Near 500 words: TW and Cat

TW (aka The Writer) had never wanted a cat. He’d always thought that a dog was in his future. But a cat, never.

Then one Saturday afternoon eight years before, a kitten crawled up into his engine. With meows reaching across the shopping center parking lot, the kitten notified the world she wanted out. He saw the crowd gathered around his car. He popped the hood open. A tall, scrawny teen reached in and pulled out a small gray cat and handed the creature over to TW.

A white-haired woman said, “I guess it’s yours.”

The furry creature, smaller than the palm of his hand, meowed. And it didn’t just meowed. It Meowed.

“But…”

“Just take it home and feed it and put out a poop box and it’ll be fine.”

“I don’t know.”

“Follow me,” the woman insisted.

She reached into her car and handed him a shoe box for the kitten.

Like a mouse after a piped piper, he followed her into the nearby pet store. Back in the parking lot, she said, “My name is Claire. Here’s my card. You can call me if you have any questions.” Then she drove away.

Despite his resistance, TW took a liking to the kitten over the next week. And the kitten took a liking to its new home.

She bonded with his couch. She bonded with his bed. She bonded with his chair. She bonded with her food and water bowls. She bonded with the poop box. And she bonded with his lap.

After several tries, he found a vet he liked. Dr. Hatch was very patient with TW. “You don’t have to be afraid of the cat.”

“Yeah, but…she’s so small.”

Dr. Hatch laughed. “Oh, she’ll grow.”

“But, Dr. Hatch…”

“Helen. You can call me Helen.” Then Helen went on to ease TW’s mind about the cat. “Have you given her a name?”

“No,” TW said, frowning. “I didn’t think it was a good idea since I wouldn’t be keeping her.”

“Oh, you’ll be keeping her.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“She’s already claimed you.”

“Guess I’ll call her Cat.”

“Very unusual name.” Helen laughed.

And that was how he’d gotten to know Helen, and they’d begun dating.

Though things hadn’t worked out with Helen, they’d definitely worked out with Cat. Cat became as close to TW as anyone he’d ever known. With others, and this included Sylvia, he’d held something back. Not with Cat.

No matter how bad a day TW had, Cat always cheered him up. No matter what he was trying to decide, Cat always had a say in the decision. If he brought home a piece of furniture and Cat didn’t like it, it went back.

Each morning he went on the back porch. Cat ran out into the yard. She chased the ball he threw for her. She jumped six feet in the air and caught it. She went after lizards and squirrels and birds but never caught them. She just liked chasing things.

On the weekends, TW took leisurely walks through the neighborhood in the late afternoon. Cat walked by his side.

There were times when TW thought he could read Cat’s mind. And there were times when he came to believe she could read his.

No matter how sick or sad or frustrated he became, she was always a comfort. Most nights Cat cozied up  to him and lay on his lap while he read or watched TV.

Now Cat stood at his front door, bleeding. She looked up into his eyes. Her green eyes said, “I’m hurting. I’m in pain. Please do something.”

He scooped her up into his arms, laid her on the table and managed to stop the bleeding with bandages. Then he picked her up and put her on the passenger seat of his car and rushed her to the vet hospital. As he drove, she closed her eyes and fell asleep

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Near 500 words: Parrot Speaks

When Ada and Ty returned from their honeymoon, Ada introduced her new husband to her parrot. He was gray with red trimming.

“His name is Parrot,” she said. “He was my dad’s before he died.”

Ty had always wanted a dog or a cat, but he’d never imagined a bird. Ty, being in love with his new wife, decided a bird might not be a bad thing.

When Ty came home from his jewelry business the next night, he noticed Parrot in his cage over in the corner. The bird never tweeted or sang or talked. Not one word out of him. He just sat in that cage, watching. Ty wasn’t sure he liked it, but he didn’t want to say anything. Ada loved the bird, almost giving Parrot as much attention as she gave Ty.

Then late one night Ty woke up to a sound coming from the living room. He pulled himself out of bed and slipped into the living room. Across the room, Parrot muttered, “Got to have dinner ready for Ty. Have to contact Sara. Make an appointment for the hairdresser.”

Ty slipped back into bed beside Ada.

“Everything okay?” she asked.

“Yeah. It’s the bird. Sounds like he’s repeating something you said. First time I’ve heard a peep from him.”

“Oh, that’s normal. He talks in his sleep.”

Ty laughed. “What? He can’t talk when he’s awake. When he’s asleep–”

“That’s about it. Talks his head off when he’s sleeping.”

Over the next few weeks, Parrot talked every night. Things Ada said. Things Ty said. Things friends said when they came over.

One Saturday night Bob and Helen Hardy, two friends of Ty’s, were over for penny ante poker.  After the couple left, Ada went off to bed. Ty wanted to finish a book he was reading. Dozing off, he was wakened by Parrot.

“Oh, Bob,” the bird said. “Not here. We’ll get caught. Come over Tuesday night. Ty will be late.”

“What?” Ty said. Was that what they were doing when Bob was helping Ada in the kitchen?

The bird repeated himself and added, “Now stop that.”

The next morning Ty didn’t say anything. Maybe he had imagined the whole thing or maybe Parrot was dreaming. He let the matter go. After all, Ada was as affectionate as a wife could be and Bob was his best friend.

The Sunday night and the Monday night bird talk was the usual. Meetings, friends, gossip.

It was late when Ty got home Tuesday. Ada was already in bed. Parrot dozed in his cage. Then the bird started, “Oh, Bob, that feels so good. Baby, you’re so good. Ty has never done anything like that to me.”

Ty’s body filled with anger. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He  went into the hall closet and pulled out a .45, then he stormed out the front door.

It was four o’clock in the morning when the detective rang the doorbell. It didn’t stop ringing until Ada pulled herself out of bed, wrapped a robe around her body and opened the door. “What do you want?” she asked, still half asleep.

“Ma’am, we have some news. About one this morning your husband shot and killed Bob Hardy. Before he died, Mr. Hardy managed to get off a shot. The shot was fatal.”

“Oh, my God,” Ada screamed. “Oh, my God.”

A female officer stepped past the detective. For the next while, she managed to calm Ada down.

Finally Ada said, “I’ll be all right. I’ll be all right.”

“Are you sure? I can stay if you need me to. Or do you want me to call a friend?.”

“No-no-no,” Ada assured her.

The officer left. Ada closed the door after her and looked over at Parrot. Wide awake, Parrot said, “Another one bites the dust.” Then he winked.

Ada asked, “When do you think we can sell the business?” Parrot stayed quiet.

Ada switched off the lights and went back to the bedroom. From her bed, she heard, “Three husbands down, but I’m not counting.”

This cat of mine

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
looking, seeing, chasing

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
running, jumping, playing

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
climbing, digging, dashing

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
wandering, exploring, adventuring

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
sneaking, disappearing, hiding

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
meowing, cajoling, crying

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
scratching, rubbing, sunning

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine:
bathing, eating, sleeping

She is a curious thing, this cat of mine.
And when she purrs, it is a fine fine thing.