Hmmmm, Wonder What’s For Dinner Tonight at the Little Red House?
"I'm tired of trying to see the good in people,” Sally Skunk sighed as she waddled over to a serviceberry bush where Peter Possum picked plump purple pomes.
“What people?” Peter mumbled, his mouth full of fruit.
Sally sighed again. “The people living on this block. Nobody puts out cat food anymore. People used to let their housecats go outside during the night and would put out paper plates full of Fancy Feast or 9Lives for them in case they got hungry. The cats nibbled a bit but preferred catching and eating fat mice, so would leave most of the cat food for me and some of my friends. But no more.”
A thread of purple saliva dripped from Peter’s rapidly-moving jaws and onto the brown grass. “What changed?”
“The nice cat people, the GOOD people, died or moved away, probably to old-people colonies in a place called
. Then dog people moved in.” Florida
“So what? Don’t dog people put out dog food for their dogs? You could eat that instead.”
Sally sighed a third time. “You’re so oblivious to what goes on! Dogs aren’t let loose outside like cats are. Dogs live indoors unless their people take them outside for walks. That means dogs eat inside a house, not outside!”
“So do like I do -- eat berries!”
“No, thanks. I’m hooked on cat food. Did you know cats are obligate carnivores? That means they HAVE TO eat meat, not stupid berries.”
Peter shook his head. “Pardon me?! ‘Stupid berries’? Eating only meat sounds like a terrible diet! How do they get their day’s supply of vitamin C? Plus some cat-food makers sneak cornmeal and other carbs into the cat food. That’s probably why you’re so chubby!”
“I’m chubby?” Sally huffed.
“Just teasin’ ya. Don’t get upset. If anyone needs to eat cat food and carbs, it’s me,” Peter sighed as he turned sideways to show Sally his too-thin body.
Just then, Ricky Raccoon barreled his way in between them. “I couldn’t help but listen to your whiny voices. Haven’t you two losers heard about the little red house?”
“What little red house?” Sally and Peter chorused.
“It’s the only little red house on the next block. It has bushes all around it. You can’t miss it.”
“I know the house,” Peter volunteered. “Cats live there ‘cause I see them sitting in windows, but I never see them outside.”
Ricky chuckled. “The people who live there started feeding two feral cats. You know the cats as Oreo and Ringtail.”
“I thought those two cats hate each other,” said Sally. “Now they hang out together at that little red house?”
“They’re still enemies, but they’ve agreed to work together At six sharp every evening, Oreo sits near the back door, stares at it, and waits. Meanwhile, Ringtail sits on the front porch, stares at the door, and waits.”
“And…?” Suddenly Peter sneezed, spattering tiny bits of purple berry skin onto Ricky’s chest.
“That’s disgusting!” yelled Ricky as he raised a muscular arm. ”Do that one more time and you’ll be very, very sorry!”
Sally turned around and lifted her tail toward Ricky. “Watch it, bully boy, or you’ll be the one who’s sorry! Let’s get back to the ‘work-together’ thing. What happens once the cats are stationed at the doors?”
Ricky hastily brushed off his fur before the bits dried on. “The doors magically open. Out of one door comes a woman-people who sets down a plate of cat food. Out of the other door a man-people comes out and does the same thing. Then they say complimentary things to Oreo or Ringtail (*snort* like cats need to be complimented…) -- ‘Such a handsome boy’ or ‘What a sweet face you have’. The woman-people even sings to the cats sometimes ... sheesh!”
“Aha!” exclaimed Sally. “Then the cats eat just a little bit to keep the people happy and also because they know they will soon begin the night’s hunt and want to be hungry enough to eat their kill.”
“So there are lots of leftovers for us!” Peter grinned broadly. “The little red house is the place to go!”
"Not so fast there, berry-breath," Ricky scolded, making the no-no sign with his right-front paw." You too, Sally. Wildlife has to be given permission to eat there. We don’t want fights to break out."
"Given permission?" Sally and Peter asked in unison.
"We don't need anyone's permission. We are wildlife. We roam wild and free, We know how to get along," Sally stated emphatically.
"That's right," Peter agreed. "We go where we want and we eat what we want. Isn't that right, Sally?"
"Right as rain, Peter. Ricky, who are you to tell us where we can go and what we can do? You're just an ordinary raccoon."
"Not so, my fellow wildlifers. I am the Third Assistant to the Senior Representative of the
Woodland Residents’ Protective Association.
All people-administered dining venues in this part of the county come under my
"Oh, sure. You’ve always been a bully and pushed us around, Ricky," sneered Peter. "Show me your badge of authority. I demand to see proof."
Ricky ignored him and continued talking. “It is my responsibility to see that every wildlife creature gets a fair share of people-catered bounty. Sadly, I have yet to sample the cat food. Those good people at the little red house have distracted me by throwing dog biscuits and uneaten pizza crusts out into their side yard.” As an afterthought, he added, “By the way, Sally, you are quite overweight. I do not grant you permission to eat any food at the little red house, front door or back."
“What?!” shouted Sally.
"You, Peter on the other hand, look pale and slightly undernourished... and your ribs are showing. Your cheeks are sunken and your nose is too pointy. I’m making it official -- you now have back-door privileges at the little red house. Enjoy!"
"Thank you, Ricky," Peter said, ignoring Sally’s distressed pacing. "You said the little red house is that way?" he asked, pointing toward the west.
"Yes, Peter. Remember to look for lots of bushes. Hey! Just a minute there, fatso," Ricky called to Sally who was waddling westward. "Where do you think you're going?"
“Where do you think?” *grumble, grumble*
"No grumbling, Sally. If you want to lodge a formal protest against my ruling, you have to fill out Woodland Form FGH 1289 and file it in triplicate with Wesley the Owl at his arboreal headquarters.
Just then, Kenny Coyote trotted up to the group. “I heard the tail-end of your comment, Ricky. Wassup?”
Ricky stood on his hind legs in order to be face-to-face with Kenny, cleared his throat, and put on his most superior expression. “I was explaining Wildlife Rule #5 to these two beggars.”
“Rule #5? Rules, schmools! Not even Wesley the Owl gives a hoot about rules, despite his lofty position.” All conversation stopped when Kenny started gagging and coughing, After a half minute or so of this, a small brown feather shot out of his mouth. “Sorry about that. Must be left from lunch. Feathers and fur don’t digest well.”
“Ewwwwww!” Sally, Peter, and Ricky chorused.
“So,” Kenny continued, ignoring their disgust, “what brought on enforcement of Rule #5?”
Ricky slowly and painstakingly explained to Kenny the situation at the little red house and how Rule #5 figured in. “Sally is a fat slob who waddles everywhere she goes, and Peter needs more meat on his bones. Peter and I will finish the cat food every evening until Sally shapes up. So let it be written, so let it be done. I have spoken!”
Kenny looked thoughtful for a minute or two. “Did you ever hear stories about that king named Solomon and how wise he was? We coyotes learned all our wiles from Solomon. His wisdom has been handed down by coyote parents to their offspring from generation to generation, from century to century, from millennia to millennia.”
“Cut the lecture, Kenny. What are you trying to say? I’ve already made the decision that Peter and I eat at the little red house and Sally doesn’t.” Ricky yawned. “I hear a hollow tree calling me, Time for a nap.”
Kenny’s grin was almost gloating. “Apparently you haven’t heard the news. Because of my considerable wisdom, last night I was made the new Senior Representative of the
Woodland Residents’ Protective Association. I’m your new boss, Ricky. Let’s you
and me head over to my den so we can talk a bit about decision-making. Oh, and
before I forget -- Peter and Sally, I give both
of you permission to eat leftover cat food at the little red house. Now I’m the one who has spoken—and my ruling trumps Ricky’s! Tie on your
virtual bibs – it’s nearly 6 o’clock.” DuPage County
Around 6:30, Kenny trotted over to the little red house to make sure Peter and Sally were enjoying their dinner. “How’re you doing, Sally?”
“Mmmmmmmmmmm!,” Sally nodded, her mouth too full to say more.
Peter heard Kenny and Sally chatting, so strolled over to them from the back of the house. “These good people amaze me with their generosity! Oreo had left plenty on the plate by the back door -- a huge helping of turkey and giblets alongside a mound of minced beef. I’m stuffed!”
“Ringtail left a lot on the front-door plate – there was so much whitefish and tuna with generous dollops of ground crab and lobster,” Sally enthused.
Peter and Sally craned their necks to look behind Kenny, “Where’s Big-Bad-Bully-Boy?”Kenny chuckled. “You don’t have to worry about Ricky anymore. He’s history.” Just then, Kenny was seized by a fit of violent coughing. Soon a wad of gray fur shot out of his mouth onto the porch of the little red house.