It was a ratchety croak that came from -- from where? A friend and I had pulled over to the side of the highway and stopped to look at an old cemetery. We scanned the grasses and the ditch before us. A bird? A frog? Or perhaps the imagination -- because it stopped as quickly as it began.
We climbed back into the pick-up and continued down the road. Now up to about 30 miles total, we turned off the highway to follow a garage sale sign. We slowed to a stop and the sound came again, as curiosity turned to concern. Were the bearings going out on the truck? I bent to glance underneath but didn't see anything obvious. We went into the garage sale where I purchased a beautiful rag rug. I was carrying it to the truck when the sound pierced the air. Definitely NOT the truck, since it was parked. I edged underneath on my back, further and further, until I spied a terrified little kitten on the frame. I yelled to my friend for help; the garage sale folks came running too. I reached for the fur ball but he launched like a rocket and headed into the thick forest. "Probably won't see him again," said the owners. There are bear, fox, skunks around here ... you name it." So I looked even harder. I spotted the little guy twenty yards away in a ditch drinking furiously from a stream. It was hot where he'd been riding, and how long was he under there? I approached but he bolted, jumped into the ditch stream and swam away. A little survivor.
I left my name and phone number with the garage sale hosts in case he showed up. I didn't want him to die in the forest, especially after he'd gone to the trouble to attach himself to the truck and hitch a ride. I woke up around midnight and decided I was going to drive back the next morning and look for him. At 8:00 a.m. the phone rang. He'd shown up outside the garage saler's window ... coincidentally, around midnight.
The appearance of two little lumps recently confirmed that he was a he. Named the little guy who hitched a ride HOBO. Everyone who meets him loves him. He's a savvy little stinker. Carole says she'd love to take him, but he would make a good RV cat. Of course, I'd have to sneak him across the border. I have time to think about it. My replacement driver's license has yet to arrive in the mail from my purse being stolen. I won't be driving into the US until it does. Meanwhile, Lil Hobo bores deeper and deeper into my heart.