Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ollie and Fred - Story #1, Part 2

During the remaining hours of his shift, Fred had scarcely a moment to peek inside his pocket again. He could feel the warmth and slight weight of the small sleeping cat though. Leonard collected fares as tourists and commuters boarded the trolley, heading to their homes and hotels for the night. Fred gave a nod or brief smile to the regulars and otherwise concentrated on his work.

When he finished that evening, instead of joining his co-workers for a drink at Finnegan’s Pub, Fred gave his excuses and headed home. He owned a row house on Cedar Street, his parents' home where he had grown up. He rented the lower level to Mr. Bailey, an old widower who kept mainly to himself.

Stopping at the corner store to buy two cans of cat food, Fred felt some small movements in his pocket. “What in the world have you got in there?” the owner Annie asked with a smile. Fred shrugged and gestured to the cat food. “Gotta run, g' night, Annie.”

He passed back out into the night air and, with long strides, walked the rest of the block to his house. He fumbled with his keys a bit, then unlocked the door and headed up the stairs, holding the pocket steady with his hand. He entered his apartment and suddenly stood stock still, at a loss as to the next step.

A long minute passed and Fred didn't move. Suddenly, his pocket jumped!

A sharp, plaintive meow set Fred in motion. He placed an old towel in the middle of the kitchen table. Gingerly, he reached into the pocket and received a scratch as the cat tried to find its own way out. “Hey there,” he crooned, “take it easy, little man.”

He reached in again and, holding the scruff of its neck, gently pulled out the cat and sat him on the towel. The cat blinked his big eyes in the glare of the kitchen light and then gave an enormous yawn, revealing sharp white teeth and a rough pink tongue.

“Well, you can't be very old at all,” Fred told him, “not with all those baby teeth. We start feeding you right and you'll grow into a big ol' tomcat.”

The cat stared at him.

“Just sit tight for a moment,” Fred said.

He turned to the counter and peeled back the lid of one can of cat food. He wasn't impressed. “Humph, not so tasty looking,” he murmured to himself. After a moment's pause, he pulled various pans from his cupboards and began cooking. Fred glanced over his shoulder and found the cat sitting quite still, watching him.

“That's right,” Fred encouraged, “we’ll be having a tasty meal together in just a few minutes. You sit tight. Good puss.”

When the meat finished cooking, Fred cut a bit of meat into cat-sized bites and piled the rest of the food onto a dinner plate for himself.

“Well, nothing too fancy, but see what you think,” Fred said, setting the dishes on the table.

The cat twitched his long, elegant tail and licked his chops, moving towards the dish.
When they had both finished eating, Fred pushed back his chair and gestured towards the living room. “Shall we relax a bit?” he asked.

The cat hopped down onto the seat of the kitchen chair and from there to the floor. In the time it took for Fred to pile the dishes in the sink and wipe off the table, the cat had settled on the couch and begun giving himself a bath. Fred sat down next to him and switched on the news.

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