, during a period of heavy rain. Mostly, though it’s just a gorgeous wide stream coming down the valley out of the mountains. It then, passes our town and flows under a red covered bridge. It rolls a bit further into the distance and goes under a highway bridge. Then, it bends to the south for the thirty mile run to the Susquehanna. Even if you didn’t have a worm or lure on your line it was just fun to put on your waders and stand out in the middle of that creek and just take in the glory of it all. One day, I was doing just that very thing.
Of course, I had a lure on the line with worm attached. I could see cigarette smoke wafting out one of the windows on the covered bridge. The only three teenagers in town must have decided to hang out on the bridge and have a smoke. You’d have thought the bridge was on fire. Maybe they had a cigar. Who knows? Besides, I was way more interested in catching a nice juicy trout. Heck, the other day one of my neighbors caught a three foot long Rainbow Trout just a hundred yards upstream from where I was standing. You be surprised how a week later that trout grew to more like four feet long and at least ten pounds heavier. It’s great when you catch a fish that just keeps growing like that. I got to admit it was a pretty cool fish for a two and a half footer.
I was lost in thought thinking about the scrawny two footer that neighbor of mine caught just upstream from where I was standing. Shame it was just a brown trout and not a rainbow. Well, that’s alright because I’m going to catch me a whale any second now. Easy on the line now. Not too tight. Let it drift. Let it drift. Watch that bobber. Easy now. Darn Mosquitos! Wish I had a cigar. Suddenly and right out of nowhere, I hear screaming. Inhuman screaming at that. It was coming from shore. Right near my bait bucket. There on the shore was my old pal Ed.
Ed the Cat was standing on my bait bucket so that I could see him. The weeds were pretty thick on shore. Ed was meowing like he was nuts. He was sporting the face of a tiger. Of course a tiger would have alarmed the jungle with his growls shaking the very leaves on the trees. Ed’s yowling wasn’t anywhere near that strong but, it was more than enough of a yell to scare fish for miles around.
I hollered at him to calm down. That just made the hollering worse. I mean if Ed was a Collie, I’d have thought maybe Timmy fell down the well again. But, this was just Ed and, he wouldn’t shut up. I started to wade ashore. As I got closer, Ed toned it down a bit but, only a little. Now, he could still be heard in only two counties instead of the whole Keystone State.
I was about four feet from shore when Ed finally shut up with the yowling and just started to pace back and forth. Then, he got this odd look on his face. It was a look of determination. He backed up just a little. He made eye contact with me and then just took off running my way. I didn’t know it but, I was standing on the end of a feline runway. Ed went airborne sailing out over the river edge higher and higher and landed with a plop right on my shoulder. He sunk his claws deep into my jacket and vibrated back and forth like a tree limb in the wind. That kept him from tumbling off my shoulder and into the drink.
With the perfect dive and a precise landing behind him, Ed curled himself around my neck and purred his best purr right in my ear. I thanked Heaven it wasn’t August as he locked his claws deeper into my jacket. One thing for certain Ed wasn’t going ashore. It was like I had a second head. There was only one thing I could do. I waded out to the old spot to fish some more. Of course now, I had the help of a fishing buddy.
From that time on, when Ed the Cat, would see me grab my fishing pole, he’d drop whatever he was doing and stand right next to me. We’d walk side by side to the shore line. I never trained him to carry the bait bucket but, I should have. On the shore, I’d put on my waders, and go out about a foot into the stream. Then, I’d turn my back to the shore and Ed would fly through the air and land on my lumber jacket. Then, he’d slink up to my shoulders and lock himself in place. I knew he was set to go when his tail swished past my ears and got me on the nose.
He never fell in.