"My shotgun and an animal trap I made this morning."
"And just where are you going with it?"
"To the cat ladies house. She's got a job for me."
"Which cat lady? There are several of them around here."
"The one just over the hill to the south. You know, the crazy one."
"I still don't know who you mean. There's more than one crazy one around here."
"This is the crazy one that they kept in that rubber room for a week or two and fixed her. After they let her out of her rubber room she's not crazy anymore."
"Oh, that one. Well you be careful. Are you gonna be home for supper?"
"I think so. All I gotta do is catch a groundhog and deal with a problem cat."
The woman handed him an ice cream sandwich. "Here's you some groundhog catching energy."
"Thanks mom." The door slammed behind him and the house was quiet once more as Little Johnny dragged his wagon up and over the hill. His mother stood there watching him go, smiling proudly. What a good little helper he was turning out to be. Willing to help his neighbors like that was a quality to be admired and no doubt would come in handy in the future as he grew into a fine upstanding citizen and leader of his community.
On the other side of the hill the doorbell rang and the door promptly opened to reveal a woman wearing baggy sweats.
"Hi Johnny. I see that you got my message. What in the world do you have with you?" she asked, pointing at his wagon.
"Hi there Crazy Cat Lady. I thought you said you had a groundhog you wanted me to catch and a problem cat that you want gone?"
"Yes, that's correct," CCL said.
"All right then. That there is a groundhog containment device. It's for capturing and containing groundhogs."
"I see," CCL murmured. "But what is the gun for?"
Little Johnny looked up at her in disgust. "I thought they fixed your craziness by locking you in that rubber room? You said you have a cat problem. Right?"
"Yes, there's one here that I would like gone."
"That there is my problem solver. After I use it, he'll be gone."
"Oh no no. That just won't work."
"I beg to differ. It will work. You'll see. This is a 12 gauge. And I've got some magnum loads in it. It's worked hundreds of times. On snakes, rats, coons, possums, even skunks. It doesn't work on coyotes very well though. Usually you can't get close enough to a coyote. For problem coyotes I have to use my dad's 22 magnum. But for a cat? It'll work. I'm gonna give you a guarantee on that. As a matter of fact, I'm willing to bet that your problem will be solved with one shot. If it only takes one shot, you pay me double. If it takes two shots, my services are free. How about it?"
"But I don't want you to kill it," CCL said.
"Just what did you want me to do with it," Little Johnny asked.
"Can't you just scoot it into a cardboard box or something?"
"You better go back in that rubber room for a little while longer. Have you ever tried to just scoot a problem cat into a box? Or something? He probably wouldn't want to go. And them critters got claws. You ever been scratched by a feline?"
"Oh yes," CCL replied. "Dozens of times. Maybe hundreds. I've got three cats myself. And I don't want any more, that's why I want this one gone."
"It sounds to me like you're so confused you don't realize that you got more problems than a cat. But I'm beginning to get the feeling that this cat that is bothering you, that you don't want it hurt."
"Now you're comprehending," CCL replied. "I'm a very peaceful person and I don't like to hurt anything. Or see them hurt either."
"I don't know about this comprehending stuff," Little Johnny said. "But what I'm trying to do is understand what you want. What do you want? Do you even know?"
"I would like the groundhog trapped and taken somewhere else and let loose. And I would like the cat gone without hurting it."
Little Johnny squinted up at her. "Are you sure about that? Real sure?"
"Yes," CCL said.
"Gotcha. I can handle that. You should have said just so in the first place. That way I could've brought my other equipment with me. I'll have to go back and get it but I'm gonna get that groundhog right now."
"Very well. He's around in back, usually in my flower beds. I'll leave you to your task."
Little Johnny pulled his wagon through the grass and disappeared around the corner of the house. CCL disappeared into the house where it was nice and cool. It was past time for her nap.
Once the groundhog trap was set, little Johnny spent a good half hour in the backyard studying the problem cat situation. Suddenly a loud thunk sounded from the flower bed.
Johnny looked over and sure enough, the door on the ground hog trap was down. He ran around to the other end of it and peered through the screen.
One big, fat groundhog looked back at him.
"All right Mr. Groundhog. This is your lucky day, thanks to the peaceful, crazy, hippie lady who's flowers you been eating. You're going back to my house with me. I gotta get my other equipment anyway."
Little Johnny disappeared with his wagon in the direction of his house.
After scrounging up a few items, Johnny headed back to the cat lady and set about taking care of the problem.
An hour later CCL woke up from her nap and laid there for a few moments, rubbing her eyes. Then she climbed off the sofa and walked into the kitchen to get a drink of water. She was standing there at the sink and had her glass of water halfway drank when she happened to glance out the back window. Suddenly the cup was forgotten and clattered into the sink. Then the back door slammed open as she exited.
Sitting next to the fish pond, little Johnny glanced over to see what all the commotion was about.
"What the hell are you doing?" Crazy Cat Lady yelled.
"Take a chill pill CCL, I've got this. It's all under control," Little Johnny replied as he pulled another fat Koi from his hook and placed it on to his stringer to join the other seven already there. "I'm getting rid of your problem. And don't you worry about anything 'cause I'm not gonna hurt the cat."
"What the hell are you doing?" CCL screeched, even louder this time, if such a thing was possible.
"Easy there. Just relax. Chill out a little bit before you pop an aorta or something. I've nearly got your problem solved. These fish are your problem," he said. "That's the food source for the cat. All I gotta do is eliminate the food source and the cat will leave. Good idea, huh? I just got four more of these fat suckers to catch then I'll be finished. And you know what? It's even kinda fun sitting here catching them so I'm not even going to charge you. Not even for the groundhog. Ain't this your lucky day?"
Little Johnny's mother had just dropped the trash bag into the barrel when she happened to glance up and see him walking down the road toward her, dragging his feet. He looks like he's just lost his best friend, she thought. She waited for him, watching silently as he trudged up the driveway and deposited the six pieces of his one piece fishing pole and the cut up remains of his stringer into the trash can.
"What's happened?" his mother asked.
"The job fell through," he muttered. "That crazy lady needs to go back in that rubber room. Permanently. I don't think they can fix her craziness and confusion. And it turns out that she's a liar too. Peaceful, my ass."