BLACK CAT

This is the last short story I wrote for October and Halloween this year. Lux has her hands full when she rescues a black cat:

BLACK CAT

by

Judi Lynn

Where did the keys to my yellow Bentley get to?  Probably in the bottom of my purse.  I was digging for them on my way out of the office supply store when I heard a cat yowl behind the building.  A loud, panicked screech.  It made the hairs on my arms rise.  And then silence.  Something must have scared it.

I tossed my paper and ink cartridges on the passenger seat when the yowl shrieked again.  Nuts!  That cat sounded like it was in trouble.  I went to see what was happening. 

As I rounded the corner of the building, I spotted a teenage boy with a sharp stick poking a black cat.  He’d tied its back paw to a dumpster.  What a little sicko.  “Hey!  What are you doing?”

The kid whirled to look at me.  With a smirk, he jerked his thumb toward the front parking lot.  “Nothin’ to do with you.  Keep moving unless you want poked, too.”

A real charmer.  I raised an eyebrow and pulled my cellphone out of my purse.  “You know there’s a large fine for hurting animals, don’t you?”

“If you get to make the call.”  He stared at me.  A challenge.

This kid had pushed his luck.  I put my purse on the cement and took the stance I used for martial arts when I sparred with Keon.  “Do you think that little stick’s going to help you?  Let’s see who walks away from this.”

His eyes widened in surprise, then he tossed his stick down.  “I can find other strays.  He’s yours, lady.”  And he sprinted away. 

I shivered.  I didn’t want to think about the kid roaming the streets, looking for something else to torture, but what was I going to do?  Try to follow him to turn him in?  He’d be way faster than I am.  I’d lose him in no time. 

I turned to the cat.  It stared at me with unblinking green eyes.  If I tried to untie it, would it claw my hand to shreds?  I talked to it in a soothing voice as I slowly approached, hand out, palm down, for it to sniff.  It flinched when I stroked its head but didn’t fight me.  I petted it for a while before trying to untie the string that held it.  No luck there.  I dug in my purse for my nail clippers and worked more to cut through the string.  Then I picked up the cat and held it close to me.

Its shivers stopped, and purrs started deep in its throat.  The poor thing had been scared to death.  I would have been, too. 

“Do you have a home?  You don’t look like a stray.  You’re too healthy.  What if we go to my house, and I try to find who you belong to?”

It had good manners.  When I moved my stuff off the passenger seat, it curled there as I drove away. 

Once we were home, I hunted for the lost pets section of the paper.  Nothing about a black cat.  I called the Humane shelter and SPCA.  No hits there either.  I didn’t have anything for a cat, but I found a low, heavy cardboard box in the garage and filled it with a plastic liner and lots of paper to use as a litter box, then I opened a can of tuna to feed it.  If I couldn’t find an owner, I’d have to go to a pet store. 

The cat went to the French doors that led to our patio, meowing, and I figured it wanted out to go home.  I went to pet it and firmly said, “No.  I’m sorry.  I know you want to find your owner.  So do I, but I don’t want you to get lost or hurt again.  You’ll have to stay here until I figure out where you belong.”

The cat never took its gaze off me as I talked, then curled on the floor, satisfied.  It was almost as though it had understood me.  But that’s silly, right?

When Keon came home from his restaurant that night, he stopped and stared when a cat padded to greet him.  “You’re full of surprises, Lux.  Did you decide we needed a black cat for Halloween?”

It was nearing the end of October, but I shook my head and told him what had happened.  He stooped to scoop the cat into his arms and stroked his fur.  “You’ve had a rough time, fella.  I’ll get you a litter box tomorrow and some food.  Enjoy your stay here until we find your owner.  Someone’s missing you right now.  Probably worrying about you.  You’re such a nice boy, you’ve had lots of love.”

He grabbed a beer, and I poured myself a glass of wine, and we went to the living room to relax.  The cat curled on Keon’s lap when he stretched out his long legs.  “If no one advertises in the paper, what are you going to do?”

Good question.  I pulled my legs under me on the couch and gave a frustrated sigh.  I’d been wondering that myself.  “Maybe I’ll take the cat and drive around town, hoping someone stapled up posters for a missing cat.”

 His chocolate brown eyes sparkled.  Glad I could amuse him.  “You’re going to a lot of bother.  You must like this guy.”

“No animal should be mistreated.  That kid’s lucky I couldn’t catch him.  He’s the one who should be kept in a cage.”

Keon scratched behind the cat’s ears.  “Well this fella’s safe, and that’s all you can do for now.”

True, but in the morning, I was going to load the cat in my Bentley, and we were going to search the city for posters with his picture on them.

###

The freaking cat was smart.  When I talked to him, he listened, and I swear he understood.  I waited until Keon left for his restaurant after lunch, then the cat and I took off to drive up and down streets, looking for his home.  I was going to turn east when I left our subdivision, but the cat meowed and shook its head. 

I stared.  “Not this direction?”

It turned its head toward the west.  We drove toward the highway.  When we reached it, I was going to turn right.  The cat meowed and looked straight ahead.  I drove straight.  I did as the cat said until we reached a little town twenty minutes from Summit City.  There was a smattering of houses, a church, a school, and a bar.  All the important things.  The most important thing, though, were papers tacked on trees, with the words LOST CAT on them.  No description.  No address.  No phone number.  How was I supposed to find who posted them?

The cat jumped up to press its paws against the side window and meowed for me to go that way.  I did, and after I drove another five minutes, the cat meowed again, clawing at the glass.  I turned into a gravel lane and bumped my way to a ramshackle house with a crooked front porch and chickens running in the yard.  Was this where the cat lived?  It looked like the kind of place someone with a shotgun would step out of, hopefully only to warn me away.

Goosebumps covered my arms, but I parked my car, got out, and opened the door on the passenger’s side for the cat.  He ran toward the house.  Before he reached it, the door flew open and a thin, middle-aged woman dressed all in black ran onto the porch to meet him.  The cat leapt into her arms, and she hugged him close.

A lanky young boy followed the woman outside.  His face and hands were covered in red blotches, and he couldn’t stop scratching them.  His voice desperate, he said, “Cinder’s home again.  I’m sorry I played a mean trick on him, but he scratched me.  Will you remove my curse now?”

The woman gave him a withering glance, snapped her fingers, and the blotches disappeared.  The boy let out a sigh of relief, then ran as if chased by hounds.  I swallowed hard and was turning back to my car, anxious to get out of there, when the woman turned to me.

“My cat found you?”

I shook my head and told her how I’d rescued him.  “I live on the south side of Summit City.  How did he wander so far?”

She stepped closer, and I got a good look at her.  Nothing like I’d expected.  Downright pretty with luxuriant sable hair, sparkling green eyes–an exact match to the cat’s–and a creamy complexion.  Her brows dipped in vexation.  “Cinder never wanders.  That silly boy lured him into his car with a treat, then drove to town and dumped him.”

“What is it with teenage boys?”

She pressed her face to her cat’s, nuzzling him.  “He’s a nice kid, but he and Cinder had a disagreement.  He wanted to teach the cat a lesson.”

“He went too far.”  And she’d made blotches appear on his skin.  But no one could do that, right?  Except…I’d just seen her make them disappear.

She smiled.  “I never cause real harm, but I wanted him to learn his lesson.  I like that boy.”

Did that mean she had caused the blotches?  How?  I felt tongue-tied but stammered, “Are you a witch?”  Then I cringed.  How stupid did that sound?

She shook her head, her eyes sparkling with amusement.  “There’s no such thing as witches.  You and I both know that, but if there were, I’d send you home with a blessing for rescuing my familiar.”

Familiar?  Was she messing with me?  I gave a shaky laugh.  “I’m just glad I could help.  No need for blessings, but I’m glad Cinder’s back with you.  He’s a wonderful cat.”  And I turned to make a beeline for my car.

“Thanks again,” she called after me as I started the engine.  “And I hope this Halloween is your best one yet.”

I didn’t see how that could happen.  My life was pretty good, as was.  Keon had moved in with me.  His family was all here.  The only person I missed from growing up in Chicago was Cook, and after my parents had died, they’d left her enough money to get a place of her own and happily retire.

Imagine my shock, then, when on Halloween day, Cook called to tell me that she was bringing her sister with her to move to Summit City, and she wanted to find a condo close enough to where I lived that we could visit often.  I disconnected the call and looked at Keon, rubbing my arms.

When I told him the news, he shook his head.  “You think it’s the witch’s blessing, don’t you?”

“What else could it be?”

He started to answer, then shrugged in defeat.  “I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad you met a good witch instead of a bad one.  And from now on, when I see a black cat, I’m going to be especially nice to it.”

Me, too.  All cats, for that matter.  We lifted our glasses to toast each other.  “Happy Halloween.”

20 thoughts on “BLACK CAT

  1. THAT BLACK CAT, SHE INVADED HIS DREAMS (mostly a true story) … She laid by his bared feet / at the foot of his bed / though in his dream they’d meet / which they did in his head. // For this sleek black feline / she’d been in there before / such she’d never decline / as that cat he’d adore. // A myth it couldn’t be / that her claws touched his toes / as the dreaming did he / was about that she knows. // The dream she boldly caught / that night she did invade / was the dream she had sought / the dream she’d long delayed. // Within she placed her claws / upon his sleep-bound feet / all performed with no flaws / then and there they did meet. // Though not feeling abused / by prickling on his toes / he still looked down confused / at each of five toes, two rows. // Naught of her did he find / in his dream created / though back to wakened mind / he saw her and stated // ‘Mimi, it’s you—you rascal!’ / yet he still adored her / while finding comical / her response a smooth ‘murr’. // From the thick mattress down / she landed without woes / as he said ‘You little clown— / you leave alone my toes.’ // Thought she, ‘Again we’ll meet / as you dream fast asleep / when the toes on your feet / from my paws you cannot keep.’

    (Frank Sterle Jr.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That Young Black Cat Finally Found Something New (another mostly true story) …

        ‘If only I had something new to do,’ / she mused, ‘some wander most adventurous / like when the nearby fields grew tall / towering greens from which wild fowl fed and flew / as a feisty feline and precocious / I must have a venue change or else climb the wall!’ // She walked along the window pane / and looked out to neighbouring homes / where she hoped to find something / new, something beyond the back lane / rocky road where she often roams / with her green eyes wide and wandering. // When her attention was caught / by the towering dark roof / of the local convenience store / the cat at once decided she ought / to climb to its black peak as more proof / of her worth to those who already her adore. // Out the door, through adjoining yards she went / glancing round this and that corner / going over then under fences small and tall / till she stood at the wall she meant / to surmount as a foreigner / without fear (though windy it was) she may fall. // She looked passed blown leaves at two garbage cans / standing beside a wooden shed / right next to the store painted so pink / and up she jumped, her clawed feet and hands / reaching each peak by but a thread / yet of no better place she could think. // Having achieved her hazardous climb / she contemplated some swaying trees / unaware her human hostess stood near / at a bus stop, as passed the time / the woman looked up only to freeze / seeing her beloved black feline knowing no fear! // Thus the feline had done something big and new / and not seeing her master’s silent stare / descended and went home more than content / for from this day excitement the cat drew / indeed deciding she’d again climb—dare / herself to ascend any site worthy of her scent.

        [Frank Sterle Jr.]

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We had a black cat for 20 years that we loved, and yes, he was fearless:) Now we have a gray cat that’s a house cat and demanding. And either way, cats are wonderful. Glad your black cat had such a good time exploring and daring himself. Fun story.

    Like

    1. Thanks. (And just for the record, the cat in the poems was a girl.)

      Only when over-populations of unwanted cats are greatly reduced in number by responsible owners consistently spaying/neutering their felines, will this beautiful animal’s presence be truly appreciated, especially for the symbiotic-like healthy relationships (contrary to common misinformation) they offer their loving owners.

      About three years ago, it was reported that Surrey, B.C. had/has approximately 36,000 feral and stray cats, so many of which are allowed to suffer severe malnourishment, debilitating injury and/or infection by callously neglectful municipal government as well as individual residents who choose to remain silent.

      It’s as though there’s a subconscious human perception that the value, or lack thereof, of such animal life (if not even human life in regularly war-torn or overpopulated famine-stricken global regions) is reflected by its overabundance and the protracted conditions under which it suffers.

      (Frank Sterle Jr.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our city’s Humane Shelter started a program where people who feed strays can catch them and take them to the shelter, get them neutered, and then bring them back to where they were and release them. They notch one ear so that everyone knows it’s been spayed. The cats can’t be tamed. They’re feral, but neighbors often feed them and they become “neighborhood” strays. It’s helped cut down on the stray population and helped give them better lives. It’s a good program.

        Like

  3. It does. They refuse to be “pets.” But they are wonderful and faithful–if you give them food. They have as good a life as anyone can give them, and they don’t have more kittens. It’s working.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s