I was lying on the couch, grooming my left rear leg. Bars of light slanted across the room through the venetian blinds. I woulda had a bottle of hooch and a glass handy, but the Humans put the vodka in the freezer. Too high for me to reach, damn the luck.
Business had been thin lately. I was just thinking about jumping up on the windowsill to check out the action on the bird feeder next door when the phone rang. I ran to the bedroom RUN RUN RUN SKID POUNCE! and knocked the phone off the cradle. “Mrrroww?” I said. My tail curled into a question mark. Silence. Then I heard something – distant purring? I mewed plaintively, just in case. Click, then the dial tone.
Damn. The second time today. Someone was playing cat and mouse. I gradually coaxed the handset back in place. Man, that thing is heavy. I ran crazily around the apartment several times, just for luck, and… oops, time for food. The case would have to wait.
Back on the couch, I licked myself all over and pondered. There was something fishy about those phone calls — I could smell it. My claws extended involuntarily, and I kneaded the upholstery for a while. Hmm. Patches was doing time in San Quentin, but maybe one of her torpedoes was prowling around. Or who knows — maybe those damn tomcats from Miss Puff’s gang wanted revenge. I’d made a lot of enemies in my career.
Suddenly there was a flash of movement at the other window. My ears pricked up. GO GO GO adjust my back feet for traction POUNCE onto the end table! Crash! Aw nuts, didn’t see that beer bottle. I stared out at the ratty calico with the notched ear on the outside sill. Her ears went back, and she hissed. This kind of trouble I didn’t need. I locked my stare on to her, bristling slightly, until she looked away.
Oh yeah, lick your paw like nothing just happened, I thought. She gave me a low growl. “Stay away from the big tree at the edge of the parking lot, get me?” she gritted. “That’s my territory. I chase the squirrels down there, see, and I don’t need any two-bit gumshoe horning in on the action.” Something clicked. Yeah, I’d seen her before. Used to be a B-girl down at the Kit Kat Club. Rap sheet twice the length of my tail. I hear her Human calls her Snuggykins now, but I’d seen her yowling and dragging her butt down the gutter plenty of times when she was in heat in the old days.
I combed my whiskers with my paw. “Quit pussyfooting around,” I said. “We both know you didn’t come here to talk about squirrels. Give.”
She gave me an innocent look. “Don’t they say curiosity killed the cat?” she purred.
I felt my tail switching back and forth in irritation. “They say a lot of things,” I growled back. I woulda slugged her, if the screen hadn’t been in the way.
She looked around. “This is strictly on the Q.T.,” she whispered, “but I hear Pumpkin and Sheba are gettin’ kinda tired of you prowling around their operation. Keep your paws outta their cat dish, OK? Be a shame if some kind of *accident* knocked off a couple of your lives. I hear you’re down to five or so.”
Just then, we heard a car turning into the parking lot. She stiffened, then jumped down and crept around the corner of the building. I raked the screen with my claws in frustration. The car pulled up and stopped. Could it…? I mewed. Yes! My Humans! They were home! Meow meow meow! I heard a key in the door, and ran over. All RIGHT! Cat toy! Cat toy! Make it MOVE! Food food food KITTY TREATS KITTY TREATS!
“Hi, Henry,” my smaller Human said. “How was your day?” She picked me up. Man, I HATE that. Let me down! Mew! Cat toy, no hugs! Cat toy! CAT TOY! She stroked my head. My larger Human looked over and saw the broken glass under the table by the window. “Sheesh, Henry,” he said. “Did you do that?” Aw, hell. I arched my back slightly and relaxed. Purr purr purr. Beer bottle? Little old me? Somebody *else* did *that*. Look how cute I am. Oh yeah, scratch under my jaw. Oh baby.
Later, when they were in bed watching TV, I saw something moving under the blanket. SMALL ANIMAL! POUNCE? But wait. Every time I attack, it stops moving. Maybe it’s just the small Human’s hand, like it was the last forty-seven times. But what if it’s really a SMALL ANIMAL? No. Maybe it is. Maybe it IS! Tense tense TENSE TENSE wigglebutt POUNCE! D’oh! It was her hand again. I turned away and started licking my paw. Didn’t fool me, nuh-uh. I curled up on the blanket. I’d solve the Case of the Creeping Cat tomorrow. Big yawn. Purr purrPurrrrrrrrrr…….