Buddy stands on his hind legs, fumbles in the dark for the correct key and locks the front door. He stops at the porch steps and surveys his motley crew already in position in Jan’s car, which is parked parallel to the porch with both drivers’ side doors ajar. Since this is a clandestine adventure, he is glad the overhead light isn’t working.
Standing on two driving cushions with both front paws on the steering wheel is Percy, his favorite partner in mischief. Samaritan sits in the passenger seat with Cameron in the middle, holding a flashlight so he can read the map he printed off the internet and give Percy directions. On the floor in front of Percy sits Rusty.
Buddy gently closes Percy’s door, then climbs into the back seat and quietly closes that door. “Move over, Merci. You’re sitting in my seat.”
Merci moves. “You can have it. I’m not sure I want to see where we’re going on this trip.”
Buddy settles into the middle of the seat where he has a clear range of view between the front seat headrests. “We have Michael Vick’s address. You all know your roles. Our goal is to farm Michael Vick the dogfighter and be home within the half hour. Ready, Percy? Here are the keys, Cameron.”
He drops the keys over the seat. Cameron, already regretting having volunteered for this trip, takes a deep breath, inserts the correct key in the ignition and turns it. The engine roars to life.
“Rusty, I told you not to give it any gas until we’re ready to roll,” Buddy barks in a muffled but stern tone.
“I’m sorry, Buddy. I accidentally hit the gas pedal when I tried to get in position. There isn’t much room down here for a cat my size.”
Buddy tilts his head and listens. “What’s that noise?”
“That must be the loose belt noise Jan mentioned to her brother Mr. Doug,” Merci says. “It should stop in a minute. Yes, it’s quiet now.”
Percy, looking through the windshield, asks, “How am I supposed to see where I’m going? A couple of cars have passed here and they have lights on. Do we have lights?”
“Of course we have lights,” Buddy says confidently. “But we don’t need them. We can see in the dark.”
Merci is doubtful. “Yes, we can see in the dark. But don’t you think we’ll be a slightly noticeable if we drive a car this late at night without lights?”
“You have a point, Merci. We don’t want to look conspicuous. Percy, turn on the lights.”
“Okay. Where are they?”
“I don’t have any idea. I know, Cameron, when we get on the highway, you shine the flashlight out the windshield. That way no one will notice the car doesn’t have any lights.” He settles into his favorite riding pose, front legs lolling on the back of the front seat between the head rests, leaning on his left elbow. “All right, Cameron, which way do we go?”
Cameron switches on the flashlight and looks at the map and his notes. “Left, we go left.”
“We can’t go left,” Percy complains. “We’ll run over the house.”
“We will? Oh, yes, we will. Sorry, I had the map sideways. We go down the lawn, over the curb, and then turn left.”
Percy tries to move the gear shift out of “P” with one paw. It isn’t as easy as he thought it would be.
“Samaritan, we need to go forward. Will you switch gears for me?”
“Sure,” Samaritan says agreeably. He reaches one long leg in front of Cameron and with little apparent effort moves the gearshift.
The car begins to roll slowly backward. “Get off the gas pedal, Rusty!” Buddy commands. “We’re going the wrong way.”
“I’m not touching the gas pedal.”
“Hit the brake!” Merci cries. She drops to the seat and covers both eyes with her paws. “We’re going to crash.”
“I’m standing on the brake but we’re still moving,” Rusty answers. “I need help.”
Buddy orders, “Cameron, help Rusty.”
Cameron drops the flashlight and map. He dives to the floor and adds his weight on the brake to help Rusty. The car continues to roll slowly in reverse.
“I’ll save us!” Samaritan calls, as he steps on Cameron’s papers and drops to the floor. His large frame barely fits into the floor space. His back feet are crammed against the passenger door. He easily reaches one front paw out to stomp the brake pedal. The car stops with its rear wheels touching the edge of the curb. A fraction of an inch more and the car would have dropped heavily to the street.
“Ow-w-w-w, get off my foot,” Rusty yells. “Get off my foot too,” Cameron hollers, “and get your nails out of my ear.”
“Sh-h-h-h-h,” Buddy demands. “You’re going to wake up the neighbors. We’ll get arrested before we even leave the property.”
Merci sits up and peeks carefully around the headrest in front of her, then turns her head to look behind them. “It’s a good thing we live on a corner or we’d have run over a few cars. Buddy, are you sure this is a good idea? I’m only here to call for help if you guys get arrested. I don’t want to die young.”
“Don’t worry,” Buddy says confidently, “no one is going to die young on this trip. But we need to hurry or we won’t get back before Jan wakes up. Samaritan, you must have shifted into ‘backward’ gear. Shift into ‘straight ahead’ gear, will you?”
“I can’t,” Samaritan says from his uncomfortable position stretched over the hump in the floor. “If I take my paw off Rusty’s and Cameron’s, we’ll start moving again. You’ll have to switch gears yourself.”
Buddy stretches forward but can’t quite leverage the gear shift. “Merci,” he orders, “climb into the front seat and shift into ‘straight ahead’ gear.”
“No way am I sitting in the middle of the front seat. That’s the death seat. You do it.”
“Somebody do it!” Rusty and Cameron holler in unison.
Buddy grumbles. “All right, but I’m supposed to be in charge here, saving my strength for the surgery.” He slides over the seat and peers intently at the gearshift. “I don’t see anything marked ‘straight ahead.’ I see a ‘D.’ You think that means ‘down the road?’”
“Try it,” Percy suggests. “Samaritan is crushing these guys’ paws.”
Buddy pushes the gearshift down until it reaches ‘”D.” “You guys take your paws off the brake and let’s see what happens.”
Samaritan yelps and the car races forward. Merci drops to the seat and covers both eyes with her paws.
“Hit the brake,” Buddy yells. “Hit the brake,” Percy yells. “Let me out!” Merci screams.
The car stops with a jolt. There is total silence for a minute.
“Are we still alive?” Merci asks quietly.
“I think so,” Percy says. “But I’m not sure we’re going to be when Jan finds out about this.”
Buddy asks, “Who’s going to tell her?”
Percy turns to glare at Buddy. “You mean you think she’ll notice?”
Samaritan complains, “Someone help me. I’m stuck down here. There isn’t enough room for me to move.”
“Why should we help you?” Percy complains. “You hit the gas and made us crash.”
“It wasn’t my fault. Cameron bit my ear. That hurt!”
Cameron climbs over Samaritan and onto the seat next to Buddy. “I told him to get his nails out of my ear. He had one paw mashing my face and the other squishing my paw.” He weighs over 50 pounds, his paws are huge, and his nails need to be cut.” He sticks a paw in his ear. “See, I’m bleeding. If any of you were in my position, you would’ve bitten him too.”
Rusty huddles near the door, licking his brake paw. “Look at how swollen my paw is. I might be handicapped for life.”
“I’m sorry for stamping on your paws,” Samaritan apologizes, “but it was an emergency. I saved our lives.”
“Yes, you did,” Buddy agrees. “Thanks, Samaritan.” He looks in the rear view mirror but the headrest blocks his view of Merci. “Merci, you can sit up now. We’re home.”
Buddy moves the gearshift back to “P”, removes the keys from the ignition, reaches past Percy and opens the driver’s door. “I guess we might as well check on the damage to Jan’s car.”
Percy leaps out. Buddy moves across the seat and drops to the ground. Cameron gathers his map and the flashlight and follows, crying out in pain when his sore paw touches the ground. Buddy lifts Rusty out by the scruff of the neck and lowers him gently to the ground, where he stands on three feet, favoring his swollen paw. Merci slides over the front seat and jumps out. Samaritan wiggles and groans in the narrow space, but slowly maneuvers his large body out the open door.
Buddy quietly closes the door and they all stare at the front end of the car, wedged tightly between the bushes in front of the porch. “Wow,” Cameron says, in awe, “that was terrific driving, Percy. You missed the house.”
“Do you think Jan might think she parked it this way herself?” Percy asks, his tone hopeful.
Merci shakes her head. “Jan doesn’t drink, and as bad as her memory is getting, she wouldn’t forget something like this. But I’m not going to be the one to tell her who did this. I’m going to bed and in the morning I’m going to pretend I know nothing about this accident.”
“Me too,” Buddy agrees. “It’s too late to farm Michael Vick tonight. We might as well go inside and rest up for tomorrow night.”
“What happens tomorrow night?” Cameron asks.
“We’re going to go farm Michael Vick,” Buddy explains.
“Oh, no, we won’t!” the group choruses, as they march up the porch steps, with Rusty and Cameron limping slowly in the rear.
“Why not?” Buddy wants to know. “Tonight was just a minor setback. Now that we’ve practiced, tomorrow night will go smoothly.”
“Of course it will,” Samaritan concedes. “Tomorrow night we’re staying home and watching TV.”
Posted by Samaritan, Funny Farm driving hero