Bob McPhail 8:30 a.m., Sept. 19
- Community Blog
Tundra # 7
A year passed and they were still at it. Tundra and Mushroom fought on practically a daily basis. But now Tundra was just as capable a fighter as Mushroom. Mushroom had taught him everything he knew. This was about the time that we began to call Tundra the “White Tornado.” I vaguely remembered a TV commercial from my childhood about a floor cleaner that performed so sublimely that its duties were personified by a cartoon tornado. “Ajax cleans like a White Tornado!”
Tundra and Mushroom’s fights remained brutal and blood was drawn more than a few times, but certain aspects of them had taken on a comical nature. Their rooftop bouts, for example, April and I found especially funny. I personally witnessed this selection from their violent repertoire half a dozen times, if not more. Fortunately for them, our roof was too high to climb onto. But the neighboring single story roofs were all fair game.
It always started innocently enough, with one of the two cats napping on a neighbor’s roof. The cat on the ground would soon spot his napping prey, and then he’d climb onto the roof where a confrontation would take place, and then the fight would be on. What we found so entertaining about these fights was not their beginnings or their middles, which had many variations, but the way they always, without fail, ended, with both cats falling from the roof they had been fighting upon. They’d wrestle across the roof like a pair of Hollywood stuntmen on top of a movie set saloon. They’d grapple and claw until they inevitably rolled over the eaves and plunged to the grass below.
The third time this happened in front of me, I wondered if this had all been part of Mushroom’s master plan. Maybe the previous year, Mushroom had sensed something in Tundra that Tundra himself had been unable to recognize: a spark, a distant flame, something that Mushroom could develop and ultimately use to mold Tundra into the perfect sparring partner. And perhaps it even went beyond that. Perhaps Mushroom saw “himself” in Tundra and clearly understood that Tundra possessed a gnawing hunger deep down inside of him, a hunger that could never be satisfied with pop culture novelty catnip toys or overpriced gourmet pet treats. Maybe Mushroom’s sixth sense told him that Tundra would never be truly happy until he was force-fed a steady diet of violence.
Tundra and Mushroom resumed their fighting positions after falling from Josie and Ron’s roof, bouncing off the branches of a tree, and then landing in our yard. And, as I watched from the front door with interest, they, while growling threats, began to circle each other like Roman gladiators in the Coliseum. It then occurred to me that what they shared wasn’t hate—it was admiration, respect, and perhaps even love. A strange, unhealthy love, certainly, but love nonetheless. Their ambiguous relationship had evolved over the past year into a symbiotic one. And as Tundra leaped on Mushroom and bit his throat and clawed his shoulders, I knew they needed each other as surely as the flower needs the bee.