Chili Chilly,or It’s Always My Fault


Flushed from countless trips up and down our steps doing laundry (or the warm rushes that go with my age and occur with increasing frequency), I informed Mark that I was eating outside in the cool evening air if he cared to join me. Just up from a daytime sleep due to midnight shift at work, Mark was still in a sleeveless T-shirt and boxer shorts. He opened the front door, noted how chilly it felt, returned to the stove to serve his plate, and said he’d pass on going outside.

I took my supper tray to the deck alone. The girls had eaten earlier and since it was leftover chili night, they fixed something different. Mark’s chili tasted great. The soupy part had been mostly used up and now it was thick. He doesn’t prefer chili powder in his chili. My brothers and I say it’s not really chili without chili powder. The first night we ate it, I sprinkled some in my bowl, but tonight I didn’t bother.

Kids were playing in Hoffman’s field across from our deck. I love the kids in our neighborhood, but I was looking for solitude. I focused on the beautifully colored leaves to the south, unaware that a small pet, under the blind spot from my tray, had slipped through the door with me. Our cat, Lloyd, who can’t get enough of the outdoors and is always desperate to get out, had skipped out of my picnic scene undetected.       

The kids’ voices grew louder as dogs’ excited barking called me to attention. As I turned toward the commotion, Lloyd dashed across the front yard and bounded up the steps of the deck with two dogs, excited by the chase, running close behind. Lucky, a big black lab, is always friendly, usually obedient, but has it in for cats – especially those that run from him and most do because of his grand demeanor. Scar, a beagle-dachshund mix, gets along fine with Lloyd when it’s just the two of them, but admitting to such a friendship in front of his own kind, especially one of Lucky’s stature, was not in him.

Lloyd’s tail and backside were puffed like the cat who goes through a clothes dryer while being pursued by Looney Tunes’ Pepe Le Pew. Turning on his assailant from behind a see-through chair, he raised his paw and growled a long, low warning as if to say, “OK, Lucky, I’ll take you on as long as the lady referee stays.”

I’m always amazed how my children don’t hear my earnest voice when it’s right beside them, yet, they hear things through walls, closed windows and doors. Within minutes, Josie appeared to collect her threatened feline and take him to the safety of their room (hers and the cat’s).

“It’s your fault, Mom. You let him out.” she complained.

She learned from a pro (yours truly) how to twist things to absolve herself. Now, it comes back to haunt me. Now, it’s always my fault.


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