Hairball soon sussed that the best time to make the hit on the little Crow family was in the morning when Bagel Eater brought back the bagels. Tomorrow morning would be… the last time he brought home the bacon…
The night before the action, Some of the crows in The Murder got together and discussed bets on how Hairball would make out. Tokyo put 6-1 on Hairball getting only one of the three. If he could get all three, the crows would give him both hamsters. If he got less, he would only get one. Tokyo was going on at length, when the crows were surprised by Hairball, boldly strolling right into their circle, gathered in the veranda of the Del Orso City Hall. “I heard what the pay is. But what happens if I get hurt? What will you pay me then? I can’t just risk my fur for a phantom reward, especially if I fall out of that tree.
“You’ll land on your feet!” squawked Upstart. Tokyo shot him a dark look, and spoke up.
“Hairball, if you get hurt, I’ll leave Del Orso and fly back to my home across the ocean.”
”You don’t have the gas.” Hairball pulled on his paw with his teeth, and shot both of the leader crows a disgusted sneer.
“That’s not how its done. I’ll stow away on a ship, and they will take me, and when I get there I will fly.”
The Hamster Brothers escaped certain death, when Tokyo and Upstart came to see them later that evening, hiding in their grease trap. Bill ran out into the air vent and Mike ran up into the bakery kitchen. The plan had been to catch them and prepare them for their role as Hairball’s reward. But it was all premature.
In the morning, Hairball looked up into the branches of the tree and could see Bagel Eater tearing up pieces of bagel for little Rebo to munch on. “Good!” he thought. “Right where I want them…
Hairball climbed the tree, his claws raking the bark and alerting Bagel Eater that something was coming. He looked up from his breakfast and down the trunk of the tree. There was Hairball, mayhem in his eyes. He had just reached the fork of a very long branch leading up to the level Bagel Eater and Jam had used to build their nest. He was no more than five feet from the nest, when Bagel Eater suddenly sat on the edge of the nest, and flapped his wings furiously. The wind from his flapping wings blew straight into Hairball’s face, but he scrunched up his nose and pressed on ahead. Hairball was distinctly at the disadvantange, as he was standing nearly vertically as he climbed the trunk, pressing his fat belly against the oak for security.
Bagel Eater took off and began to sound the alert.
The noise woke Jam, who lifted her head just in time to see Hairball’s fat paw reach around the edge of the nest, and pulled it alongside him, as he simultaneously grabbed a sure hold on the tree, and with all the strength in his hind legs, pulled himself up into the fork where the nest was. He din’t have time for his next move- little Rebo, now awake himself, grabbed Hairball’s left paw with his beak and clamped down.
“Rrrrowwwr!” screamed Hairball, and hissed, his fur ruffled and standing on end now. Jam began to go for his eyes, but Hairball ducked. Meanwhile, Bagel Eater flew up and took a flying dive from seven feet in the air and bashed the point of his beak against Hairball’s head, causing the cat to spin and swing wildly with his other paw. But the three-pronged counterattack was working. Hairball had to keep ducking, and watching for Bagel Eater’s dives, which continued, until finally, he was forced to scrabble back down the trunk of the tree and admit defeat.
The Murder had turned up, at least a few of them, mostly Tokyo and Upstart and several of the younger crows, mainly to determine the outcome and split the betting pool. But the betting was lame. Hairball had accomplished absolutely nothing. Even little Rebo had been effective in defending their nest from the awkward kitty.
“Looks like you’d better make your reservation for the tramp steamer,” said Upstart.
Tokyo, the hard talking yakuza from the Orient, admitted that his own word had to be upheld, and nodded affirmatively.
“I will leave, and I will pack my bags and leave tonight. The Del Orso stay has been nice, and you of The Murder have been good to me, but I have not solved your problem. Short of committing suppuku, I must depart with my honor intact.”
Upstart, too, took the ribbing of the younger crows. “What a stupid idea anyway, sending a cat to kill a crow! We crows are tough- TOUGH!” they cackled, and immediately they took off and surrounded the Bagel Eater nest. “Upstart, you must leave us! Be exiled and find another murder to swindle!”
“Bagel Eater, we support you. You are the superior animal! You are the toughest crow in Del Orso! Long live Bagel Eater!” and they hoisted him up onto their shoulders and wings, and flew him around the bakery, although Bagel Eater flew off before they could leave him at the tree where the yakusa Tokyo and Upstart had held council and launched the plot to begin with. Jam and Rebo came flying out to greet Bagel Eater, who proudly perched at the ledge atop the bakery roof and rattled, long and loud.
After that, Bagel Eater never minded at all if Jam and Rebo and him ever got first crack at the free bagels out of the bakery. The younger crows were welcome to all they could desire. He went back to gleaning grain from the corn growing in backyards around town .
The Hamster Brothers continued making their wine and living off the crumbs on the bakery floor. Hairball was picked up later in the day by the Animal Control officers who wondered how or why a cat would climb a tree so tall, how he had become so disoriented (walking around town with no discernible purpose or destination) and taken him someplace- exactly where, nobody knew.
Bagel Eater and Jam went on to have many more years of happiness in their little tree across from the Del Orso bakery. And nobody- nobody- bothered to bother them again.