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1-The MOON & Stars!

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Moon Madness - 1, Copyrightę 2001-2006 By
Larry K. Hockman, "All RIGHTS RESERVED"

The MOON & Stars!

Vince Casey's eyelids twitched slightly when Moon's left forepaw rested lightly on the stiff stubble of his overnight beard. Though fully awake, he intentionally teased a subsequent response from his loyal friend, perched comfortably upon his broad chest. The playful maneuver was simply a game the pair had enjoyed ever since Vince had discovered the tiny, frightened kitten three years before, abandoned in a small cardboard box concealed by the overgrown weeds bordering the county road leading to his driveway. His unfortunate young mother had been cruelly shot in the head and left to die on the scorched blacktop surface. Even though mortally wounded, she had miraculously dragged herself over the hot road to the box containing her helpless offspring!

Vince had arrived on the pitiful scene as she was desperately trying to hook her left front claws on the top edge of the box. Her strength all but gone from loss of blood, she rested her chin on the side of the box and allowed her neck to relax, enabling her to stare wistfully up at the monumental obstacle depriving the maternal instinct within her dying body its last wish to comfort her only kitten.

Vince carefully removed the baby and gently slipped it under its mother's upstretched forepaw. It nuzzled under her neck, and she painfully moved her head to lick the tiny nose and yet unopened eyes. Vince softly stroked the mother's back as a big, salty tear rolled down his cheek and off his chin onto the bobtailed kitten's head. The mother tenderly licked off the tear and started purring as if thanking him for his mercy and compassion in granting her last wish. As her breathing became heavily labored, she turned her bloody eyes upward to meet his. They seemed to be pleading to his very soul to save her baby. He softly said to her, "Do not worry brave, young mother. Your family is safe with me." Her tufted ears twitched in apparent understanding as her golden eyes closed while the extended, blood-stained paw relaxed and slowly retreated down the box to cover her offspring.

Animals loved Vince and he respected them. Their undying loyalty and respect for someone who treated them well placed them in a category above most people in his eyes. He had come to a point in his life where he preferred their company over the companionship of his so-called "friends". God had blessed him with a varied array of talents which his friends were only interested in exploiting for their own personal reasons. Over the past several years, his mistrust for the general public had caused him to become somewhat of a recluse.

Gazing down at the unnecessary death of the innocent cat spawned a bitter flashback of his only sister's death a couple of years back. Their parents had been killed shortly after her birth in a plane crash, and she had been placed in a foster home different from his due to an eight year age difference. He had obtained legal custody when she turned sixteen.

Sheryl had moved in with a seemingly bright young man after becoming engaged to him. All went well until she became pregnant some months before the scheduled wedding. She asked Vince's opinion on whether to tell her fiance' about the baby. He had advised her to do so.

Sheryl had worked in a small diner near the edge of town which catered mainly to the local oil field workers. She had finally informed Stan, her fiance', of the pregnancy after a particularly long week-end in which she worked double shifts to cover for another girl who supposedly had a virus and was unable to work. Looking ahead, she figured the extra money would come in handy with a new baby on the way.

Stan threw a fit! He accused Sheryl of having an affair with the oil field "trash" as he called it, storming out after saying the baby wasn't his. Sometime later, she called the local bar where Stan played darts and pool. Unfortunately for her, he was quite drunk and said he was returning home with a solution to their problem.

Sheryl cuddled her cat and immediately called Vince to tell him the story. She was scared to death. She had never known Stan to drink anything and had no idea how he would act. Vince told her to call the police. He was on his way.

Vince was a highly accomplished martial artist. He would stand for absolutely no bullshit when his baby sister was involved. His abilities had been thoroughly tested against every possible situation. He would prevail just as he always had, quick, clean and efficient if the need should arise. When someone's life was on the line, he was capable of infinite varieties of potentially deadly force. Self-preservation and survival then escalated into the simple realm of animal instinct requiring no wasted time with conscious thought in order to act swiftly and accurately.

Big brother roared into the apartment lot amidst the squeal of burning rubber which doubled in pitch when he locked up the disc brakes!

The door at the head of the stairs was wide open. Vince heard the terrified screams of his sister as he raced up. Stan met him at the top step with an aluminum softball bat in full swing. Vince instinctively blocked & ducked simultaneously. The metal bat connected with his precise forearm block squarely, instantly shattering both bones. In a microsecond blur of fury, Vince back-fisted his assailant with his good arm in the left temple and followed up with all of his power focus concentrated into one perfectly executed, fatal back kick to the throat! He screamed for Sheryl as the police and an ambulance sped into sight, just in time to see Stan's limp body cartwheel over the railing to land head-first on the unforgiving concrete below.

Vince had unfortunately arrived a few seconds too late. Stan had struck Sheryl once in the stomach, three times on the back and twice on the head. Her injuries from the drunken assault resulted in a broken nose and lower jawbone, three broken ribs which ruptured her left lung, two crushed vertebrae and a ruptured kidney! Sheryl never made it to the hospital alive.

No formal charges were ever filed against Vince, despite the efforts of Stan's powerfully rich family. They succeeded only in glorifying Sheryl and Vince's name while dragging their own through the mud of "just recompense."

The case had clearly been defined by the law as an act of self-defense; however, the stark reality of Vince's extraordinary prowess had been thrust into the limelight, causing the townspeople to speak in muffled whispers of wonder and amazement. They could only speculate on his abilities not yet showcased; consequently, they made it a specific point to give him a wide berth and treat him with a high degree of respect to avoid any confrontation whatsoever. He had become somewhat of a legend in his own time!

Vince's previous friends whom had formerly tried to use him, now avoided him out of simple fear, as did most of the women he dated before the incident. His only regret of the final outcome was the unjust fear exhibited by women. Under no circumstances would he EVER be violent towards them! He fully believed that they were to be cherished and protected at all costs to his own well-being. Their misconception of him saddened his heart, for he truly loved the companionship of a good woman. He seemed to be doomed to walk the twisted path of life in lonely solitude. He resolved to turn his affections towards animals for whatever comfort they could supply and disembark from the social aspects of normal life. His action would be the public's loss, . . not his.

Pitiful cries from the orphaned tom kitten snapped Vince back to reality. He was about to become a mother! Gently scooping up the pair, he returned them to the box and carefully put it in the passenger seat. A quick trip to the local drugstore produced an eyedropper and baby formula as well as odd glances and the uncertain expressions he had come to expect accompanying any trip he made into town.

Back at the house, Vince buried the kitten's mother next to his own sister in the family plot. He built a small cross which bore the inscription; "Another Young Mother Needlessly Murdered".

Vince arranged to take a week of his pending vacation time from his job of Park Warden in the adjacent county. He hand fed the kitten with the eyedropper several times daily and nightly, being careful to always keep it warm and protected from drafts. While it safely slept, he constructed a pet door and installed it above his bed along with a shelf and a ramp leading to the ground outside.

Nature's genetics enabled the kitten to regain its strength with surprising speed. At the end of the week, Vince's dedicated efforts were rewarded. He was feeding it when one tiny eye opened to reveal the wonder of sight to the curious little ball of fur. He forgot all about eating, stretching upwards on wobbly legs to see what his mother looked like. Vince held him up, eye-to-eye, and the tiny pink tongue sneaked out to lick his nose. It finally succeeded in opening its other eye a few minutes later. They were both a light, crystal blue which Vince figured would probably change as the kitten grew.

Although the kitten still ate from the dropper, he and Vince became constant companions. Its favorite place proved to be inside Vince's shirt at the beltline where he could hide, stay warm and peer out inquisitively at the world around him. He grew quickly with the increased activity and gradually formed his own unique personality traits.

Vince named the kitten "Moon" because of his habit of sticking up his rear end and crouching close to the ground with his front paws under his cheeks whenever he was about to run from a dead stop. The amusing action reminded him of a track runner "mooning" the spectators, then racing off to avoid the consequences! The fact that he was obviously of the manx bloodline with the button tail, short front legs, long back ones, tufted ears and tawny color only served to amplify his odd profile.

Moon gained weight at an astonishing rate when he started eating solid food. Vince always kept him plenty of dry food available, but he preferred to have whatever happened to be hot and cooked. After a scant four months, he weighed just shy of eight pounds! His eyes changed almost overnight to the rich, lustrous gold his late mother had bestowed into his genes. Moon took on the appearance of a small bobcat with the bobbed tail.

Vince took Moon to work with him every day now. His large canine teeth and oversized, padded feet with long, curved claws served him flawlessly when he roamed the woods, ever honing his formidable hunting skills.

Vince had trained him to instantly return at a single blast of a special, ultrasonic whistle tuned to a cat's unique frequency. The call was inaudible to people, but could be heard by Moon for several miles. The communication system never failed to retrieve his beloved companion at full speed.

For fear of theft, Vince trained Moon to never enter a vehicle without his presence. Moon continued to grow at the amazing rate of over a pound per month. He had added the extra protein and nutrients of fresh, raw meat to his daily intake, consuming only what he had killed himself while it was still warm. He would not touch store-bought, fresh meat unless it was cooked. By the end of the year, he tipped the scales at a hefty fifteen pounds!

Moon became quite an attraction at the park within the following year. People from all walks of life visited the place with fond hopes of being graced with a visit by the head warden and his phenomenal "track cat." Moon had picked up the nickname in the latter part of fall when the Texas days were fairly warm, but the nights dipped sharply toward the freezing point. A small toddler had somehow wandered into the woods while her parents tried to get their camp set up before darkness fell and the temperature started dropping. The startling discovery was not made until after sunset. When last seen, the little girl was occupied with a doll and did not even have on a coat.

Vince was notified at his home of the frantic search taking place. He was always on call in case of such an emergency, and ordered a code red search to begin at once. He and Moon arrived about the time the search helicopter touched down. The main warden force and camp volunteers would search on foot while Vince and the pilot flooded the area with light from above.

Another warden handed the only clue to Vince and pinpointed where it had been located. He pitched the doll into the truck seat beside Moon, boarded the idling chopper and was off.

Every square foot of the area where the doll was found was searched methodically in the next two hours. Not a single trace of the girl had been found. The chopper was almost out of fuel before Vince had the pilot abandon the search to refuel and drop himself off on the ground.

The untimely situation was fast becoming critical with the increasing temperature drop. An unprotected child could possibly die from shock and exposure in a relatively short period of time. The air had become still and quiet with only the muffled cries of the searchers in the distance. Vince planned to take Moon with him in the chopper during the next pass. He blew a long, silent burst on the whistle and tried to calm the hysterical mother down while he waited on Moon.

Ten long minutes had passed before the lady regained her composure. Moon did not show up on his usual cue. He had never before failed to return at full speed. He could cover the half mile from the search party in a tenth of the elapsed time. Something was wrong.

Vince asked for total silence as he blew the whistle long and hard. From somewhere down the road in the opposite direction from the search, a strange, eerie sound resembling the combination of a howl and a scream shattered the blackness. His instinct told him the cry came from Moon.

Fearing the worst, Vince noted the approximate distance from the sound, jumped in the truck and asked the girl's father to go with him. He sped down the road to his calculated spot, half expecting to find Moon either crippled or dying in the middle of the road. The road was empty.

Vince pulled over, killed the truck, and requested for the man to get out to help him listen. He blew the whistle a third time. The response was instant! Moon was off the road in a ravine about fifty yards to their left.

Vince handed the man a flashlight and they set off together through the underbrush across the road to the edge of the wash. Moon started meowing loudly to help guide them.

The father of the lost girl burst into tears when the beam of light fell on the blonde curls of a small girl curled up sound asleep on the grass with a rather large, wild-looking cat snuggled up to her backside and one protective paw slung casually across her shoulder! He exclaimed that it had to be a miracle numerous times.

Moon was instantly proclaimed the undisputed hero for several weeks to come. Aside from scraped knees and elbows, Heather (the rescued girl) was quite contented and thoroughly captivated by the likes of Moon. He and Vince were treated to a fine steak dinner by her parents which Moon obviously enjoyed just as much as all the attention he was getting!

The press somehow got wind of the incident before the next sunrise. Moon was featured in most of the newspapers all across the nation. He also received a number of television talk-show appearance offers after further investigation into the matter revealed the odd fact that a park raccoon had been responsible for placement of the misleading doll in the wrong vicinity!

Conditions gradually returned to normal with each successive week after, except that Moon regularly received fan mail which Vince read to him as it arrived.


Author's Note: Feel free to copy/paste the text contained herein to build your personal copy of "Moon Madness". As this is COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL by ME, the ORIGINAL AUTHOR, please DO NOT copy for UNAUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTION in any form or fashion. "ALL RIGHTS RETAINED & RESERVED" by Larry K. Hockman! Please don't hesitate to E-Mail me for permission to use my works in the classroom, etc. ThanX for Visitin'! Hope you enjoyed the story and pass it on to your friends.

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Copyrightę 2001-2006 By Larry K. Hockman, "All RIGHTS RESERVED"

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