Read an excerpt from Tom Lang’s CAT:
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
“Please state your full name.”
“Ms. Bouhaki, I know this is difficult, but do you see in this courtroom today the man who endangered and abused you?”
“Would you please sit up and point to him.”
“Let the record show that Ms. Bouhaki is pointing to the defendant.”
There were hisses and high-pitched wails from the courtroom audience. The judge pounded his gavel. Startled by the sound, bodies scurried under seats. I stared at Bouhaki in disbelief. I looked at my lawyer. He was panting, his tongue hanging out, the look of the village idiot on his face. I looked up at the judge. He put down his gavel, turned around and began washing his face.
It didn’t look good.
My cat took me to court. You heard me right. Sued me for alienation of affection, mental abuse, animal endangerment. Unbelievable. We live in sad, litigious times. My own cat.
And pointing her cute little paw at me, to boot. I figured there must be some law against a pet testifying against her master, but my court-appointed lawyer couldn’t dig up anything (Oops, I said “pet,” didn’t I. Shame on me. Politically incorrect. “Non-human companion,” I have been told, in no uncertain hisses, is the proper term ).
Oh, yes, let’s talk fair trial. My cat’s lawyer is a tabby, the jury is all feline and the judge is, unfortunately for me, Siamese. Jury of my peers. Right. A human being can’t get a fair trial in this country anymore. And you should see the gallery during the trial. Besides Cat TV and the reporters for those lying, slimy cat tabloids, there is an assortment of strays, fat cats and retired show cats that have nothing better to do than lay around yawning, stretching and chasing bugs during the trial.
But the kicker is my court-appointed lawyer. They gave me a dog. A pit-bull? A doberman? No, a retriever. A golden retriever. Not an aggressive hunter, a good characteristic in a lawyer, but a retriever, whose job it is to deliver dead or dying objects. Not a good sign.
“I show you Exhibit C, Ms. Bouhaki. Do you recognize it.”
“Would you describe it for the court, please.”
“It’s my food bowl.”
“Thank you. Isn’t it true that the defendant left this bowl empty on many occasions?”
“And what would you do when the bowl was empty?”
“Well, I’d –”
“You’d meow, wouldn’t you?”
I leaned over to my lawyer.
“Will you object,” I said,”these are leading questions.”
My lawyer ignored me while he scratched viciously behind his ear with his hind leg.
“And what would the defendant do when you would meow for more food?”
“Nothing? And why would he do nothing?”
“Because he wasn’t there.”
A low moan filled the courtroom. I looked at the jury. Their tails were high and bushy. Their backs were arching like accordions. Bouhaki’s lawyer strolled over, exchanged sniffs with a juror, rested a paw on the jury box and repeated what Bouhaki had said.
“‘Because he wasn’t there,’” he said. The lawyer let the phrase hang in the air like an impending cat bath.
“And isn’t it true that the defendant would leave the litter box dirty for days?” the lawyer continued.
I grabbed my lawyer by the right ear.
“Will you speak up.”
My lawyer barked three times. I slapped my forehead. Bodies scurried again. The judge pounded his gavel.
“There will be no barking in my courtroom, counsel,” the Siamese judge said. “Next time you’ll be cited for contempt and we’ll see how you like spending a few days in the pound. Do we understand each other?”
My lawyer put his head down on his paws. His tail went between his legs. He whimpered a few times. Great.
I looked over at Bouhaki. For a moment she looked back at me, then she turned away and began licking her shoulder. She suddenly sat up, her body contorting, her throat gagging. I jumped up and rushed toward her.
“It’s okay, Bou,” I said. “It’s okay.”
“Restrain him!” the judge screeched.
Two bailiffs, both Maine coons the size of cougars, jumped between me and the witness stand. They turned their behinds toward me and began to make the sounds from a cheap Kung Fu movie. One of them sprayed my feet. I slowly moved back to my seat, my shoes sticking to the floor.
Bou coughed up a massive hairball drenched in intestinal fluids. The glob, a dreadlock dipped in toxic waste, plopped in front of the witness stand, splattering the Calico stenographer. Bou-Bou’s lawyer looked at the mess, sniffed it and turned to Bou.
“Has the defendant ever heard of brushing a cat, or of Sudden Hairball Death Syndrome?”
Bou began to answer.
“I withdraw the question. The answer is, sadly, and criminally, obvious.”
The lawyer walked over and began to lick Bou-Bou’s head. I looked over at the jury box. Their tails were now high with a curled tip. They purred. I looked over at my lawyer. He was licking his private parts. I started taking notes for my appeal.