Outside, a storm raged like a howling dog. Crack! A burst of lightning shot little Spanky out of his warm, cozy bed and straight up into the air. He cowered behind the scratching post.
“Don’t worry,” assured his older brother Haas as he put a paw on Spanky's shoulder. “It’s just a little water. Come on.”
Spanky was not convinced. He did not want to venture into the cold, even if there was a chance they might find a mouse. Haas, on the other hand, was certain it was the perfect time to find a vole.
“A mole?” asked Spanky.
“No -- a vole,” Haas corrected.
“What’s a vole?”
“It’s kind of like a mole, only smaller and not as blind.” Haas liked being the teacher.
“What good is that?” questioned Spanky.
“We can play cards with them.”
“What do you mean ‘play cards’ -- like poker?”
Haas focused in on Spanky: “Blackjack. High stakes. If I win, we eat. If they win... we eat.”
“Sounds kind of fishy to me,” said Spanky, eyeing his bed once again.
“Hey! Whose side are you on, anyways? Put on your collar and let’s go,” Haas said, pushing a deck of cards across the wooden floor. Spanky picked it up with his mouth and walked, trembling, to the cat door.
Water dripped from the drain pipe outside the kitties' house. They ran quickly -- because it’s hard to play cards when your paws are wet.
Under a bench, through the park, and across the stream, Haas the Adventure Cat led Scaredy Spanky right into the vole’s hideout. It smelled like garlic and pink pencil erasers. That made Spanky hungry (he hadn’t eaten for two whole hours).
The voles were ready for a smackdown. They put on their thickest glasses so as not to misread any card, for their lives were on the line. As Haas settled into the damp sod, Spanky lifted his paw, wiping it on the base of a tree, trying to get dry.
Twenty minutes later, Haas was in deep with the voles. He hadn’t expected them to be so good at blackjack! Finally, he won a hand, but as he collected his handsome winnings, a rustling from under the bushes interrupted his glee.
Standing twice as tall and twice as wide as either Spanky or Haas stood Billy the Badger and Ralph the Raccoon, the muscle behind the vole pack. Haas slowly backed away from his pot of Crakerjack and falafel, creeping toward the exit. Suddenly, Billy and Ralph pushed through the voles, chasing after Haas.
Spanky looked up from his paw licking just in time to see this, and scaredy-cat he was, he jumped. He jumped so high, he jumped over the badger and the raccoon!
“That’s impressive, kid. Nice acrobatic skills you got there.” Billy was amazed. “What else you got?”
Spanky froze. Then -- “I can catch a fly in midair,” he whispered, his voice trembling.
“What about digging? You dig?” asked Billy. “We need some help with a couple of burrows.”
“And dens. We need a nimble fellow such as yourself to help with our den construction,” said Ralph.
The muscle was closing in. Spanky didn’t know what to do. Haas was nowhere in sight, and the voles had scattered away with him.
“Oh, sure. I dig, I build,” he said, surveying his surroundings, playing with the pot from the blackjack game. “I knock stuff over really well, too. I’m great at tearing into furniture, waking Mom at five in the morning to eat... which reminds me. I’m famished, boys. Gotta run! Thanks for the chat.”
“But what about my burrows?”
“And my dens?”
And with that he leaped over the muscle and snaked through the brush, finally making his way outside the vole’s nest. He could see Billy and Ralph trying to squeeze through the hole he had forged, but they were both too big to fit through.
Spanky sighed with relief, and, remembering where he was, quickly headed for home.
There, beneath the drain pipe, in front of the cat door, crouched Haas, wet, matted, and panting.
“Did they follow me here? I think I smell erasers.” He sniffed the air.
“Nah. They’re gone.” Spanky casually flopped down on the cool cement. “But I’m starving.”
“How can you eat at a time like this?”
“From the looks of it, you never have trouble eating.”
And with that Haas the Adventure Cat and Spanky the Flying Kitten came inside and jumped in bed, their wet paws needing on their mamma's face, begging for food. As the sun rose, they gobbled up their breakfast.
“Oh! I forgot. I saved you something,” said Spanky, unfolding his paw.
“Crackerjack. Awesome,” Haas smiled.