Zero Plus 375
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, September 22--Reuben is a trained Terrorist. He
waits until you think you're safe. He purrs until you become
Complacent. He befriends you momentarily; seduces you into a
sense of unity and friendship and then, as any well-trained Terrorist, he
attacks when your guard is down.
His sneak attack is swift, furious, deadly.
In an instant he switches from a
soft, purring friend into a whirlwind of rage and anger, bent on maiming
you, drawing your blood as though his entire existence was dependent on the
wounds he inflicts upon the innocent, unsuspecting.
He is a master at deception.
Even though you know he is a Terrorist, that he can and will attack you
without provocation, he makes you forget his past and preys upon your
false belief he can be transmutated into a peaceful, loving character who
wishes only serenity in a world of storm.
guard is down, his fangs grow. His eyes slit.
happy drool that signaled his thirst for peace and love boils into a rabid
froth as his legs flail wildly and his jaws sink around your flesh,
driving the pick-axe tips of his razor sharp fangs into your flesh--deep
down until they crunch the bone. Then he shakes his head to inflict maximum pain and suffering,
reveling in the taste of your blood, joyous that you fell victim to his
ruse of loving you, pretending to be your friend, your buddy, your pal.
Reuben is a Terror Cat.
He belongs to my
younger daughter who is a federal special agent. She
lives with Terror.
Reuben is her Terror.
He will attack
anyone anytime, for all who enter his domain are his foes. He has no friends--at least none who
will survive his insatiable desire to attack even the hand that feeds
him. Even my daughter has the scars to prove it.
When she came to New York City she went to the
Humane Society to choose a loving pet to welcome her home after a hard
day's work. Reuben was, they warned, a Harlem Cat. He had been
found in Harlem, and was notorious for attacking everyone in the shelter.
The shelter personnel stressed that he was an "incorrigible biter," and
required "high maintenance." My daughter has a soft spot
for the disenfranchised, and took all seventeen pounds of him, figuring
with her background in self-defense thus being heavily armed, she would have the
edge over Reuben. After all, he was "just a cat."
After the shelter completed a 'background check' on her,
Rueben, "just a cat," came to live with her.
However, Rueben is far more than "just a cat."
He is an Absolute Terrorist. An Absolute Terrorist is one who
lives, eats and breathes to inflict Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in
its victims--and pain and suffering, of course.
Anyone visiting my daughter's apartment is
forewarned of the "beast," and smart visitors wear combat boots with thick
leather up the shins. These "in-the-know" visitors know Reuben will
out from some hidden lair, wrap his ferocious legs around one's calf or
ankle, pump his hind legs wildly, and attempt to drive his fangs into
His attacks are swift, nefarious ambushes. He
inflicts maximum damage and then dashes away as fast as 9mm bullet shot from a
Glock. The victim, startled, unaware, is caught off guard.
Retaliation is virtually impossible
for Reuben follows the modus operandi of all Terrorists-- he doesn't hang
around the crime scene. He retreats to his Osama bin Laden
caves--slipping under a futon, or desk--licking his chops victoriously,
chalking up another credit to his "I-Gotcha" Terrorist scorecard.
And so he got me good this morning.
He rubbed up against my leg, purring, flashing his "innocent green eyes"
at me as though he were my friend, eager to see me. I filled his
dish with fresh food and water. I spread out a feast of fresh tuna.
I cleaned out his cat box. Then he flopped over on his back,
inviting me to rub his chin in thanks. It was then that I slipped. I let
up my guard and reached down to scratch under his chin. That's
when he attacked, driving his fangs into my thumb, whacking my forearm
and wrist with the backs of his flailing legs with his razor-sharp claws.
and two daughters are in Montana, attending my mother-in-law's funeral.
I am "Terror Cat Sitting." I pride myself on my ability to
tame wild beasts. Over many years I have had many pets, and
however wild or "mean-streaked" they were, I was always able to corral
their "beastliness," and assume command over their primal instincts.
But Reuben is beyond my control.
He is, I believe, genetically predisposed
to Terror. He is, "Terror's Bad Seed."
My wife, who has had a multitude of cats
over he lifetime, has tried for nearly four years to become Reuben's
friend. She is wary of him, for he is not one you can turn
your back on. When you don't see him is the time you are least
safe, for he is probably in his ambush mode, his back legs twitching as he
coils every muscle, ready to spring at the right moment in a ball of fury
to find your Achilles Heel.
One day, for
example, she was fixing the edge of our daughter's tatami rug, which was
jamming the front door so it wouldn't open. Earlier, she had been
keeping one eye out for Reuben, realizing that she was in a most
vulnerable position on her hands and knees. But in her desire to fix
the rug, she took her Vigilant eye off the Terrorist threat.
Just as she was arranging the rug so it would pass freely under the door,
he attacked. Her ankles were the bullseye.
He sank his fangs deep, shook his head and clawed at her flesh.
Then, he shot away, blood drawn, another victim felled.
On another occasion he trapped our older daughter in
the bathroom. She was "cat sitting" and is very fearful of
Reuben. Reuben can smell people's fear, just as Terrorists
love its scent, so does he. He lunged for our older daughter in the
kitchen, and by the Grace of God, she was able to escape into the small
bathroom. Reuben lunged against the shut door again and again,
reminiscent, she later explained. of the scene of Jack Nicholson smashing
his way into the bathroom in the movie "The Shining," when he went mad and
attacked his wife with a hatchet. To escape, my daughter
wrapped towels around her legs and scurried out with Reuben hissing and
growling at her swaddled limbs.
This morning, as I wiped the crimson blood
from my thumb and stuck it under the running cold water, I wondered
if any Terrorist who tastes the blood of Terrorism can ever be reformed.
If Reuben is a Terror model,
the castration of Terrorism is impossible. Reuben has the best of
care--unlimited food, a clean cat box, tuna fish supreme deserts, a loving
roommate who "lives around the cat's Terror," and a family who keeps
Vigilant watch when she is gone on trips--but he still attacks. He
is a Terror Sociopath.
For a birthday present, my wife hired
a cat therapist who specialized in "Terror Cats," to spend two hours with
our daughter, helping her with techniques to quell the beast within
Reuben. The "cat shrinks" big thing was to talk to him, to tell him
she was going here or there, or that so-and-so was coming over.
Oneness, she claimed, would quiet the beast within and ease his fear of
My techniques were a bit more brutal.
I believe in an eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth. When
Reuben attacks me, I retaliate, if I can. I use equal force to let him
know that if he hurts me, I'll hurt him.
My technique didn't work either.
Whether he receives unconditional
love, or unconditional retaliation, he just keeps coming. He just
keeps attacking. He's an EverReady Terrorist.
I thought about Saddam Hussein.
He gassed and killed between 50 and 100,000 of his own people--Kurds--his own
citizens. He sank his fangs in his "family."
He is a "Terror Cat" like Reuben. In his genes there
boils the acid of pain, the desire to created Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency in those around him.
While I'm not an advocate of the "first
strike" war philosophy, I understand what President Bush is saying.
He figures Saddam Hussein is Reuben. He will attack again and again
and again, and not blink if he sinks his fangs in friends or foes.
I've been considering suggesting to
my daughter she ship Reuben to Iraq, special delivery to Saddam Hussein.
They deserve each other.
It is frightening to think that there
can be no negotiations with a guy like Osama bin Laden or a Saddam
Hussein. The civilized nature of human beings wants to
believe that one day love and consideration will override hate and
revenge. But that's not true--at least, in
Rueben's case. And, I fear, in all the Terrorists who seek as their
daily goal the destruction of one's Trust and Faith in the ability for us
all to live like Rodney King pleaded--"Can't we all just get along."
The answer is, NO!
So does that mean when I next enter my
daughter's apartment I should immediately find Reuben and drop kick him?
Slap his head against the wall?
That seems so cruel. Yet, in a way,
it is stupid for me to wait to be attacked from a known Terrorist who will
There is another option--give him
away. But then the problem is just passed on to another.
Finally, there is the ultimate solution.
Wring Rueben's neck.
But, will that rid the world of Rueben's
children's children's children?
Are there other Terrorist Cats out there
who inflict Fear, Intimidation and Complacency upon their owners?
I think so.
While killing Reuben seems an immediate
solution, it certainly isn't a final one.
Right now, we're trying to de-fang Hussein
and declaw him. Without fangs or claws, the belief is he can't
attack for he has no way to draw blood. But that is
folly. A Terrorist has a fertile imagination. If a
Terrorist is bent on Terrorism, no defanging or declawing will eliminate
the desire to exercise power over others through Fear, Intimidation and
Then, there are his children--the
other Ruebens of Terror. Will they pick up their father's
broken sword, repair it and continue the legacy?
If history has any say in the matter,
the answer is--YES!
Which leaves us with the big
question--attack Iraq or try and defang it? Of course, there
is a third option, to ignore it. But that is suicide.
I don't envy the policy makers.
My daughter's cat is tolerable.
You just know you're going to get bit eventually, so you keep lots of
Band-Aids and hydrogen peroxide around to cleanse the wounds.
Cat fangs are bioterrorism at its best, for the bacteria on the needle
tipped fangs often cause infections, and "cat fever" can kill one if the
immune system isn't able to fight off its attack.
But Reuben is
part of the family, just as Hussein is. He's part of the human
family, the opposite of the Pope, the sum of all that can be looked upon
as bad in a leader--one who would kill his own people for his personal
gain. Reuben will bite the hands that feed and love him, just
for the joy of letting everyone know he's refusing to participate in the
social order, refusing to bow down to conventional behavior even if the
consequences means he gets drop kicked across the room.
The 1991 ten-day Iraqi War proved how
utterly defeated Hussein's army was, but it didn't stop him from kicking
out the arms inspectors, or in preparing for the next assault.
His agreement to let the UN inspectors in
is like Reuben cozying up, rubbing your leg, purring, pretending to be
your friend and buddy, while all the time he's just preparing you for
Complacency, letting you think you're safe so he can rip his fangs into
you when least expected.
I will continue to tolerate Reuben, but I
will see him in a new light.
He is actually Saddam Hussein, and all
Terrorists who like to make the Vigilant think they're safe.
When that happens, Complacency sets in.
Vigilance is the doctrine of "knowing" one
is never safe. It is reminding yourself constantly that
we must look both ways twice before crossing the street, just in case.
It means we don't fall victim to our compassion, and think that the beast
within the beast can be replaced with the tamed beast. That
would be an oxymoron.
I think the next time I go over to my
daughter's apartment, I'll attack first, just to know what it feels like
to have one up on Reuben.
And, I'll re-think my idea that we
shouldn't attack Iraq without provocation, for there is no doubt in my
mind Saddam Hussein is planning right now how to bite us hard when we
least expect it.
The real solution, I believe in the "attack
first" scenario, is to box up Reuben and send him to Hussein as a
gift--our Trojan Horse. When he opens the box and starts to
befriend the cat, all hell will break loose. Reuben will do
what George Bush has wanted to do. And we won't have to worry about
Saddam any more, he'll be too busy licking his own wounds.
To September 21--"The Rabbit Hole Of Vigilance"
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