March, 1967. I lived in a pretty cottage in the West Island of Montreal. I woke up one morning, looked out into my lovely back yard and there on the balcony I saw a sight I wish I could forget. Lying strewn across the grey boards of my porch were tiny pink blobs. What ? It took a moment to grasp it. There on the floor of the balcony were several dead featherless baby birds. It took a while to catch my breath. It took a while for me to figure out what had happened.
We had fixed a small bird house to the wall above our kitchen window. An invader had scrambled up the window screen and massacred the newborn residents of the little wooden house, apparently leaving the carnage in a hurry as I approached the window.
My neighbours, the Heeds, were the only ones in the area who had cats - two black cats - that they let roam free. We had trouble with those cats before. This time I was determined to take action. I phoned Al Heeds. He scoffed. I have never forgotten his words. "You know it was my cat, and I know it was my cat, but you can't prove it."
Mr. Heeds did not know Phyllis Mass (I was not to be Phyllis Carter until decades later.) He could not have known how strongly I feel about injustice. How desperately I hate abuse of the innocent.
The following morning, I woke up before the sun rose. And I stood by my window, waiting and watching - and there it was - that beautiful, sleek black cat - following its unrestrained jungle instinct and coming back to finish its grizzly mission.
I threw on my Borg coat and shot out the front door - meeting the black monster as he came round from the back of the house - and I grabbed him. He shrieked and squirmed and thrashed and bit and scratched and sprayed my coat. But I would not let go. Blood was running from my arm, but I would not let go.
I held on tight in spite of the blood and the burning and the wet stench until I got the cat into the house and tossed him into the kitchen and slammed the door.
I wrapped my bleeding arm in a terry cloth towel and called 911. The police arrived quickly. While one of the officers drove me to The Lakeshore Hospital, the others went into the kitchen in search of the cat. One of them was carrying a pole with a noose at the end of it. As we were going toward the door, I heard one of the police officers saying, in French, to another, "Be careful, Pierre! Watch your eyes!" And the other saying, "I don't see it. Are you sure you put a cat in here?"
How quick the police are to doubt the victim. Where did I get those bites and bleeding slashes and can't you smell the cat's spray all over me?"
At the hospital, I was patched up and given a tetanus shot. Then the police drove me back home. As I arrived, I found Mrs. Heeds on my doorstep crying. It seemed such a short time since I had left. I invited her in and made her a cup of tea. She kept apologizing. I forgave her. I had no doubt that her husband was the cause of the trouble, not her.
Then I learned that the police had caught the cat. Poor jungle animal had hidden under the fridge as cats often do. But the police would not risk what had happened to me. They "tranquilized" the cat. Turns out they tranquilized it with a little too much zeal and killed it. By the time I returned home, the cat was dead and its head was on the way to the Federal Government's laboratory in Hull, Quebec, to check for rabies.
If that were not enough, Aimie Heeds told me she felt so guilty about what their cat had done to me that she had euthanized her other cat ! Why? That cat hadn't done anything wrong. She said she had it put down as her "penance" ! What can I say?
The message here is - people are responsible. That is to say, they should be held responsible. None of this would have happened if Al Heeds had kept his marauding cats in his house in the first place. But he was so arrogant. He never imagined someone would take him up on his dare. I can prove it. I can still show you the long white scar on my arm marking that memorable day in 1967. It was worth it.
The North Shore News out of Roxboro, Quebec, reported the story on March 16, 1967.
Don't tell Phyllis Mass Carter that she can't prove what she says. Never doubt that I will. Just watch me. I have been fighting for justice in the case of the robbery by Dawn McSweeney for fourteen years. You can read the detailed reports at http://dawnmcsweeney,blogspot,com. You might say the thief has a tiger by the tail.
NO PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE