вторник, 20 ноября 2012 г.

Butter's Ball

By Debbie Acklin

Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.
~Bill Shankly

I heard the thumping on the roof, followed by a short period of silence, and then there it was again... and again... and again. I knew exactly what was going on. Supper was in the oven so I snuck outside to watch the show.
Our seven-year-old son was tossing a small football onto the roof and then trying to catch it as it tumbled back down. Nearby, haunches vibrating as he squatted in his ready-to-pounce position, sat our striped yellow cat, Butter. Our son's goal was to catch the football before it hit the ground. Our cat's goal was the same.

Nothing infuriated our son more than Butter catching that football — Butter was not only a poor sport, he was a bully. If he got the football, he ran around the yard, teasing the young boy who was pursuing him. Once he was bored with that game, he would dash under the house where he, and the ball, could not be reached. This was almost a done deal. Sooner or later our son would miss, and the game would be over. This created a lot of tension during what should have been a time of leisure.

As I watched, the ball took a wild bounce. Butter sprang into action, leaping high to snatch the ball out of mid-air. The pursuit began. Of course Butter could not be caught or outmaneuvered, but that didn't stop our son from trying. "You stupid cat, give me back my ball!" he screamed at Butter while Butter zigzagged around the yard, crouching and leaping to evade his pursuer. Our son was very quick, but not as quick as our cat. When Butter was finished with the torment he zipped under the house.

My son was as angry with me for giggling as he was at Butter for stealing his ball. He kicked at a dandelion. "It's not funny. He won't give it back."

A few days later, we sat in the den, watching TV. Butter pranced into the den with the football in his mouth. No one could imagine how he had slipped the ball past the whole family or where he had hidden it.

Both our son and daughter would hit the floor where Butter was waiting for the fun of watching them scramble after him, over and behind furniture just to come up empty-handed. Butter could clear each piece of furniture in a single leap or slide under a low area when necessary. He would actually sit and wait for them to catch up with him, so sure was he of his prowess.

Butter did not understand the concept of gravity, and as far as we could see, those laws did not apply to him. He would run straight at a wall, making an impossible last minute U-turn, sometimes banking off the wall. Our children would skid into the wall like they were sliding into home base. Butter would stand in plain sight, waiting for them to recover.

We enjoyed watching this chase so much that my husband and I would momentarily forget our responsibility to stop this chaos and settle the children down. Once we regained our parental senses and control over the household, straightening up the mess, Butter would disappear. When he smugly returned to the den, the football would be missing. My children would search the house over, but never once did they find that football.

Then, one day, the football would just mysteriously reappear. Maybe it would be inside on the floor or on a piece of furniture. Maybe it would be on the lawn or the porch. Butter allowed our son to reclaim his football when Butter felt like it. Sometimes our son would be allowed to play with the football for several days, uninterrupted. Those days Butter would innocently prance around the yard, seemingly without interest in the boy or the ball.

The day Butter died, the football was missing. And even when we eventually packed up and moved from that house, we never found that football.

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