My parents live in the middle of nowhere. They like it because it's nice and remote, and they get to see plenty of wildlife. My parents love wildlife. They love the deer, the birds, and the turtles. They love everything . . . except the snakes. It turns out my Mom hates snakes. Keep that in mind for a moment. After the following digression, we'll get back to the snake thing (trust me, it will be worth it).
Keep reading (there are pictures!)
Not too long ago, a random cat wandered into my parents' lives (as random cats are want to do). They named the cat Bartley. He reminds me of that red-haired kid from old 90's movies like The Sandlot. That guy (his name is Patrick Renna) always played semi-obnoxious red-headed chubby kids. That's Bartley. The dude's a little feline con-artist. He'll stop at nothing to get you to pay attention to him.
Whenever you walk across my parents' yard, there's Bartley. He'll run right under your feet, doing that little "rub all up on you" thing that cats do to your legs. That's totally fine if you're just standing there. He'll just do the figure-eight while you gaze absently at the sunset. If you walking, though, it's pretty much a one-way ticket to Tripsville, and you're the guest of honor. It's a popular place, that Tripsville. While you're there, say "hi" to the ice-cream man, the meter-reader, and those Jehovah's Witnesses who came by that one time. Then, while you're on the ground nursing your twisted ankle or compound fracture or whatever, Bartley will come sauntering by, all, "hey, while you're there, you can pat me."
If you leave something sitting on the ground in my parents' yard, there's Bartley. He'll come sit on it, or in it, or against it (whichever is more obnoxious). He'll just sit there, waiting for you, knowing that you'll have to pick him up to get him out of the way. What happens when you pick him up to get him out of the way? You are now patting Bartley. What's that? You were just picking him up to throw him across the yard? Close enough. Alyson and I stopped at my parents' house on our trip from Boulder with a car-full of stuff from her apartment. We opened the back door of Alyson's car to take some stuff out to leave in the barn for a few months while we figure out where we're going to live. We were away from the car for all of 90 seconds. Guess where Bartley was when we got back.
"Get out of there, Bartley!" I yelled. That never works.
If you open a door to the house - yes, any door - there's Bartley. He's not allowed in the house on account of his being a "goddamn pain in the ass." He is therefore on constant alert, psychically knowing exactly when and where someone will be exiting or entering the house. As soon as the door opens, in he darts. Don't worry, he's not trying to get into the house. He's just there so you'll pat him, doing a stealthy, acrobatic figure-eight around your legs as you walk through the door. Welcome back to Tripsville. I see this time you brought some guests: the groceries you were carrying in from the car. Then, when you gather up the sundry articles which have been cast across the floor, you'll have to gather up a little orange butt-hole, too. Bartley wins again.
It's a bit of a theme with Bartley, the whole being a butt-hole thing. He'll beat up any other cat he meets, and brutally murder pretty much anything smaller than him. My Mom was pretty upset the day she saw him leaping up at a hummingbird, hovering about five feet above the ground. When my parents go on one of their regular walks around the huge woods behind their house, Bartley comes along, ready to be patted whenever they stop for a moment. He'll dart down any hole or burrow he finds, sticking his head into some little creature's house, I guess just to say "hey guys, Bartley's here!" I've even seen Bartley rubbing up against my parents' dog, Teddy, who is honesty one the most terrifying creature on the planet.
He's the only cat my Mom has ever seen just go hang out inside the chicken coop. Inside. Imagine if you tried to go to your bedroom and a serious predator who is literally the size of you is there, just hanging out. He doesn't mess with the chickens, he just goes there, presumably, because he's a butt-hole.
I wish I could have been there the time Bartley apparently decided to go walk across the ice-covered creek, only to find out that the ice wasn't quite thick enough to support the weight of a chubby, obnoxious cat. Yeah, they had a good laugh, but he probably did it on purpose because they ended up carrying him back to the house.
Nobody is even really sure where Bartley came from. My Mom thinks he's the reincarnation of a cat who died right before Bartley showed up, as a kitten (an already very obnoxious kitten). The cat was very old, looked a lot like Bartley, and was also pretty obnoxious. It's not entirely absurd, to be honest. Still, it was probably much less interesting than that. I think Bartley's original owner was just completely fed up with Tripsville and decided to dump Bartley so far out in the middle of nowhere that he'd surely never trouble anything again. I think Bartley is the kind of animal that will never be stopped.
Yes, Bartley is a real pain in the butt. My Mom still loves him, though. Remember how she hates snakes? Well, what can she do when she's working out in the yard and she sees the spine-tingling sight of a snake slithering past?
Well, she doesn't have to call for Bartley, because he's already there, trying to get her to pat him. He'll give that up for a few minutes, though, to play with (and eventually murder) whatever creatures turn up.
This just so happened while I was staying there a couple weeks ago. My Mom told me to come check something out, so I grabbed my camera and followed her.
So here are some pictures of Bartley having fun with this new toy my Mom found.
What's really crazy is that Bartley actually was just playing with the poor snake. He tossed it around and bit at it like a shoelace somebody was dangling right there for him to pounce. It seemed eerily similar, except that this shoelace was alive.
He would sit there for a while, let it slowly try to make for the safety of the grass, and then pounce, carrying it back to the middle of the walkway.
Sure, it would try to fight back. It would bite at Bartley's nose, sometimes dangling there for a minute. Without teeth, though (as you can see in some of these pictures), it didn't have much hope.
So there you go. That's Bartley. The cat that no one wants.
And just so you know, the snake actually did get away. Eventually Bartley got bored, and the snake was able to make it to safety. Probably Bartley was more interested getting me to stop taking pictures and start patting him.