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Role in the series
Wildcat is the indispensable third member of the Higher for Hire delivery team. Commonly dressed in pale blue coveralls and a faded red cap, this shaggy-haired, seemingly dimwitted character is able to fix anything from aircraft engines to rotary-dial telephones. For someone with apparently a third-grade education, Wildcat has a real knack for handling machinery and electronics. Except for a few master technicians working for Khan Industries, Wildcat is the best darn mechanic in Cape Suzette.
Wildcat's association with Higher for Hire stems from his long friendship with Baloo, which began sometime during the first few years of a business known as "Baloo's Air Service." Baloo, the proud owner of a Conwing L-16 named the Sea Duck, had considerable flying expertise and enough mechanical knowledge to repair faulty fuel lines. But what Baloo needed was a mechanic with real skill, someone who could help him craft the Duck into a plane worthy of Baloo’s caliber.
As luck would have it, Baloo happened upon a crack mechanic living in a makeshift houseboat on the Cape Suzette waterfront. From what Baloo had gathered in the local pilot hangouts, "Wildcat" was a highly proficient and good-natured repairman — if a few gallons short of a full tank. Most mornings he was out bowling with friends Kirby and Dutch, but the rest of the day he spent dabbling in aircraft mechanics. Wildcat's work with planes was well-respected among fellow mechanics, even if he could not keep his toolbox in any better shape than his lunchbox. Genuinely impressed by Wildcat's skills and good nature, Baloo persuaded him to become his partner. Their partnership turned the Sea Duck into the legendary seaplane is it today. Wildcat remained with Baloo's Air Service for a long time, repairing the Duck as well as the clogged sewer pipes beneath the main office building. Years later, when Baloo lost his business to Rebecca Cunningham, Wildcat stayed on staff and currently resides as Higher for Hire's mechanic. He still lives in his houseboat, which remains tethered to the dock outside the Higher for Hire building.
After the Sea Duck has returned from a long day of delivering cargo, Wildcat can usually be found on top of the wing, busily tinkering with the engines. Wildcat loves to work on the Duck, easily spending hours at a time fiddling with corroded electrical contacts or trying to extract a cracked 'klinkenheimer' bolt from an engine. Admittedly, his repair methods are a bit unorthodox. Bubble gum and eggbeaters may serve as tools in a pinch, and there is no problem that a little bang with a hammer will not cure. Even so, not one of his repair jobs has ever failed to pass muster. Whenever Kit is unavailable for flights, Wildcat accompanies Baloo on his cargo runs as a copilot, on-board repairman, and to some extent a navigator — although his sense of direction leaves much to be desired.
When Wildcat is not busy repairing the Duck, he can be found in his dockside houseboat working on some personal project or other. Constructed out of a hull section from an outdated plane, Wildcat's home is a veritable storehouse of assorted contraptions and doodads, collected over the years and awaiting use in one of Wildcat's inventions. Wildcat creates many innovative mechanical devices in his workshop during his spare time — such as motorized tricycles for downtown delivery runs.
The secret to Wildcat's talent, as he puts it, is "E-magination, with a capital E." For his age, Wildcat retains a very childlike simplicity in his personality. Though he may not be as smart as most other people — at least not by their measure of intelligence — Wildcat has a heart of gold and a very straightforward approach to life, unfettered as it were by any comprehension of what goes on around him. Because of his genuine friendliness, youthful nature, and almost complete lack of mistrust, Wildcat relates well to animals and also children, particularly his young friend Molly Cunningham.
Wildcat's heart may be in the right place, but his head is seldom so. He is a bit slow on the uptake most of the time, doing a lot of things backwards — as a matter of fact, his own formal education reaches just beyond the third grade. While harmless, Wildcat is prone to mishaps and can innocently wander right into a dangerous situation. By the same token, he can sometimes be less dense than others expect and always manages to escape harm by sheer luck.
Wildcat is a very sincere, honest individual, although his guileless nature means that he can be taken in quite easily. He rarely gets mad at anyone, but when he does become angry, it is usually for good reason. Wildcat is an island of calm in what appears to be the chaotic sea of life.
Not much of what Wildcat says makes sense (especially when he begins talking to the machines he is fixing), but often he makes much more sense than others do. Many of Wildcat's offhand remarks smack of irony — sometimes, Wildcat offers meaningful insights hidden in seemingly plain talk. Not everyone appreciates this side of him; even Baloo dismisses Wildcat most of the time as just plain crazy. Of his friends, there are very few who know Wildcat well enough to get past his apparent ineptitude and discover the simple and very special person he is. Wildcat looks like Looney Tunes Pete Puma.