I have seen the devil …

bag o bandit…and she is peering at me from inside a shopping bag.

Meet Bandit. She’s one of our cats. But she’s much more than one cat.

She’s a cat who thinks she’s a dog and hangs out with them, who’s near 10 years old and refuses to stop being a kitten, who likes to act crazy but really is diabolical and because of that has devoted her entire freakish feline life – nearly every waking minute of it – to pissing us off because she thinks it’s funny.

Other than that she’s perfectly normal.

I’m watching her right now, doing yet again what she truly believes is perfectly normal. She’s chewing a handle on one of those cheap grocery plastic bags. Inside the bag is a pair of my wife’s shoes – sensible pumps, mid-height heel, nothing sleazy.

As she has done 3.89 million times before, Bandit will chew through one handle. Not both, never both. When she’s done she’ll go across the room and settle into some nice little niche. And wait. Until my wife tries to pick up the bag and finds it only has one handle.

Possibly with furry trepidation, she awaits my wife’s stamp of approval.

“Dammit, Bandit!”

Her work is done.

A candid moment in the Waterman living room. Please notice Bandit, at right, lounging alone on a large pet bed, and that the three large dogs have given it over to her. They know better. Also notice the mummified remains of an elderly gentleman on the couch. He passed away  in 2003. But the dogs liked him and we didn't have the heart to take him away.

A moment in the Waterman living room. Notice Bandit, at right, lounging on a large pet bed and that the three large dogs have given it over to her. They know better. Also notice the mummified corpse on the couch. He passed away in 2003. But the dogs liked him and we’ve not the heart to remove him.


Bandit came into our world in a box. While the phrase most often is used for beings who leave this world, in our house it’s usually how fur-ball beings arrive in it. I remember the day, vaguely. I was taking a nap, a peaceful one. One that was about to be interrupted.

“Honey, wake up.” It was my wife and a friend by the bedside.

“Huuuuuh?”

“We-were-driving-downtown-and-we-saw-a-box-by-the-road-and-we-stopped-and-looked-into-it-and-guess-what-there-were-six-little-kittens-in-it-and-somebody-must-have-just-thrown-them-there-can-you-believe-how-cruel-some-people-are-so-we-couldn’t-just-leave-them-they-all-were-crying-so-we-grabbed-the-box-and-took-off-and-can-we-keep-them-please-oh-please-oh-pleeeeeeeease?”

“Where’s the box?”

“In the kitchen.”

Game over. I went back to sleep. Once one stray animal or six stray animals get inside my house, they never leave. But don’t blame my lovely wife this time – it was my fault. I fell asleep. I let my guard down. I should have known better. Now you know why I constantly drink coffee.

Bandit doing her best to look ... normal. But do notice Emma, at right, fast asleep yet with both eyes still open. She knows better. Bandit is waiting. Should her eyes close, she will roar up into the demon that she is and pounce.

Bandit doing her best to look … normal. But do notice Emma, at right, fast asleep yet with both eyes still open. She knows better. Bandit is waiting. If Emma’s eyes close, Bandit will transform into The Demon and attack.

Bandit is named Bandit because of the triangular bandana-like white swatch under her chin and on her chest. Only this bandit never pulls it up over her face – she wants you to know who she is when she commits crimes against our humanity.
One thing you can pretty much bet will never be in my house is a gun. Need I say more? I thought not.

One thing you can pretty much bet will never be in my house is a gun. Need I say more? I thought not.

She’s also named Bandit because we thought she was a boy. Found out different when she went with the others to the vet. Cat’s been screwing with us from Day 1.

But while life has been no normal picnic since Bandit’s moved in, there are some moments of triumph for us human folk. Well, at least for me. Like when I’m shaving in the bathroom and Bandit jumps up on the sink. One reason is to get in my way but if that’s not enough to rile me she’ll go into “bad cat mode”, triple-time.

She honestly becomes almost frantic, looking around for something bad to do to get my attention. She might try to knock off my shaving cream can – only I’ve put it away. She pulls on the strings of my hoodie – only I’ve taken it off. Her last gasp? She starts pulling and chewing on my toothbrush, sticking out of the nearby canister.

“Good Bandit, that’s your mother’s toothbrush. Go right ahead and chew it.” And damn, with demonic abandon, she’ll start chomping on the one next to it.

Reverse psychology – works every time.

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It’s me … or the box

The first thing I want to say here is I love my wife very much, nearly every minute of every day.

Now, that said, the second thing I want to say is during some of the other minutes I haven’t got a clue as to why she does some of the things she does. Or how things that happen to her, happen to her. We’ve been together some 20-something (All right, all right, so I can never remember exactly how many, so shoot me. I’m a writer, not a mathematician.) years and still she can, frankly, astound me.

Fortunately, these things have a way of working out, even if I don’t know how they will at the time. And also I’m not the kind of person who likes to lose his cool, much. I tend to go with the flow, figure there has to be a grander plan, a bigger picture, that maybe I just not seeing yet.

Well Lord, I’m still looking. Really, really, really looking.

Most of these occurrences usually have something to do with stray animals. Some people seem to go around in life with a “Kick Me” sign on their backs. My wife has a “Pick Me” sign on hers, scratched out in every stray animal dialect unknown to man.

Let’s just say if she’d been the booking agent for Noah’s ark, the damn thing would have sunk before it ever left the dock.

Like the time she came home from the car wash with a behemoth of a black cat that, in the right light, could be mistaken for a half-grown Labrador Retriever. So I ask her how is it that you, and only you, can go to the car wash and come home with a clean car and a cat. They having some kind of weird special or something?

No, she said. You see, I was walking to the dumpster to throw away the garbage from my car when this guy comes up with this cat and starts to throw it in there. So I say whoa, wait a minute, is that your cat? And he said no and then he said, yeah, you wanna buy it? So I grab the cat and run to the car and take off. Can we go inside now, in case the guy is still following me?

See what I mean.

I’ve let, er, welcomed, into my house, just about every living furry thing there is. Some have stayed, some have left, and most have chewed, mangled, and destroyed just about everything in it. I may not know why they get in, but I do know how they get in.

Never trust anyone like my wife, who comes into your house carrying a box.

Boxes have things in them. Live things. I’ve seen kittens, cats, puppies, everything but rodents come out of the boxes brought into my house. Even ducks. Yes, ducks. Quack-quack-give-my-head-a-whack web-footed water fowl.

“Those are ducks.”

“Yes, they’re little baby ducks, aren’t they cuuuuute?”

“Those are ducks.”

“I’ve always wanted to have them. We can keep them in the spare bedroom and raise them and teach them how to swim in the bathtub.”

“Those are ducks.”

The ducks have moved on, I can say now. However, I’m not so sure about me.

So, you can imagine my delight the other day when my wife walked into the house. With a box in her arms. And a big smile on her face.

“That’s a box.”

“I know, I’m so haaaaaappy.”

“And I’m so scaaaaaaaaared.”

“Oh, it’s not an animal. It’s Winston.”

“What’s a Winston.”

“It’s Winston, my puppet!”

This is a Winston.

And out of the box comes Winston. A neon yellow-and green, happy-faced turtle with a red bowtie and a marked resemblance to a cute little muppet. But this one doesn’t live on Sesame Street. He lives on my street.

A hand-puppet. Just a harmless, non-living, not real turtle hand-puppet. And I don’t even have to teach it how to swim in the bathtub.

All right, I can live with a puppet, I thought to myself. I mean, how bad can a turtle puppet be? He doesn’t eat anything. He doesn’t chew anything. He doesn’t … do anything.

What harm can a little stuffed thing with a hole in it, suitable for hiding an arm, do that hasn’t already been done in my house? That hasn’t already been done to me?

“Winston wants to say hello to you.”

“Hello Winston. Now go away, Winston.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m trying to write, Winston.”

“What are you writing?”

“I’m writing and I … I … can’t believe I’m actually talking to a freakin’ stuffed turtle! With an arm stuck up its butt! Now go away, Winston, and take that arm and the crazed woman attached to it with you.”

“You’re not being very nice. I think you’re trying to hurt my feelings. Are you trying to hurt my feelings?”

Sigh.

A duck! A duck! My kingdom for a duck!