Bob opened the door, and there was Baby— waiting at the door for me. She seemed to have this thing for me, but really, I had a soft spot for that big blonde, too.
As I’d gotten to know Bob’s medley of mutts (the guard dogs that he trained) I’d gotten to know his cats as well, and as I said in Part One, I’m big man, and a combat Marine, and I’m proud to say I’m a cat man. And my big blonde Baby was just one of the cats. She loved to snuggle with her brothers and sisters, and one of them even stepped up and manfully tried to father a litter with her, but the cats were all house-cats, and far too small to be of any real use as a mate to a big, healthy cougar. I think he loved her, though because he’d wash her ears out for her. It was a big job, and he’d wash first one, then nap in her arms, and then wash the other. She obviously cared for her little man, but I was afraid that she was actually looking at me as the answer to her romantic problems. I definitely wasn’t interested!
When I came to choose dogs for my outfit, and I did that regularly, Baby would hear my military vehicle come down the dirt road to the place. I brought a different car each time, but she always knew it was me. She’d come bounding in the back door, and Bob would know I was close by the way Baby and the little cats acted.
And when I got inside, Baby and the other cats would have to inspect me from head to heels with their noses. After I passed inspection, Baby would lead me to her own chair, climbing into my lap when I had sat down. Thankfully, I’m big enough to make a lap for a fair-sized mountain lion. I don’t think she’d have been satisfied with just putting her head on my knee.
One day I was sitting in her chair, and she disappeared. She’d done that a few times on previous visits, so I thought nothing of it. This time I found out what she was doing when she disappeared — she’d been rabbit hunting. This afternoon she brought home dinner, dropping a big, fat, warm, freshly-killed jack rabbit in my lap!
Bob laughed. “She’ll help you skin it,” he told me. “Just go into the kitchen, she’ll show you what to do.” Now, I’ve skinned creatures out in the wild that I had to kill for my own survival, but I wasn’t used to having them delivered to me, and I’ve never had help skinning my dinner.
So I went into the kitchen and found the knife Bob had said was in there, made a cut where Baby seemed to be holding the rabbit to cut, and she grabbed the skin. I cut around the feet and down the belly, and she tugged the skin in one pull right to the head. Then she stopped and courteously waited for me to cut the head off. I offered it to her, but she looked up at me like she thought I’d gone crazy.
Bob must have known what was happening, because he yelled from the other room, “She doesn’t like raw food. But when you cook it she’ll eat some.”
Now, Bob’s the kind of host I like: You go there, you pretty much do what you want and if he’s interested he’ll come along. But he doesn’t hang over you, and you might have to cook dinner yourself. I nuked a couple of huge potatoes and opened a can of green beans after I had cut up the rabbit and put it on to fry.
Baby wasn’t exactly underfoot, but she kept an eye on things in the kitchen from a safe corner, where I wouldn’t accidentally step on her tail or her feet or something. She’d growl slightly when it was time to turn the meat. Bob yelled in that she could tell when to turn the rabbit so I followed orders. Some of the other cats came in to see what was cooking, too, and when Baby lay down, they settled around and on top of her till it was a huge pile of fur there in the corner. And a pile of purr, too: with all the happy cat noise they were making, they drowned out the crackling sound of the meat frying .
Baby was a pretty possessive old girl: if there were any human women around, I never got a taste of one because Baby would put herself between me and a woman and keep herself between us. Bob stopped trying to fix me up because of that blonde bombshell.
I knew there was going to be trouble when I got married. I married a Marine girl, as tall as me, and as tough as me, but she wasn’t too tough on me! I loved her so much— and I knew I’d have to tell her about the blonde I had on the side.
By the time we were due to look over another batch of dogs for the unit, Shawna was pregnant. There was no way I could prepare Baby to meet Shawna, but I could at least prepare Shawna to meet Baby. “She might have her feelings hurt,” I told Shawna. “That cougar really seems to love me,” and Shawna said she understood. “I don’t think Baby’s going to be a problem, just be natural with her.” I wasn’t nervous, not at all— I was scared shitless! Anyway, I’ve always hated it when women fought over me. I hoped these two had more class than that. I knew Shawna did. And I had faith in Baby, too.
At the door, Baby was in her regular place to greet me. Paws on my shoulders, sloppy wet cat-kiss up my whole face, and full-face nuzzles—then she looked at Shawna. Then she sniffed Shawna, and, of course, my scent was all over her. Shawna and I had just made love, and Baby had watched her little brothers and sisters engage in making kittens. She knew what she was smelling. Curling her tongue under in that unique cat way, she looked at me with a hurt look on her face.
I reached out and put my hand on Shawna’s belly and said to Baby, “This is mine.” Baby let out a tiny whine and sat down by my foot, looking up at Shawna, then looking at me. I reached my hand out and put it on Baby’s soft head. Moving my hand down her neck, then under her chin I tipped her head until her eyes met mine, and I said, “But I still love you, too, Baby.” I petted her while she looked into my eyes, then she stood up, crooked her tail into the question mark that happy cats display all the time, and began to purr. I took my first breath since coming in the door.
“Well,” Shawna smiled, “I guess our baby’s going to have a blonde auntie.” But knowing when we were ahead, we chose out our dogs and went on home. Three in the bed might have been too much. After all, the bed was kind of old.
Part Two tells about a gift of dinner from Baby, and how Baby handled meeting my new wife, Shawna.