Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Second Installment

Okay, because the finger still is a little sore I'm going to cut and paste the second installment of the story here rather than write a bunch. If I do this right, it will continue through Saturday. If not, I'll have to post something else. :) Yes, it's a change of plan. I do TRY to be flexible.


I learned a lot over the next few days.

Life is hard for animals. Opposable thumbs are important. With opposable thumbs you can open doors and windows, cans of food. You can cook, turn on things like the water faucet. Without them, you’re pretty damned helpless. Unless you can catch rats and mice.

I couldn’t. Even if I had been able to figure out how to catch them I wasn’t positive I’d be able to eat it, no matter how hungry I was. And I was hungry. Famished. And cold. The first night I’d managed to get back in to my house through the open window. But when the cleaning lady came in on Thursday she closed and locked it. I was out in the elements when the weather turned, fighting wild animals for any sort of shelter that could be found. Fighting—and losing badly.
Kids threw rocks at me. Most adults were no better.

Freezing to death was a real possibility as the temperature plummeted and snow blanketed the city. I might have human intelligence on my side. But I didn’t have the instincts and the survival skills of the wild dogs and alley cats.

I wound up in a rough neighborhood. By pure luck I managed to find a basement window that had been taped over with cardboard. With a combination of claws and brute strength I managed to tear enough of an opening to worm my way through. Exhausted from the effort and lack of food I collapsed atop the clothes dryer, sleeping to the sound of clothes tumbling and the comforting smell of fabric softener.

“And just what do you think you’re doing in here?”

A warm feminine voice woke me with a start and I panicked, diving for cover, backing into the space between the back of the clothes dryer and the wall.

“Easy buddy. Easy. I’m not going to hurt you.” The woman squatted down a little ways away, giving me room, but staying close enough to get a good look at me. Which gave me a chance to look her over as well.

She was pretty. Not beautiful. Her features were a little to harsh, her nose a bit to large for traditional beauty, her lips just a little too big for her heart-shaped face. And she weighed a bit more than is considered acceptable. But her skin was like porcelain, white and flawless, and her hair was so dark it was nearly as black as my fur. It fell in waves almost to her waist. Her eyes were midnight blue. Those eyes stared at me in sympathy.

“You look as if you’ve been through the wringer bud.”

You have no idea.

She laughed. “I swear, it’s almost as if you understand me.” She rose to her feet in a single, graceful movement. “Stay here. I’ll see if I can’t scrounge you up something to eat.” I stared after her, watching the soft sway of her hips in her faded jeans as she walked down the hall to the door of her basement apartment.

You are an angel.

I’ve never been a big fan of tuna, but I swear to you no steak or lobster I’ve ever eaten tasted better. I devoured every bite, licked the plate, and begged for more by giving her wide, pathetic eyes. It made her laugh, a warm, musical sound that dragged a purr from my throat before I even knew what I was doing.

That first night my bed was a bath towel still warm from the dryer. I slept, safe and warm, and dreamt of an angel with midnight blue eyes.

Day two I got lucky. Very lucky. The woman had just enough money on hand to buy a litter box, cat food, and to get me my shots. She did not have enough money to have me neutered. Halle-fricking-lujah. When that appointment date came around I was sooooooo not planning on being home. The name she gave the vet was “Mister,” after the cat in her favorite books.

Day three was Saturday. The first week of my vacation was gone, and there was no sign of my getting my old life back. I fretted, wondering what if. What if I never got my life back. What if I was stuck like this forever? Would anyone miss me? Elaine, my cleaning lady, would miss her checks. The folks at the office would bitch about the extra work. But would they miss me?

I didn’t know.

Which was pretty freaking sad.

I paced the apartment while my benefactress was off at her job, cashiering at the local food mart. With her hair pulled back, in her unflattering uniform she looked plain, ordinary. I realized with a start that she’d probably waited on me a dozen times or more and I’d never even noticed her.
The apartment was tiny, but clean. The furniture was worn, but well tended. Everything was in order. The bills were stacked neatly on top of a small, roll-top desk that was scarred from years of use. There were a lot of them, some of them with the tell-tale pink and red color that universally denotes past-due. Her name was Amber Scott, and her pay stub told me that she was barely making enough to survive. Barely enough, but she’d been willing to take in a starving stray, share her food and get him to the vet. Foolish, but good-hearted, and more appreciated than she could possibly know. I felt a rush of warmth for her, and wished there was something, anything, I could do. But of course, there wasn’t.

I hate feeling helpless; hated the humiliation of using a litter box; having to clean myself with my tongue. In fact, there was only one thing I didn’t hate about the situation: Amber.

Ironic, a woman I’d never have noticed in a million years in my previous life was now the center of my existence. Every evening I waited inside the main door, watching through the frosted window next to the door as she trudged home from the bus stop, hands jammed in her pockets, body hunched against the frigid wind that cut through her thin coat. Even from the distance I could tell she was weary from a hard day’s work.

I was at my usual post Thursday night when I saw him.

I told myself it was nothing; he wasn’t following her; wasn’t stalking her. But something about the way he hid himself in the shadows, his body language as he watched her, made my blood run cold. I yowled, scratching at the window. She looked up, smiled, and hurried her steps.

He didn’t follow.

But he watched.


Tammy said...

Sorry to hear that you're still having trouble with that finger, I've never injured a finger before just toes, and for me anyways those seem to heal fairly fast.

Dolly said...

Please tell me this is gonna have a happy ending. I'm really enjoying this story. Thank you