The cursed cat. He was grinning at them, that insolent face just grinning and staring, those disgusting whiskers twitching, the disgusting muddy fur, the disgusting hole in his ear.
Scampi and Mustard stood at the bottom of the tree, tongues slowly moving in and out. It was over, both of them knew. They stared right back at the mangy cat with hate in their eyes. Its tail was curling back and forth.
"Can\'t we wait this time?"
"No."
"But-"
"We could stand here all day, but we\'d have to leave sometime. What\'s the use?"
Scampi smacked the tree with his little paw. Nature was most unjust. The cat began cleaning itself arrogantly. The nerve, thought Scampi. Here\'s this new cat, obviously fresh out of the bad part of town, no owner, no home, no nothing, thinking it can roam around like a king.
"There\'s a chain of command around here!" Scampi snarled.
"Okay, it\'s over." Mustard sighed and lay down. This was the third time in a week that they\'d failed. He had been around long enough to know when he was beat.
"No respect. Where\'s the respect?" Scampi circled the tree in a haze of anger, his tiny legs beating furiously on the grass. The beagle could never quite get over a loss. Mustard lay his head on the ground and watched the passage of time on the street while Scampi vented.
Soon, Roy the Basset and his owner walked by. Mustard nodded hello.
"Who\'s that?" Roy asked, looking in the tree.
"Dunno. New in town."
"Which house?"
"No house."
"Freeloader, hm? Give him one from me." Roy\'s owner shushed him. Poor guy. Owner was one of those uppity types who had to have everything perfect.
Mustard rolled on his belly. They had better catch the thing quick, or the whole neighbourhood would ridicule them. The brazen cat had been rooting around in gardens for a while, a slap in the face even to the cats, of whom there was admittedly a minority on the block. But who knows about cats? They never knew how to handle these things. It was up to the dogs to keep the balance of the neighbourhood in check. Today had been the worst by far. They had spotted the hobo a whole block away, quite by chance, so there was no real way of planning an attack. That wasn\'t really Scampi\'s style anyway, so they started running. The cat took off for the hedges around that corner house, trying to lose them in the underbrush, but the two dogs knew the block like the backs of their paws. Scampi stayed at the opening while Mustard circled around and up the porch from the other side. He stepped gingerly over the creaks and perched under the rail, overlooking the overgrown yard. The cat was scrambling from end to end trying to find an exit, but there was only one, Mustard knew. He jumped and almost had him, but the cat was streetwise and his senses were necessarily keen; he dashed out the hole before Mustard hit the ground. Following, Mustard plowed through the opening and found Scampi on his back. He said the cat scratched him, but Mustard knew it had simply barreled the little dog over. At this point it was really over, but they gave chase across the street and watched the streak of orange and brown disappear up the tree. The same tree it had climbed the last two times.
Scampi seemed to be calming down. He was sniffing the air to see if there was anything interesting around. It was still the morning of a fine, early spring day and there was much to be done.
"This is embarrassing. Now we just walk away and that\'s that, the bum thinks it can do as it pleases. I\'m telling you, this really chaps my ass."
"Yeah, well..." The yellow dog stood up. Not quite spaniel, not quite hound, he was a respected figure on the block. He had tenure. Scampi had a ways to go yet. They walked down the road.
"Think Lulu might be in town? I think the winter\'s almost through."
"Maybe."
Scampi kept looking back at the tree. "I think she might be back in town. Where do they all go in the winter?"
"You mean the owners?"
"Yeah."
"South."
"South? What, like the birds?"
"It\'s warm in the