My Cat Butch Page 4
“He’s sick Lee!”
Joe hissed in my ear, while I was doing punishment ‘tours’, marching in the pouring rain with a fake gun back
and forth to pay for some minor infraction . I wished Joe could have waited;
somebody would get suspicious of Joe falling into step beside me when he had a clean slate.
I’d had to do so many pedestrian‘tours’ that I was beginning to wonder if I’d been admitted
to Westpoint. I mean, just how much space is there on a submarine for a foot soldier? Sure seemed as if I were being molded
into one instead of a sailor.
“He’ keeps upchucking
and making the most godawful noise! What’s wrong with him?” Joe hissed.
“How the heck should I know?” I hissed back, wondering if I should put myself on report for the profanity. After
all we were being groomed to become officers and gentlemen. Officers didn’t swear unless necessary. Which was all the
time regarding us lowly plebes.
It wasn’t just that
this latest setback made me even more doubtful that we could rehabilitate him into an adoptable pet. Now it appeared he had some kind of ailment. And while he’d been litter trained and occasionally sat
on my lap, he’d never yet purred, only kneaded his paws . I’d seen cats do that before but I had no idea why.
He talked a lot though. Not your ordinary everyday ‘meow’, his was an insistant ‘Meow, meow. Meeeeeow!’, which pretty much translated into ‘I want liver! I want fish! Feed me! Feed me
A crack of lightening was
all I needed to escape. After all, though I doubt our demise by frying would be unwelcome by the upperclassmen, it would leave
a mess so the Academy pretty much gave severe weather a wide berth unless we were in combat training or something. Simple little punishment tours could be postponed within reason.
Quickly Joe and I ran off
to the Oceanographic Center and our prisoner.
“Hey, there, kitty,”
(to my chagrin, I’d lapsed into the common nickname and hardly ever called
him Butch any more ) I said as I dripped on the office floor, incurring aome scratches as I dragged him out from under
I pleaded with him to tell me what was wrong. He wasn’t making any of those noises Joe had mentioned. I could
see the little mounds of furry vomit on the floor, but he wasn’t sick now. In fact as the thunder rolled and the lightening
cracked, he burrowed and clawed -that was one thing we’d have to decide
on-(he’d have a better chance getting a home if he was declawed)- himself further into my clothes and under my
raincoat as I held him.
“Hey, you’re not
a scardy cat are you? You’re a Navy cat, and Navy cat’s aren’t scared. At least they don't show it. Now,
c'mon, be a man...er...tiger or lion or some such thing.”
“Well, maybe he’s
okay now, but he was really sick Lee, look at all those hairs in that vomit.”
“I guess we’d
better take him back to the vet.”
“I know that, you know
that, but…damn it Lee, how?”
It’s a fact of life
that when you really really really need to do something fate always puts something in your way to block it. In our case it
was simply being Middies. We plebes weren’t allowed in town without a pass and they were few and far between. We couldn’t
have a car until we were 2nd Classmen and even they had to park more than 2 miles away from the Academy. And only
Firsties could actually park in the Yard. That left only one solution. Cartwright's car.
First Classman Cartwright was a thorn
in every plebe's side. He delighted in making us squirm. And to hotwire his car for our trip was like taking out an advertisement
for more demerits or even worse. But damn it, we were desperate. So was he apparently-some urgent errant I guess, when
he apprehended us and hauled us and our cargo to the Superintendant's office.
As we dripped on the nice
clean carpet ( I imagine there had been a lot of middie's on the carpet, literally) Master Chief Angela Donovan (one of the few women about the Academy and one of the Admiral's 'right hand men' -well
sort of - ranted about our latest infractions. Bad enough we had a cat, this was Grand Theft Auto and the police
should be called in, etc, etc. blah blah blah.
It was difficult to stand
at attention. Butch, who’d been released from the carrier by Firstie Cartwright, was beginning to get vocal.
“Will you tell that
cat to shut up!” Cartwright yelled.
“Er..calm down Butch…”we
“Butch? The cat’s name is Butch?” the Chief intoned, “ Now what kind of name is that for pretty
kitty like this…”she bent down to pet him.
“NO!” we yelled
and darted toward the cat in an attempt to rescue her. But it was too late.
“You realize, don’t
you,” the Superintendant said as the Chief sucked the blood off her hands, “It’s one thing to try to keep
a pet, I realize this may be the first time you’re away from home, but it’s quite another to keep a dangerous
“He’s not a pet,
” I began to babble, “He was in the garbage truck, the crusher kind and it was on."
"The controls were jammed,"
Joe explained, "Lee jumped in and rescued him. Barely got out himself."
"Then when the Vet said he’d probably never get adopted," I added, " well,
you know what that means. We couldn’t risk that…so, well, we’ve been trying to rehabilitate him, get him
to be adoptable…he’s litter trained now, mostly anyway.”
“And he even purred
a little tonight,” Joe added, “and he’s sick, sir. We only
stole Cartwright’s car ‘cause we needed to get him to the Vet…they don’t make house calls and…”
“He doesn’t look
sick to me,” Admiral Beecham said, calmer than I’d have expected.
“But he was choking
and vomiting all over the place and…”
“Here, kitty kitty kitty,”
Cartwright tried. Butch simply glared at him and hissed. Then began to choke.
Joe practically cried as Butch began to vomit. “Oh gawd, he’s dying and we’re here using up valuable time
to get him emergency care!”
“This is what all the
fuss is about?” Cartwright used a piece of paper to scoop up the mess, and began to laugh.
“It’s not funny,
sir!” I yelled, not caring now. If I had to resort to fisticuffs to defend Butch, and get myself kicked out of the Academy
in the process, so be it.
“Calm down Crane. It’s
a hairball. All cats toss them up now and them, especially the fluffy ones like him. He’s fine. What’ve you been
“Er, Raw liver and fish
we er…kind of ..borrowed from the galley…there’s some dry stuff the Vet gave us too, but the gooey stuff
was the only way to teach him to use the litter box. He’s been on the streets…alone…unwanted…and frankly
sirs, if keeping him alive and training him to become somebody’s pet means I’m discharged from the Academy because
it’s against the rules, I talked Joe into helping me, he shouldn’t be punished,
well, then, okay,” I bent down to pick Butch up. He growled, spat,
and squirmed in my arms as a matter of course, “even if it doesn’t work,” I continued, “ well, I have
to try. I won’t leave a man behind sir, even if he is a cat.”
“Don’t take all
the credit Lee,” Joe said, “I was glad to help. And if Lee’s discharged, you’ll have to kick me out
“Noble words gentlemen,”
the Chief said, “ however, you do realize that should the Grand Theft Auto charges
mean jail, who’s going to take care of your pretty kitty then, hmm?”
“Excuse me Chief, Admiral,” Cartwright said, “I seem to have been mistaken about my car…I er…must
left the parking brake off…these two must have been trying to halt the car from careening down the road before it could
“Very well,” the
Superintendant said, “ the fact remains that these two are keeping a pet, however unappreciative it is.”
“Sir, if I may,”
the Chief said, “there is another option we might consider. I’m not sure about it, but it might help us save Midshipmen
Crane and Jackson from further disciplinary action, after all they were trying to save the cat’s life…and this
might conceivably help it’s future….all we’ll need is your signature, and…well, a better place to
house Butch than in an unused office.”
And so Butch became an official,
if questionable, secondary mascot of the US Naval Academy. Since he’d scare
old Bill the Goat, those accommodations were out of the question. And the office in the Oceanographic Center was going to
be needed for some professor soon. So it wasn’t exactly breaking the rules, the Superintendent said, as Joe and I were
made ‘caretakers’ of Butch.
What our other two roommates thought about it we never knew, but warned them they’d have to learn to live with it. After all he was noisy and he wasn’t friendly but things might just
change as we welcomed ‘Sea Cat fourth class Butch’ into our room. One
thing though. His appointment to Sea Cat wasn’t forever. And we still had to get him petafiable before summer and the beginning of our ‘at sea training’ as Youngsters. But at least we had some help now.
As for Cartwright, well, it
seemed as if we’d be asking a lot of kitty questions since his sisters had cats and he knew a lot about them. Maybe, if we played our cards right and got Butch people friendly, we could suggest his
getting adopted by them…only time would tell.