Charlie is Dad's cat. He is an orange and white tabby, with common markings. He is quiet and well-mannered. He doesn't really seem to exhibit any of the cat quirks I have ever seen, nor have any special original ones. He is a gentle and remarkably sane example of the domestic cat. He is the only cat ever who was not dubbed "varmint" by my father.
Charlie is a badass. In spite of being declawed, he is indoor/outdoor. Indoors, he is outnumbered by dogs four to one - no problem for him. Outdoors is purely rural - there are the neighbors' dogs as well as all the coyotes (and who knows what else) the woods can support - Charlie has it covered.
Charlie was also a master predator, probably because he remained extremely fit from avoiding becoming prey - his kill rate was astounding for a cat without his best weapons. If he had remained as nature made him, I imagine he would have been a Hercules among cats.
The only creature I ever saw that intimidated Charlie was (in a truly odd twist) Hiatus, the cat I gave to langs_place more than five years ago. I think that was just nerves - in a real confrontation, I think the story would be "red-ass beat-down" in Charlie's favor.
I have fallen into past tense, though, and I can't stop myself: Charlie has not been home in over two weeks now.
Dad still holds out hope that Charlie will return, and of course it's possible. He might be wounded or ill but limping home. He might have needed a vacation from the dogs. He might simply be playing Tailchaser's Song, busy with errands and adventures he will never be able to tell us, and on his way back to my father's house even as I type.
I can't make myself believe it, though. I am afraid that, after having lived a good and long and happy life, with all the freedoms and comforts he could want, Charlie has run into his last opponent.
Even though I fervently hope I am wrong, I cannot help but mourn that sweet-natured warrior.