In the time it took to get his attention it occurred to me that getting his attention may not have been all beer and skittles. It occurred to me that any being that large, who I was sort of counting on to know how to acquire food, might make a diet of smaller things. Like me.
That said I just stared into his eyes and he looked right back. This may have gone on for quite some time. When you're thinking the thing you are consumed with curiosity about -- that you hope will feed you -- but might eat you, well, time kind of gets short shrift.
Then he spoke.
"And just who in the name of Jesus, Mary and Joseph might you be? And why in the good Christ are you in my garden?"
I didn't recognize any of those names and had I been able to I would have pointed out I was not in a garden -- I was sitting on some damp dirt. But I also assumed he didn't expect much of an answer. Still, he asked so I did my best. I meowed as best I could on the chance that he could understand me as well as I understood him.
Again we lapsed into a prolonged staring contest. At first I thought he was mulling over my answer but the longer we stared at each other the more I realized he didn't comprehend.
Whatever the case he started sweeping me with a rather big paw in the direction I came. None too gently as a matter of fact.
"Run along now. I'm sure some momma is wondering where you ran off to and I can tell you I am not going to be any goddam cat's momma."
Now I was starting to get a little chapped. This thing may be big enough to swallow me whole but I wasn't going to get shunted aside like one more sonofabitch plant. I walked back to where I began and stared straight up, daring him to do it again. Pick me up. I dare you. And I did what was probably a pathetic snarl, but a snarl just the same.
He didn't. Ha! Sweep me aside. He may have been bigger but I was in no mood to be trifled with.
Instead he grabbed me by the fur on the back of my neck and lifted me to his eye level. Oops. This was feeling less and less like victory.
"I've been cussed from here to hell and back by men 100 times tougher than the devil himself but by God I'm don't have to take any crap from a cat. Especially one that wouldn't be enough to use as shark bait."
I had no idea what a shark was but I sure as I could be I had played all my cards with this -- whatever what was to come next was entirely up to him. He shook me lightly.
"You're not much more than fur and bones. But you're a mouthy little little piece of work, I'll give you that."
That sounded like a compliment but dangling several feet in the air it was difficult for me to gauge. And there was still the matter of food. I wasn't getting any less hungry. And being held by the back of my neck was starting to get annoying.
Being a mouthy little piece of work I meowed my best "let's get this show on the road and feed me" meow. Even something as thick as this thing appeared to be would get the hint. Or so I hoped.
And that's when he laughed. It sounded like it came from deep inside his chest and I could swear it made the ground shake.
"Well I'll be goddamed if you aren't one tough cookie. I expect you could use a meal and I'll danced with the devil before I leave you out for the coyotes."
With that he tucked me under his arm and off we went.
"One goddam tough little piece of work."
And that is how I made the acquaintance of Timothy Patrick Finnerty.