Sammy, That Sag Harbor Rascal By Terry Sullivan

Sammy, ThatSag HarborRascal

By Terry Sullivan

 

Sammy was a nervy little rascal who wasn’t bothered by killing. Some said

 

it was because he was black, but there’s many a superstition about black cats

 

and their connection to death, mostly as omens. Sammy was my neighbor

 

Kate’s cat, who loved to stalk birds from the shadows; so I used to chase him

 

from my yard with my imitation of Donald Duck screaming, “ You Bastid!”

 

He came to hate that phrase, based on his body language, as he ran away,

 

shaking his head as if to say, “Okay, Okay already.”

 

Sure Sammy was a pest, chasing the birds I had attracted by my two bird

 

feeders, landscaping and year-round fresh water supply, but he couldn’t help

 

himself, it was his nature to kill and he did it well. That’s why someone said

 

he was named after “Sammy the Bull,” Gravano, who only admitted to 19

 

murders at the John Gotti trial; Sammy the cat could do that in a month.

 

While walking out my door one day, I saw a flying chipmunk bouncing

 

off the side of my large oak tree, followed by a shadow ten times his size.

 

“Oh NO, Sammy,” I screamed as I leapt off the stoop just in time to dis-

 

tract him mid-air as he was gaining on the chipmunk. His paws skidded in

 

the gravel path as Sammy hung a left and the chipmunk headed straight to

 

live another day.

 

That was just dumb luck, being able to catch him mid-flight, in the act,

 

for no matter how many times I chased him out of my yard, within hours

 

he’d be back. Sitting in the garden, relaxing by the fountain, waiting for

 

slow birds; he was telling me I might own my yard, but it was his killing

 

ground, and he was proud of it. He had nothing to be ashamed of, as Mark

 

Twain said, “ Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.”

 

I admired Sammy, in a way he reminded me of myself as a wild child/

 

alleged adult. The more I tried to police my yard the more brazen he became

 

waiting in the shadows under the evergreen tree, by the bird feeder, where

 

some birds scour the ground for seeds, dropped by sloppy birds at the feeder.

 

Next door my neighbor Kate had a very different perspective, as Sammy

 

was the cute little lovable cat she had saved from the gallows of Animal

 

Control, by going to Elsa’sArk, run by Pat Lillis, an Irish woman with a

 

heart of gold and a benevolent boarding house for a menagerie of furry

 

orphans. She deserves a bundle of funding and a glowing biography for her

 

tireless, selfless service to the least powerful among us: the pets that are

 

treated like so much trash by those who abandon them.

 

Kate’s Sammy was the guy who came flying in the door, up onto the

 

counter top, and onto the back of the couch, he was always flying ; was he

 

flying for joy or was he practicing his predator dance in the air? She said his

 

body had changed over the years, getting thinner and longer, and I must

 

admit at fourteen years of age he looked like a long distance runner, long

 

and lean like a tiny panther. Even though Sammy was a rascal, if you’ve

 

ever had a pet, you know they grab a special little piece of your heart for

 

good. Even though Kate was embarassed by his bird harvesting, he wasn’t;

 

and the bird corpses he brought to her, he thought of them as presents. Kate

 

just didn’t have the same taste in “dining al fresco.”

 

 

Sammy was killed last night, in the middle of the night by someone spee-

 

ding down a street eight houses long. How much speed do you need on a

 

street so short, it’s just damn reckless? It’s not like they’re going through

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