Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bobcat In A Suitcase

A friend of mine sent me this story. Don't worry, it's not me. I don't know where he found it, but it's funny.

This really really happened, and yes I was a major participant (conspirator I believe is the legal term) and was the early 1970s (73' or 74") in Fayetteville NC, Fort bragg.  Hay Street was all bars and massage parlors, (God, those were the days) particularily the 500 block and crowded with several thousand thirsty GIs every Saturday night.  However, our travels were normally limited to Hay St as even God did not go on Gillespie street at night as it was too dangerous. Lot of seedy rif raf of all types and you had to be looking for a fight or extreme trouble to go there.

I was a young Sgt, single, a barracks rat and looking for adventure of all types. Three of us went over to a guys house for a "few" beers. He said come and look what he had in the garage. He had a bobcat in a plastic dog kennel. It seems that he had hit it with a car, was going to mount it, and had thrown it in the trunk. As he was taking it out he noticed it was still alive so he put it in the kennel and had been keeping it while he decided what to do with it.

Now after a few more beers, the discussion centered around what to do with a bobcat and an appropriate course of action was decided.

The old Greyhound bus station used to be on Gillespie street and had a bad reputation for robberies and people stealing suitcases as one of the many issues. So naturally we decided to put the bobcat in the suitcase and see if it could get stolen and what might happen.

We had been drinking! Now there is a surprise. Yes, alcohol was involved.  Is this starting to sound familiar. This was one mad kitty and he looked like he weighed about 30-35 plus pounds so our ORM (Operational Risk Managment) rules kicked in.

Rule #1- Is this going to hurt?

Rule #2 Is it going to leave a mark?

Rule #3 Am I going to get in trouble for this?

(If we can teach our children these, they might survive!)

Pretty sure all the beers helped the cognitive assessment process here too.

We found one old suitcase, two old wool GI blankets and two sets of the engineer gloves with the steel inserts, used for handling concertina wire. The plan (after a few more beers) was to be as follows: one blanket on the floor, two guys with gloves, one dumper of the kitty into the blanket and one guy who threw the second blanket over the kitty, and then the two handlers with gloves would leap on the second blanket and kitty and wrestle him down, and put him in the suitcase.

Overall it actually went pretty well, except the bobcat had to be shaken out of the cage. It never dawned on us he would be shy about coming out. This was getting pretty exciting because we were worried he would miss the blanket and we really did not have a good plan B. Now it was one heck of a fight when he hit that blanket and the second blanket went over him. I was the blanket thrower by the way and not a glove wearer. (I learned the ORM rules better than the other two.) However, all basically went well after about 30-45 seconds of extreme excitement and we managed to get the cat corralled under the blanket using the gloves and blanket without any major scratches or bites. It did involve a lot of hollaring at each other and general mayhem.

Now getting him into that old suitcase was the next challenge and required numerous "putting them razor sharp feet back in" before we could get the lid closed and snapped.

This called for at least another beer as we had survived the ordeal so far.

We piled into a car with the suitcase, drove to the old slave market traffic circle (corner of Gillespie and Hay St) and let the guy out with the suitcase and then to the bus station to wait for him. He caught a cab to the bus station, got out and left the suitcase out front (after shaking it up to make sure Mr. Kitty was awake and in a generally foul mood) and went in and immediately out the side door. The suitcase was snatched before he got out the side door and dumped into the back seat of a Cadillac convertible with two guys in front and two guys in back. I will let you guess what type characters they were.

They immediately drove back up Gillespie to the traffic circle, around it and proceeded down Hay St. At that time Hay St was angle parking on the street, Saturday night and traffic was moving about 1-3 mph. It was right in front of the old Prince Charles Hotel (at that time it was the hooker and Marine hangout) and we were about 3 cars back when we noticed the rapid waving of arms, general jumping about and flurry of activity coming from all four corners inside the caddie. I would have killed for a video camera then.

This went on for about 20 seconds or so much to our great amusement before all four doors opened and all four guys bailed out with the car still moving. The caddie continued to roll, clipping about 4-5 cars on the rear before it finally stopped in the side of a car.

It seems Mr. Bobcat had done the Texas chainsaw massacre version on the caddie seats (red leather by the way), vinyl roof and all occupants before they bailed. Them claws were sharp, and he zipped open everything from front to rear, top to bottom to include all four occupants. It seems that there had been a football game inside the car throwing the bobcat from back seat to front and vice versa while the cat clawed and bit the hell out of everything in between.

What was the highlight of the evening though, was the four guys trying to explain to the police as they were being bandaged at the scene, as to just exactly how they had come into possession of a bobcat in a suitcase in the back seat of the car.

In the mean time we were holding court with the large crowd about 20-30 yds down the street, telling the real story, which resulted in a lot of laughter. Finally one of the cops wandered down and asked us if we had any idea of exactly how that bobcat got into the suitcase. The answer was obviously "Absolutely not, officer, none at all". He walked away laughing, obviously figuring it out. It seems that he went back and informed his fellow officers and EMTs as to his supposition as to the true nature of the genesis of the story.

At this point here comes the kitty just walking down Hay St slowly like not a care in the world, daring anyone to mess with him. Obviously, it was like Moses parting the Red Sea and everyone gave him a wide berth having seen what he was capable of.  He wandered off into the night in search of his lady love.

It seems that no charges were filed on the caddie occupants and us. I think that the police figured no one would believe it anyway and they figured some had learned their lessons about stray suitcases. Plus at this stage they were laughing so hard themselves as the victims were being patched up by the EMTs and crying about being cut up.

Overall it was a wonderful evening, highlighting the proper use of ORM, involving alcohol, a bobcat and a lot of fun.

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