Rusty Mungo

Not all huge orange cats are lost…

I previewed a new listing today, an ‘80s split in Ridgemont. The sellers had done the really wise updates—maple kitchen w/ some properly-installed granite tile counters and of course stainless appliances. New skylight too. New trim & doors all-around, new carpet up and lots of ceramic tile in the bedroom & laundry room w/ ¾ bath downstairs. Cut flowers on the dining room table and fresh bark in the yard– really ready to show.

But it was still an ‘80s split w/ popcorn ceilings & T-111 siding, and I know my buyers want at least a little bit of a view and this home had less than that. I won’t show it to them.

After locking up, I was crossing the street to my car when I noticed a Volkswagon-sized orange Tabby cross my path, east-to-west. It might have been the biggest cat I’ve ever seen outside of the internet. It moved really fast for such a large cat, though, so graceful it was as if it was sliding on ice. Its shoulderblades didn’t move at all, just its stubby legs, real fast.

I watched as it dropped down into the front yard of the house two doors down from the one I’d just walked through. I was about to open my car door, when I noticed a flier taped on the side of an aluminum bank of locking mailboxes.


And then in tiny print it said last seen on Camby Court,  April 4.

I looked back at the cat, now only partially-visible beneath a budding Rhododendron next to the porch. It didn’t seem particularly at-ease, and seemed to be hoping I was watching it. I was. I was wondering if this cat could possibly have been adrift in this neighborhood for twelve weeks. Plus it was six blocks from where it was last seen. The cat stared back at me as if trying to hypnotize me or at least get my attention.

I took my phone from my pocket and dialed the number on the flier. Jeremy answered on the first ring.

“Oh, hey dude,” I said, surprised to be answered so quickly, “this is Jeff. I… just saw your flier for the lost Tabby. I think I found it.”

Jeremy didn’t seem to know what I was talking about at first, but then he said he’d gotten some other kittens recently. Rocky Mungo had been his girlfriend’s cat, he explained, and after she left them both, Rocky had grown moody.  Jeremy confirmed that he was the one who’d made the fliers, and though he had wondered for a while what had become of the Tabby, he’d stopped looking months ago.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to say next, so I didn’t say anything. I’ve learned from working in real estate that if you want the person on the other end of the phone to change their mind, you just don’t say anything. I rode the pause long enough for Jeremy to pick up the ball.

“Where are you at?” he asked finally.

I told him my location, and incredibly he was on the next block—on foot!—and presently he rounded the corner, cellphone still to his ear.

We shook hands and he introduced me to his friend Corey who had a tattoo on his neck and who was walking a well-behaved Boxer on a red leash. I pointed out the cat I hoped was Rocky Mungo. Jeremy peered at the cat from the street, looked at Corey, and then moved down the driveway toward the front porch of the house.

Rocky Mungo watched Jeremy step gingerly toward him and inched out of his Rhodi cave as Jeremy crossed the wooden steps of the porch.  I was sure I was about to witness a reunion of– if not joyous highstepping drama–then at least notable irony. I mean, what are the odds that after nearly three months, this cat would cross my path right in front of a sign announcing its disappearance? Had it been hanging around this & other fliers, aheming at everyone who’d walked by, wondering how they could possibly not notice this extraordinary feline that had been wandering around the past several weeks, new in the neighborhood, and with its round orange mug staring out from the side of the mailbox that they visited every day after work?

This was going to be good…

At that moment, the door of the house opened, and an elderly man stepped into the doorway, between Jeremy & Rocky Mungo. He smiled at each of them, and—surprised– Jeremy asked the man if this, uh, was his cat.

“Yes,” the man, answered as if on television. “Come on, Rusty,” he sang, and the cat slipped inside, ignoring Jeremy and still not moving its shoulderblades.

The man smiled again and closed the door, and Jeremy walked back down the steps of the porch, looking back over his shoulder as he reached the cracked concrete of the driveway. Corey & looked at each other.

Jeremy stopped in front of us near the sidewalk at the top of the drive, and turned again to gaze at the house.

“Wasn’t him,” he said, finally, looking up at us both.

— tMdR

2 thoughts on “Rusty Mungo

  1. Well Jeff, that is a very good story. My take is that Rocky Mungo really is Rusty and that Jeremy escaped having to take responsibility of another cat. Rusty is happy now! The house part makes me a little depressed because I have popcorn ceilings but nice extras that people might not ever see due to our ceiling! Keep writing-your fan.

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