A young boy lived on a ranch at the end of a long dirt drive that fronted a busy highway. His grandfather told him stories about the bobcats that used to roam the hills in abundance when he was a kid. The young boy wished he could see a bobcat and dreamed of having one as a pet.

His father said bobcats were wild animals not pets. His mother bought him a stuffed toy bobcat instead, and told him that was good enough.

One day, a wounded bobcat wandered onto the ranch. A pup cat. The boy begged his mother and father to let him help the poor animal and raise it as his own. They relented. He nursed the bobcat back to health.

As the boy and bobcat grew, they both wanted to run and play beyond their leashes. For the bobcat the leash was literal, for the boy it was the command of his parents to never cross the busy highway alone.

The lure of the old dairy was too strong for both of them and they often raced across the road and played in the dairy barns where the bobcat would chase the hundreds of mice that lived in the hay, and the boy would swing from the ancient milking stalls and scream his echoes into the still air. They were free here together.

His dad and mom operated a fruit stand the sold cherries and produce from the ranch with the boy’s Uncle Billy. Sometimes, the boy and the bobcat would help out, too. The tourists who stopped by the stand loved to pet the friendly bobcat and laughed as they tossed cherries high into the air for the bobcat to catch and gobble up.

One day, when the boy and the bobcat were sneaking back from the dairy, a truck from Gilroy full of garlic was traveling just a little too fast. The bobcat and the boy split up as they dashed across the road. The truck driver, naturally, swerved for the bobcat, not the boy.

Uncle Billy thought he’d at least take a photograph of the dead bobcat by the side of the road. Maybe when the boy grew older, he’d appreciate the lesson he’d surely learned from this day, and at least have the photo of his bobcat to remember.

Too sad a story for you?

Me too.

Here’s what really happened…

Whenever the boy and the bobcat sneaked to the dairy, the boy always took along his stuffed bobcat. After all, the stuffed animal had feelings too and didn’t want to be left behind on these adventures. On this day when the boy saw the garlic truck coming too fast along the highway, he tried to hold tight to the stuffed bobcat as he and the real bobcat raced across the asphalt and dove for the bushes.

They made it safely…but the boy realized he’d dropped the stuffed bobcat along the way.

The driver swerved to avoid what he thought was a real bobcat, a rare sight in this neighborhood and feared he’d killed it. He pulled his truck into the fruit stand parking lot; and as an amateur nature photographer, he dug out his camera and ran up the road.

When he got close enough to take a picture, he was puzzled to see that the cat wasn’t real at all, but just a stuffed animal that was so life-like even the flies were fooled.

The kid and the real bobcat came bounding over and grabbed the stuffed and slightly damaged toy bobcat from the side of the road.

“Hey kid,” the driver said, “you oughta be more careful playing out here.”

“You oughta drive better,” the kid said and ran on back to the fruit stand where tourists were already tossing sweet cherries into the morning air.


4 Responses to The Boy And The Bobcats

  1. Ursula McNeil says:

    Lovely, Frank!
    It reminds me that we have several families of Sandhill Cranes living on the general property, they having raised their progeny here this year. They are so tame that they walk over all the streets at an imperial gate never paying attention to the traffic. As far as I know, we haven’t lost any although the drivers do speed through. When we cycle each morning, we encounter several of them blithly ambling across streets and properties but when I crunch my little bag of goodies that I carry they pay instant attention and race towards me to receive their awards for being so beautiful.
    Love to you.

  2. cynthia Maxwell says:

    Very clever Frank! Maybe we could get you to read your story at a fund raising event for wildlife corridors.


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