Read The Case of the Vampire Cat Online

Authors: John R. Erickson

Tags: #cowdog, #Hank the Cowdog, #John R. Erickson, #John Erickson, #ranching, #Texas, #dog, #adventure, #mystery, #Hank, #Drover, #Pete, #Sally May

The Case of the Vampire Cat

BOOK: The Case of the Vampire Cat
13.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The Case of the Vampire Cat

John R. Erickson

Illustrations by Gerald L. Holmes

Maverick Books, Inc.

Publication Information


Published by Maverick Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 549, Perryton, TX 79070

Phone: 806.435.7611

First published in the United States of America by Gulf Publishing Company, 1993.

Subsequently published simultaneously by Viking Children's Books and Puffin Books, members of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 1999.

Currently published by Maverick Books, Inc., 2013.

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Copyright © John R. Erickson, 1993

All rights reserved

Maverick Books, Inc. Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59188-121-6

Hank the Cowdog® is a registered trademark of John R. Erickson.

Printed in the United States of America

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.


To Clayton Umbach, Director of Gulf Publishing Company's Book Division, who has been Hank's friend since the early days


Chapter One
Frozen Water, No Coffee

Chapter Two
Loper Melts a Water Pipe

Chapter Three
We Meet the Weirdest Cat You Ever Saw

Chapter Four
The Kitty Is Lured into My Trap

Chapter Five
We Teach the Cat a Valuable Lesson About Life

Chapter Six
The Very Bad “Something” That Happened

Chapter Seven
Holy Smokes, I've Been Abandoned!

Chapter Eight
The Cat Insists on Being My Friend and Ally

Chapter Nine
Hint: His Name Was Leroy

Chapter Ten
I Can't Believe I Decided to Help a Cat

Chapter Eleven
The Vampire Cat Appears

Chapter Twelve
I Am Turned into a Vampire! (Not Really)

Chapter One: Frozen Water, No Coffee

t's me again, Harry the Hog Dog. Not really. I just thought I'd give you a little shock there and test to make sure you were wide awake and ready for the exciting story of how I escaped from the depths of Picket Canyon.

Because you'd better be ready for this one. See, I got stranded and abandoned on the Hodges' Place and had to find my way back home, in a snowstorm mind you, had to find my way back home in this terrible snowstorm.

And in case you haven't been lost and abandoned in Picket Canyon lately, let me tell you that it's a very scary place, especially when the sun goes down, and the coyotes are as thick as hair on a dog. So you'd better get yourself prepared for a double-scary story, and maybe you shouldn't read it at all unless you're Certified Tough.

Oh, and did I mention the cat? Maybe not. There was this cat named Mary D and she'd been marooned on the Hodges' Place for years, staying down there all by herself, you see, and boy, was she weird.

She was so weird, she'd turned into a VAMPIRE.

No kidding.

I told you this was going to be a scary story.

But I seem to be getting the pony before the horse. Better go back and start at the beginning.

Where was I?

Oh yes. It's me again, Hank the Cowdog. It was sometime in the middle of February, and as you might know, that is a month when we often get snow in the Texas Panhandle, and when I awoke that morning and looked out the window at Slim's shack, that's what I saw.

Big snowflakes falling from the sky.

Drover and I had spent the night down at Slim's place because . . . well, it should be obvious. Slim was a soft-hearted cowboy who took pity on poor ranch dogs who had to sleep out in the weather, and he'd invited us to bunk at his camp.

He allowed us to sleep beside the wood-burning stove, don't you see, and even though I'm opposed in principle to the idea of . . .

It makes a dog soft, all that luxury, and soft is okay for your town dogs and your poodles and your little yip-yip breeds, but cowdogs need to be tough. And sleeping inside the house beside a nice warm stove is . . .

Well, it's pretty nice, to tell you the truth, and once in a while a guy has to compromise his principles for . . . I did it mainly for Drover, see. He's something of a yip-yip, has a stub tail and short hair, and in cold weather he whines and moans and shivers all night, and who can sleep with all that noise?

And so, in a gesture of deepest concern for Drover's health and so forth, I agreed to sleep down at Slim's place, beside the wood-burning stove. But I let Mister Moan-and-Groan know that we couldn't make a habit of it.

Staying down at Slim's place is kind of fun, actually, when a guy gets over the notion that he's being corrupted by luxury. There's always a mouse or two to chase before bedtime, and sometimes, if it's a particularly cold night, old Slim lets us dogs sleep in the bed with him.

The only problem there is that Slim snores in his sleep, and he's bad about stealing covers and throwing elbows. Oh yes, and I once caught fleas in his bed.

Anyways, we got up that morning around daylight, which came a little later than usual because the sky was so dark and cloudy. I heard Slim coming out of his bedroom and down the hall.

He was his usual jolly self in the morning: eyes half-open, hair down in his face, little balls of lint in his beard, bouncing off the walls as he staggered down the dark hall in search of the coffeepot.

He made it to the kitchen and found the stove. He found the box of matches. He lit a match, lit a burner on the stove, found the coffee, turned on the water faucet, and . . . nothing came out. I raised my ears and rolled my eyes around and waited.

There was a long throbbing silence, followed by a deep sigh of deepest despair. Then, “Thanks, Lord. I guess I needed the water to be froze up this morning. I'm sure you wouldn't do that to a poor old cowboy without a good reason.

“Dadgum water! I knew I should have wrapped them pipes. I knew it would turn off cold one of these days and I'd get caught, and sure 'nuff, I did.”

He wandered out into the room where we were. He sure looked lost and pitiful. I mean, here was a guy who was having to face the cold cruel world without a cup of coffee, and even though I don't drink coffee myself, I know it's important to these cowboys.

He yawned, raked the hair out of his eyes, and shuffled over to the stove. That's when he greeted me with his first words of the day: “Move, pooch, or I'll chunk up the stove with your carcass.”

Not “Good morning, Hank,” or “Hi, doggie,” or “Thanks for protecting the house last night, Hank.” Oh no. Just “Move, pooch, or I'll chunk up the stove with your carcass.”

And I, being an intelligent dog and not wanting to be chunked or stoved, moved my carcass—and just barely in time to avoid being clunked on the head by the stove door when he opened it.

He opened it and peeked inside. “Huh. Still got a few coals of bodark left. Good.” He reached into his wood box, brought out some bark, twigs, and kindling, and tossed them into the stove. He blew on the coals. Then he . . .

That was strange. He jerked his head back, jumped to his feet, and started . . . this was very strange . . . started slapping himself on the face! Now, why would he . . .

Okay, I've got it now. See, Slim used big chunks of bodark in his stove at night. Bodark, being the very hardest wood on the ranch, made the best all-nighter logs for the stove, because the hardest wood burns the longest.

The only problem with bodark is that it tends to pop and make sparks, and that's not exactly what Slim was thinking about when he got down on his hands and knees and blew on the embers. They popped and threw a spark into his beard, and that's why he was slapping himself on the face.

Putting out the spark, don't you see.

Well, he got the kindling going and added a few small sticks of cottonwood and a few medium-sized chunks of hackberry. He closed up the stove, opened the draft and the damper, and wandered over to the window. That's when he saw the snow.

“Thanks, Lord. I sure needed some snow, since my plumbing is froze up and I have to step out on the porch.” He scratched his beard for a moment. “Guess I could put on my slippers, but I'd have to walk all the way back to the bedroom. Too much trouble.”

He yawned, went to the door, and stepped out on the porch. He came back a whole lot faster than he went out, and he ran to the stove on crumpled toes and stood there, shivering and warming his hands. Then his eyes fell on me.

“You need to go out too, Muttfuzz. I don't want to be steppin' on any surprises this morning.”

Well, uh, I really didn't care much for the idea of going out into the frozen cold and snow and so forth, and if it was okay . . .

“Out! Come on. You too, Stub Tail.”

And so it was that we were tossed out of house and hearth. It was bad enough, just going out into the cold and snow, but on top of that, I had to listen to Drover's moaning and groaning. He took two steps off the porch and locked down in his tracks, and there he stood, crying and whining.

Not me. I made a quick tour of the area, checked out the grounds, sniffed a few trees, and, yes, it was pretty cold and miserable out there, so I hurried back to the front of the house and stationed myself right in front of the picture window, where Slim couldn't miss seeing me.

There, I went into a little routine called “We're Freezing Out Here,” which consists of Shivers, Sad Eyes, Slow Wags, and Heavy Begs. It's a crackerjack routine and it should have worked.

I mean, there I was, standing out in the frozen wastes of Antarctica, and there he was, pulling on his red long-john underwear in front of a nice warm stove. I could see him in there, and
he saw me out there.
I know he did because he waved at me, and I saw his lips move and form the words “Hi, puppy.” And then he grinned.

He thinks he's so funny. Hi, puppy! Who did he think he was? How would he have felt if . . . oh well.

The Heavy Begs routine didn't work. We stayed out in the snow and the frozen tundra, shivering and so forth, until he had put on all his layers of clothes and came out of the house.

He was wearing galoshes, a sheeplined coat, and his wool cap with the ear flappers. He fired up the pickup and we were ready to drive up to headquarters and begin the day.

And what a day it turned out to be.

BOOK: The Case of the Vampire Cat
13.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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