Published in What The Fox?! (2018)
“The Cat’s Meow”
(Les Chat’s Miaulent)
Kitty Pierre, a white and orange tabby, rolled over onto his back like some enraptured heroine on the cover of a romance novel with one insouciant paw strewn across his furry little feline face. He’d been lounging atop the back of the couch staring out the window but had quickly rearranged himself into a more dramatic pose as soon as Scruffy, the dog, wandered into the room. Kitty Pierre loved an audience. He also fancied himself French and would affect what he considered an authentic Parisian accent which sounded a lot like Lumiere from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, though his cattitude was more in line with John Malkovich from Dangerous Liasons.
Kitty Pierre sighed loudly. “Never in my entire lives ‘ave I bean SO bored. Mon dieu! I’ve still got another eight to go! How am I to bear it?”
“What do you mean? There’s loads of stuff to do,” Scruffy said, pausing momentarily from his present, and in Kitty’s opinion, favorite occupation.
“One, can only lick oneself for so long,” he uttered disdainfully. Though unable to fight a sudden and overwhelming urge to do the same, he quickly lapped a spot on his own backside. Kitty finished only to find Scruffy eyeing him with amusement. Kitty aimed his most haughty feline glare at the aptly named terrier, and then turned away. Scruffy, went back to business. Peasant, thought Kitty.
“Why don’t you go out and climb something?” Scruffy suggested. Wet snores came from the other one.
“Tis too cold.”
Torturing small rodents, chasing birds, he’d done it all before. Kitten stuff. He eyed the curtains, but even that didn’t arouse him. Are my claws asleep? He sighed heavily wondering how he might get himself out of this slump.
Scruffy’s ears perked up and he and Pugs ran to the door, tales wagging. Somehow, they always knew of an arrival before Kitty which vexed him to no end. Needy beasts.
The door opened and in walked the Bipeds, bringing with them a cold wind, a little snow and a flurry of energy and chatter equally matched by the eager greeting of Scruffy and Pugs. The quiet Saturday afternoon was broken. This should have made Kitty happy but somehow he felt even more annoyed and depressed.
The kitchen buzzed with excitement. The biggest of the hairless Sasquatches, carried a large square something and set it down with a thud and a groan.
“Open the box daddy,” cried the smallest squatchlet.
Box? What is box?
Curious, Kitty Pierre decided it might be time to investigate. The outside of the box, which was plain white, provided no clue of its contents. He tried sniffing, but it was devoid of any smell that would tell him what might be contained within. Kitty wound himself around the legs of the bipeds and was quickly shooed aside. Not one to give up easily however, he tried again. This time, he was picked up and dumped unceremoniously into the other room along with Scruffy and Pugs.
“Stay out,” the squatchlet commanded. Adding insult to injury, the door was shut in his face. After a while, the door was reopened and the dogs were led outside. Kitty Pierre followed.
Bad move. Ice and dirt collected between the creases of his paw pads and wet snowflakes caught in his whiskers. But Kitty decided he’d take advantage of the situation with some reconnaissance and hopped up onto the window sill to see what all the fuss was about. The Bipeds blocked his view. Foiled.
Just then the boys barked, a signal to the hairless ones to open the door and let them in. Kitty ran in ahead but was quickly stopped in his tracks.
“What eez zat?” Kitty Pierre purred. “I ‘ave never seen anything so wonderful.”
Day two, Kitty spent all morning and afternoon staring into the box the bipeds called TANK.
“Ooh, it eez a kaleidoscope of color,” Kitty squealed in delight. “See how they catch the light? They shimmer like jewels.”
Scruffy looked up at the tank. “I don’t get it.”
“I’m enraptured. Watch as they glide silently through space, dancing to a symphony that only they can hear.” Kitty made kissing noises just as Pugs walked into the room.
“Been hittin’ the catnip pretty hard, eh Pierre?” Pugs said and grinned at Scruffy.
“Don be ridiculous!” Kitty’s accent matched his indignation.
“I still don’t get it,” said Scruffy.
“Don’t sweat it, we’re color blind,” Pugs assured him.
The following day Kitty Pierre and company were finishing breakfast. Kitty dipped a paw into the left over bowl of cereal that one of the little hairless bipeds had left for him and let a big fat creamy droplet of milk fall into his open mouth. He then lapped the “sticky” from his paw, savoring the rare treat with obscene pleasure.
“Never has le lait tasted so sweet, so pure.”
“Ah jeeze, I’m gonna hurl,” Pugs said, eliciting a chuckle from Scruffy. Pierre sauntered past the boys, flicked his tail and resumed his perch in front of the tank.
“Bonjour my precious ones.” His paw tingled and the claws popped as if spring loaded. “Why hello, mon ami,” he said, raising his paw for a better look. “Ripper, you are awake.” Pugs had been watching and commented.
“You’ve finally lost it. For good this time.”
Kitty hissed. “What do you know about it?”
“I know that you can’t have them things, in there,” Pugs said and gestured, “and that it’s driving you crazy. It’s hilarious.”
“Idiot,” Kitty spat. “Now, go away, I want to be alone with my…What do you call these things?”
“Dunno,” Scruffy said scratching himself.
Later that evening…
“I know what they are,” Pugs announced to Kitty who still sat at his perch. “Fish.”
“No, not feesh. Fish.”
“Oh, my lovelies. Now I know what you are. Feesh.”
Pugs shook his head and trotted to the other end of the living room. Kitty remained in front of the tank, totally absorbed.
Two days later and Kitty was still no closer to getting his hands on the fish, something he desperately wanted to do and was just now beginning to put his plans into action. Unbeknownst to the prickly “petit tigre” however, was that Scruffy had been observing him under half closed lids for the past hour. Kitty had fashioned himself a zip line of sorts reaching from the curtains to a point just over the middle of the tank using the TV cable and an extension cord.
Scruff yawned and stretched then padded over to where Kitty was working.
“Whatcha doing there, Pierre?”
“Never you mind.” Kitty said not bothering to turn around and finished tying off the end of the cable wire. “Wait. On second thought, I could use your help.” Though Kitty was loathe to admit it, there were times when the mutt came in handy, this being one of them. “I want you to retrieve something.”
Scruffy’s ears perked up and his tail began wagging vigorously, an involuntary response to his supreme enthusiasm at the unexpected prospect for a little afternoon fun. Retrieving was one of Scuffy’s greatest joys in life, next to eating and sleeping.
“At your service!” Kitty stroked the fur under his chin, his very own beard of evil.
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it,” he began, “involves the recovery of one official Batman utility belt with real fly wire. But we’ll need to move fast, before the bipeds return.”
“Ya, ya, ya. Plenty of time,” Scruffy said then bounded up the stairs.
“Wait, you fool!” Kitty smacked his paw against his forehead and shook it in disgust. “Amateur.” But Scruffy was long gone and so Kitty scrambled up after him, finding his canine ally waiting in the hall at the top of the stairs.
“Which one?” Scruff asked.
“This one,” Kitty indicated with a nod of his head to the second door which was open a crack. Scruffy pushed through nose first and trotted inside. Kitty’s tail twitched anxiously and he waited a moment, surveying the landscape before stepping gingerly into the bedroom. He kept close to the wall, his Spidey senses in overdrive and he had to wend his way around and over the various landmines strewn across the floor. Dirty socks, a scattered assortment of orange and blue Legos, and what appeared to be a Tootsie pop that was now one with the carpet under the foot of the bed. Meanwhile, nose to the ground, Scruffy sniffed the perimeter.
“Say, what does a Batman thingy look like?”
“There,” Kitty pointed. Slung over the back of the desk chair was the Batman utility belt with real fly wire. “That’s it. Fetch.”
Scruffy made a beeline straight for it then stopped, pulling up short only inches within reach and turned back to Kitty.
“You didn’t say the magic word.”
Scruffy sat down on his haunches, grinding himself stubbornly into position.
“Go get it.”
Scruffy ignored him.
“Where?” Scruff swiveled around and then realizing his mistake, rolled his eyes. “Come on Pierre, you know the word.” Kitty huffed but relented.
“Winner winner chicken dinner. That’s the one.”
Scruffy had to get up on his hind legs but was able to grab the belt with his teeth and pull it off the back of the chair. Kitty grabbed the swim goggles on the floor beside the desk.
Back downstairs they got to work. It wasn’t easy, but Kitty, with Scruffy’s assistance, managed to secure the belt around his waist. He was about to attach the fly wire to the cable line, when he paused and turned to Scruffy.
“Something’s missing.” Scruffy looked left then right.
“Wait here,” Kitty said and dashed over to the laptop computer, booted it up then typed in the password. SCRUFFY15. It vexed him to no end that it should be Scruffy’s name and not Pierre’s that allowed him access to the digital world. A quick YouTube search yielded the results he was after and he bade Scruffy to join him at the keyboard.
“When I give the signal, just place your paw on top of this pad, and then give it a quick double tap.” Scruffy cocked his head. “Maybe we ought to practice,” Kitty said. It took a few tries, but Scruffy eventually got the hang of it.
Kitty stopped at the tank before getting into position.
“It won’t be long now, my lovelies,” he cooed with great longing before pulling himself away. He climbed to the top of the book shelf and strapped the hook from the belt he wore onto the cable wire which he had attached to the curtain rod.
Just then Pugs wandered in from the other room and stopped, mouth falling open at the sight before him.
“What’s this?” He asked peering up at Kitty Pierre who was now dangling upside down in the makeshift harness.
“He’s going to get his lovelies,” Scruffy told him. “I’m helping.”
Pugs laughed so hard, he farted, which sent him into another fit and he fell to the floor and rolled onto his back.
“Wait, wait,” he said trying to get it under control. “Hold on, I want a good seat for this.”
“You just wait,” Kitty said.
“All set there Pierre?” Scruff piped up.
“Cue the music,” Kitty said then adjusted his goggles. The theme from Mission Impossible filled the living room and Kitty started his decent toward the treasure, zipping across the room. He made it all the way to the tank and had begun to drop down a few inches before stopping abruptly. He hung, suspended mid-air, arms and legs outstretched looking like a furry mobile. All he needed to complete the look was a cape. He tried pressing the button on the belt, nothing happened.
“What’s wrong?” Scruffy called out to him. Pugs just sat there shaking with laughter.
“Zee wire, it eez stuck.” His accent growing thicker along with his frustration.
But no matter how many times Kitty tried pressing the button, the fly wire would not release and the feesh remained frustratingly out of reach.
Once again, Pugs and Scruffy were alerted to the unheard approach of the bipeds and began their daily ritual of running back and forth to the door and barking.
“They’re here, they’re here,” Scruffy shouted, a mixture of panic and excitement balled into one.
“Get me down.”
“No time! Just stay put. They won’t notice.”
Upon the arrival of the squatchlets and the teenage goat herder (aka: the babysitter), the dogs were let outside to do their business. Scruffy had been right about one thing, the bipeds zoomed through the living room without so much as a glance in Kitty’s direction while the goat herder had her eyes glued to the square with the bright light, fingers flying. That one, KP noted, could navigate any terrain without looking up from her ibox. At least it gave him the chance to climb back up and swing himself, paw over paw, along the wire. He unhooked the harness and jumped down onto the couch.
“Ha! Stealthy as a ninja, I am.”
When the back door opened, he’d once again taken up his position in front of the tank with none the wiser of what had gone on earlier. This was a setback for sure. But he had not given up on his goal. There had to be a way to get inside the tank.
“Why don’t you just climb on top of it?” Pugs said.
“Why don’t you just mind your own business?”
Just then the squatch herder came over to the tank. She stroked Kitty’s back and a purr of pure pleasure escaped him. You are weak, he scolded, totally disgusted with himself and was about to jump down when he noticed that she was now holding the little bottle of flakes in her hand. KP watched as she opened the cover. It was so simple. It had been all along. Ha! Victory will be mine. Kitty looked over at the boys then back at the tank. Scruff raised a paw, not quite a thumbs up, but the idea behind the gesture felt the same and he took it as such. Kitty turned back to the tank putting first his paws and then his face against the glass.
“We shall be united soon, my lovelies.”
At this Pugs headed into the other room.
“I’m not sure how much more of him I can take, Scruff.”
“Give it time, Pugs. A month from now he’ll be onto something new.”
All of a sudden a loud splash followed by an even louder screech was heard.
“You know, you may have a point there Scruff, especially now that Kitty Pierre has discovered the properties of water.” The End