So Maria and I are sitting in Capt. Tony’s Saloon on Greene St. in Key West. That’s THE Capt. Tony of the Jimmy Buffett song, “Last Mango in Paris.” About 3 or 4 in the afternoon, ready to have the first beer of the day — yeah, I know. Amateur! So in walks a Conch. Okay, maybe not a native Conch, but a Conch at heart. Ex-hippie. Holes in the t-shirt, unwashed shorts, long gray beard. He has a dog on a leash. Not a strange sight at all in the bars of Key West; hell, Capt. Tony’s has a water dish out front for the fur monsters. But on top of this dog was a cat. Riding the dog’s back.
Not a bad trick, I thought.
Then I saw something squirming on top of the cat, making it agitated.
It was a little white mouse.
I blinked a coupla times, took a sip of my beer, and said to Maria, “Goddamn.”
Then — then — it got interesting.
This guy had semi-trained the animals so he could show them off and panhandle. Not a bad gig — I’ll give him that. But the operative word above is SEMI-trained.
You can only train a cat soooo much.
He led the three-furred-salad farther into the bar…and something spooked the cat. I’m betting the mouse shit on his head. Anyway, the cat rrrooowwwwwwlllllled and sprang off the dog — the mouse went flying — and the cat, claws extended, embedded itself in the left side of a guy at the bar.
First, the hippie picked up the mouse and put it in his shirt pocket. Then he pulled the cat out of the man’s flesh and put it back on top of the dog. The cat sprang off again. The man flinched in expectation. The cat landed on the floor and licked a front paw, as if saying, “I meant to do that.”
“Goddamn,” I said.
The hippie gave up, picked up the cat, and led the dog away.