Kate came to visit with four-year-old Danny. Some kids you love on sight but Danny wasn't one of them. Kate has always been a believer in free expression and Danny is a thriving example of her beliefs.
The kid launched himself onto the computer and began pounding the keys. Instead of grabbing the little fiend she smiled indulgently. "He's so creative, don't you think. One day he'll be a computer genius."
"No doubt about it," I said, gritting my teeth and unplugging, and moving the computer keyboard.
Danny turned on the TV next, full volume and started fiddling with the controls of the video. "He's such a busy child," Kate shouted above the rumpus, "and so clever, I let him use the video at home. He's probably go into the entertainment business when he grows up."
Or go to prison, I thought as I pulled the TV and Video plugs from the sockets but I needn't have bothered. He had found the fax machine.
Just then Ollie walked in to investigate the visitors. It wasn't one of his better ideas. Danny gave a scream of delight and rushed over to him. He seized Ollie's tail and twisted it hard. The cat let out a tortured shriek and leapt in the air. He landed on his side, hiss-spitting and puffed up to twice his size. Danny was delighted and bellowed with laughter. Before I could stop him he grabbed Ollie's ear and gave it a good twist. It was too much for Ollie - he gave the kid a look of pure hatred and sped under the centre of the sofa.
Kate was laughing merrily. "Oh, he's such a little devil with cats," she cooed. "Our cats always take off when they see him." Her face assumed a look of momentary sadness, "and that poor little kitten we had, well, how was the little fellow to know that the top of the stove was hot and would burn the kitten's paws. He just thought it was dancing. In the end I had to give the poor little animal to a friend."
Eventually we went out to have afternoon tea on the lawn. It seemed a safer place for Danny out there. I'd already extracted him from the pot cupboard and stopped him dialing Timbuktu on the cordless phone.
The lawn hadn't been mowed for a while and in the far corner by the fence grew a lush patch of clover. On the far side of the clover lay Ollie; he was on his back, fully stretched out and a perfect victim. Danny gave a holler of glee and sped forward. The kid stopped, mid-clover; he let out a scream of pain that brought his doting mother to her feet and sent her running. "Bee ting, bee ting," wailed Danny.
Oh it was all so sad, poor little kid. He'd been stung before, so we knew he wasn't allergic to bees, according to his mother. I got some tweezers and pulled out the sting. I grieved for the bee, who had lost his life in the call of duty. I put some vinegar on the small puncture while Kate cuddled the wailing monster.
"Ever think of putting shoes on him," I enquired mildly.
"Oh, he always throws them off. He likes to run free," said Kate.
The sting took the ginger out of the kid. He spent the rest of the afternoon on his mother's knee, whining and working his way through a bag of lollies Kate had produced from her purse. "He's such a sensitive child," explained his mother, "and so easily upset." When they had gone I went out to find the cat. He was stepping gingerly around the patch of clover and smirking. Then it all became clear. Ollie never went near the clover. He had probably been stung himself and the cat is a quick learner. Had he placed himself in a strategic spot to lure Danny into the patch of bees? Was Danny's bee sting the cat's revenge?