Trick or Treat

It was in late October of this year when Raymond Hazelwitz, Hamden's town rodent activist, climbed over the back fence to my backyard and scurried across the deck where I was napping in a spot of sunshine. "Wake up, Henri! Fall is upon us! We must plan the season's activities!"
"I'm not in the mood for activities, Raymond!," I growled at the rat. "I really don't feel very well. I hurt my hind leg and that dumb dog of ours caught my tail in the bathroom door. So just forgot about activities. I am going to stay home, relax and get my strength back."
"You can't do that!" squealed Raymond. "The entire neighborhood is planning a big shin dig come Halloween! We are all going "Trick or Treating!" It's never been done by the cats and rats of Hamden. It will be a sensation!"
I began to think about it and the idea had some merit. "Just what would we be doing to cause the citizens of Hamden to give us treats?" I asked.Well, Clarence had this idea," chattered Raymond. "He's going to round up all the cats and form a big chorus. We will select certain houses along West Side, Belden and Wooden and serenade the residents of these homes. When they can no longer stand the caterwauling and screeching, we will hold up a sign, stating that the noise will stop when catnip treats and cans of tuna fish and salmon are hurled at our heads. The rat scouts will collect the bounty in wagons.”

Sounds like it might be a lot of fun. My persons don't feed me all that much canned tuna or salmon. I'd be willing to add my meow to the chorus," I replied. "In other words, count me in!"
"I knew you would see things my way Henri old boy!" clattered Raymond. I'll touch base with you real soon. I still have a lot of work to do."
Since it was early in the fall, I sort of forgot about this big Halloween bash but in October, Raymond and Clarence stopped by the computer room window to discuss who was going to participate on the magnificent "Trick or Treat bonanza." Max, your neighbor next door will join us and Frank from the West Side. Carlyle with a select group of cats from the Evergreen Lake Colony will be joining us as well." Clarence held a long list of cat names for me to read. "Rumsfeld wants to come with a few of his friends. Abbott said he wants to be part of it and so does Charles and Walter. Penelope, your house mates Helen and Stella will be part of the soprano chorus and Hillary will be part of the mezzo soprano chorus. I do think a few more cats will join up before Halloween night."
It looked to me as if everything was under control. Five rat scouts held up the sign they would display at the victim'shome. It read "If you want this caterwauling to stop, give us cracked corn, canned tuna, salmon and crab meat!" That seemed obvious enough. We cats would annoy you until you beg for mercy! I was satisfied that the plot to gain goodies would work and that week I returned to supervising the clearing of the fall garden.
Word seems to get around the neighborhood. Samantha, the pooch down the street heard about the plot to extort goodies from the human element and thought she would like to be part of as well. Naturally, she told Ashley, our house mate and Ashley began to yap about being part of it too. I told her she could not be with us. The was for only cats and rats. She carried on terribly but since she is a bit of a drama queen, everyone ignored her. That was our mistake.
Well the big day arrived. I awakened early in the morning, my heart pounding with anticipation and joy. We were going "Treat or Treating" which would be a first for us cats and rats! I couldn't wait for night fall! All during the day I vocalized, letting my voice soar to the ceiling! Then my person approached me with a concerned expression on his fur less face. "Do you have a tummy ache, Henri? Do you think we should visit the cat doctor?"
I rushed from the living room into the bedroom and hid under the bed. A visit to the cat doctor would be a disaster! Now I had to prove to my person that I was in good health! I crawled out from underneath the bed and purred up a storm, constantly rubbing up against my human’s ankles. I convinced him that I was fine! And then I waited for nightfall!

Finally the sun set and the street lights glowed. I pried open the kitchen door and waited on the deck for the gang to assemble for our night of fun and frolic! I heard the rumble of wagon wheels on pavement and the happy chattering of rodent voices! I heard the mellow purring of cats! I rushed through the garden gate to greet them! And at the head of the parade was my buddy Clarence of Belden, his head adorned by a rakish hat! "Hi, Henri!" they meowed. Come join us!"
Clarence then spoke to us all. "Tonight shall be a night like no other! Tonight we shall serenade our human neighbors with our exquisite feline voices. We shall begin with a medley of Beatle tunes for our friends on West Side! All together now! Let the tuna fish fly!" With great vigor we marched. With great vigor we meowed at the top of our lungs. With great vigor, the rat scouts hoisted the sign with our demands upon their shoulders. With great vigor the tins of tuna fish and salmon sailed through the air.
On West Side, a total of twelve cans of tuna, six cans of salmon and six cans of cat food were hurled our way! On Belden, ten cans of salmon, five cans of salmon, six packages of cracked corn and three cans of cat food sailed the air. We were experts at ducking them. Not one cat or rat got struck with a tin of food! By the time we had gotten to Bel Air, policemen sirens had begun to blare loudly in the distance.
We were nearly finished with our night of "Treat or Treating" and had a few families to assault with our choruses of song. Bel Air gave us a total of fifteen more tins of assorted cat delicacies and several sacks of cracked corn and bags of peanuts! We were very happy cats and rats when we turned the corner onto Twin Brook Road. What a wonderful night it had been. I was so happy I had decided to be part of it. Then something terrible happened. I was standing under the street light, when a huge shadow was cast over me. Then I was hauled upward and although I struggled, I could not free myself from the bonds which held me. "Henri, you naughty, naughty kitty! What are you doing outside at this time of night? All you cats and rats get into the back yard! Hurry now before the police arrive! Bad naughty kitties!" The human who had captured me was none other than my own person!
I was carried unceremoniously, like a sack of potatoes beyond our garden gate and onto the deck. Oh the humiliation of it all! The cats and rats pushed the wagon through the gate and began sorting the cans of tuna, salmon and cat food. "I suppose you cats and rats will now want to taste your loot and celebrate? Okay, I'll get a can opener. It's a good thing that Ashley and Samantha finally told me what you cats were up to this evening. You might all have been arrested and sent to an animal shelter. I found you just in time.
Later that evening, after we had all feasted on our treats and we had cleaned up the empty tins we all agreed that it had been an evening of fun frolic. We would probably never be able to do it again since my person was now aware of my little deception. He had not been aware that I had previously snuck out of the house to attend prior festivities. It's not a good idea, Henri," meowed my house mate Tonya, "you might have been hit by an automobile or attacked by a pack of wild dogs or something like that....."
Tonya was probably right and we will probably never do Trick or Treating again but it was really an awful lot of fun. Actually, I have a rather nice voice and make take meowing lessons in the near future. You should have heard our rendition of "Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, Imagine and Strawberry Fields Forever!! They were mind boggling! Ask our human neighbors from West Side, Belden, Wooden Street and Bel Air! They are still talking about it! Even the police persons were overwhelmed!

This story was first published in Jessie the Cat's Fall issue of the Zine!

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