Classic Fantasy Humor Literary Fiction Satire Strange

Cat and Mouse

By Duane Pesice
Nov 24, 2018 · 1,714 words · 7 minutes

From the author: “He’s been tomcatting,” her announced in the Voice of Death. “He doesn’t know me very well.” I licked my paw, which had a little bit of breakfast still on it, and waited. Her ran hot water.

Cat and Mouse

“He’s been tomcatting,” her announced in the Voice of Death. “He doesn’t know me very well.”

I licked my paw, which had a little bit of breakfast still on it, and waited. Her ran hot water.

“He just doesn’t.” Him doesn’t, either. I have heard him say so.

Her commenced scrubbing dishes. Me stayed around to hear the rest, even though my brothers were outside and I felt like playing. Me hid my intent by going by the rainy room. Noticed that him’s hairbrush has content.

Me thought about pulling it out but reasoned that it wouldn’t be entertaining enough. So me prowled around in the hall for a few minutes while her finished her monologue.

“Bring a strange woman into my house unannounced and expect me to like it. I don’t think so,” her continued. “Old friend, my ass. Well, old, I buy.” Her scrubbed furiously. Me could hear the Velcro squeak from fifteen feet away. “And expect me to agree to put her up, and just assume it was fine. I’m certainly not in agreement with that, Beltane.”

Oops. Too far out into the room. Mama eyes. My mama had them too.

“It’s okay,” her resumed. “I knew you were there. I heard you in the bathroom, too. You need practice.

“Anyway, he’s not getting away with this. I got something with his name on it.”

Her dried the dishes and fixed herself another cup of coffee. Me opened my mouth experimentally, hoping she’d notice and give me something to chew on.

Her ignored me and continued into the comfy room. The needles came out and her fished a bolt of cloth and a bit of linty yarn out of her stuff box.

“This will do nicely,” her announced in the Voice of Impending Doom. And her went and got the hair and made a little him, and drew a face on it. Her stuck the needle in his mouth.

Her put the little him in a desk drawer, rolled it closed, opened it again. Her moved the little him back to her table and sat back in her comfortable chair.

“Enough for now,” she said in a voice that would slice diamonds. She grabbed her yarn thing.

The back door was open. I went while I could.

My brothers were outside, lying in the sun. It’s starting to get hot out. My furs aren’t as thick as theirs and I abstained. I went instead to lie in the grass on the side of the house, where it’s cool, and not so coincidentally, beneath the kitchen window. I took a power nap since him wasn’t due for a couple hours. Drama is so exhausting. But I love it so.

Me heard those two hims run up the fence and out into the world and then I was in dreamtime. Me had a fine time in the library, heard the news about the star-nosed weasels, drank a little moonwine, relaxed wonderfully in a velvet hammock strung between two birches, played for a while in the Park of Boxes, and finally had some nip and a bit of fresh cream before heading back to the daylight.

The brothers were back with greetings from our other brother, who ran away because the older cats made him bleed after Fatboy won the leader post. He’s doing well, they tell me.

Me knew this much because me am carrying his kittens. But him and him can’t smell that yet. Me won’t let them anyway. Them need to find their own tail.

“What a day!” Him hollered in the Voice of Dead Tired. “Oh my tooth.” Him came stomping out of the back door. “And I have such a bruise!”

Him rubbed his shoulder, which was purple. “I blacked out and fell into the corner of the grill. Sharp! Hard! Pain!”

Me could feel her grin. Me heard the click of the needles onto the side-table, the sounds of coffee-fixing. Got up and moved to just around the corner, behind the clothes basket.

Her sat down on a plastic box. “Tooth bothering you?”

“More than bothering me,” him said. “It’s KILLING me.”

“Maybe you should drink the other half of the bourbon,” she said, warming to the discussion. “That would deaden the pain.”

“And my shoulder,” he whined.

“And that, too. I can make canned ravioli, that’s fine.”

Him looked at the ground.

“I’ll cook,” him volunteered.

“Of course you will. And then you’ll get drunk and I’ll watch Practical Magic again. And listen to you snore.”

“I’m sorry,” him said, still looking at the ground.

“You certainly are,” she said, and got up and went back inside.

“I need this,” he muttered.

Her opened a can, and that delicious smell summoned the crew. The brothers lagged behind for appearance’s sake, and the tuxedo sisters ate first, as usual. The mama cat didn’t get up.

The long-eared salad-eaters hopped up to get their leaves and roots. Her fed them, poured our dish full of chewies and crunchables, and went to sit down on her chair and watch the screen.

Him ruined some fish, warming it in oil and squeezing fruit on it, and they ate some roots. In silence. They looked at the screen.

We fur people all went outside after supper. Over the fence and out in the world. I saw my brother and the barrio cats, and we chased the pigs and saw the flying mice go back home.

Her was not very pleased about that, and let us know by giving us a can of ick food in the morning when we returned, but it was worth it for the entertainment and the exercise. We don’t get many chances to go catting and might as well take advantage of every chance we get.

“You kids need to stay inside at night,” she told us. “Beltane, you’re supposed to be in charge.”

Actually, Fat Boy is. But he’s lazy. Papa cat mostly runs things. But me am assigned to the Cat Mama, and her believes this gives me rank.

Him came stumbling out of the rainy room, rubbing his jaw. “My tooth still hurts,” he tried.

“You’re going to work,” she told him. “Suck on a teabag to get that poison out and suck it up.”

Him grunted.

“We need the money,” she finished.

Him fetched a bun from the cold box and left, biting on the bun.

Her followed him as far as the front door, picking up the little man on the way. She jabbed a needle in its butt.

“Ow!” We all heard.

“I’ll torture him more later,” she said, and pulled all the needles.

The tuxedo cats went back to bed. The brothers went to go nap on the birdcage and the mama cat came out to have breakfast.

“Meow,” she said, glancing in my direction.

“Mew,” I answered, remembering her position. “Mew.” I licked a paw. Cats only have so many sounds. The mama cat was telling me that it was hell to grow old, and not to try it. She’s going to last a while yet, though, I’d bet. Her is tough. Small but tough, like me, and gray stripes like me, too. We all love the mama cat, but the tuxedo sisters are closer to her.

Them are old, too, the cat-ladies. Agatha is tall and dignified, with a sneer on her face, and Hermione is stout and doughty. One does not tangle with them, for they are not enfeebled and will hurt you. Their years have not yet worn on them as they have on the mama.

“I don’t have that choice,” is what I said to the mama.

“Mew,” she answered. “True.”

Me went out for another trip to the dreamtime, met up with my sister, who lives a little ways away but stays inside, talked to her housemate, who looks like my orange brother. He seems a nice fellow. Used to stay with our crew until Cat Mama and Cat Papa started living apart. Our papa cat is very fond of him, and they exchange scent messages when they can’t meet in dreams.

This time, by fortune, they met. Papa cat slumbered in his seat in the sun, and dreamed his way with us. The tuxedo sisters and the mama cat all dreamed then, and we adventured far, almost to the edge of the desert, following the flying mice to a fine row of burrows, where we flushed a fat warm thing and enjoyed a bit of sweet water before boarding a carpet to the mountains and jumping and climbing the afternoon away.

Even the mama cat came up a little bit, though she stayed on a low ledge and didn’t jump about. It was good to have her with us though.

Me woke and stretched luxuriously and padded onto the tiles. Her was scritching and scratching on the little man with a pin.

Her phone belled.

Him was writing to her. Her smiled and poked the little man in the stomach with a finger, and then put it on her side-table.

Her made more coffee.

Him arrived shortly after that, complaining about a tummyache.

“Poor baby, “ her said.

Him didn’t speak. Him picked up the little man from the side-table.

“This is me, isn’t it?” Him asked.

“Of course it is,” her said. “So?”

“That means you have been causing all of my troubles.”

“Not all of them,” her said. “You create many of your own. But, yes, I have been poking you with pins and needles.”

“I should make one of you,” him said.

“You lack the ability,” her answered. “It takes more than you know.”

“I suppose it is something passed on between mother and daughter only,” him said.

“Of course it is, and all of the mothers and all of the daughters. I imagine it is part of the mitochondrial DNA,” her said.

Him had no answer for that. “I brought home burgers.”

“How nice to have been asked. But thank you.”

He put the little man down gently, and they sat down and ate.

Later, her went out to make a fire. It was one of those days. A mantic night.

Him drank water.

Mindful of her warning, we stayed in and played and dreamed.

This story originally appeared in Weirdbook (Witch Issue -- October 2017).

Duane Pesice

Duane Pesice writes weird fiction and practices journalism.