My own reaction that morning had been decidedly different. I woke up with a Benadryl hangover and a headache that stabbed me in both eyes. My rest, such as it was, had been rudely interrupted around midnight by a menagerie of stray animals.
First there was the loud, deep barking of a big dog, right in our front yard. A couple of minutes later, I thought I heard the yip-yip of a little dog, too. I heard Bill stirring, so I gave voice to my complaints. "What is it with these stray dogs?"
"Nnnnhh," he replied.
The next sounds were more sinister. I heard a couple of vicious snarls interspersed with some yipes. Bolting out of bed, I jerked aside the mini blinds and caught a glimpse of a black blur running around our smallest tree, with a big white dog in pursuit.
"Bill, I think there's a dog fight in our yard," I said, my heart pounding.
"Is there anything we can...? Should we...?" I sputtered. (We both knew the "we" was actually referring to Bill.)
"There's nothing we can do," Bill said, and I crawled back in bed.
I can only imagine what happened next, but it sounded like a cat had come to the little dog's rescue. At first there was a fierce hissing that made my blood run cold, but that was followed by more violent snarls and then the high-pitched screams of a cat. Within 20 or 30 seconds, all was quiet. I ran back to the window in time to see the back of the white dog as it walked calmly around the corner. It looked like a pit bull, but I couldn't be sure.
"I think something just died out there," I said.
"Nah," Bill said.
I lay awake, tossing and turning, for over an hour. Every time I managed to stop thinking about the carnage, I'd hear various dogs barking throughout the neighborhood. I swear they were talking about the cat's valiant fight. It reminded me of the Bark Brigade in 101 Dalmatians. Our own dog was strangely silent throughout; evidently Lola only barks at birds, school bus passengers, and motorcycles.
I finally got up to take a Benadryl, my best shot at getting any sleep. I frantically threw endless bottles of Tylenol, Advil, Immodium, and Zantac onto the floor. There HAD to be some Benadryl in our medicine bin. Bill finally called out to tell me that the Benadryl (Wal-Dryl, to be exact) was in a cardboard box, but not the right box. Of course! Where else would the Benadryl be except in the Zantac box?
I vacillated for a moment about the 8/09 expiration date and then downed the little pink tablet.
Although it was a work day for me, Allyson and I slept until 9:00. Still, I felt unbelievably groggy and a bit unsteady on my feet. After a breakfast of cold cereal and my mother-in-law's cranberry wheat bread toast, I pulled on some clothes and dressed Allyson.
Ugh, I Was Right
On our way to the car, I scanned the yard and immediately spotted the crumpled form of a gray cat. Thankfully, there was no little black dog. I carefully blocked the cat from Allyson's view while I strapped her into her car seat.
After I'd dropped her off at Denise's house, I took a closer look at the cat before I went back inside to work. There was no tag, so I wouldn't have to make a difficult phone call. There was no blood; in fact, the cat actually seemed to be sleeping peacefully, its front paws crossed as if it were stretching. Its fur was matted and dirty.
I felt so sorry for this poor, unwanted animal. I shuddered as I remembered hearing its death cry the night before. I actually wanted to pray for it, but what could I possibly pray?
Instead, I went inside and took a two-hour nap on the couch. Then I made myself work for a few hours.
Ethan's Amazing Discovery
At 4:00, Ethan pounded excitedly on the front door. "Guess what I - "
"I know," I interrupted. "It's a dead cat. Didn't you see it this morning?"
"No! What happened?"
"A big dog killed it last night, around midnight."
"Cool!" he said, and I grimaced. Then he shouted at some of the other boys who'd walked with him from the bus stop. "A big dog killed the cat--right in front of our house!"
When I got back to my desk, I opened a chat with Bill to ask if he could pick up something for dinner on his way home.
Sarah: I don't feel like cooking. I still feel like dog crap.
Bill: You poor thing! Are you sure you don't want me to pick up Allyson, too?
Sarah: No, that's okay. Whenever I start to feel too sorry for myself, I tell myself it could be a lot worse. I could be that dead cat in our yard. Did you see it?
Bill: No! Ewww!!! Great, I guess I'll be picking that up when I get home.
Sarah: Ethan and his friends thought it was really cool.
Bill: Tell him they can pick it up and put it in a trash bag, then.
Sarah: Yeah, that's gonna happen.
Because I needed a good laugh, I hollered Bill's message down to Ethan, who was having a snack in the kitchen.
"Really? I can pick it up myself?" (this coming from the boy who whines about hanging up his towel after his shower)
Immediately, I heard him dialing the phone. "Tin? Come quick! It's an emergency!"
I figured Tin was going to be pretty disappointed at Ethan's idea of something "really cool." But it turns out that Tin was quite excited about the task as well. I didn't know whether to be relieved or alarmed about that.
"Can we take pictures?" Ethan asked.
"I don't know. It's just cool."
"I guess. But I don't know what you're going to do with them." [Don't worry, I'm not posting them here!!]
The Removal Process
I told Ethan he had to finish his math homework before he could pick up the dead cat (!), just because I could. So it was about 5:30 by the time he and Tin headed out to the yard with a big trash bag and a shovel.
I stayed inside, keeping Allyson safely occupied. I read a novel while she painted a castle on her new easel. Bill walked in then, but he went straight back outside. "Where are you going?" I asked.
"To help Dumb and Dumber out there," he called over his shoulder. I wanted to go out and watch, but I really didn't want Allyson to see a dead cat, so I stayed inside and looked at Ethan's pictures on my camera. He'd taken four close-ups, from various angles.
Although I still felt bad for the poor creature, I couldn't help laughing when Bill finally told me the story in bed last night. Apparently it's a lot harder to pick up a cat with a shovel than you might think. It was actually quite heavy. When Bill came out, he took a Walmart bag and calmly picked up the cat by its tail. Of course, the body swung back and forth when he tried to deposit it into the trash bag, and Ethan and Tin shrieked with a mixture of fascination and terror. The three of them finally managed to double bag the cat, and I guess it's going out with the garbage. Luckily we're having an "Arctic blast" now, so hopefully it won't make a stink.
So why am I telling you this sordid story? I guess I want to know that there's nothing wrong with my 12-year-old boy. Tell me, is this attitude normal? Should I be worried?