The house looked empty. There wasn’t a car in the driveway. No stirring. Taggert decided it was perfect. He’d do a run inside. Steal what he could take. Then he’d be out the door. And he’d do it in no time. It was still morning and everybody on the street seemed to have taken off for work. Taggert liked that. It made housebreaking easy peasy.
Little did Taggert know he was being watched. From the basement. Her name was Puddin’ and she was the house owner’s black panther. Mostly she was tame. The family had had her since she was a pup. I mean, kitten or cub or some such thing.
Puddin’ was harmless unless you want to call scuffling in the living room harmless. The family had declawed her so she wouldn’t scratch up the furniture. Now Puddin’ loved the family. She considered herself part of the family. So when she heard the back window open she just figured it was the man of the house playing a game. Puddin’ loved games.
When the family was gone, she had the run of the house. Every room was her castle. She ran into the bedroom. She saw a man coming through the window. He didn’t look like the man of the house. He didn’t smell like the man of the house. He was much shorter. Puddin’ figured it was a friend of the owners. So she hurried over just as Taggert was stepping down on the floor. She went to hug the Taggert and lick him on the back of the neck.
Taggert turned his head and saw the large black cat opening her mouth. He thought she was going to eat him.
Now Taggert’s heart was as healthy as a horse. But when you’ve got a grown black panther hugging you and trying to lick you, your heart just won’t hold out. And Taggert’s didn’t hold out.
Several hours later Rush and Laura came home. Rush headed to the bedroom. Over by the window, he saw Puddin’ licking a man’s face, trying to wake him from his eternal sleep.