The Catt Box


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Primitive Valentine's Day Cat Shelf Sitter



Way back many years ago there lived a boy and a girl on the same street. They lived two houses apart and they often saw each other in the front yard playing.


Rodney Workman was 9 years old, and Mary was 8 years old, just turned. 
Rodney had red hair and freckles and he was tall for his age. 
Mary had raven black hair that hung in natural, soft ringlets of curls, and her eyes were Cornflower blue.

Rodney Workman really liked Mary, and he'd steal glances at her when she wasn't looking. She was so odd looking, but Rodney really liked that about her.

Mary was sweet and shy and pretended not to notice, but more than anything, it embarrassed her because she knew she was still supposed to hate boys.

She was probably supposed to hate everybody.

One day, on February 13th, when it was still very cold outside, Mary was sitting on the old fishing dock where most of the kids hung out sometimes.

She had been crying.


Rodney noticed how sad she looked and he came right over to see what was wrong. 

Mary began to sob and explain that she had to get rid of Laramie, her pet cat, because she found out she was allergic to him. 
She was so sad, and it broke Rodney Workman's heart to see her this way.

Rodney Workman looked down at his own hand and noticed that he was still holding his brand new cat toy. He tried to hide it behind his back, but Mary saw it.

Through her tears she managed to smile and say, "That sure is a nice cat toy you have there, Rodney Workman."

Rodney smiled back and sat down beside Mary. He hesitantly put his arm around her, while not making eye contact, and he said nothing. They just sat there together in silence.

When the street lights came on, Rodney had to go home. In his bedroom that night, Rodney decided that since Mary couldn't have a real kitty cat, he'd give her his toy.

But he wanted to do something very special for her. He ripped a piece of school paper from his tablet and scrawled the words I love you more than this cat.

He then folded the note up very small.

Next, Rodney Workman took the corner of his grandmother's old Chenille bedspread and cut out a heart shape. And with the steady hands of a surgeon, he sewed that heart onto the front of the cat toy.

But before he finished stitching around it, he slipped that folded note inside the heart, concealing his secret in a special place.

The very next day, which was Valentine's Day, he saw Mary sitting on her front steps again. She was still sad and crying.

He walked over to her and placed his cat toy into her lap.  Mary was so surprised. She looked up at Rodney, who still wouldn't make eye contact, and smiled. She hugged her new toy, and then asked him, "Does this mean I'm your Valentine, Rodney Workman?"

With a bashful grin and his hands firmly in his pockets, Rodney nodded yes and sighed heavily.

Mary declared that the cat toy's name would be Laramie, since it was Valentine's Day, and since Laramie had been the name of her real cat.

Laramie means tears of love.

It was a fitting name, after all, she was crying many tears when she lost her real kitty Laramie, and she was crying tears when Rodney Workman gave her his toy.

There couldn't have been a more perfect name for him.

Mary loved her new 12 inch tall cat toy. It was made of generously aged and stained muslin and it had a big piece of Cinnamon stick for a tail. It also had a piece of real 1940's fabric collar around it's neck, with a jingle bell. Mary liked shaking the kitty and making the bell jingle.

Mary also loved Laramie's face, with his miss-matched button eyes. He had one plastic button eye and one wooden button eye. He also had a cloth nose.

Laramie also had a twine pull-string that had a small wooden spool on the end. And Laramie was sitting on two old wooden spools which helped him to stand on his own. The old spools were natural wood.

When Mary went to bed that night, she kissed Laramie right on the Chenille heart and said, "I just love you, Rodney Workman."

Then she put the cat toy under her pillow.

After that Valentine's Day, Rodney and Mary were inseparable......all through their teen years they remained 'boyfriend and girlfriend'. They went to school together, attended the Prom, graduated from high school, and enjoyed summer vacations together with their families.

They did everything together. 

And every single night, no matter what was going on in her life, Mary would reach under her pillow and take out her cat toy and kiss it right on the Chenille heart and say, "I just love you, Rodney Workman."

One year, on Valentine's Day, Rodney asked Mary to be his wife. He surprised her with a ring the key to their very own home. And on the front porch was an old rusty metal cat figure.

On the night of her engagement, when Mary came back home, Mary hung the little rusty cat figure on Laramie's tail. It was a precious keepsake. All her love and treasured magic moments were shared with Laramie.

Eventually Rodney and Mary were wed. They were married in exactly one year, on Valentine's Day. No one knew of a couple that was more in love and more suited for each other, than Rodney and Mary Workman. They had a very happy life together.

Pretty soon, the children came along. They had two fine boys and a beautiful little girl. The boys looked like Rodney and the girl looked like Mary.

And through the years, even the children would play with Laramie, the cat toy. Laramie began to look old from the wear and tear on him. The Chenille heart was still there, right where Rodney had sewn it all those years ago.

Yet every night, Mary still secretly kissed Laramie, the cat toy, and whispered the special words to herself, and slide him under her pillow. 

She felt embarrassed at the very thought of Rodney Workman ever hearing her.  But Rodney, being the gentleman he always was, never let on that he heard her, and he smiled himself to sleep every night.

The children grew up hearing the sweet story about Laramie, the cat toy, and how their parents first got together on Valentine's Day. It fast became a favorite holiday story, when the family gathered together. And as the years went on, the grandchildren arrived and they came to love the story, too.

By this time, Laramie was becoming rather tattered and old and fragile, much like Rodney and Mary Workman themselves, but it was still the most treasured item Mary owned.

But one day Rodney Workman passed away. It was the saddest day of Mary's life. They had lived a long, good life and they were very happy together for all those years.

When Mary got back home from the funeral, it was late in the evening. Her children had surrounded her and comforted her all day, but now she wanted to be alone with her thoughts, and her precious cat toy, Laramie.

Ironically, it was on February 13th that Rodney was laid to rest. Mary stretched out on her bed and watched the clock while holding Laramie. She could feel her warm tears sliding down the sides of her face as all those wonderful memories of Rodney re-played in her mind.

Then, at the very stroke of midnight, she noticed something tickling her arm.

She looked down and saw that it was a piece of thread that had unraveled from around the Chenille heart on Laramie.

She tugged at it and noticed that something was poking out from inside the Chenille was a piece of paper.

She carefully removed more of the fragile stitching and then she pulled the note from inside the heart. As she unfolded the worn and yellowed paper, she wept as she saw the child-like scrawl of Rodney Workman.

She could see the stains from tears that she had cried while holding Laramie whenever things went wrong in her life. There they were, all those tear stains, forever trapped onto a piece of paper she didn't know existed. In all that time Mary's tears were absorbing into Rodney's vow of love for her, comforting her.

 It's little wonder she felt so close to Laramie.

Through her own tears of love and sadness she read the words out loud, "I love you more than this cat".

Rodney's words and unselfish act from long ago had touched her deeper than ever before. The vow that Rodney had written on paper when he was a child was now being held her hands.

It was in that moment that Mary realized it was now Valentine's Day....the anniversary of the day they fell in love.

Mary kissed the aged Chenille heart and said out loud, "I just love you, Rodney Workman."

And with that, Mary went to sleep. Laramie, the cat toy, fell to the floor and the small note floated down and landed on top of the aged heart.

During her peaceful sleep, Mary passed away and joined Rodney Workman.

Poor Laramie, the cat toy, has been left behind, and he needs to live in a good home with lots of love. 

He can't stay with me because I'm an evil, hateful, pinched up, strange doll maker and it's rare that my dolls are even capable of love.

Besides, my other dolls might kill him.

Can you find it in your own Chenille heart to give Laramie a place to live and love?

Copyright  February 5, 2003 and January 8, 2008 Catt Alexander


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In spite of the dolls I create and the stories I write, I do not use recreational drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't even drink alcoholic beverages.