Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rose Garden Cat

The cat slunk between the shrubs. Low to the ground and keeping his body small, his movements were calculated and precise. His ears pricked forward as the sound reached his new position. Pausing he listened intently. Not recognizing its source, he continued to move cautiously. By the rock stairs he stopped beneath the wooden bench. Tucked himself into the shadow and waited. Old enough to know not to run directly into the unknown especially at night, he sniffed the air. Licking a front paw, he brushed his face clean. Working over his ears to his whiskers, he froze as the sound washed over him again.

He knew his territory well which included the places to avoid at what time during the day. He especially knew to avoid the children before and after school. He had learned quickly through pain of thrown objects directed at him by the boys. It was always a temptation to visit the garbage dumpster for a quick bite after the children’s’ lunch. Sometimes the cook’s assistant left him a special treat. He was wary of most people and kept to himself most of the time. At least there was a leash law and he felt safe from the dogs in the area. As a matter of safety, he knew where climbable trees were just in case.

Time to decide whether to find the cause of the noise; he knew he was close to it but it didn’t seem to be coming as regularly as before. The night was moonless and provided him with plenty of cover so he wasn’t concerned with his own peril as long as he kept to the shadows. Thankful for his dark coat, he eased from under the bench through a whole in the shrub fence that sheltered this public park garden. This was the part of the garden with sharp thorns on the plants. The summer night was thick with the scent from the low hanging flowers. One section of earth was freshly disturbed. The dampness of the soil filled his nose as he skirted the rectangle of soft dirt; there was also another familiar odor. He retreated to the overhanging Hosta leaves at the end of the bed that wrapped around the trellis bench. Before he even settled on his haunches, the muffled sound arose from almost in front of his feet. Temporally backing further under the large oval leaves he watched the soil move. His nose discerned many fresh smells but among them stood out the smell of the cook’s assistant. He had smelt her scent on the food dish she smuggled to him at the school. Why did he smell it here among the rose beds?

The rose bushes in this recently turned plot were wilted and limp. The soft earth was easy to move aside. Although dogs were much better diggers, he knew he had to dig deeper than his normal toilet needs dictated. Working the freshly turned soil, he scattered the dirt from where the last movement had cracked the soil. Rapidly his white paws threw soft clumps into the air two feet behind him. His back feet sank into the garden with the effort of his front paws. Closing in on the sound, he was getting nearer to something hard; the woman’s scent was encompassed in the soil.

His paws exposed part of her face; she tried to move her head but the dirt collapsed into the small hole he had created. He shifted his position and began again. Between digging furiously he would sit and peer down. Slowly he exposed part of her face enough so that she could turn from side to side. The duct tape was not sticking to her skin. The rose garden’s moisture helped insure its release. The cat sat beside her the rest of the night.

The city park gardener’s frantic call to 911 on his cell phone momentarily confused the dispatch operator. The poor man kept yelling about finding a cat sitting next to a buried body in the rose garden. The cat backed under the Hosta plants to watch as the gardener wildly yanked the wilted rose bushes aside, pulled away dirt and mulch to reveal more of the woman’s bound body. Sirens wailed as police and medics arrived within minutes of his call; police yellow crime scene tape draped the scene. The crime investigation team began photographing, collecting evidence and making notes to solve the crime of who had attempted to bury the cook’s assistant alive in the city park rose bed.


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