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       Fighting Tom (Jerry the Kat series), p.1

           Carolyn Lis
 
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Fighting Tom (Jerry the Kat series)
Fighting Tom

  A Jerry the Kat book

  By Carolyn Lis

  Copyright 2015 by Carolyn Lis

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.

  Chapter 1 -- My Happy Home

  The sun splashed yellow stripes on the kitchen walls, cheering us as we ate breakfast. I munched contentedly, soaking up the warm sunshine.

  Deep in conversation, my two friends, Amy and Bill Miller, ignored their breakfasts. Ready for work, Amy wore a soft gray suit and ivory silk blouse. She thought the suit gave her a more mature look, but her impish smile and wavy red hair foiled her attempts to look stern. She graduated from law school in December. She now worked with a group who helped people who couldn’t otherwise afford a lawyer.

  Bill didn’t have to worry about his hair – he had the classic buzz cut worn by his fellow soldiers. His green and brown camouflage uniform fit snuggly over his broad chest and shoulders.

  Amy’s eyes twinkled with laughter. She tried hard, but a giggle escaped as she asked, “You are kidding, right?”

  “You think it’s funny, yeah? Well, General McDoodle offered me the position as company officer,” Bill retorted.

  Amy couldn’t hold back her laughter any longer. The flood began as a muffled giggle, grew into a laugh and ended as full belly, slap-your-legs bellowing.

  “Stop that Amy! It’s not funny. This is a serious. If it works, the Army might promote me to Captain. General McDoodle worked with the Navy to train dolphins in San Diego. He’s a legend in the field. This isn’t any crazier than that.”

  “But you think Jerry should be in the unit?” she tried but failed at keeping the amusement out of her voice.

  I looked up from my breakfast at the mention of my name.

  “Sure, I know he is a little overweight, but he could go on a strict diet and exercise routine. We’ve both commented how smart he is,” Bill said.

  “Excuse me! Don’t forget I’m in the room, too,” I hissed. What did Bill mean by “overweight?” I may have put on a few pounds over the winter, but who hasn’t. And what was this about a diet? I don’t diet. I’m against diets. In fact, dieting is against my religion.

  “Jerry, don’t look so indignant. You aren’t exactly in top shape, old boy,” Amy said to me as I glared back at her.

  “Amy, stop teasing Jerry. You’ll give him a complex. He is in as good of shape as any of the other candidates. Besides, he’s smarter than most. That’s what General McDoodle is searching for – a truly intelligent recruit.”

  Thank you, Bill, for defending me. It’s true, my intelligence is far superior to most, even if I do say so myself. I’d make an outstanding recruit IF I wanted to.

  Bill continued, “General McDoodle wants me to search the area for likely cadets. We figure that’ll take about a month. Then the cadets will report to boot camp. Jerry can shed that extra weight while he is in training.”

  That brought another fit of giggling from Amy. “What are they going to do, make Jerry do push-ups?”

  Yikes! Push-ups! If boot camp involves push-ups, you can count me out. I’ve seen Bill’s morning exercise routine: push-ups, sit-ups and weight lifting. After all that, he runs five miles every morning. No, sir. Not interested if push-ups and running are involved.

  “Amy, there is more than just the boot camp. We’ll train the recruits in scouting, bomb detention, and other skills. If this works, there’s talk about expanding the program to the battlefield. Just think how many lives could be saved if we could use the recruits to detect buried explosives!”

  Bomb detention.

  Buried explosives.

  Battlefields.

  It was just too much for me to take in. Out my cat door I went.

  Chapter 2 -- AMazing

  Life with Bill and Amy returned to normal. Well, almost back to normal. Amy and Bill would often slip me a treat: a piece of bacon, a scoop of tuna salad, or a dish of milk. I’m quite fond of my daily dietary supplements. At least I was fond -- notice the past tense.

  Amy continued to give me yummy tidbits, but not Bill. The Food Scrooge cut me off completely. He even had the nerve to scold Amy for slipping a little chicken to me at dinner. Bill’s food hoarding should have been my first clue that all was not well in our home.

  Two weeks following that fateful conversation about army cats, Bill unexpectedly came home at lunchtime. Normally I make my neighborhood rounds at noon, but the weather had turned stormy and a heavy downpour kept me inside.

  Bill, looking much too bright for such a gloomy day, cheerfully greeted me as he entered the kitchen. “Jerry, how’d you like to go for a ride and meet my boss?”

  Returning his greeting with a superior cat stare, I meowed, “You’ve got to be kidding. Go out in this rainstorm? This is weather for ducks not cats.”

  Ignoring my meow, Bill scooped me up and plopped me into my plastic cat carrier. At least the carrier kept me dry as we headed outside into the downpour. Intent on avoiding sidewalk puddles, Bill hurried to his car, bouncing me up and down in his rush to get out of the rain. With one last splash through an unavoidable puddle, Bill reached his car. Opening the passenger door, he dumped the carrier onto the front seat and secured it with the seat belt.

  Do you get carsick? Well, I do. Bill’s bouncing as he carried me from house to car hadn’t helped. That combined with the car’s sudden starts, stops, and turns had my stomach doing somersaults. Riding in cars makes me queasy, anyway. It is like having a hairball you just can’t quite cough up.

  Fighting the urge to barf, I let loose with a long meowing rant about Bill’s driving, his stingy dinner habits, and his harebrained ideas about cats and boot camp.

  “What is that, Jerry?” Bill asked. “I know you’re excited about getting out of the house. Just think, you’ll get a chance to see where I work. I think you’ll like it. Maybe, if you’re lucky you’ll even get a chance to meet General McDoodle. I’ve been telling him all about you.”

  Obviously, Bill doesn’t understand a word of Cat. I wasn’t happy. No not happy at all. And what was he prattling on about meeting the General?

  Bill ignored my steady stream of meowing complaints as he enthusiastically talked about the office, the General, his project.

  I was still complaining a half hour later as we drove into an overcrowded parking lot. “Jerry, you might as well get used to the base. If all goes well, this will be your home for a while. Here, let me slip this harness on, just a precaution you understand. We don’t want you getting lost.” He lifted me out of the carrier and buckled the harness around my middle.

  Harness. Leash. Cats don’t like either. I demonstrated my displeasure with a paw swipe across his arm.

  “Ouch! What was that for?” he winced nursing his arm. “You used to be such a mellow cat. I can’t imagine what’s gotten into you, Jerry. That’s okay; just you wait and see what’s inside. You’ll have a blast. The record is five minutes and 20 seconds by an orange tabby Sergeant Miller brought in last week, but I know you’ll have that beat -- probably by a whole minute!”

  As we got out of the car, Bill held the leash attached to my harness. He continued his babbling, dodging rain puddles as we made our way towards a huge domed building. The windowless structure, painted green and brown, looked like a grass-covered hill sprouting from the concrete parking lot.

  “This is the building where we do all our testing. With just a few minor modifications, we can use it for training the recruits, too. Okay, Jerry, here we go,” Bill said as he opened building
s side door.

  We walked down a hallway painted a dingy tan and past closed office doors. My paws made a click-clack sound on the floor tiles, and Bills boots clomped. The hall curved to the left, ending abruptly at an open doorway.

  What a sight.

  “It used to be an airplane hangar,” explained Bill. “There are offices all around the sides and an open area in the center of the building. We can change that open area to look like anything we want. We can even simulate an airport terminal. Right now, it’s set up with a maze so that we can test the cats and their sense of smell.”

  A wall ran down the center. However, it wasn’t like any wall I’d ever seen. You might say it was only half a wall as it looked about four-foot tall, barely reaching Bill’s chest.

  “Bill, is that you?” a voice boomed over a loud speaker.

  “Yes, sir. And I’ve brought Jerry,” Bill bellowed back at the voice.

  “Very good. Let’s get started then,” the faceless voice answered.

  Bending down to my level, Bill pointed to the tower on our left. “General McDoodle is up there in the control booth. You should be honored, Jerry. He doesn’t normally come by to see the candidates’ testing.”

  “Okay, Jerry. I’m going to put you inside the maze. I’ll time you to see how long it takes you to find the catnip. It’s a very accurate way to measure your intelligence and sense of smell,” Bill explained. “I know you’ll do great, Old Boy.”

  Intelligence

  Sense of smell.

  I wasn’t worried about my smarts, but I was beginning to fear for Bill’s intelligence. As I meowed to myself, Bill took off my leash and dropped me into the maze.

  The hangar with its funny walls and platform tower disappeared. I found myself surrounded by walls with three arched doorways to my left, right and front. Which way to go? Bill said something about catnip, so I sniffed the air. Sure enough, I could smell just a hint of catnip. I sniffed at the left, then the right, and then the center openings. The smell seemed strongest down the center archway, so I took that trail into the maze.

  More choices. Left or right. Sniffing the air, I chose right. And so it went. Each passageway led me to more choices. The catnip scent got stronger the deeper I went into the labyrinth.

  Taking a wrong turn, I found myself in a blind alley. I had no choice and had to back track. Then another blind alley and more back tracking.

  I’m not normally claustrophobic. I love hiding in tight places like under the bed, behind the overstuffed chair in the study, and even between the shoeboxes in Amy’s closet. But walled in with nowhere to go, made my fur bristle.

  As I caught a whiff of catnip, I hit on a solution. With cat like (okay, so I am a cat) grace, I leaped to the top of the maze wall.

  Sniff. Sniff. Yup, that catnip scent was coming from about 10 feet to my left. I casually walked on the top of the maze towards the scent. It really was no more difficult than walking on Bill and Amy’s backyard fence.

  I nearly lost my balance when the faceless voice bellowed over the loud speaker, “What’s that cat doing? Lieutenant Miller, get that darn cat off that wall. He’s ruining the whole trial.”

  On that note, I jumped down into the maze compartment containing the catnip.

  “Sir. General McDoodle. Jerry seems to have found the bait,” Bill shouted up to the tower. “I admit the method is a little unusual, but it’s our fastest time yet.”

  Chapter 3 -- From Civilian Cat to Army Recruit

  The sumptuous odor of roast chicken filled the air. Amy sat at the table drinking a cup of coffee. Bill puttered around the kitchen, stirring pots on the stove. He moved to the oven, opened the door, and fetched out a beautifully browned, roast chicken. Curled up in my cat bed, I watched the activity with anticipation.

  “Jerry, old boy, after your performance today, you deserve a treat,” Bill said as he set a saucer filled with chicken on the floor for me.

  “Bill, tell me again what General McDoodle did,” said Amy.

  “I didn’t know the General could move so fast. He was out of the control booth and down to me in seconds. Boy was he mad. His face was red and he was breathing hard. He got right up in my face and bellowed on about cat saboteurs. It was pretty bad, at least General McDoodle’s breath was bad -- he must have had onions at lunch.”

  Bill wrinkled up his face at the memory and Amy giggled.

  “Once he finished his shouting, I explained Jerry had done exactly what we wanted the other cats to do. Really, the only reason to train these Toms is for them to go places dogs can’t. My explanation seemed to make the General happy. Then, once he heard Jerry found the catnip in three minutes, ten seconds, he heaped all sorts of praise on Jerry. In fact, he wants Jerry to move into the barracks Monday.”

  At that, Amy’s smile drooped to a frown. “Bill, I just don’t know. Jerry is our cat. I really don’t know if he’ll like this Fighting Tom thing. Besides, I’d really miss him. He’s our family.” Amy’s eyes were wet with unshed tears.

  “Amy, cheer up. Jerry will do fine. With both of us at work all day, I think he’s getting a little bored. The Fighting Toms will be a new challenge for him. If it doesn’t work out for him or if I think he’s unhappy, I’ll drop him from the program and bring him back home.”

  “We cats like being bored!” I meowed back to Bill.

  “See, he’s excited about it!” Bill said completely misinterpreting my comment.

  The week went by uneventfully. Amy piled on the love. She treated me to tuna dinners, bowls of milk, and even a slice of bacon one morning. She brought home new mouse toys and played endless games with me. My favorite game is Fish. Amy has this great fishing pole with a feather attached at one end. I never get tired of chasing it around the house or leaping at it from behind the couch.

  Bill worked late almost every night getting ready for Monday.

  “General McDoodle’s own cat, Kipling, will lead the Fighting Toms. He’s a Bengal tiger cat,” Bill said an awed voice.

  “What! A tiger. Bill, you never said anything about turning Jerry over to some hungry, mean tiger. The poor thing will be ripped to shreds in minutes,” Amy’s voice raised in alarm.

  “Not a Bengal tiger! Kipling is a Bengal cat. It’s a new breed of cat with Asia leopard ancestors. They’re athletic and smart. General McDoodle worked with the vet that developed the breed. We’ve recruited 10 cats. Some are like Jerry, your average, mixed-breed house cat. Others are pure-breed, like Kipling. We’ll see what type of cat adapts best to our mission requirements.”

  “Now remember, you promised Jerry can come back home if he doesn’t like it there,” Amy said as she put a second spoonful of tuna on my plate.

  Chapter 4 -- Recruits

  Spring sunshine flooded the car with warmth as Bill drove towards the military base. My new adventure was about to begin.

  “Jerry, just remember you’re in the military, now. No fighting with the other Toms. Make sure you follow instructions. And for gosh sakes, no mousing.”

  Bill kept on babbling words of advice on what to do and what not to do. I only half listened. I hate to admit it, but I was excited. For humans, Bill and Amy are top-notch, but life around the house had become dull. I was ready to try new things; meet new cats.

  At last, we arrived at the training center. The training center turned out to be the same old hangar building where I’d taken the maze test. The maze had disappeared, replaced by the bustle of activity from people and cats.

  “Okay, Jerry. I’m going to take you to check in. After that, I have to go to work. The trainers will tell you where to go and what to do next. I know you’ll catch on, old boy. Just remember, like I said, no mousing!” With that last piece of advice, Bill handed my leash to a woman with honey-colored hair cut into a short bob that framed her face. She wore the same camouflage green uniform as Bill.

  “Your name is Jerry, isn’t it,” she bent down to ask, scratching me between the ears. I couldn’t help myself and le
t loose with a steady purr. “I’m Sergeant Barnhard. Come on, I’ll introduce you to the other cats in our company.”

  With that, Sergeant Barnhard unhooked my harness and walked over to the far corner of the vast room. I followed, my eyes slowly adjusting to the dim light. Ahead, I saw a collection of fellow felines unlike anything I’d ever encountered.

  “Recruits, meet Jerry.” My head snapped back to look at the Sergeant. The tone of her voice had changed from soft and soothing, to hard and commanding.

  “Jerry, meet Fighting Toms Company Bravo.” Sergeant Barnhard began rattling off names pointing to each cat as she made her introductions.

  “That’s Archangel,” she said pointing towards a big-bodied cat with thick blue gray fur.

  “Pleased to meet you,” he meowed back.

  “Over there is Blackberry. He’s a new breed called Munchkin,” she said pointing to a black and white colored cat lying down. I did a double take as I realized Blackberry wasn’t lying down at all. He stood on the shortest legs I’d ever seen on a cat. I couldn’t stop myself from staring.

  “What’re you looking at?” snapped Blackberry in a curt meow.

  “Sorry,” I meowed sheepishly.

  “Rex, get down off the desk now, shoo,” she commanded swatting at an orange striped cat with a bobbed tail. Rex nimbly leaped to the floor, muscles rippling as he landed. I wouldn’t want to tangle with that cat.

  “Here’s Picasso, Oslo, and White Paws,” she added pointing out a beautiful brown cat, a pure white cat with long fur, and a black cat with white paws. All three cats sat up on their haunches next to each other.

  “Oh, and this is Harley. How you doing, boy,” she cooed as she stroked his ears. Again, I stared. Harley had just three paws. His front right leg ended in a stump two inches from the floor.

  “How ya doing, Jerry. Welcome to the Army,” Harley meowed back.

  “And here’s Ginger Jam,” Sergeant Barnhard waved a hand in the direction of the largest calico cat I’d ever seen. Ginger Jam was so huge; his great big stomach nearly touched the ground. To think Amy and Bill thought I was overweight! Ginger Jam must be pushing 18 pounds if an ounce!

 
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