Old Tom: Memories by Robert Shackles

Freddy & Percy had a big old tom cat and we all called him "Old Tom."
Looking back today I doubt he was very old because he was too active.
However we somehow  thought he was old because he was not very well
groomed,and as I remember he was a little on the scroungy side. As you
know cats have their own personalities,and by and large they are very
independent. Well Old Tom liked all of us kids but he didn't have any
thing to do with adults. It just seems as though he  had a mistrust of
adults. That being said I will tell you that Percy would sort of look
after Old Tom and the cat really liked Percy. One morning Old Tom came
home after a night out tom cating around and his face was all cut up and
he was a mess. Aunt Cora "bless her"she ment well, but she had a cold
remedy that was something else. Homer would remove the stink bag from a
skunk and aunt Cora would mix it with lard and terpentine,and this
ungodly mixture she would rub on Freddy & Percy's chest to ward off a
cold. She would also grease us up with this stuff if she could catch us.
As I look back on this experience I think it worked only  because no one
would come close to us. Now Percy seeing old  tom's face proceeded to
put some of this cold remedy on old tom,& he went wild and dissapeared
for a few days.  About 3 houses down the street from the Bochs house
lived old man Collins. A few years ago when Red and I was in the area we
thought we located the house,but there are several there together so we
are not completely sure. Anyway old Man Collins had a wire pen in his
back yard where he raised chickens,& one day he He came & talked to
Uncle Fred and complained that old tom was getting his chickens. Uncle
Fred told him he would get rid of old tom,and he had Homer take him off.
Freddy and Percy had to catch old tom and put him in one of Homer's coon
traps & Homer took him away. All I know is Homer told us when he
returned that we would never  see old tom again. You can imagine every
ones surprise when old tom showed up about a week later.That same week
Red & I was walking past old man Collins house and he stopped us and
gave us this proposition. He had a gunny sack & he offered us a quarter
if we would deliver old tom to him. He told us he wanted to take him off
where he wouldn't come back. To put this in perspective, a quarter was 2
& a half sacks of marbles, or 5 movies, or a whole bunch of penny candy.
Of course we were interested,who wouldn't be. We talked to Freddy &
Percy about the deal and they decited since it was their cat we should
split the loot. Red & I went back and convinced old man Collins to give
us 50 cents,. and we got  the sack.  Percy and Freddy put old tom in it
& we took him to old man collins and collected the money.It's hard to
believe the rest of this story but it's the absolute truth. Instead of
taking old tom off as he said he would old man Collins shot at old tom
in the sack with a shot gun,but he missed old tom, blew a hole in the
sack,and old tom jumped out and took off. Old man Collins got his rifle
and come up the street after old tom. The cat run under the little
wooden sidewalk bridge in front of our house. Old Man Collins proceeded
to poke him out with the rifle barrel,and when old tom jumped out old
man collins missed old tom, and shot right through our house. The
bullet  just missed our baby sister Mary Opel asleep on a day cot  and
lodged in the wall above the cot. We were outside playing and watched
the whole episode. That was the last chance old man Collins ever had of
getting old tom, and as for as I know  old tom died of old age. Marie
was really upset because the bullet came in the house and came so close
to Mary Opel but everything blew over pretty quickly.   We did take in a
couple of movies at a nickle each and I think this was the time  Freddy
got sick on popcorn,but it may have been another time.