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acattale for dog people

A Cat Tale

original story by Chris Miller

cleaned up by Me


Some instinct made me wake up. I sniffed around. Things seemed unchanged. Grover was sleeping up there on Boss and Lady's bed, the sound of his snores wafting in. Feeling a stab of hunger, I decided to go check the food bowls. The food bowls were much the same as the last five times I'd looked. The first still contained the small residual pile of breakfast, now dried and crusted. I sniffed it dubiously, and gave my paw a little shake of disgust. The second bowl was worse; all traces of the orange crunchy stuff Boss leaves for us when he's out were gone, gobbled up by Grover hours ago. Naturally, the water bowl was full, but who cares about water? I was starving! Where the heck were the bigfeet? I padded out of the food room, growling. There was never a bigfoot around when you needed one. I think they take some kind of sadistic pleasure in prolonging our hunger. In the mornings, for instance, they always sleep long after me and Grover are ravenous, and we have to go in and walk on their chests. Speaking of the Big Orange Puffball, who the heck did he think he was, taking the last of the crunchy stuff? I decided to give the old boy some grief. I headed for the back room, planning my assault...and stopped short, staring, every element of my being in a state of total readiness. Blue greeblings were soaking through the ceiling! "Grover!" I thought loudly. "Greeblings!" Some of them were almost loose, moored now only by long, glistening umbilici, like balloons. I hate greeblings!

My back went up and I hissed. One broke free. It hovered uncertainly for a moment, then floated toward the hall closet, extruding a black wire coat hanger. Gathering myself, I sprang, intersected its path, and gave the thing a face full of claws. With a burst of rotten-food smell and a rain of wet blue streamers, it exploded. The coat hanger disappeared. But three more greeblings were now free, and others without number were making their slow way through the ceiling. I was darn busy for the next half hour. I leaped and clawed, and greeblings exploded, and the stink was something fierce. Finally there were none left. I crouched there, panting, atop a great pile of the awful blue shreds. I must have killed three thousand of them, while they had hooked a mere three hangers on the closet rod. Not too shabby. I huffed out and licked a paw. Now what had I...?

Oh, yes, Grover. And where the heck had he been when I was single-handedly fighting off the barbarian hordes? Still sleeping, no doubt, as he had during last night's attack of sweece, and yesterday's kazoon invasion. A lot of help he'd been lately. Getting too old. My desire to torment him returned. Stealing into the rear room, I jumped weightlessly onto the bed and eyed Grover speculatively. He was sleeping away on his back, all four paws in the air, his fur rippling with his breathing. His hair's so long he looks three times larger than he is. (I myself am shorthaired, youthfully trim, and muscular, my coat a pleasing contrast of black and white sections.) The guy seems to be living in some other world, where all you do is lap cream, get brushed, and assume decorative poses. He was dreaming about killing a beetle; in the dream, he was big as a bigfoot. "Hey, hairbag!" I thought loudly. "Your tail's on fire!" As his eyes popped open, I sprang, sinking my teeth into his ear. Not so as to actually hurt him, you understand--just enough to tick him off. Gradually he figured out what was happening. He's a little slow, old Grover. "Hey!" he thought. "Ouch!" He began kicking up at me with his rear legs. "Darn you, I was in the middle of a dream!" Yeah, I know," I thought. "Grover the giant beetle killer." "Are you making fun of me?" Faster than I would have believed possible, he flipped onto his paws and sprang. I did a little rear-leg leap-up, but he caught me in the midsection, took me down, and began biting my face. I kicked frantically; he held on tight. He's strong beneath all that fur. "Give up?" he thought. "Yes, yes, ouch!" I began to meow in pain. "You'll leave me alone when I'm sleeping from now on?" "Yes, please, stop, I promise...." He let go. I scrambled to my paws and darted a few feet away, licking my upper lip several times. Then, when he figured I was good and chastened, I thought loudly, "You got food stains on your whiskers, fishbreath!" and ran like heck with Grover racing after me. At that moment we both heard the sound we live for--the little metallic clicking that precedes the opening of the front door. All thoughts of combat evaporated. "Food!" we thought loudly, "Food, food!"

We rushed to the door as it opened, meowing at the top of our lungs. Since bigfeet can't hear you think, you have to make noise to get their attention. Then, if you luck out, they may give you what you want. "Meowwwwww," we shrilled. "Mrowrrr mrowwww!" They paid not the least attention to us. Lady marched right by, almost kicking me in the nose. Boss slammed the door closed and pounded after her. Grover and I looked at each other, stunned. "But I'm hungry," Grover thought. "Let's go rub against their legs," I suggested. We pattered after them, but didn't rub against their legs. In fact, we didn't get close to them; the emotional weather in there was too intense. Lady's glow was bright red, and crackled and swirled around her. Boss's was a mixture of blue and red, but getting bluer. He was in bad shape. Lady made a series of loud, terrible noises at Boss, putting her forepaws on her flanks and sticking her face very close to his. The red in his glow made a comeback. Finally he cut her off, roaring so loudly I could feel my eardrums vibrate. Grover walked in a little circle. "I hate it when they're like this," he thought. Lying down, he put his face on his paws. I could relate to that.

The badness between them had been growing for some time; we'd been tracking it for weeks. It's no fun living in that kind of weather, let me tell you. I jumped as Lady began to wail and gulp and then ran into the bedroom, slamming the door shut with such an earsplitting clap that Grover panicked and ran under the sofa. Boss slumped into a chair. The blue of his glow was now total. At length he took out one of those interesting-smelling smoke tubes with the pinched-in ends, made flame appear on top of his fist, and drank smoke for a while. Gradually he began to feel better. A bit, anyway. "I sense an opening," I thought to Grover. Jumping onto Boss's lap, I meowed quietly. He began to stroke me. I went up high on my paws, pushing my back against his hand. I love it when he does this. "Purr purr," I said. Sighing, he stood up and headed for the food room. Grover exploded from under the sofa, and both of us scurried after. Folks, I really lose it at times like this. The minute Boss gets the can open, the smell hits me and I just...go away somewhere. The next thing I knew Grover and I were banging heads over the first food bowl. Omigod, the creamy white stuff with the gray lumps! I rammed my face into it, licking like crazy. Good! Eat! Mmmm! "HUNGRY!" Grover butted my head out of the way and began his own assault. Trading off like this, we quickly wiped out the creamy stuff and began on the lumps, which, frankly, are less thrilling. That's why we never finish them. My hunger sated at last, I now felt the urge for a dump. I ran to the litterbox room and jumped in. When I was finished, as usual I sniffed carefully at my deposit. It was what it was supposed to be; I was very consistent. At the appearance of Big Orange waiting his turn, I reluctantly hopped out. I rather like it in there. Back in the big room, I groomed for a while. Boss's glow was dimming now. I climbed in his lap and purred as he gave me a few absent strokes.

Poor Boss. He hadn't been doing so well lately. The situation around the apartment had really deteriorated. When I was a kitten, Boss and Lady felt great. In fact. I used to sleep between them at night, that being the warmest, sweetest spot in the apartment. And they were so playful! Lady could do this trick with a string, holding it at one end, making the other end come alive and dance around. I must have killed that piece of string a thousand times. She also had a great way of scratching a guy behind the ear. She'd been my friend. No more. Nowadays, she and Boss slept with their backs to each other, when they slept together at all, and I'd resorted to sacking out with the Hairbag, who kept waking me up with his snoring. Tonight, though, I hung with Boss as, glow fading, he stretched out on the sofa with his foreleg around me. Now, your average bigfoot foreleg probably weighs twice what I do, so this was not exactly comfortable, but I hung in there and kept purring until I was sure he was asleep. Even when a swoose popped from under a chair to spin a couple of dustballs, I restrained my death charge so Boss could stay unconscious. It was the happiest he got to be in those days.

By the time I dropped to the floor, the swoose was long gone. I jumped up to the sill of the window that's always open a little, to sniff the night. I didn't feel like sleeping. My fur was rubbed the wrong way, both by Boss's foreleg and the whole Boss-Lady situation. And by one thing more. Lately, I'd been restless. The feelings were vague and general, hard to get a handle on. I felt as if everything I did was something I'd already done. Even if Lady had still been making strings come to life, I don't think I would have cared, you know what I mean? There had to be something more to life. I felt this with certainty, on a deep, instinctive level. As to what that something might be, who knew? But , I intuited, it was coming--and soon. I stared out at the night. Not for the first time. I thought that maybe what I sought was out there, in the mysterious world beyond the glass. The scents that drifted in evoked a strange wistfulness in me, though for what I could not say. I decided to have a taste of them now, took a good sniff...and was overwhelmed with the most incredible scent I'd ever smelled in my life!

It was like...oh, how do you describe a smell, anyway? It was ravishing! I sniffed in all directions, gorging myself on that heady perfume, trying to locate its source. Then, from below, a meow arose. But to call it a "meow" is like calling the sun "warm." It made me tingle down to my hind claws. I made me tingle even more between my legs. I took a look and, stunned, found that something was happening there of its own accord. Again the meow rent my consciousness. I did my best to peer through the darkness, but no go. I was panting, even though I'd hardly moved in an hour. I felt absolutely wild! The smell, the sounds... I couldn't help what happened next, and couldn't do anything about it anyway. Little flashing lights seemed to go off all around me, and then there was this, like, explosion inside me, blowing me right off the windowsill. I lay in a tangle on the floor, blinking stupidly. What the hell had that been? Who knows how long I lay there? After a while, it hit me that no more meows were coming though the window. I got up, a bit shakily, and leaped back to the sill. The scent had become blurry, was blowing away. Whoever, whatever, had been out there was now gone. I was alone with my unanswered questions.

Though I didn't know it at the time, the episode on the windowsill would change my life forever. I couldn't get that divine scent, that delicious meow, out of my consciousness. And how about what had happened down there in my nether regions! I mean, everybody licks down there now and then. You need to guard against being smelled by enemies, right? But this was something else. Usually, it's neutral, utilitarian. This new thing was charged and ecstatic. And totally unexpected, like discovering that you had--had always had?--an eye in the back of your head that could see through walls. My curiosity was so great it almost killed me. Grover was no help at all. I told him the whole story. He gave me a lofty look and thought, "Enjoy it while it lasts, jockamo." I couldn't get him to explain what he meant by that, no matter how often I asked. Nor could I get much attention from Boss and Lady, preoccupied as they were with their own problems. Boss's glow had a dim, dirty look to it, its hue increasingly dominated by brown. And he hardly ever sat at the tone machine anymore.

Tone machine? Over there--that big wooden job, with the black and white pedals. When you walk on them, tones come...Oh, you know how it works; you just didn't know what it's called. Okay, then you've probably also noticed how often Boss tinkles away on it. Well. that was true in those days, too. He'd play away, then stop and make marks on paper with one of those yellow biting sticks he's always taking away from me. But thanks to Lady, he'd stopped playing. What did he do instead? Slept a lot. Ignored us. My scritch-on-the-head frequency was way down. And no matter how often I'd defeat raiding parties of kazoon, or greeblings, or wild hermables, he'd take no notice.

To be fair, he really hadn't ever noticed my military exploits, even before Lady came. Bigfeet are weird. They seem to take our efforts for granted, glancing at us with bemused affection as we do the most desperate battle, sometimes actually laughing at us. But do they ever help? Ha! I've seen Boss walk through a dozen greeblings like they're not even there. Don't bigfeet know we're protecting them? We ought to go on strike sometime, let them slay their own kazoon. That'd be a sight to see.

Meanwhile, each night the meowing and the scent returned! My entire day revolved around these episodes. What a frenzy they drove me to! I swear, if that window had been open just a little more, I would have been gone. Grover took to watching with great amusement as I paced and meowed and licked myself. He ceased to be amused on the third night, however, when, even more out of control than usual, I rushed him from behind and jumped on top of him. Understand, now; I didn't know what I was doing. But I guess he did. "Hey!" he thought. "Get the hell off me, you idiot!" Later I tried to apologize, but Grover avoided me the rest of the night and, when he couldn't avoid me, pointedly shifted position so that he always faced me. Then, on the fifth night, nothing. No scent, no sounds. I was stunned, deeply aggrieved. Four nights of madness, and that's it? How could God do this to me? I hated my life! And then Lady really pissed me off. You know, at one time I'd really liked her. But something had happened, somewhere along the way, and she'd stopped being nice and started treating Boss like crap. Now, tonight, as I sat there stewing in my bitter disappointment, in burst Boss and Lady roaring and bleating at each other yet another time, and, well, I just didn't need that. I was tired of the dissension, the contention, the noise. I was sick of how brown and lousy-feeling Boss was after Lady finished with him. And I was furious at the abrupt disappearance of the meowing. So tonight, after Lady flounced to the bedroom and Boss had crashed once more on the sofa, I peed on her fur coat.

This wasn't the first time I'd felt the urge. Imagine--wearing a fur coat around me and Grover! She had the sensitivity of a rock! But until tonight I'd always held back. When I was a real little kitten I'd made the mistake of leaving a few territorial markers around the place, and Boss had spanked the hell out of me. Enough was enough, however; I totally drenched the thing. In the morning, Lady's scream of dismay lifted me three feet in the air. Boss rushed over, and she went on and on at the highest imaginable volume, gesturing repeatedly at the coat with both her hands. Boss looked down at me. I could feel him trying to restrain it, but finally he just burst out laughing.

Lady stared at him, bug-eyed, then, with surprising speed, whipped off a shoe and threw it at me. Like to took my head off, too; I just got out of the way. I'm happy to report that Boss did the absolute right thing: he stuck his face in her face and yelled in the loudest voice I'd ever heard him use. Lady stiffened, then spun into the bedroom. Angrily, Boss made flame on his fist and lit a smoke tube. Gradually he simmered down. After a while Lady came back out, lugging a huge case made of leather--had she no decency at all?--and Boss's glow turned pure yellow. Lady kept going. Boss rushed after her, making placating noises, but Lady went out, slamming the door in his face. Boss returned, and I've never experienced a living thing feeling quite as bad as he felt then. Lost. Utterly bleak.

He stood in the middle of the room for a time, buried under these emotions, then shook himself and went out. I didn't feel so great myself. I hunted for Grover, found him meditating atop the tone machine. "Don't come running to me," he thought. "This is all your fault." He turned his back and resumed his contemplation.

Now I really felt terrible. Was Grover right? But hell, she'd had it coming, hadn't she? The rightness of peeing on her coat had seemed so clear last night. Life really gets complicated sometimes.

Presently, Boss came back, carrying one of those papersack play-spaces. He took from it a bottle of that amber liquid he drinks. Then he said the noises he says when he wants me and Grover. Since this usually means food, we rushed over. But instead, he handed us each a little cloth thing that looked vaguely like a mouse.

Before I even knew what was happening, I found myself biting and tearing at it, my nose assailed by this spicy scent, my mouth filled with bizarre, exotic flavors. I was, to be succinct, zonked. What happened was, I lost myself in this hunting fantasy, biting and slashing small, defenseless creatures into bits. It was...very special.

I don't know how much time passed, but eventually the high leveled off into a kind of plateau. I glanced at the "mouse"; it was torn to bits, with little dried leafy stuff scattered all around. I felt mellow and satiated, and began to purr. I guess the experience had had a similarly salutory effect on Grover, because he now came up to me and, in tones that were actually friendly, thought, "Hey, kid? I want to think to you about a few things." So we went to the back room, jumped on Boss's bed, and sat facing each other.

"Well, look," Grover thought, "I've been mulling it over and I just want to say... I'm sorry I've been giving you a hard time since you came here. I mean, you violate my territoriality, disrupted my routines. I was very disturbed...and I've been taking it out on you, I guess. We just got off on the wrong paw. What do you say we start over?"

And with that , he licked me on the face.

Surprised? I damn near fainted. But that was just the beginning.

"Now let me level with you about a few things," Grover thought, and went on to divulge that Bigfeet aren't the only beings around who come in both male and female...and that the thing meowing out the window was a "girl"! He then told me the story about what boys can do to girls when they're "in heat."

"But that's disgusting," I thought.

"It is," Grover thought, "but when they're meowing and making perfume, you don't feel that way."

And on second thought, it didn't sound so disgusting after all. Highly desirable, in fact. In fact, I wanted to do it very, very much.

"So," I thought, "I guess the only problem is how to get out of here, huh?"

"You are so young," he thought. "Kid, that's not going to be your only problem. For instance, remember that female bigfoot Boss took you to, who stuck a needle in you?"

I did. The bitch.

"Well, the minute Boss notices you being interested in all that meowing, he's going to take your back to that bigfoot, and when you get home, you're not going to care about girls anymore."

How horrible! I went off to think. Boss was fast asleep sitting up, the bottle still in his hand. As long as he was this way, I didn't have to worry about him noticing anything. And that should give me time to find a way out of the apartment, and into this girl. Maybe tomorrow...

But she didn't meow again the next night, nor the night after that. I sniffed until my nose hurt. The only scent I got was the urine of some of those gray furry things with buckteeth that run around the trees outside the window. Meanwhile, Boss was getting worse. He hardly moved. He drank smoke or amber liquid, and stared at the flickerbox. Or, fairly often, at nothing at all. We had to meow like maniacs and leap all over him to get fed. He didn't change the litter. He didn't scritch us on the head.

These were not good times.

The days passed; the girl did not meow again. Boss's mood did pick up a little, though. At least, he added a few activities. He'd sit in front of the low table, putting red-and-black-spotted plastic rectangles into piles. Or at the big table, fitting all different shaped little pieces of cardboard together so they made a picture of flowers. And he began combing Grover. What with everything that'd been going on, Boss hadn't gotten around to combing the old boy for quite a while. I mean, he was a mess! His rear end was impossible, a matted jungle of fur and other stuff. Boss got down on the job, Grover baring his teeth to no avail, mrowling dismally.

Next Boss started working around the apartment, cleaning out drawers, hanging new pictures, throwing stuff away. The big job was the closet door. Boss rubbed it with bad-smelling stuff and the green came off, showing wood underneath. Getting all the corners and curlicues took days, but finally the green was gone, and Boss rubbed the wood with good smelling stuff, and the door turned brown. The closet looked new!

Boss felt good about that. Or at least better than he'd been feeling. But he still hardly ever left the apartment, and he still didn't play the tone machine.

As for me, life seemed on the upswing. I'd almost forgotten about the night cries of the girl. Grover at least for the moment, was treating me with new courtesy, even a kind of gruff affection. I hadn't forgotten the needle lady, and Boss--his glow brightening as he stopped with the amber liquid--admittedly was more capable of noticing any behavioral displays on my part, but I wasn't too worried on that account. Heck , at that point, there were no behavioral displays on my part.

Then one night Boss came home with a strange bigfoot--a female one. Boy, was he happy! Grover and I were so surprised, we simply stopped meowing and stared. The difference in his mood was that striking. In addition, we felt profoundly dubious about his guest. Boss himself is a pretty decent bigfoot, but most of them are huge, clumsy clowns, and they scare me. Look what had happened with the last female bigfoot he'd brought in here.

Boss and Big Yellow--our immediate name selection, her hair being that color--went on in and parked themselves on the sofa, which didn't thrill me too much, as I had been planning a short-term nap up there. Boss had a different sort of bottle tonight. This one did a trick--it blew its head off when Boss twisted it and sent forth foam. Boss poured some of the stuff into glasses, then, to our further astonishment, sat dawn at the tone machine and made a jaunty series of tones, howling along and wagging his eyebrows at Big Yellow, who began howling along too. Ye gods, what caterwauling!

 After too much of this--I was starting to wish the big bastard felt lousy again so he'd shut up-Boss left the tone machine, but then made more incredible noise blare forth , this time from the speakers, and he two great galoots started leaping and spasming about, their great hindpaws crashing down around us, and Grover and I streaked away from them and jumped on top of the tone machine, staring back at them and licking our upper lips. Boss saw this and laughed and laughed. He took Big Yellow and with a sty glance at me and Grover, headed for the food room. The O and I exchanged a look and barreled after him.

He filled one of our bowls with these white and pink crescent-shaped things! They were incredible! Bingo, I was into food consciousness. We slammed each other out of the way repeatedly, gorging ourselves. It was so good!

When we got back to the big room, we found Boss and Big Yellow still at it, crashing about, glowing so brightly it hurt our eyes. We jumped to relatively secure spots on top of the flickerbox to close our eyes and purr for a while.

At length, the noise clicked off. Boss and Big Yellow both had drops of moisture on their faces. Boss went off to the litter box room. Big Yellow stood there fanning herself.

At that moment, the meowing started again.

I stiffened. I tried not to react, but couldn't help it. All I could think was...oh, no, Boss'll come back and find me licking myself! Yet there I was, rushing like and idiot for the windowsill, bunching my thighs, leaping, and...

And just then Big Yellow opened the window.

"Holy crap!" Grover thought. "Kid, look out!"

Ever find yourself in mid-air? It's...interesting. Luckily, there was a tree branch. Unluckily, there were also three of those bucktoothed types I mentioned earlier. They came at me in little rushes, baring incisors that could have gone through my face in a second. There was a sort of metal climbing structure on the building side; had, in fact, been there all along, but I'd sailed right over it. I sprang across to it as the buckies chittered angrily at me.

I clung there for a moment. Up above, there was something I had glimpsed once or twice in my life.. and never wanted to think about too closely. No ceiling! I mean, you looked up and it just went! I had a moment of wondering what the hell I was doing there, and then the meow came again, driving all such considerations from my head. I went down that climbing structure like a pro. I mean, I was on the ground before I left! 

I found myself in and open area between buildings, with a few trees and lots of crumbly stone, dirt, dead leaves, barker crap, and miscellaneous stuff of a totally unknown nature. The air teemed with scents I'd sniffed only faintly from the windowsill; here they were so rich and vivid it was dizzying. So this was the world outside. Before, the times Boss boxed me and took me to get needled, I'd formed the impression that zillions of bigfeet were out there, and great roaring metal monsters spewing poison from their tails. Here there were no monsters, no bigfeet. Just shadows, alien smells, unfathomable sounds...Maybe, I thought, it would be good to go home, eat a little orange crunchy stuff, take a nice nap on the radiator...

The meowing began again. I forgot orange crunchy stuff. I forgot my name! Then the scent washed over me. Swishing my tail in agitation, I craned my neck around. I didn't know how to interpret so much of what I saw! And, in the narrow canyons formed by the buildings, it was almost impossible to pinpoint from which direction the meowing was coming. I was totally disoriented. Well, I had to go in some direction. Choosing one at random, I started off.

I padded through the night, looking over my shoulder every two seconds. My neck fur was up like Boss's hairbrush. Some bigfoot slammed a window somewhere, and I did a three-leap, with a full one-eighty turn in each. The boy was a little nervous.

Rounding a corner, I stopped. I was face-to-face with a stranger! That may not sound like such a big deal to you, but, other than Grover, I'd never met anyone before. The guy was big and black, gazing at me with no particular concern, however, as he sat there, lazily licking a paw, washing his nose leather.

"Hey, bro," he thought, "What it is?"

As I was wondering whether this strange question was rhetorical, the meow came again. I paced in a circle. Where was she??? Embarrassed, I felt the guy's amusement.

"Yeah, pussy'll do that to ya," he thought.

"Yeah, well, how come it doesn't do it to you, then?" I asked.

"Used to live with a bigfoot," the guy explained. "Ol' Gypsy take me to this other bigfoot and' she stick me with a needle, an' when I wake up back home, I find that pussy have lost its power of persuasion."

God, this needle bigfoot is everywhere.

"Look, I'm a little lost. Do you know exactly where this, ah, pussy is?"

"Oh, sure."

"You do? That's great! Where?"

"Don't believe I'm gonna tell ya, hievva."

I'd known this was too easy. "Why not?"

"Do the name 'Slash' mean anythin' to you?"

It didn't.

"Well, that meowin' you hear? That be Princess, an' she Slash's girl. An' if you want to find out how Slash get his name, you jus' go on like you goin', an I guarantee, you will find out."

I licked my upper lip. That put a certain perspective on things.

"You bes' get on home, youngblood. Watchoo doin' here anyway? This ainchoo scene, you know?"

The meow came again. It was like a leash yanking at me. "I know, I know. I'm doing what I have to do, okay?"

The guy sighed.

"Awright, look. You see that alley over there? About halfway along it, there be some steps down an' a door. Princess live with the garbage-can bigfoot down there."

I sent him a wave of gratitude.

"Thank me later, if you still in the world of the livin'. That cat is bad, man."

Entering the alley, I passed a powerful scent marker. This was someone else's territory; I'd been warned. I kept going. God, what we do for girls. Gloom enclosed me; there was so little light in there you couldn't even see colors. I glided through a gray world, wondering what the hell I thought I was doing. Thought, of course, had nothing to do with it. Then her perfume hit me, very strong, very close; my senses reeled under its onslaught. And...


She was there at the top of the steps! Right there in front of me! Ohmigod, she was gorgeous! She looked--I loved the way she looked. In a way, the same as me and Grover, but oh, the difference! She fell over on her side playfully, looking at me, meowing and purring.

What a sextet of teats!

I headed for her, out of control. Once again.

At this moment, naturally, Slash appeared. Dropped right out of the air, hitting the ground between me and Princess, snarling, lashing his tail. Gray and white striped, he was bigger than three of me, and covered with battle scars. Most of one ear was chewed away as well, but I wouldn't have wanted to see the other guy. I had to concur: the cat was bad. "MROWWWW!!" he said. And thought, "You lookin' to die? The bitch is mine. Leave. Fast!"

Not a small part of me wanted to think, "Just had the same idea! What a coincidence!" But instead, surprising even myself I gave him my loudest roar right back, thinking, "Oh, yeah? What I eat today, you eat tomorrow, dickbreath!" And instantly regretted it as he started for me, legs stiff, tail erect. Well, two could platy that game. I came at him similarly, and we circled, sniffing each other's anuses--and experience about which I cannot say little enough.

I tried to impress him, fluffing myself up to appear bigger. Didn't work; he merely did the same. Seeming to swell to the size of a flickerbox. We prowled around each other , growling. I found myself smacking my lips, salivating like crazy. I don't want to say I was scared, exactly. Terrified. That's the word I'm searching for.

"MROOOWWWLL!!!" he roared.

"RRROOOWWWLLL!!" Hey, the roaring part was easy. I was great at that part.

Then he went for my throat. I spun away, but one of his long, glistening eyeteeth caught me in the shoulder, drawing blood.

All right, now I was pissed. The man had messed with me. I, who had killed untold greeblings, armies of sweece and kazoon! "MMMRRROWWWL!" I roared, and sprang.

What he did, he just move forward, maybe and inch, as I hit him. It was as if I had frontally attacked the swinging leg of a bigfoot. Boinggg! So there I was on my ass in the alley, with this big son of a bitch bearing down on me, ears flattened, lips drawn back...and Princess, as I could see from the corner of my eye, rolling around and crooning, for God'[s sake posing in these unbelievably lewd positions, and all nine of my lives were passing before my eyes...

"Mrooop rooo." Princess was cooing.


"ROWWWWWWWWLLL!" I howled plaintively.

Wham! A window flew open; some bigfoot began barking at us.

In absolute accord, the three of us shut up and froze. We stared at the light in the window, blinking stupidly; and empty amber-liquid bottle flew out at us. I leaped out of the way. Maybe Slash thought he couldn't be hurt, I dunno. Anyway, he just stood there...and the bottle bounced off the giant bastard's head. Down he went.

I looked at Slash. I looked over at Princess. She returned my gaze. Slowly, she lowered her belly to the ground, and elevated her rump.

"Prrrrrr. Prrrrrrrrrrr, " she said.

It's amazing what your body knows how to do. I mean, it wasn't as if Grover had run this all down to me. I was on her like a flash, and sank my teeth into the soft, infinitely desirable ruff at the back of her neck.

"PRRRRRRR!" she said. And thought.

My sentiments exactly. I got one foreleg on each side of her , and with my hind legs began treading around her rear, thrusting at her in a frenzy. It's a very small target, and you're not down there to see what you're doing, so...Well, anyway, it seemed to go on for a long, long time, as I experienced what to this day is the most unbearable sustained pleasure of my life. I'll tell you, you couldn't do a lot of that; you'd burn out--die, probably.

And then I hit it. Blam!. There was that inner explosion again. Princess let out a shriek. I mean a shriek! And threw me off, hissing and clawing at me. "Hey, " I thought.


Then bright light blinded us as a door flew open. A bigfoot--an old, skinny one with blue pictures on his arms--barreled up the stairs, his glow as red as any I've ever seen . That was it for me. Later, Princess. I streaked for the alley mouth.

The black gut wasn't around anymore. Of course he wasn't; it was raining. I hate getting wet! Redoubling my speed, I zoomed by the wooden wall, up the metal climbing thing. By now I was wet, bleeding, hungry, and thoroughly miserable.

The window was closed.

Have you ever wanted to just quit? This wasn't supposed to be happening to me! I blinked, and peered through the glass. My God, the place was full of greeblings! With nobody doing anything about it!! Can you possibly comprehend the frustration I felt? The closet was gaping open, defenseless. Where the hell was Grover??

Need I have asked? I went to the next window, the one into the back room. There he was, all right--lying between Boss and Big Yellow, all three of them sleeping away with these stupid, contented smiles. I meowed at the top of my lungs. Nothing; the storm was so loud I could hardly hear myself. Guess who spent the night in the rain?

Well, what the hell, everything worked out okay. My shoulder hurts some every once in a while, but Big Yellow took such good care of me that, by and large, I soon felt fine again, and we became great friends. Then life got better--she moved in. That was the end of Boss's trouble; he began playing the tome machine regularly again, and his glow's been bright and clean ever since.

As for me, adventure's no longer the thing I crave. I'm getting plenty to eat, thank you very much; Grover no longer resents me; the sleeping's great in that sweet, between-the-bigfeet place. I'm a family man again, and that's fine with me.

See, you can't be a youth forever, Young, maybe, but not youth. The adventure taught me the virtues of self-control. Now when meows come through the slightly open window, I keep my enjoyment to myself. And since Boss never saw me freaking out, guess what? He never took me back to the needle bigfoot!

Occasionally I still recline on the windowsill. Once I happened to glance down, and who should I see but Princess... and five little guys following her. Beats me where they came from; they sure weren't around the night I met her. Anyway, Big Yellow saw too. And let out a coo. She ran out, and when she came back she had you sitting in one of her forepaws. And that's how you got here, kid.

Oh, one last thing I don't want to leave out--the funniest sight of the whole experience. It was Boss, the morning after the rain when they brought me inside and he opened the closet door to get me something warm--and disappeared from sight beneath a clattering avalanche of black wire coat hangers.



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