The tan-striped cat, who would be orange-striped if he was a good cat, kept trying to lay down on my pants. Then I committed a sour, sour faux pas when I stood on the black feathery tail of my Sweet, Sweet Juno. I felt something moving under my foot as I was focusing the phone camera. When I jumped aside, Juno slunk away, giving me a not-very-forgiving look over her shoulder.
THEN I heard it. A crunching sound. What in the not-heaven? Juno kept her distance, sitting over by Gassy-G, Hick's auction grill, eyeing me warily. I had seen Jack jump off the concrete behind the garage, and run around to the back yard. He probably thought I was throwing out some leftovers for the remaining chickens. He's a real chow hound. Still, I didn't see him amongst the onion skins and graying cauliflower.
I moved closer to the rail. Trying to figure out that sound, where it was coming from. THERE! There was Jack! Standing at Hick's fake fish pond that he never takes care of any more, since the three bad cats fished out a big goldfish every couple of days and ate them all.
As I watched, Jack stuck his snout all the way to the bottom of the brackish pool, and grabbed a river rock. The sound was JACK CHEWING ON A ROCK! He only chewed to get a grip. Then he lifted out the rock and deposited it on all the other river rocks that surround the fake fish pond. He moved from one section to another, one side to another.
I was torn. Should I tattle on Jack and let Hick declare another strike against him? Or keep his secret until Hick got to nosing around his fish pond again and noticed something fishy?
My curiosity got the better of me. I asked Hick if he put river rocks in the bottom of his fish pond pools to hold them down, or to make it more lifelike for his fish. The tiny goldfish he bought at Walmart (back when Walmart's pet department still sold them), and fed and fed twice a day until they were like magnificent koi that my childhood dentist had in a tasteful garden through the back window of the exam room, as if he thought it would distract Li'l Val while he scraped and pried and drilled and filled her teeth.
"I didn't put no river rock in my fish pond!"
"Oh. Because there's river rock in your fish pond now. And Jack was TAKING IT OUT! He put those rocks back with the other river rocks around the outside. I guess he's just helping you."
"I don't know how those rocks got in there!"
"Maybe the cats were taking a poop, and thought they were covering it up, and kicked the rocks in the water..."
"I don't think so."
Anyhoo...Jack is always busy. He needs some cattle to herd. Or some badgers to flush out of a burrow. Maybe he puts river rocks IN the fish pond on certain days, and takes the out again on alternate days. This morning, I saw him rolling around in the front yard, flinging something clear over his head, then wrestling and shaking it, then rolling on it again. Huh. Where was Jack finding trash? We keep ours in the wastebasket until the bag is taken directly to the dumpster. He can't get in there. So I asked Hick this evening.
"What did Jack have this morning? When you and HOS were picking up that lumber. It looked like a clear salad container!"
"Oh. That was my salad container."
"?" (If a glance could be vocalized, that is what I said.)
"When I ate my salad last night, I dropped the container." Let the record show that Hick had driven to work last evening to get some boards that he had set aside from shipping crates, and upon his return, settled down in his La-Z-Boy to have a big salad for supper. A big salad that Val paid for and gave to him. Chicken Caesar.
"You ate it in here!"
"Well, there was a little bit left..." (probably the vegetables!) "...so I dumped it off the back porch, and dropped the container." Which of course he just left there. That's what country people do with their trash, it seems, just throw it out the back door.
Anyhoo...Jack is always doing something. He can't simply loll in the yard, soaking up sun, resting up to bark all night like other dogs. He does the barking part, though.
I don't want the devil to find work for Jack's idle paws.