Another bright and sunshiny day dawned in the alley, and Rat was up well before Tiger to take in the view. Tiger had the night watch, surveying the estate for furry predators, and he was exhausted, see exhibit A:
Tuesdays are usually quiet in the alley. Rat looked right. Spied nothing of interest. Then he looked left. Then he looked left again. Something glinting, shining, sparkling…
What was that now? Some kind of rectangle thingy?
Rat’s eyes zoomed in on the letters…SALE.
Holy Ritz Cheese Crackerola! It’s a sail for a ship! Somebody abandoned it in the alley just for me, uh, I mean Tiger and me, to grab a hold of and go on a voyage of our very own! Rat scurried back into the house as fast as his little green felt paws could muster.
“Tiger! Tiger! Wake up! Hurry! You got to see this. I’ve found our future alley transportation. It’s like no other!”
“Mrgrll… trans…YAWN…por…YAWN…tation?” Tiger was never one for Breaking News, alley or CNN.
Rat shook his tiny little head in disgust, and waddled about, finding breakfast. Nothing woke up Tiger like a good feast, and the pair would surely need their energy today. This was going to be a big alley moment, as sure as fleas like fur! And one thing was for sure… nobody was nabbing that sail before Rat. He’d watched that show, Hoarders, on TV with Tiger’s mom, often as he sat alphabetizing his gathered lint fibers.
Rat poured the cat crunchies into their bowl while Tiger did his yoga stretching. Nothing like a good old downward facing dog to get the cat blood flowing.
As they ate, Rat’s mind was whirling…
How to grab? How to affix? How to work? The sailing possibilities were endless! The pair could cover Tiger’s 3-block surveillance radius in under half the time! They would be famous. The alley cats would revere them. Finally, some respect. Scaredy Cat Tiger and his silly sidekick, Ratty Rat, no more.
“Are you ready? Let’s go before somebody else sees that treasure, like Fat Cat next door. You know how he’s always hogging alley treasure…”
“Oh, I dunno, Rat… the risk, the worry, the lugging, the huffing and puffing, and don’t forget those beastly cars, and the PEOPLE! Sometimes, there’s PEOPLE out there. I’ve seen them!” Tiger turned away, his tiny brained worrisome thoughts unbearable.
“Get your furry tushy in gear! If we make our own sail boat, we can be one of those beastly cars. We can ride in style, free of worry, fearing no one! Some idiot left a perfectly good sail in the alley. We will be going against our furfathers’ DNA if we don’t nab it. C’mon!”
So, begrudgingly, Tiger turned on his paws and slinked out the patio door. The pair did a zigzag maneuver through the yard and alley, heading north. Foot by foot, Rat looked left and Tiger looked right, their laser eyesight and sense for dread on high alert. Soon, the rectangular sign came into view. Rat bit into the thin plastic as Tiger grabbed the other end with both paws, and with the grace and agility reserved for only a bull in a china shop, the pair of grifters got the thing into the yard.
With staples and glue gun and wood scoffed on past alley forays, Tiger and Rat crafted a majestic sail boat on wheels, with rope affixed to their find that turned the “SALE” into wind-driven work of engineering feat not seen since the ship, Bluenose, beat the crap out of the American schooner, Elsie, in 1921!
“What shall we call her?” asked Rat, looking up, beaming with pride.
Tiger thought, and thought… soon, smoke was leaking out his ears. Rat worried the poor wee fur ball would end up frying what grey cells he had left, and shouted, “SALEABRATION!”
Tiger thought, and he thought some more… it sounded good.
Rat punched the garage door opener and Tiger rolled the beaut out into the alley. The hammering and sawing and general hubbub got the rest of the alley cats and rats out to see what’s what. Oohs and ahs emanated from all as SALEABRATION rolled out onto the tarmac, ready for her maiden voyage. Tiger jumped behind the wheel as Rat took the rudder, and as he yanked gently on the rope, the SALE sign glinted in the bright sunshine.
Orangie, the mangy pumpkin-orange cat from across the way — a definite hoarder by TV standards — flung two hats at the sailors. They were used blue and white skippers hats the cat had bid on at an online site auctioning off costumes from Elvis’s movie, Blue Hawaii. Orangie had the weirdest hobbies of any cat in the alley.
“Ahoy, Matey! Anchors aweigh!” bellowed Rat.
“Aye-aye, Captain!” Tiger pulled up the wooden brake, and the SALE sail caught wind, all four wheels sprang into action, moving the craft down the alley with increasing speed.
Cheers, whoops and hollers sprang from the crowd. Cats waved bits and pieces of cloth that had fallen out of recycle bins, and rats threw bird seed into the air. It was a joyous moment.
Faster and faster Tiger and Rat went, Tiger holding onto the wheel for dear life as Rat yanked with all his might on the rudder rope to make the hairpin turns. At the alley end, it took all the muscle they had to get SALEABRATION to do a U-turn, but turn she did, her wooden joints squeaking and groaning in the effort.
Feet from home, a beastly car, a massive one whose letters spelled out CADILLAC, pulled out and screeched to a stop in front of the frightened sailors. It was that nosey-body, Gloria Horseface, from down the way, the one who always wore dress suits and carried clip boards, and had a magnetic sign on her car, reading, HORSFISSON REALTY.
“Gimme back my sign, you scoundrels!”
“Finders keepers,” snarled Rat. “This is our sail now.”
“Sail? That, Mr. Rat, is a for SALE sign. Can’t you read?”
Rat looked up, way up, at his majestic find, and mouthed the letters one by one. “Oops, my bad. Spelling was never my strong suit at Mount Vermin Academy.” With blushed cheeks, Rat undid the metal sign and meekly handed it over to Gloria, who grabbed it with a huff and sped off, leaving the cats and rats of the alley to inhale her indignant fumes. The crowd dissipated, leaving Tiger and Rat, embarrassed as to their aborted feat.
“From now, Rat, how ’bout you let me do the reading before we do the nabbing?”
That thought alone scared the words right out of Rat.
Tuesday’s adventure was done. Nothing but furry pride was hurt, if you don’t count the staple holes in the SALE sign. Thankfully, there’s no Tiger and Rat goof-up that can’t be cured by a good old sun soak…