Georgina and the One-eyed Cat
Georgina is a pretty spiffy name. You will admit, it’s a mouthful to say. You know, Georg-een-ah! Georgina, the name, belonged to a clever little lady, about nine years old, I suppose. Georgina Taylor. Everyone took to calling Georgina ‘Georgie.’ That’s not a lot shorter than Georgina, but to be faster, they’d have to call Georgina, ‘Gigi,’ or ‘George.’ Gigi is not that much shorter. George, well, George is a boy’s name, so that certainly wouldn’t do. Georgie it was.
Georgie was ‘Georgie’ to her friends in the neighborhood, at weekday school and Sunday School, and to her family. Family was her little sister Jewel, her even littler brother Buddy, and Momma and Daddy Taylor. They all belonged to Trace, the big dog in charge of the Taylor property.
Since the Taylor place was a humongous farm, there were any number of cats patrolling the barns, sheds, garages, and workshops. Make no mistake, they were all lovely cats. A calico, two tabbies, and a dusky grey. Then, there was “Socks,” a sleek, almost solid black Tom with four white feet that made it look that he was wearing, well, socks.
There was, however, one very special cat on the Taylor farm. She was Annabelle, a Japanese Bobtail. While Japanese Bobtail cats are not common, that’s not what made Annabelle special. First, Annabelle had only one eye. One eye anyway that you ever saw. Her left eye was always closed like she was squinting to make her right eye focus on whatever she was inspecting. Oh, and inspect she did! She was inquisitive which perhaps explains why she was so intelligent. That introduces the second very special thing about Annabelle.
Annabelle, you see, didn’t live in barns or sheds like most Taylor cats. She didn’t live in the big machine shop like Socks. Annabelle lived in Georgie’s imagination. It’s not at all that Georgie lacked real friends. It certainly wasn’t that she was lonely. Golly, no! She had friends all around the Taylor farm. Even on rainy summer days, she carried-on with Jewel and Buddy doing all sorts of fun things. Often, as a team, the ‘Taylor Trio’ helped Momma and Daddy with Taylor farm stuff.
Georgie certainly knew Annabelle was imaginary. But when Georgie was working through a problem, Annabelle visited. Together, Annabelle and Georgie had long conversations to discover facts and make decisions. Georgie felt decisions reached chatting with her imaginary cat friend were the best.
“Georgie,” Annabelle said one day, “do you wish you had another nickname?”
“Why would you ask that?” Georgie replied.
“I mean you call Buddy ‘Bud’ and Daddy ‘Dad,’ you know. Kind of extra-friendly.”
“Extra friendly is kind of love, you know, Annabelle. Names don’t make a real difference there.”
“Oh. I see,” said Annabelle.”
“But I always thought it might be cool to be called ‘Specs,’” admitted Georgie. “You know, after I got these nifty glasses.”
“Well, you need the glasses, you know,” reminded Annabelle. “You read a lot. I mean, you read a lot! You read ev-er-y-thing! Matter of fact, it was reading that made me a Bobtail instead of oh, maybe a Siamese.”
“Yes! Reading lets me go places I can’t go just yet in person. I get to meet people. I learn new ideas. I like reading so much, you know what, Annabelle?”
“I might just one day become a writer myself. I mean, I have a good imagination.”
“Yes, that’s why I’m here.” Annabelle snickered. So did Georgie.
“At least that’s what I think right now. Maybe tomorrow. I’ll want to be a doctor again.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” agreed Annabelle. “Either a doctor or a writer. Maybe both!”
“Maybe,” thought Georgie, so Annabelle could hear, “a scientist. Momma says someone needs to straighten-out this ecology business.”
“That’s an idea too,” smiled Annabelle.
“Or maybe write mystery books. Momma says I have a knack for that.”
“What’s a knack?” Anabelle’s one eye blinked.
“It’s like something you’re especially good at. Like you are especially good helping me argue with myself. That’s a knack.”
“Momma also admits I have quite an imagination.”
“I certainly help with that. You need me, you know where I am.” Annabelle snickered.
Just then, Momma came out the front door, almost tripping over Annabelle. Not that it would have bothered Momma or Annabelle, because when the front door opened, Annabelle, naturally, disappeared.
“Hi, Momma!” said Georgie. “Are you going somewhere?”
“Yes, Georgie. Mrs. Emmerson needs a friend right now. It seems LeVon has run off or something. Everyone is looking for him. They just can’t find him anywhere.”
Momma got into the car and drove off to the Emmerson place. Annabelle re-appeared.
Georgie and Annabelle talked for a while. Georgie was a little anxious over school. The new year would start soon. The first few days always made Georgie a little nervous.
“Aw, c’mon, you’ll do alright,” reassured Annabelle. “You’re one of the smartest kids in school. The neat part is, the other kids like you because you’re not all stuffy about it.”
“Stuffy?” asked Georgie.
“You know, conceited. Too big for your britches.”
“And you don’t just bookworm. You play sports – kickball and softball, and volleyball when it rains. Sing in the choir. You’re the best Georgie in the whole school!”
“I’m the only Georgie in the whole school!”
“See, there ya go! No one to compare to you.”
Buddy and Jewel ran past playing a wicked game of tag. Annabelle disappeared. Then a big delivery truck pulled into the big circular drive. The truck was loud, so it got Buddy’s attention. Mr. Anything-with-a-loud-engine went off to admire the big truck. Georgie thought she was doomed to a game of tag with her little sister.
“Momma says we need to start supper. Clean vegetables. Set the table. All that,” said Jewel.
“Oh, sure, let’s go get it done so we can come back out and watch the road crews.”
“We gonna get blacktop this year?” asked Jewel.
“I dunno,” said Georgie.
The girls tended their chores. Georgie came back outside. It was Thursday, so Jewel had piano lessons to do.
Then Mr. Machinery came up with two baseball mitts. He wanted to play catch. Jewel was pounding away on the piano. Daddy and the hands were out in the fields. Momma was still at the Emmerson’s. Momma didn’t like to play ‘catch’ any way. Georgie did. She was pretty good at it too. Not just for a girl. For anybody. She and Buddy had a serious game of catch. Buddy wanted to show Georgie how to throw a ‘curveball.’ Turned-out Buddy had no idea what a curveball was. He would soon enough, but not just then.
A day later, Momma said Mrs. Emmerson was beside herself. LeVon was still missing. Had been since yesterday morning. She was worried sick.
Just after lunch the same day, Georgie was sitting on the pumphouse steps thinking. Thinking hard about LeVon. Right on cue, Annabelle appeared. She was licking her paw and wiping it down her face. Making herself pretty. Even imaginary cats like, I suppose, to be pretty.
“What’s up?” asked Annabelle. She knew perfectly well what was ‘up,’ but that’s how Georgie and Annabelle started-off some serious thinking.
“LeVon still hasn’t come home.”
“Wow! Bet he’s hungry.”
“You’re imaginary. You don’t even know what ‘hungry’ is! But it’s not like LeVon. He’ll miss the big baseball game tomorrow.”
“It’s only fourth grade. What’s the big deal?” Annabelle giggled.
“Only fourth grade to you. To the fourth-grade boys, it’s the World Series!”
“Yeah. Boys. Hey! We could go look for him.”
“Lots of folks already have.”
“Look. You found Timmy Edward’s puppy,” suggested Annabelle.
“That was easy. Bongo liked to chase birds. There was that covey of pheasants, simple…”
“And you pin-pointed Donny Johnson’s lost glasses…”
“Easy-peazy. He leaves things laying everywhere. We’d just been to the Burger Barn…”
“Point is, we gotta think about this logically, like detectives. Just like those times,” said Annabelle
“Well. Let’s see. There is that decrepit…”
“Decrepit?” asked Annabelle, her one eye blinking.
“Old, run-down, abandoned. The old machine shed on the Yong place. Roof’s falling in. I bet no one gave that serious consideration. I mean, it’s not on the way to town or to any of LeVon’s baseball buddies’ houses…”
“Lets’ go! It’s only a mile down the other side of the gravel road!” Annabelle was excited.
“C’mon Trace! Let’s go for a ride!” Georgie hollered at Trace.
As Georgie climbed on her bicycle, Annabelle reminded, “Um, Georgie, maybe you should tell your momma where you’re going. Else you know, she’ll get to worrying and all.”
Georgie found Momma in the machine shop changing oil on the big mower.
“Momma, can I go for a bike ride?”
“Where to?” asked Momma.
“Down our road over past the crossing. Then maybe down Heckberry to just before it becomes blacktop.”
“Supper’s in about three hours, Georgie…”
“I’m gonna take Trace, we’ll be okay. Pu-lease, Momma?”
“Okay Georgie. If Trace goes. Be sure to be back before supper.”
Georgie, Trace and Annabelle headed off. They rode past the Emmerson place. Past the Kinderson’s. Past Kim Yong’s big old truck farm. There it was. Mr. Yong’s old machine shed. Hardly used much anymore. Pretty sad and abandoned. Georgie just knew LeVon would be hiding in the shed. When she got there, she spied LeVon’s red bicycle half-hidden in the bushes alongside the ditch.
Georgie wasn’t going into the shed to confront LeVon. No, she knew how she’d feel if she’d done something she regretted. Someone just standing there, making like they ‘understood’ would just make things worse. She knew LeVon needed first to talk to save some pride. Boys were especially careless about that. Pride. Georgie sat down on the ramp leading from the drive into the shed. Trace sat down in front of her and stared. Annabelle made herself comfortable beside Georgie.
“Trace!” said Georgie, looking at Trace sitting there patiently watching her think.
“Woof!” said Trace. Dog-talk, you know. He looked eagerly at Georgie and his tongue dropped out of his mouth, dripping dog-slobber.
“Head on home, boy. Go on, go home. Atta boy!”
Trace was a good dog. Above all, he was obedient. He understood Georgie, Buddy and Jewel. Momma and Daddy too, but Trace listened better to his kids. He hustled-off toward home. First thing he’d do when he got there would be to find Buddy. That was for sure.
Georgie said out loud to no one in particular, “Boy, sure wish I had someone to talk to about my troubles. Seems those adults just don’t understand.” Annabelle looked at Georgie like she’d lost her marbles. “Guess I’ll just sit here and worry over it myself,” Georgie said with a big, sad sigh.
“I can talk, Georgie.” It was LeVon, and Georgie knew it. Of course she did.
“Who’s that?” she said.
“It’s me. LeVon. Right here. Behind you.”
LeVon came out of the shed and sat beside Georgie. Annabelle didn’t disappear. Georgie thought that odd, but imaginary cats are often unpredictable.
“Gosh, LeVon. I thought you left for Kansas or someplace like that. Folks said you ran away.”
“No. But I’m thinking about it. I got into trouble with Momma. I fibbed to her again. She got mad. I was embarrassed. I figured I’d caused her enough trouble. I oughta make life easier for her. Just go away.”
“That wouldn’t make life easy for her. It would make her really, really sad. What’d you fib about?” asked Georgie.
“That’s not important, really. Momma doesn’t care. It was my fibbing she got upset over. Really disappointed her. Me too, I guess.”
“You know why, LeVon?”
“Because she loves you LeVon, you goof! You need to get home so she can stop worrying.”
“Reckon she wants me back?”
“You say some goofy stuff, LeVon, but that has to be the goofiest! Of course she does.”
“I dunno, Georgie. I said some mean things to Momma. She said some mean things to me.”
“I said I really hated my name – LeVon. Momma cried.”
“LeVon! That was your daddy’s name! And your granddaddy’s. You know how respected those men were. Your momma knows you can be every bit as good as them.”
“You don’t think LeVon is a stinky name?”
“Or sissy? I bet you think it’s a sissy name.”
“Was your daddy a sissy?”
“And you ain’t no sissy either. Ain’t a sissy name then. No way.”
“Momma was pretty upset.”
“You both were upset. Somebody needs to apologize. Be a man. Be the man. C’mon, Annabelle and I will walk home with you. Help smooth things over some.”
“Annabelle? Who is Annabelle?”
“She’s… Oh, never mind. Let’s get home.”
Mrs. Emmerson cried when Georgie and LeVon walked through the door at the Emmerson’s place. There was so much crying and “I’m sorry-ing” going on, Georgie was a little embarrassed herself. She thought if Mrs. Emmerson hugged LeVon any harder, his head would pop off like an all shook-up cola bottle cap.
Georgie and Annabelle climbed onto Georgie’s bicycle and rode home. As usual, Annabelle had no trouble at all sitting on the handlebars even though the dirt road home was rather bumpy. They made the trip lickety-split. Trace ran up to meet them. Annabelle snorted.
“What’s the matter, Annabelle?” asked Georgie.
“Dogs are okay. I guess,” started Annabelle, “but they have silly ideas about what is fun.”
“Whatever makes you say that?”
“I mean look at them. They’ve been off, sloshing around in the little pond again.”
“What?” asked Georgie.
“Trace is wet and muddy clear up to his underside, and Buddy’s britches are wet!”
“Catching frogs, I expect.”
“Probably,” agreed Annabelle with a disapproving sigh.
Supper was good that evening. Corn on the cob. Probably the last for the summer. Cucumbers. Daddy’s grilled burgers. Momma’s prize-winning potato salad. Green beans. Milk. Doesn’t get much better. Helped some that Georgie got LeVon home. She didn’t think it necessary to tell anyone. She hoped LeVon enjoyed his supper. He surely would have been hungry after almost two days without eating!
Early the next morning, Georgie was sitting on the back porch chatting with Annabelle. The sun was peeping over the tree-line two miles east of the Taylor farm. The big yellow sun painted the sky just above the trees a deep pink. It was a lovely morning with clean, crisp late summer air full of flittering birds and the last summer butterflies. Off in the distance, two or three crows were busy talking about what they planned to do during the day.
Daddy stepped out onto the porch. The aroma of a delicious breakfast followed Daddy through the door to tickle Georgie’s nose. Georgie smelled bacon and blueberry muffins. Though she couldn’t smell them, Georgie knew Momma and little sister were making baked potato slices and a big bowl of fresh summer fruit. Certainly, there would be an egg scramble cooked Georgie’s favorite way – slightly soft in the center with the teensy tiniest bit of crispy brown on the underside. When Daddy cleared his throat, Annabelle, of course, immediately disappeared.
“Where’s little brother?” asked Daddy.
“I saw Buddy and Trace out by the silo doing boy and dog things. Buddy was tossing Trace’s favorite stick as far as he could. Trace always hurried off to fetch it back. Sometimes he caught the stick bouncing across the field. Trace is fast.”
“Yes. But Buddy’s getting bigger now…”
“And he throws the stick farther. Maybe Trace should just keep the stick and not bring it back?”
“Nah. Trace likes the game as much as Buddy.”
Georgie just nodded. Daddy was right.
“Would you mind finding Buddy and Trace?’ asked Daddy. “Tell Buddy Momma and Jewel have breakfast almost ready.”
Georgie stood to head off to the silos sitting either side of the long feeding trough.
Daddy looked at Georgie. “That was a good thing you did, Georgie,” he said.
“What?” asked Georgie.
“Yesterday. Finding LeVon and getting him to go back home to his momma. Mrs. Emmerson called your momma last night just before you went off to bed.”
“Gee, Daddy. He was confused. Just took some talking.”
“Georgie, you did a really good thing. Everyone is proud of you. Mrs. Emmerson is very happy.”
“So is LeVon, Daddy.” Georgie smiled and started toward the barns.
“Georgie?” began Daddy again. “You know, if you don’t become a writer,” Daddy paused.
“Yes, Daddy?” asked Georgie.
“Maybe,” said Daddy with a big smile that lit his whole handsome face, “you should be a detective. You’re really good at finding things.”
Georgie thought. She knew Daddy was thinking about LeVon and Mrs. Emmerson again. But you know, she did have a knack for figuring things out. Annabelle had something to do with that, sure.
“It’s hard Daddy,” Georgie said, looking at Daddy,
“What’s hard? Finding things? You’re pret-ty good at it!”
“No, Daddy. It’s hard being a kid.”
Daddy smiled that big smile of his that meant he was going to say something that would take Georgie more than a few days to understand. “I expect, Georgie,” he said, standing to head into the house, “it gets easier. Just keep at it.”
Daddy opened the door into the house. More bacon and blueberry smells escaped to the porch. Annabelle joined Georgie again.
Annabelle asked, “Georgie, do you expect Daddy understands?”
“Understands what?” asked Georgie.
“Being a kid.”
“Suspect he does. I’m pretty sure he was a little boy like Buddy once. Probably a long, long time ago. But Daddy has a really good memory. Momma and Daddy both. Not always. Most of the time. I’m pretty sure Momma and Daddy both know.”
Georgie and Annabelle found Buddy and Trace at the silos, sure enough. Annabelle didn’t bother disappearing. She didn’t talk to Buddy, or rub up against his leg, but Annabelle allowed that Buddy was okay. Trace paid Annabelle no attention at all. When Trace was busy with Buddy, he didn’t pay much attention to much of anything or anybody. Except Buddy.
“Buddy,” said Georgie.
“Buddy spun to face Georgie, with his arm raised to toss the stick. “What, Georgie?” he said, grinning his handsome boy smile that made him look like Daddy.
“Breakfast is ready!”
“Oh boy!” said Buddy.
All four of them hurried up to the house and the smell of bacon. When Buddy and Georgie went inside, Trace the big Taylor dog, and Annabelle the one-eyed cat, stayed on the back porch. I doubt they had much to say to each other.
(c) S P Wilcenski 2020