The Car Guy of Benchfield
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The Big Scare
By Jenna Wing

This morning when I got up I walked down the hall to find our eight-year-old son, Isaac, crying hysterically face down on the bed.  Often known to wail pathetically if the result is to get his sister into trouble, I knew this was different.  For one, I had heard no altercation, and believe me, between those two- there are no quiet altercations. But mostly it was the way he was crying-- seemingly tragic and genuine for a change.  It took me a couple minutes to get him to tell me what was wrong. I was not prepared for what he said:

"George got hit by a car!" he sobbed.

George- our four-year-old-grizzly, scabby, crusty-eyed tom cat with the ill disposition and the loud complaining demand at any and every window or door for his food supply to be replenished- George, who will filet your hand if you can't get the treats out of those irritating little cans fast enough George, with his gimpy leg from a kittenhood accident whose idea of a stroll is to get up and move one foot once an hour to stay within the shifting shade George who we thought had learned his lesson about cars a long time ago- is lying dead in the road.

I ran to the front window- and sure enough- I could make out a poor yellow lifeless figure on the far side of the road about a hundred yards from the house.

About this time, our 11-year-old daughter, Virginia, pulls herself away from the Instant Messenger long enough to figure out what's going on. She bursts into tears and flings herself out the front door.  Of course, I was not about to let her go down there. I wrestle her back onto the porch and plant her on the swing where she continues to be racked by sobs.  By this time, I was crying, too.

My husband, Steve, emerges from the bedroom, sopping wet, clutching a towel, and wants to know what's going on.

"George got hit by a car!" I repeat, and I watch as his face changes from a brief moment of shock to sadness and then resolve.  It is a universally acknowledged truth that when there is something unpleasant to be done, it has to be done by the husband.  This often includes little more than cleaning up Booger yack or catching the frantically and fruitlessly jumping mouse that Hermione has sadistically deposited into the tub sometime during the night.  Today's task, however, I feared might be too much for even him.

But of course, I knew without a doubt it was too much for me, so he would have to do it, anyway.
Isaac and I joined Virginia on the porch, where we waited several years for Steve to get dressed. Meanwhile, we are all crying openly, and Virginia is screeching threatening incoherence at the shadows of the buzzards circling on the road. Steve finally emerges, takes one look, and says:

"That's not George."

"Are you sure?" I asked, and he didn't answer so I knew the answer was, 'No, I'm not sure.'  I handed him a pink, second-best towel, and he heads off down the hill to do the duty that only he can do. We wait, holding our collective breath, as well as a small amount of hope... now that someone has mentioned that the dead cat in the road just might not be George after all. It seems like forever again.  Finally, he is standing before the lifeless yellow figure and my stomach pits out in unison to Steve's head dropping to his chest.

Then we hear something completely unexpected- Steve is laughing!

Oh, God! I think. After all those years of him doing the dirty work have finally taken their toll!  He's flipped his lid.  His cheese has slid off his cracker.  My husband has gone loony.

He turned to us smiling, and shouts, "It's a rabbit!"

Shock and dismay- it takes a second for me to comprehend.  "Are you sure?" I ask for the second time.

"Yes!" he shouts incredulously. "They're pretty common around here, you know."

So, we're all laughing, sniffing, wiping our eyes, hugging each other, rejoicing... until we remember about the poor rabbit. We sober as much as we can, gather around a little bare spot in the woods behind the house, and lay to rest in the pink terry-cloth shroud that had been meant for George a fawn-colored rabbit that had either bad luck or bad timing, or both.

"Poor guy," Virginia says. "Better put some blocks on that so the dogs don't dig him up."  And just at that moment, we hear a familiar hoarse, indignant yowl behind us.  We all jump out of our skins, laugh at our stupidity yet again, each of us secretly checking to make sure our underclothes are still dry.

'Wooowwwwllll!!' George states again, which is easily translated: "Why are all you fools standing in the woods laughing and crying when I can almost see the bottom of my food dish?"  Needless to say, George has gotten tons of treats and extra ear-scratching today.  He's a cuss of a cat- none of us knew we all loved him so very much!

George- not dead, just hungry.
Hurry up with those treats already... it's been almost 8 seconds since the last one.

Read more about George!  Here and here.

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