(See here for the previous installment.)
Fred was rolling around in the leaves, his paws slipping every time he tried to stand up. I steered the Roomba toward him, trying to get in in close enough without clogging the brushes. Nipsy licked the end of his tail nervously. Finally, when we were just about to run over the kid, I leaned off the edge and grabbed the scruff of his neck in my mouth, like I was his mother or something, and pulled him back up.
The kid landed in a lump next to the power button and tried to catch his breath.
"Oh, man," he said. "Thanks! I thought I was gone! Like, a goner."
"Yeah, well you weren't." I leaned over and looked straight into his big watery eyes. "But listen up, and listen good, because I'm only saying this once. A Roomba is not a toy. Got it?"
"Yes, sir. It won't happen again, sir."
"Damn right it won't." I flicked my tail in front of the sensor to turn the Roomba around. "Now let's go do our job."
We found the Diver Boys right where we expected them, under the big tree, practicing their dives and eating miniature waffles. Nipsy parked the Roomba and we went over to have a little chat.
As we approached, a couple of the Boys puffed their tails up at us, by I didn't pay them any mind. Just your average longhairs, all fluff and not much else. The only kitten we were interested in here was their boss, Bubbles. He wasn't hard to find-- there are only so many white Persians who wear bright pink princess wigs, and only one of them was here today.
"Morning, Bubbles," I said as he was getting ready to make a hop into a box. Surprised, he face-planted into the side and toppled over. Some of his boys helped him up and he glared at us.
"Mipsy," he said. "I should have known. Harassing innocent box-jumpers these days, are you?"
"You haven't been innocent since you could stand on all four paws at once, Bubbles," I said. "But we just wanted to stop by and have a little chat."
Nipsy wandered around and casually examined some balls with bells in them that were lying around. "Maybe you heard about the trouble that's been going around, with folks losing their Cokes?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Bubbles sneered. "Maybe folks just need to be more careful with their sodas."
I nodded. "Maybe they do. Hey, Nipsy, speaking of being careful, do you smell something here? Something kind of herbal?"
"You know, Mipsy, now that you mention it, I think I do. You think we should take these balls back to headquarters, make sure they don't have any catnip in them?"
"I'm sure you'll understand," I said to Bubbles. "After all, we can't be too careful."
"Okay, okay! Geez. So maybe I did hear something, now that you mention it. But you aren't going to like it."
"I don't like a lot of things," I said. "Spill it."
He looked around and licked his paw nervously. "Look, I don't know why they're doing it. And don't tell anyone you heard it from me. But word on the street is, it's. . . the Bigeyes."
The Bigeyes. Captain Kawaii. Oh, this day just kept getting better and better.
[To Be Continued. . .]