Continued from last week…
There, in the middle of her less-than-immaculate-but-nowhere-near-grimy kitchen floor, sat a cat; a small, amber-eyed cat that reminded Valentine of the tortoiseshell coloring of the plastic combs with which she used to pull her hair out of her face, except the cat was furry. Very furry. And alive.
“How did you get in here?” She juggled her coffee to free a hand, which she waved in the general direction of the front door. “Scat, cat. Shoo.”
The cat regarded her with nary a blink, even when it settled itself into a prone position and began to wash its front paws with its tiny pink tongue. The damn animal-slash-intruder looked as though it meant to stay for awhile.
“What are you doing? Don’t get comfortable, you. I don’t know who you belong to, but you need to go back to her-him-them.” Valentine set down her cooling coffee, strode with great determination past the bathing cat to the front door, and pulled it open. “Come on. Time to go. Bath time at Valentine’s is over. Come on. Come on… Now. Right now.”
Her stern demands were met with abject indifference. The creature was busy washing its belly in long, unhurried strokes.
She tried a different tact, took on a sweet, wheedling, sing-songy voice. “Come on, pretty kitty. Come on, handsome kitty. I don’t know if you’re a boy or a girl, and I don’t want to offend you, which is why I’m being P.C. and offering you both options. Choose one, you puny freeloader. Come on and get your furry little behind out of my house.”
The cat was now contorted in a Yoga-like position that gave its tongue access to- “Stop! Stop that right now! You can’t do that here.” Valentine winced when the cat continued on its way-too-personal-for-the-kitchen mission. “Eew. How can you do that?”
She closed the front door. She needed to figure out a way to get the cat out of her house without having to touch it, in case it had fleas or, worse, in case it licked her with the tongue that knew no boundaries.
“Tuna fish. Do you like tuna? Ooh. Or cream. I’ve got half-and-half, which is like cream but a little less – er – creamy, if you know what I mean. Do you want some half-and-half, kitty?”
The cat blinked. Yes, it did. It actually blinked. “Is that a yes?” Another blink. Coincidence? There’s no such thing as coincidence. Who said that? I forget. It’ll come to me.
She glanced longingly at what she was certain must be lukewarm coffee in her mug by now, pulled a shallow bowl out of the cupboard, hauled the sweating eggnog back to the refrigerator, and retrieved the half-and-half. The cat was sitting statue-still again, watching her. She backed toward the counter and the bowl with her bait, and the cat’s eyes followed her.
“See what I’ve got for you? Half-and-half that we’ll pretend is cream. Half-and-half that is going to get you out of my house. Want some?” Blink. “Either you know what I’m saying, or your timing is impeccable.”
Valentine turned away from the cat and poured just enough half-and-half to cover the bottom of the bowl. She didn’t want to contribute to the cat’s possible future obesity, after all. She turned back to the cat, and it was gone.
“Meow.” Did I say that?
She looked down to find the cat sitting barely a foot away from her, its eyes trained on the bowl, its tail twitching back and forth, its whiskers fully extended. “Meow.” Nope. Not me.
“Oh, yes. You know you want it, don’t you?” She lowered the bowl a couple feet, and the cat sat up on its hind legs, front paws reaching upward, a plaintive expression on its sweet face. Sweet? We’ll have none of that, Valentine Darby. You don’t like cats. Or dogs. Or baby hedgehogs, or pandas, or whatever über cute animal is the Facebook share-frenzy of the day.
“Come on, then. Come and get it, kitty-kitty.” She thought she might be experiencing what the Pied Piper felt when he tooted on his horn or flute or kazoo or whatever the heck that thing was he played, and had all the children of Hamlin follow him wherever he led, as she eased toward the front door, and the cat, miraculously, did the same. It was powerful.
She stepped out onto the three-by-four slab of cement that served as her pretend farmer’s porch in the warm months, and which was remarkably free of the offensive snow and ice that plagued her walkway. The sea salt she’d used a couple days ago, when she’d almost taken a dive on the glare ice, had worked. She set the bowl down. “Here it is. It’s all yours. Come on, kitty.”
The cat took a seat just inside the front door and stared at the bowl. No tail-twitching, no meowing, no blinking. If not for the delicate movement of its pale pink nostrils, Valentine would have sworn it had turned into a stuffed animal.
“Come on. Really. I mean, really? Just a minute ago you would have given your right front paw to have this.” She indicated the bowl and its contents with a sharp gesture. “Don’t you want it anymore? You have to want it. Come and show me how much you want it, you mangy little-”
Copyrights are mine, thank you.
Have you ever been owned by a precocious cat? Is using “precocious” to describe a cat redundant?