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 (7 page)

BOOK: The Case of the Vampire Cat
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Chapter Twelve: I Am Turned into a Vampire! (Not Really)

H
UH?

The old ears shot straight up and the old eyes popped open. I felt the hair rise on the back of my neck as I, uh, went to Full Reverse on all engines and more or less dug four trenches in the snow.

Then she smiled. “Just kidding. I'll have to re­mem­ber this vampire routine. It works like a charm.”

I managed to get everything shut down before I tore down any trees or caused any major damage to the surrounding ecosystems. I studied her very carefully.

“Are you kidding or not?”

“Of course I'm kidding. How could I turn into a vampire?”

“Well, a guy never knows about you cats, and don't forget whose idea it was, and stop using my ideas against me. It's not funny.”

“Sorry. I just couldn't resist.”

“Okay. Let's get out of here before they decide to come back. Lead the way.”

She went scampering up the canyon—across a snowy meadow, over rocks and through bushes, and then into a forest of huge cedar trees. I soon lost my sense of direction, and I could only hope that this crazy cat knew where she was going.

At last we came to the place she had called Moon­­shine Springs, where clear sweet water came out from under a big rock. We paused there to catch our breath and get a drink. Then she pointed to a washed-out trail going up the side of the canyon wall.

“That's the only way out.”

“Boy, that's a steep rascal. I hope . . .”

Suddenly I was cut off in mid-sentence by the raspy hacksaw voice of . . . yikes, was it Rip and Snort?

“Hey, y'all can't leave! We ain't had a bite to eat in three whole days, we're starved plumb out, and . . . Junior, talk to 'em, son, and explain just how hungry we are.”

I seemed to remember hearing that voice before. It belonged to a certain buzzard named Wallace, who happened to have a son named Junior. Yes, it was all fitting together.

I swept the surrounding trees with my most penetrating radar gaze and . . . sure enough, there they were, perched on the limb of a big cottonwood tree—two slouching, hungry buzzards.

Junior grinned and waved his wing at me. “Oh, h-hi D-d-doggie. W-w-w-we g-got lost in the n-n-night.”

“Yes we did,” said Wallace, “got lost and blowed off course in the snowstorm, and here we are in this canyon. Tell 'em how hungry we are, son.”

“W-we're l-lost and p-p-pretty h-hungry.”

“Very hungry, Junior. We were
pretty
hungry two days ago and ain't had a scrap to eat since then.” Wallace glared down at me. “We're
very
hungry, is what Junior's tryin' to say, and I don't suppose y'all would happen to have, oh, a couple of pounds of baloney or some old chicken necks you don't need, or a dead rabbit, would you?”

“Nope. We're on our way back to the home ranch and we've got no eats. Sorry.”

“Naw you ain't. You don't give a care. You're just sayin' that.”

“Okay. We don't have any eats and I don't give a care.”

“See there, Junior! I knew he didn't care and that's the kind of friends you have, selfish and heartless, and . . .” His eyes focused on Mary D Cat, who had begun rubbing on my leg. “Say, neighbor, what do we have there?”

“This,” I said, moving away from the rubbing machine, “is a cat, and she will rub on anything.”

A sparkle came into his eyes. “A cat, a darling little kitty cat! You know, if that cat's gettin' on your nerves, maybe we could talk trade.”

“Oh n-now P-pa, d-d-don't s-start that. The k-k-kitty is his f-f-f-friend, m-most likely.”

“Hush, son, I'm a-workin' on a deal here.” Wallace turned back to me. “Anyways, dog, me and Junior was just a-wonderin' about the maybe-so of makin' a little swap for that cat of yours.”

Junior rolled his eyes. “Oh P-p-pa, d-d-don't embarrass m-m-me again!”

The old man ignored him. “That's a mighty nice looking cat, neighbor, and me and Junior would sure try to trade with you.”

I chuckled. “Oh, you wouldn't like this cat, Wallace. Every once in a while she turns into a vampire.”

There was a moment of silence. “A vampire! You mean, one of them thangs that bites necks and drinks blood?”

“Right, and this one just loves gizzards.”

There was another moment of silence. “Gizzards! Now, just hold your horses, pooch, that's kind of backwards to what we had in mind.”

I gave Mary D the raised eyebrow She shifted into her Floating and Moaning Routine and cast a hungry look up into the tree.

“The moon is full, the earth is turning,

My vampire appetite is burning.

Two buzzard gizzards I must eat

To make this dreadful night complete.”

Wallace bought the whole show—hook, line, and sawhorse. “Son, I think that pretty much answers all the questions I had about vampires, and I reckon we'd better . . . spread your wings, son, we're fixing to catch a plane out of here.”

“I thought w-we were g-g-going to s-s-s-spend the n-night here, P-p-pa.”

“Son, a guy can always find another cottonwood tree, but his gizzard is very close to his heart, and no, we ain't staying the night here with all these vampires runnin' around, let's go.”

“But Wallace,” I said, trying to hide a smile, “I thought you wanted to work a trade.”

“No sir, I did not, that was all Junior's idea. I ain't hungry, couldn't hold another bite, and while a buzzard will eat 'most anything that moves, we draw the line at vampires, and son, I'm a-quitting this place, see you upstairs.”

With that, he spread his wings, pushed off of the limb, and went flapping into the night sky. Junior grinned and shook his head.

“I th-think y-you g-g-g-got 'im on that one, D-d-d-doggie.”

“Yeah, well, I owed him one. See you around, Junior. I'm sorry we didn't have a chance to sing.”

“M-m-maybe n-next t-time, next time. B-b-bye, D-doggie.”

He crouched down on the limb, gave a jump, flapped his big buzzard wings as hard as he could, took the top out of a cedar tree, and vanished into the darkness.

I chuckled to myself and noticed that Mary D was watching me with a little smile on her mouth. “You've really enjoyed this vampire business, haven't you?”

“A guy has to make his fun where he can, Kitty. And yes, life's liable to seem pretty dull if I ever get around normal dogs and cats and people again.”

“Oh, so you're going to blame it all on me?”

I whopped her on the back. “Why not? That's what cats are for. Now, let's see if we can find our way back to the ranch.”

We made our way out of the deep spooky darkness of Picket Canyon, which was no small deal, let me tell you. We had to climb almost straight up over rocks and snow, mountains, glaciers, and so forth, but at last we made it over the rim.

Once on the flats, we stopped to catch our breaths. A gentle breeze was blowing out of the southwest, an indication that the storm had passed. The clouds had rolled away, leaving a black velvet sky speckled with diamonds of light.

“Holy smokes, just look at those stars! If a guy spent enough time looking at those things, it would almost make him feel humble about his place in the world.”

“Almost?”

“Yeah, well, in my line of work, a guy can't use too much of that stuff. There's not much demand for humble dogs in the . . . you seem to be rubbing on me again. Have we discussed my feelings about being rubbed on by cats?”

She was rubbing on my front legs and flipping that tail across my nose. “I know what you think, Harvey, but I wanted to rub you good-bye.”

“Good-bye? What do you mean, good-bye? I thought . . .”

“Oh, I know. I made such a scene about being marooned and wanting to leave, but now that I'm free to leave . . . my goodness, it seems that the freedom to leave was more important than the leaving.”

“The freedom was more . . . hmm.”

“Yes, and now that I'm free to leave, I'm also free to stay, and I think I will. After all, who'd want to go back to civilization and become a normal cat?” She smiled a crazy smile and stared at me with those big cattish eyes. “Being weird is really fun.”

“Well, you ought to be having a ball, sister, because you win the prize for weirdness. And you made a very convincing vampire.”

“Wasn't that fun! I may try it out on Leroy. Oh, won't he be surprised?”

She chuckled and dived back into rubbing on my legs. I stared at her and shook my head.

“You know, I never thought I'd be teamed up with a cat. It kind of wrecks my whole theory of life. I mean, if there's one good cat in the world, everything's up for grabs.”

She turned her face up to me and batted her eyelids. “Maybe everything IS up for grabs. Or maybe I'm not such a good cat. Tomorrow, I might want to tear out your eyeballs.”

“Yeah, and that could get you turned into kitty hamburger. But tonight, right now, this minute, you're okay, Kitty. Just don't ever tell anybody I said so. It could ruin my reputation.”

She rubbed me one last time. “Good-bye, Harvey.”

“Good-bye, Gertrude.”

“My name's Mary D.”

“My name's Hank.”

“You're nice—for a dog.”

“You're nice—for a vampire.”

And with that, I set my course by the North Star, waved a last good-bye, and began the long trip back.

Case closed.

And don't you DARE tell anybody that I made friends with a cat!

Further Reading

Have you read all of Hank's adventures?

1
The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog

2
The Further Adventures of Hank the Cowdog

3
It's a Dog's Life

4
Murder in the Middle Pasture

5
Faded Love

6
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

7
The Curse of the Incredible Priceless Corncob

8
The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse

9
The Case of the Halloween Ghost

1
0
Every Dog Has His Day

1
1
Lost in the Dark Unchanted Forest

1
2
The Case of the Fiddle-Playing Fox

1
3
The Wounded Buzzard on Christmas Eve

1
4
Hank the Cowdog and Monkey Business

1
5
The Case of the Missing Cat

1
6
Lost in the Blinded Blizzard

1
7
The Case of the Car-Barkaholic Dog

1
8
The Case of the Hooking Bull

1
9
The Case of the Midnight Rustler

20
The Phantom in the Mirror

21
The Case of the Vampire Cat

22
The Case of the Double Bumblebee Sting

23
Moonlight Madness

24
The Case of the Black-Hooded Hangmans

25
The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado

26
The Case of the Kidnapped Collie

27
The Case of the Night-Stalking Bone Monster

28
The Mopwater Files

29
The Case of the Vampire Vacuum Sweeper

30
The Case of the Haystack Kitties

31
The Case of the Vanishing Fishhook

32
The Garbage Monster from Outer Space

33
The Case of the Measled Cowboy

34
Slim's Good-bye

35
The Case of the Saddle House Robbery

36
The Case of the Raging Rottweiler

37
The Case of the Deadly Ha-Ha Game

38
The Fling

39
The Secret Laundry Monster Files

40
The Case of the Missing Bird Dog

41
The Case of the Shipwrecked Tree

42
The Case of the Burrowing Robot

43
The Case of the Twisted Kitty

44
The Dungeon of Doom

45
The Case of the Falling Sky

46
The Case of the Tricky Trap

47
The Case of the Tender Cheeping Chickies

48
The Case of the Monkey Burglar

49
The Case of the Booby-Trapped Pickup

50
The Case of the Most Ancient Bone

51
The Case of the Blazing Sky

52
The Quest for the Great White Quail

53
Drover's Secret Life

54
The Case of the Dinosaur Birds

55
The Case of the Secret Weapon

56
The Case of the Coyote Invasion

57
The Disappearance of Drover

58
The Case of the Mysterious Voice

59
The Case of the Perfect Dog

60
The Big Question

61
The Case of the Prowling Bear

BOOK: The Case of the Vampire Cat
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