Most entries into the “Yes, That Really Happened” series have been events or experiences that happened directly to me. This one is a bit different. When my sister and I were in grade school my parents decided to get a cat, who we named Vincent but called Vinny, and later Vinny Boom Boom, for reasons what will become clear.
Vinny was the type of cat that fell into the “anti-social” category of felines – the kind that run when strangers are around, and generally don’t like people. Except Vinny took it to another level. Vinny was not only anti-social, he’s was territorial and probably a sociopath. Any of my friends who came in contact with Vinny will tell you stories of walking out of bathroom in my house, and Vinny would be sitting on the floor, blocking their exit. Try to get around, he’d hiss and swing his claws at you. Contrast that with the fact Vinny loved my Dad.
My Dad used to lay on the floor with one of those oddly shaped floor pillows that seemed to only exist in the ’80s, and inevitably Vinny would fall asleep on his chest. Maybe Vinny was manic or bipolar, who knows. There was definitely two sides to his personality, and I’m not afraid to admit I probably encouraged the evil side by teaching him to box. Yes, box.
Vinny would stand on his hind legs and extend his front legs, and at first I would gently slap at his paws and he would slap back. As I slapped a little harder, eventually Vinny didn’t need me to slaw at this paws, I’d just put my hand in front of him, and he’d slap at me like a boxer throwing punches at a speed bag. To this day, my sister thinks this training is what made Vinny turn evil, but I don’t believe it was the root cause.
But I digress, let’s get to the murdering.
During one summer at our house on Belvoir, my parents decided to have our kitchen expanded, which meant a few weeks of construction workers at our house, and a day or two when an entire wall was torn out of the back of the house to make way for the addition. It was during this brief period that Vinny made a run for freedom, and for about a week we had no idea where he was. My sister and I rode up and down our street and neighboring streets hoping to spot him, and even posted flyers on stop signs and in local businesses about our missing cat. A week later, those flyers would pay off.
On the following Friday, around ten p.m. or so, we received a phone call that my Dad answered – an upset person with an Asian accent speaking broken English informed him that our cat was in his basement, about seven or eight houses down the block from us. Still in his pajamas and t-shirt, he bolted out of the house providing us with the slightest of information – they found the cat, he was going to get it. And get it he did, running down the street barefoot to their house. When he returned a few minutes later, he was clutching Vinny tightly in his arms, who was quite clearly annoyed with what was going on and scratching the hell out of my Dad’s arms and chest. He released Vinny into the house, caught his breath, and then told us what had happened.
Apparently, the day Vinny escaped our house was also the day the Asian family down the block was going on vacation. Well, everyone in the family except for the grandmother, who was watching the home while they were gone. Her first night watching the house, she heard horrible screams coming from the basement, where their large, expensive pet parrot lived. Those screams were the sound of Vinny, who had snuck into the house, probably confused and hungry, attacking and killing the parrot.
The grandmother, as was relayed to my Dad by a member of the family, was so frightened by the sounds, refused to go down the basement and waited until they returned to open the door. So, for about a week, Vinny was trapped in the basement.
My parents were, of course, horrified at what Vinny had done. Knowing that a cat trapped in a basement for a week without a litter box is going to leave a mess, besides the slaughtered parrot mess, and my Mom grabbed a bucket of cleaning supplies and ran down to the house, offering to clean up the mess and pay for the bird. She was rebuffed, and I don’t know if there was any more communication after that.
It wasn’t the last time Vinny got out. In college, during a cold and snowy winter in Chagrin Falls, Vinny snuck out the front door and disappeared for two weeks, only to show up crying, rail-thin, frost-bitten and injured at the front door. But as far as we know, no killing occurred on that particular escape.