by Michael Doliner
(Swans - August 13, 2007) Last night, as usual, I went out at 22:34 hours to get my cat, Mitzi, safely in for the night. When she didn't immediately appear I naturally suspected al Qaeda. Sure enough, when she showed up at 22:51 hours there was a tell-tale scratch on her ear, the patented Islamofascist calling card. I had long suspected Georgie, the neighbor's cat, of being a mole, and now I was sure of it. Georgie's irregular black and white coloring just didn't look American to me. More than once I had found Georgie prowling around our North Forty, a techno-facility approximately six feet wide by seven feet long that had housed our state of the art compost pile. Although the plans were stamped "top secret," I'm sure Georgie has discovered that we have converted the North Forty into a cutting edge grass growing complex. It's likely now one of al Qaeda's top ten targets, and I have no illusions that our high tech perimeter of white stakes draped with string would thwart the diabolical machinations of the highly trained Georgie.
For Georgie has been known to cross the street. To obtain what? I ask myself. All her material wants are easily met over here. The goal must be ideological. Or training in the terrorist camps hidden in the inaccessible back yards over there. More than once I have seen the innocent-seeming Georgie sauntering across the lightly traveled street only to then disappear into the back yard of Mrs. B. Nor is Georgie the only one. Other cats, at least one of them red, slip through the poorly guarded hole in the privet hedge into those nether lands. Why doesn't the Department of Homeland Security set up checkpoints on street corners and periodically along the way to prevent just such crossings? At a cost of little more than five trillion dollars per annum we might be protected from catastrophe. But no. And now this.
I pondered what to do next. It was necessary to be firm and decisive. Mrs. B is a stooped, ninety-plus-year-old woman who needs the help of her nephew just to get up the stairs-the perfect cover for an al Qaeda operation. Her yard, shaded by a large sycamore tree, is hidden from predator drones, smart bombs, and the rest of freedom's tools. I am not blaming Mrs. B. She, like so many others, is the dupe of our jihad-happy foes. Blithely going on as if all were well, she is probably not even aware of these clandestine meetings right under her nose. It likely never crosses her mind that Georgie, curled up in the sun in front of her garage, is actually standing guard over a camp that shelters some of the most nefarious creatures on the planet.
When I had treated Mitzi's ear I grabbed my large bore howitzer, a sidearm, and a couple of thousand rounds, then smashed through my back door window doing a tiger roll just in case they were waiting for me. I had every intention of calling in air strikes on Mrs. B's house if there was even a hint of jihad over there. Of course I would take every precaution to prevent Mrs. B from suffering collateral damage, but my first priority would be the interests of the United States of America.
All was normal. Crickets were making their usual din. A van turned the corner and I was just about to blow it away when I recognized S, the single mother of M, a pre-school boy, who lives two houses from Mrs. B. What was she doing out at night? But I dismissed the idea that she was a member of a jihadist cult. Mustn't get paranoid.
It was then that I noticed Spot and realized in a flash just how mistaken I had been. Spot is a cat who lives with Georgie. They have the same owner, live in the same house, eat, for all I know, from the same dish! Is this close association a mere accident, a coincidence? Until now I had overlooked Spot, for he is an undersized, nondescript, rather meek-looking cat completely unlike the robust Georgie. Spot! Of course! Now that I look more closely, I can see that Spot, with that black mustache-like splotch on his face, looks a lot like Hitler. I recalled how he would always slink away whenever I approached him, unlike Georgie and Mitzie, who would sprawl on the sidewalk for anyone to scratch their bellies. Georgie wasn't a mole, she was a red herring! Al Qaeda was far more cunning than the NIE had discerned. So it was Spot pulling the strings all along while Georgie was, at most, his lieutenant.
And indeed, no more than five feet from Spot was the sparsely patrolled North Forty itself. From where I stood all looked OK. The perimeter stakes were up, the early warning string apparently undisturbed. But when I pulled my flashlight from between my teeth and turned its beam on the North Forty, I discovered what Spot had been up to. Here and there in the North Forty were a few bare places where the grass hadn't taken. Why? I'm sure the CIA and the other twelve intelligence-gathering agencies were hunting for explanations, but I had no time to wait for their report. For there, on one of those bare spots was a paw print, unmistakable evidence of an al Qaeda op. They're after our lawns! Sowing plantain and dandelion in the medians. Digging up the sacred American turf. Could anything strike more directly at the heart of what America is all about?
All was quiet. An afternoon shower had made the air smell fresh. Even the crickets seemed to sense the poignancy of the moment. Carefully I released the safety. Spot was sitting there licking himself innocently. Ha! Who did he think he was fooling? I planned to empty the entire clip into him, but the click of the safety release must have tipped him off. He scampered under Mr. F's car, and Mr. F was a fanatic about scratches. I am on to you, Spot. You may have escaped this time, but your time will come. Your time will come!
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