Spooky was a wild black cat with yellow eyes. She was taken off a farm and given to my older sister as a gift. I remember thinking about her all day at school. My brother and I would run home after school to play with Spooky. We trained her right from the beginning. We would wrestle with her and get her riled up. Then she would grab a hold of our arms and bite us. As time went on her jaw got stronger.
One game we played with her was called “Barry in the Backfield.” This game consisted of two players. I was on one team and my younger brother was my opponent. Spooky was a neutral player. She was the all time running back and I was the quarterback. My brother kneeled across from us as a defender. Then I would say,
“Blue forty-two, blue forty-two, set hut.”
And I’d turn around and set Spooky on the floor. As soon as she hit the floor she’d take off around me and attempt to run around my brother. If my brother were able to tackle Spooky, I would get no points. If Spooky ran around my brother and off somewhere, I would get seven points. I don’t think we ever finished a game.
My older brother had his own way of training Spooky. He would hold a towel perpendicular to the floor, and Spooky would run at the towel. As she got close to the towel she would jump and clench her jaw into the towel. After some time she learned to lock her jaw into the towel and hang. My brother would shake the towel and try to make her fall, but she wouldn’t.
One gray and rainy day our family sat around the living room watching television. All of a sudden we heard this loud high-pitched shriek come from upstairs. It sounded like a girl in a horror movie walking into a room to find a bloodied corpse on the floor. Concerned, we yelled up the stairs to make sure sister was all right.
“Tina, what happened? Are you all right?’
“No. Someone come get this cat.”
My brothers and I ran upstairs. We walked into the bathroom and saw sister wrapped in a towel. Spooky had her claws dug into the towel and was climbing up our sister.
My older brother said, “Thataway Spooky. She’s learning.”
“She sure is,” I said.
“Get her off of me.”
We got her off of sister and brought her downstairs to the living room. My brothers and I laughed.
Spooky continued to grow until she was full-grown. When she stopped growing she was quite the cat. She looked like a miniature panther. She was large and very muscular. When she walked you could see her different muscles flexing.
At one point in time I believe our teachers began to worry about us. My younger brother and I would show up to school with a new scratch on our faces everyday. The worst one was on my younger brother. Spooky got him right under the eye and all the way down to his chin. He was lucky she didn’t get his eye.
After some time of getting beat up we began to learn. We learned we had to carry a blanket and a pillow. First you hit Spooky with the pillow then you threw the blanket on top. That gave you just enough time to get away. Every morning when I woke I’d grab my pillow and blanket. Then I’d crack the door open and look both ways to see if Spooky was around. If I didn’t see her, I’d run as fast as I could up the stairs and she’d dart out of some corner and chase me. When I got to the top of the stairs I’d slam the door and lock it. Spooky’s head would bounce off the door, then her paws would reach under. If she was there waiting right outside of the door, I’d have to use the pillow and blanket.
In the summertime the weather would be very hot and humid. And when there was nothing else to do, my younger brother, a friend and I would come looking for Spooky. She was the biggest and toughest cat in the neighborhood. She was usually good for some entertainment. One time the three of us were messing around one way or another when I heard loud hissing and growling. I ran around to the side of the house to see Spooky and another cat squaring off.
“Kevin, Larry, hurry up.”
They ran around to the side of the house, and the three of us began cheering Spooky on.
“Get her Spooky, get her.”
The two cats stood facing each other growling and hissing. After a minute or two the other cat tried to run around Spooky. When the cat got to Spooky’s side, Spooky pounced on her and got a hold of her neck. Her jaw clenched and locked. It was just like the towel drill. The other cat shook and tried to whip Spooky loose, but she wouldn’t budge. Her jaw was locked, and the rest of her body whipped back and forth like a flag. We saw blood start to gush out of the neck, and then Spooky let her go. The other cat wobbled off scraggily and Spooky watched her closely.
The following year Spooky got into many fights. If we heard the hissing and growling sound, we knew what was happening. She got us through some very slow times. Then one day she came home and didn’t look so good. A chunk of her head was bitten off and her eye was all bloodshot. A new cat was in the neighborhood, and this cat was twice the size of Spooky and twice as tough. For a long time Spooky was the biggest and toughest cat in the neighborhood. But shortly after she got beaten up, we never saw Spooky again.