First there was the Diary of a Buddhist Cat.
Rufus stands still and looks at the human. I am closer to the window and observe Rufus is transfixed. I grab his tail and drag him across the table. He turns around and heads through the window, closely followed by me. I pick up the book and run as fast as I can round the library. The crows start another commotion near the entrance, and I jump over the fence into my garden undetected. I place the book under the front steps, out of sight of any human. Now, the only problem is that we need a rescue mission to get Holly, who is still in Egypt.
Jacqueline and Angela arrive, along with their cards, which I place with the book. Reg, Ron, and Rob soon join us.
“There is a problem,” I say. “Holly is still inside, and we need to rescue her as soon as possible, otherwise she might be captured.”
“What happened inside?” asks Angela.
“A human shouted at us,” says Rufus, “and we had to scarper otherwise we would have been trapped and captured and who knows what might have happened.”
“It would have been embarrassing to be captured,” I say, “but I shouldn’t leave Holly behind like that, she’ll be scared.”
“Here’s trouble,” says Rob, “your friend Gemma is out of the house.”
I turn around and sure enough, Gemma is walking slowly towards us. About 3 yards away, she stops and says, “There seems to be a problem. May I approach and try to help?”
“Yes, please come closer, Gemma,” I say. She approaches and sits upright, putting her tail over her paws. I explain the situation.
“We should get the rat out soon,” she says.
“She’s not a rat, she’s a hamster,” I say.
“Rat, hamster, rodent,” says Gemma, “Holly is a rodent. Right. What plan do you have, given they’ve closed all the windows, including the one you normally go through?”
“How do you know which window I go through?”
“Because I watch you from the window in the female human’s bedroom,” Gemma replies with refreshing honesty and no noticeable sneer.
“We’re stuck,” I say. “Poor Holly, I feel so guilty leaving her behind.”
“Don’t be sorry, Frederick,” says Gemma, “there’s only one thing to do. You say this Egypt place is on the first floor and you get there via the stairs at the back?”
“Yes, Gemma, that’s right.”
“In that case, Freddie, we do our impression of Otto Skorzeny in World War II, by that I am referring to his daring rescue of Benito Mussolini from confinement at Campo Imperatore in the Abruzzi mountains where Marshal Pietro Badoglio had imprisoned him. I’m sure you’re familiar with this rescue.”
“No, no, I’m not,” I say.
The crows shake their heads.
“Basically, Frederick, we go through the front doors – our combined weight should be enough to operate the pressure pads if we jump in the same place at the same time – and then run to the back, go up the stairs, get the rodent and return via the same route. Our advantage is our air cover with our crow friends here, who can dive bomb anyone who hinders our progress to the doors of the library. They are nature’s equivalent of the Stuka.”
“We are, you’re right there,” says Reg. “Should we get the park crows too, Stan, Sid, and Seb?”
“The more diversions the merrier,” says Gemma.
“I’ll get them,” says Ron and flies over to the park.
“How will we get Holly out of the library?” I ask.
“Well, we need to appear to be doing the library a favour, so I’m going to carry her out of the library in my mouth, as though I’m ridding the library of a rodent problem. The humans will approve because it means they don’t have to do anything, and that always makes them happy. Ah, reinforcements are arriving.”
A small flock of crows land nearby, looking a little nervously at Gemma.
“This should be more than enough,” says Gemma, “so we should go now on our rescue mission, because the longer we leave it the more worried the rodent will become.”
“OK, I’ll go first, I know the way,” I say, and scamper away, closely followed by Gemma. The crows hover above us, providing air cover and bomb anything that appears to be in the way. When we arrive at the doors, the crows land on the telephone lines overlooking the front door.
“The pressure pad is here, Freddie,” says Gemma, “3,2,1 jump.”
We land together and the door whooshes open.
“Now run,” says Gemma, and we sprint to the back of the library and although we hear gasps and comments of, “More cats?” we are up the stairs before people can really move.
“Egypt is over here,” I say, “and I hope Holly has stayed put.”
We jump onto the shelf, and I spy Holly.
“Holly, we should go. Gemma will carry you,” I say.
“Gemma? Really?” says Holly. “Where is she?”
“Here,” says Gemma. “Hello, rodent, don’t worry, I will make this look good.”
Gemma grabs Holly round the middle and we exit the way we came, with Holly squealing as we head towards the exit.
“The cat’s got a rat,” says someone. “Where did the cats come from?” says another. “Never mind that, where did the rat come from?” says a third.
“The pressure pad’s here,” I say, and we jump on it together and the doors open. The Stukas arrive and clear a path for us as we run around the fence and jump over the gate.
Gemma places Holly on the grass and takes a few deep breaths.
“Are you alright, Holly?” I ask.
“I am, actually,” says Holly, “that was quite exciting. Thank you, Gemma for not using your teeth.”
“You are welcome,” says Gemma, “and thank you for the air cover, ladies and gents of the crow force, I saw you scored one or two direct hits on the gardener and the woman with the dog.”
“Which woman with the dog?” I ask.
“The one who comes to our house for a drink or six,” says Gemma. “She was videoing, but Angela scored a direct hit on her phone, so that’s the end of that video.”
“That’s an excellent shot, Angela,” I say.
“That’s practice for you, Freddie,” says Angela. “I usually aim at the dog when she’s in the park.”
Everyone in the group falls about laughing as the dog is a Dalmatian puppy.
“So, what were you doing in the library?” asks Gemma.
“We were borrowing some cards that show squirrels and knives, so we can show them to the humans and then they’ll shave Rufus’s tail, so he’ll be able to jump further on the slide in the park.”