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Tale of old lady Dover and her cat army

This week I released my column to the neighbor kids. They’ve been sneaking into my yard. Why not my writer’s space?

After spending time in deep consideration of the facts, I realize that I’m fast becoming the perfect target for small but fertile imaginations. I live in a two-story house that’s 121 years old, have long, dark hair, and feed a few visiting cats. I think it’s high time I take a look at me from their height.

We’ll call the oldest boy John. He’s the leader. The next boy is Michael, who shadows big brother. Wendy is the youngest by a few years and a girl, so she works harder to prove herself and keep up. The adventure makes it worthwhile.

From John’s spy logbook — Sept.10, 2021: “It’s Friday and we get to spy on old lady Dover in the haunted house again. It’s great climbing over the broken drawbridge (gate) and sneaking through her leaning ramparts (fence) to see if we can make it over to the Gorlan Mountains around the moat (large boulders surrounding former pond) in Shadow Wood before she catches us and yells, ‘Get out of my yard, you little brats!’

“She really says, ‘Please don’t climb on those rocks. I’m afraid you’ll hurt yourselves.’ It’s the way she says it. Then we hear her scuffle through the dry grass and weeds toward us in her slippers, which she sometimes wears with cat socks.

“I told Michael and Wendy I think she might be a witch, and they believe me because they want to, even though she smiles and says hello whenever we go by her house and she’s outside. Her friendliness is a trap. Just because she gives out good Halloween candy and has a scarecrow on her door with a sign that says, ‘Welcome,’ doesn’t mean she’s nice. Miss Pearbottom read ‘Hansel and Gretel’ to us in second grade.

“I always take my wizarding staff. She has long, dark hair and wears dark glasses, and we sometimes hear her talking to her yard full of cats. One of them talks back. His name is Eddie and is the leader of the cat army. Her house is old and covered in webs and dried-up leaves from her Ent-filled woods. The screen doors screech like sounds from a horror movie.”

Logbook entry Sept. 11, 2021: “Today, I stationed Michael and Wendy as lookouts at two knocked-out knotholes in old lady Dover’s fence, while I planned to sneak in to get a football, soccer ball and Nerf darts that somehow landed in her yard. We did not succeed as she came out to collect black widow spiders from the many webs around her place for some concoction she makes. I smell it sometimes walking by and it smells like onions and asparagus and frogs.

“There is a cool passageway between old lady Dover’s fence and my friend, Daryl’s fence. We can climb the drawbridge and either make it into Shadow Wood or hide out in the Grand Hallway and spy while she putters around out there putting out potions for her cats and picking up branches for whipping sticks. She has a mountain of them ready to use on our behinds.”

Logbook entry Sept. 12, 2021: “Today she caught us scrambling back over the drawbridge. Wendy was the last and had a hard time climbing in her princess Ella flip-flops and a dress, but I give her points for not crying as old lady Dover yelled at us not to climb on the drawbridge. She then went to pet Eddie, and I think she told him to organize the cat army to visit our windows at night.

“This morning we discovered a collection of our toys and Wendy’s flip-flops lying neatly on the grass on our side of her fence. Is this a game or another trick?

“Next week the plan is to make it all the way across Shadow Wood, past the vampire stags and turkey poop to Vulture Roost.”

Thanks, kids. Wish I could join you.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author in need of a haircut. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.