Rio's Christmas Gift
When Tango was just 2 years old he tragically lost his brother Rio. He's never been quite the same since, but I take some comfort in the fact that we've become firm friends and he trusts no-one more than me, and I think he does too.
When Rio was about they were inseparable, adventurous, fearless, hilarious, always together and always up to something fun. I suppose it was inevitable that something would happen to one or both of them at some point, but if they'd been any different they wouldn't have had half as much fun in the short time they did get together, or been half as entertaining.
It was Christmas lunchtime and outside a thin layer of snow covered the ground. Rio and Tango loved the snow, and whenever that rare occurrence would happen you would be sure to find them in the garden or wreaking havoc in a neighbours garden for most of the day.
This particular day there was something distracting them. Just watching them for 5 minutes you could see it. Every now and then they would stop pummelling each other with snow, or chasing imaginary mice, and would start sniffing the air, as if trying to work out what that smell was.
The regular visits to the slightly open kitchen window lead us quickly to the conclusion that it was the smell of Christmas dinners cooking across the neighbourhood that had them so interested.
Entertaining as they always were, we thought nothing more of it and carried on with Christmas. Too much dinner, a cracker or two, silly jokes, silly hats, the Bond Movie - time to feed the cats.
Sam went to the kitchen and called the cats for dinner by banging an empty tin with a fork. (Today's kitty dinner was to be leftover turkey, but they didn't know what 'come and get your turkey' meant). There was an appropriately biblical exodus, as they vacated their various spots around the house and headed for the kitchen, and loud purring ensued as each arrived and realised what was on the menu. Tango, Mit, Rags and Bones all turned up, but no Rio.
Sam went into the garden to call Rio again but he still didn't come, it wasn't like Rio to miss out on a social event, especially one involving food. Sam called again and then heard a lot of noise from the neighbour's garden. She was just about to poke her head over the fence when something startling happened.
As if by magic, and seemingly defying the laws of physics, Rio appeared atop the 6 foot fence at the bottom of the garden, proudly dragging the carcass of a half carved turkey (which was at least 2/3 his own size) up the other side. Un-phased, he dropped the turkey on 'his' side of the fence, hopped down and casually dragged it towards the catflap, purring and making noises as if to invite congratulation from all who observed his amazing feat.
Hysterics ensued as the whole family came to watch Rio drag his prize across the length of the garden, and one by one the other cats decided that Rio's turkey looked a darn site better than the leftovers they'd been given by Sam, and they all tucked in.
It didn't seem right to tell him off or take it away, no-one was going to want it now, so we allowed them on this one occasion to stuff themselves silly, after all, that's what we'd been doing all day. I'm sure I saw him eying up the brandy and cigars when they were done, too.
We never found out where he got that turkey from, it certainly wasn't our immediate neighbours, who were as amused as we were when we asked them about it. The story has now become a legendary festive favourite and is bound to come up at least once in any Christmas holiday, 'do you remember when Rio poached a Christmas turkey?', we still miss him.
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