We were hungry for some lunch so Pecker and I split a roast beef hero, stuffed with fried eggplant with hot salad from Nick’s sandwich shop. The hero sandwich went along very well with two ice-cold “Manhattan Special” coffee sodas. Good thing we held back a little money from paying off Roger the Professor and what we paid Blackie for the fireworks so that we could buy some lunch. It was dirty work to accumulate the stuff we needed to blow up with our assortment of M-80s and cherry bombs. By the time we finished lunch it was late afternoon and the heat must have gone up to nearly 100 degrees. We had to pick through garbage cans around the neighborhood to find anything useful. It wasn’t much fun to pick through the garbage in 100 degree weather especially right after lunch. But I must confess that our lunch was great.
There was nothing better that a Nick’s sandwich with an ice-cold Manhattan Special. If we had the money we would buy lunch every day but we shot our load on fireworks. At least we got to enjoy one lunch out of the deal. We agreed to start our quest by picking through Nick’s sandwich shop garbage around the corner from Columbia on Luquer Street.
There were about six metal garbage cans lined up near the back entrance of the building in addition to several boxes all full of garbage. This garbage was an accumulation from the sandwich shop and tenants who lived above the sandwich shop in the same building. It looks like we didn’t get there first. There were six or eight ally cats already rummaging through the garbage cans for scraps of food. These city cats were no push over. If you got close to them while they were eating they would jump on you with all claws, scratching and biting your face off. It didn’t matter to them whether it was a man, dog or another cat, these street cats would attack anyone, it was a matter of day to day survival. So I pointed this out to Pecker, there was no need for an explanation, he knew the drill.
If we managed to chase away the alpha cat, which was the largest a toughest cat in the group, the other cats would scatter. We identified the alpha cat who must weigh about twenty pounds. It was a big male dirty orange color striped cat who we named Simba. This big cat had only one good eye since the other eye was likely lost in a fierce battle. Simba looked like a monster with scars all over his face with bits pieces of his ears missing. His dirty Tiger look orange striped fur, if you call it fur was matted and illustrated gaps of skin with scars made by various bite marks. If you were to meet up with this killer alley cat one night by accident I would urge you to run like hell.
Pecker and I set our plan in motion. First we would separate and approach the cats with caution. Then we would look for an opportunity to toss the alpha cat. The toss method was developed many years ago and passed down from one generation of kids to another. It did not matter who did the tossing. It involved speed a firm grip and strength to toss a twenty pound cat ten to twelve feet.
The technique was simple; we would look for Simba to be distracted and engrossed in eating a morsel of rotted food while he was deep in the garbage can. The only thing you would see is Simba’s tail sticking up like a submarine periscope above the lip of the metal garbage can. Speed of action and timing was essential. Pecker and I were on opposite sides of the garbage can waiting for the opportunity to toss Simba and scatter his gang of cats. If Simba’s tale was close to Pecker he would grab it or if the tale was closer to my location then I would have to run, grab and toss. If we missed or if we did not apply the toss method properly, one of us would have to fight off Simba and his gang. It would not be a pretty sight. I was a little shaky with the thought of not applying the toss properly. Even though I was deathly afraid of Simba I was also excited about the thought of beating this big guy.
So there we were creeping up to the garbage can one step at a time. Step and freeze, step and freeze, almost there, step and freeze. I felt like we were tracking big game deep in the jungles of Africa. Finally it looked like I was closer to Simba’s tale than Pecker. I started to shake all over while I was running towards the garbage can. I kept on telling myself. Don’t miss, don’t miss or there will be pain and blood everywhere. As I got closer to the garbage can Simba heard a sound, turned came up from the garbage can and looked right at me with that evil eye. All I could say was “Holy Shit”. Good thing Pecker was there to back me up. As Simba was ready to pounce on me Pecker grabbed a stick that was on the ground and started swinging the stick at the metal cans. The noise was so loud that it startled all the cats. As Simba jumped pass me he managed to swipe my hand with one of his sharp claws. Even though I was in pain I started to kick the garbage cans to shake up and discourage any other cats from attacking.
“Thanks Pecker, you saved my ass.” Pecker turned to me with a concerned expression “do you need a band aid for that cut on your hand?” “I don’t think so. I’ll just keep pressure on it until the bleeding stops.” With that we started to look for discarded tomato sauce soup cans or anything else we can blow up. As we were going through the metal garbage cans and various boxes stacked against the wall for disposal, we noticed that one box had four empty glass gallon pickle jars with lids. This was a real find. “Wow! Pecker we can really make some money this summer.”