Part 13 of the Muttley Crew Series
By Trish Hubschman
“Re-pete, what are you doing up there? Get down here?” I call, tilting my head back and looking up the tree. Re-pete is on a branch high up.
“Can’t, can’t. Don’t fly,” he chants.
I squint my eyes. Did he just say he doesn’t know how to fly? But he’s a bird. “You’re kidding me, right?”
“Scared, scared, help, help,” he continues, sounding unhappy.
“All right, all right. I’ll see what I can do.” Think fast, I tell myself, and act. Taking a step back, I stand up and lean against the tree, stretching, stretching, trying to reach him. I can’t do it and I fall back down. I’m out of breath. I didn’t come close. “How about jumping down and I’ll catch you.” But what if I miss?
“No, no, scared,” he replies.
I can’t say I blame him. I would be scared too if someone told me to jump out of a tree. But again, I wouldn’t climb a tree either.
“What’s the problem?” I hear a familiar voice behind me and turn. Chauncey and Tabitha have come outside. Now I’m confused. “What are you two doing out here? How did you get out here?” I ask.
“The same way Re-pete did,” Tabitha pipes up. “Little Janie left the back door open.”
“And the bird cage door too,” Chauncey adds.
“Re-pete, Re-pete.” We all hear from above and look up.
“We haven’t forgotten you,” I call. ’We’re just trying to figure out how to get you down.”
“Hurry, hurry,” the bird chants.
“That bird has no patience,” Chauncey adds.
“Can you blame him,” I say. “I’d be scared if I was trapped up a tree too. Maybe, Chauncey, can you climb up there and save him.
She looks at me horrified. “And who’s going to save me? Isn’t it enough that I’m out here at all?”
I nod. I knew I was barking up the wrong tree with that one.
“Maybe I can do it,” Tabitha offers. “I’m a good jumper.”
“But not a good climber,” Chauncey adds, shaking her head. “What if you get caught up there? Who’s going to get you down? It’s too dangerous.”
Tabitha lowers her head. “What are we going to do then? We can’t leave him up there. He’s scared and it’s not fair.”
“Can he jump down?” Chauncey asks. “We can catch him.”
I shake my head. “I already thought of that. What if we miss? It’s too risky.”
Chauncey looks up. “It might be worth a try.”
“Chauncey?” Tabitha and I say at the same time.
“Well, if you can come up with a better plan,” she snaps.
I sigh and we all become silent.
“Hey, who’s that?” Tabitha calls out, pointing to the fence behind the tree. Chauncey and I look up. A sleek black cat who none of us has ever seen before is perched there. She’s looking up the tree at Re-pete. As we all watch, the unknown cat springs onto the tree and walks along the branch to our bird.
“Is she going to eat Re-pete?” Tabitha cries.
“That’s not a nice thing to say or think,” Chauncey puts in.
“Worst thing that’ll happen,” I add. “Is the cat will scare Re-pete and he’ll either fly or fall off the tree, then we’ll catch him. He’ll be safe either way.” I’m not so sure of that myself, but it sounds good.
“Meow,” the cat in the tree says.
“What kind of cat doesn’t talk?” Chauncey snaps.
“Maybe she is talking to Re-pete. We can’t hear her from down here.” And we continue to watch. Finally, Re-pete holds out his wing and the cat takes it, then him into her mouth.
“Oh no, I can’t watch,” Tabitha wails. “She’s going to eat Re-pete.”
But the cat didn’t. In seconds, she is climbing headfirst back down the tree toward us with Re-pete. Chauncey and I stare wide eyed at the sight. When she gets to the bottom, she opens her mouth and a grateful Re-pete jumps out.
“Tabitha, take Re-pete inside.”
“But she says, opening her eyes. “I, um, sure.” And she hauls the bird back to the house.
“Thank you,” I say to the cat. “We didn’t know what to do. He’s a family pet and got out of the house.”
“I understand,” the cat says.
“Are you a family pet?” I ask. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around the neighborhood.”
She shrugs. “I’m just from around? My name’s Lucky.”
“Figures,” Chauncey says. “A lucky charm when we needed one. Your timing couldn’t have been better.”
Lucky shows her teeth but doesn’t say anything.
Trish Hubschman is the author of the Tracy Gayle mystery series: Tidalwave, Stiff Competition, Ratings Game and Uneasy Tides. Tracy is a Long Island private detective. Her sidekick, Danny Tide, is the leader of the rock band, Tidalweav. Tracy is hired to find out who set fire to Danny’s tour bus. While doing this, more dangerous things develop.
Trish is a graduate of Long Island University’s Southampton Campus and has a bachelor’s degree in English-Writing. She is deafblind and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, author Kevin Hubschman, and their dog, henry.
Her website is www.dldbooks.com/Hubschman