B & E

For many years, my constant associate was a large gray cat with attitude issues. Clancy J. Bumps ( with an umlaut over the U) was a feral cat who claimed me while I was living in Ottawa, Ontario in 1969. Clancy entered my life by walking up to my friends and me one day. He looked us over, and choosing me proceeded to climb up my leg, my back, and onto my head. He thereby claimed me as his personal property.

Being duly claimed, I had no choice other than to search the neighborhood for his mother, brothers, sisters, or other responsible parties. The most positive comments I garnered about my kitten’s character were, “oh good…the little brat’s your responsibility now.” Many hinted that his mother, in desperation, had kicked him out of the feline family. Being assured of his sterling character, I took him home.

The young Clancy soon expanded his rep by hanging out regularly with the most hardened cat in the neighborhood – a Siamese called Hunter – known for beating up a local Rottweiler. In human terms, Clancy would have been Hunter’s consiglieri. Of course, I became his favorite sparring partner when the blankets would not cooperate. Lights went on and off at odd hours as he practiced surprise combat techniques by leaping at the old fashioned light pulls.

After moving back to the Boston area, I moved into an old factory building behind Sullivan Square. It was far from being in a good neighborhood, but the rent was cheap for a space that was large enough to serve as a carver’s shop, and bare living quarters. The landlord hoped that having a small artist colony in the building would discourage the breaking and entering that was plaguing his property.
Clancy soon teamed up with another resident cat ( the double pawed Jean Le Foot) for nightly expeditions to catch mice and smaller rats. Watching the two cats double team on a rat was quite the thing among the workers at the coffin factory. The two were considered the sheriffs of the building, and they were shameless in their willingness to accept and expect rewards for their activities.
This was all very amusing, but none expected that the two cats would actually help discourage a breaking and entering.

The building was deserted on weekends. The factories closed on Friday, and the sounds of planers, jointers, and saws gave way to the creaks of an old mill building. Sunday, I went out with friends and left Clancy a large enough serving of food and water that he and La Foot ( who came and went through a hole in the wall) wouldn’t be hungry. I did not return that night.

Monday morning, I hurried down Sherman street because of the several police cars and an ambulance in front of my building. I was greeted inside by the owner of the coffin factory and an officer:
“Ahhhh. Wes glad you’re here…can you go up and coral your cat?” My cat? At this point, the officer filled me in on the situation. Sometime in the early hours, a burglar had made the rounds of our building: artists studios, butcher block company, casket factory, and at last, my shop. He would have gotten away with his felony, except the two cats somehow found fault with him. Clancy would attack at any opportunity, but his buddy was more peaceable. So I suspect he kicked one of the cats, and that did it. The biting and scratching began. The blood told the path of his retreat through the third-floor corridor. Then it spread and pooled in the coffin factory and into the bathroom. It was there he was found by the owner of the coffin factory. He called the police, but no one could get the felon to step off the toilet that was his final refuge. The two cats still circled like sharks below. Growling, and howling, they were just two angry kitties. I was able to lead them away with a can of food. The burglar, now in custody, passed me on his way to the police car bitterly complaining ( as he pressed towels onto his bleeding bites) that it should be against the law to keep such vicious animals. The cop just laughed at this.

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