Chapter 3 – Feather in Your Cap

As we know by now, Picasso was a Precarious little pussy cat, somehow finding himself in precarious little situations all the time. He followed D to school, and walked home with her at the end of each day. Tip toeing around gardens, along fences and walls, and sometimes straight into trouble. But that’s just how Picasso liked it. You could pet him, but pet him one too many times and he’ll try and bite. If he likes you, he might be your friend for a day, and that’s pushing it. And if he doesn’t like you, expect dirty looks with occasional hisses too. He was a master of catching animals like birds, squirrels, and especially mice. His black coat was the perfect evening attire, both for formal events like dinner out of a bowl at the corner of the kitchen, or for nightly excursions and activities out on the town. Town being neighbourhood, activities being hunting mice. He’d often come into the house in the evening with a mouse between his teeth, or found playing with them on the floor. Carefully batting them around with his sharp claws just for the fun of it. Oh yes, Picasso was ruthless. But loved the entire family, and especially D, the youngest child. She’d play the piano and Picasso would sit on it while purring and waving his tail to the music. Sometimes hitting a key with his white tipped tail. D enjoyed when he did that, even if the key was off and made her start again. Perhaps Picasso enjoyed the music so much, that he found a way to mess up her key strokes and make her start again and again.

One day, D was in the backyard picking raspberries from their garden that was full of fruits and vegetables, full of personality and life. You can thank her father for his meticulous eye for detail and love for greenery. Picasso was exploring in another part of the backyard, undoubtedly on a mission to hunt out garden enemies of the state. D gathered a bowl of bright red raspberries, still wet from the morning dew. She was going to help mom in making a lemon and raspberry dacquoise. As Mother and daughter baked and created by the window, it was quite alright that Picasso was left alone to wander. In any right, the window was open to let the summer breeze into the house.

Just as the dessert finished baking in the oven, D heard a screeching sound. But it didn’t seem like it was from any vehicle that had suddenly stopped. Nor did it sound like someone screaming. It was quite odd, but not quite odd enough for D to investigate further. Not until, the loud screeching sound filled the air again, repeatedly. She ran out into the backyard, looked around and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. She yelled out for Picasso. “Picasso?”. Putting her lips together and making a kissing sound. The trademark Picasso cat call. No response. Her voice sounding more concerned now “Picasso! Where are you?!” Unknowing as to what was happening in the animal kingdom, D didn’t realize that Picasso’s hunting and significant lowering of the mouse population in the area had managed to make one particular animal quite angry: Hawk. That is when she heard the screeching again and looked up to see the most horrifying image of her life. “Picassssso!!” she yelled out as she started to cry. Hawk had taken Picasso with its claws clenched in his back, and was flying away. D frantically ran into the shed and grabbed her slingshot. She found a rock from the garden and desperately aimed for the bird of prey. She quickly wiped the tears off her face as she tried steadying the shot. Pulling back on the long band and closing one eye to focus. She pulled back as far as she could without breaking the sling, and fired the rock into the sky. But to no avail. They were too far away. He was gone…

It rained for 3 days, and D stayed home from school. Her friend and protector gone, she and her family mourned the loss of their beloved Picasso…again. As we know from before, this wasn’t the first time Picasso was presumed dead. They put another gravestone, beside the previous one in the backyard. Since the first stone had nothing but his name “Picasso” written on it, they simply enscribed a “II” in roman numerals on the second stone.

D was sprawled on the piano, playing a song with one hand. No mistakes. She was emotionless however, much like her song. Even the piano felt cold and alone with no furry feline lying on it to warm it up from the string of rainy days. She sat on the stool, body laid across the keys, tears beginning to roll off her cheek at another fond memory of Picasso. This time, of the moment she first laid eyes on him as a kitten. Part of litter from a farm out of town. D knew right away he was the one she wanted. He was the only one who stayed in the corner as the other kittens rushed for attention. A lone wolf so to speak. And that spoke to her.

Just as D closed her eyes to prevent more tears from falling on the antique piano, she heard scratching noises. They were coming from the front door. She stood up alert, wiping her tears with her hands. Slowly approaching the front door.  Lightning lit up the room as thunder crashed. She slowly turned the door handle and to her astonishment and delight, Picasso was sitting at the door!! Soaking wet, but still as majestic and handsome as ever. He looked up at D, with a few feathers in his mouth. It was quite apparent, Hawk may have got the worst of it.