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Friday, October 31, 2008

Story - The Halloween Kitten

Here's a new Halloween story I wrote. Hope you enjoy.

I open my front door this morning and find a black kitten sitting on my stoop. It looks up at me and gives such a pitiful mew I immediately fall in love. There’s something about helplessness encased in furry cuteness that brings my suppressed maternal instincts to the surface. Besides, today is All Hallow’s Eve, and a black feline seems apropos. I scoop up the kitty and determine that the gender is female. She looks at me earnestly, as though there is something she wants to say. Instead, all I get from her is another "meow" as I chuck her gently beneath the chin.

I carry her into the kitchen, place her down on the tiled floor, then open the fridge to see what can pass for kitty chow. Unfortunately for her, I am a vegan; I am, however, lacto-ovo, so I settle on a piece of cheese (or is that for mice?) and some soy milk. I scrounge around for a bowl, then place her meal beside her. But she’s not having any of it. She just meows a little more loudly.

"OK, Kit, what exactly is your pleasure? I'm sorry, but I'm between checks right now, so the scraps are a little scarce. Take it or leave it."

Am I imagining it, or does her cute little nose sneer up at me?

The ringing phone interrupts our conversation, and I head for the living room. The pitter patter of little kitty paws follows right along.

"Dez, where the hell are you?" Rita's voice booms through the receiver.

"Ah, shit," I utter beneath my breath, but obviously loud enough for her to hear me, because she adds, "Ah, shit is right. We were supposed to meet up for breakfast. I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour."

"OK, OK. Just give me a half hour..."

"Uhn, uhn, girl, I'm hungry now. You know I just came off Atkins and I plan to do some serious eating. My stomach is not on your timetable."

Actually, it was my idea to celebrate my sister's weight loss with breakfast at Roy's Pancake House. The menu offers low-fat fare including turkey bacon and sausage, my sister’s weakness. She’s as much a carnivore as I am an herbivore and hadn't met a piece of flesh she didn't like. Actually, Rita had warned me once that there was no way she could ever go meatless, and if by chance we somehow became stranded on a deserted island without any animals, I'd better run.

"OK, I tell you what. Go ahead and order breakfast, and I should be there at least to share some herbal tea."

"Herbal tea, my ass. Make that my decidedly smaller ass. I'm latte with cream."

"Whatever." I feel a bump against my ankle and look down to see the duly christened Ms. Kit pawing my jean leg. An attention whore in the making.

"I have to see to my new houseguest before I leave."

"Houseguest? Don't tell me Delia's moved back in? Damn it, Dez, you have to learn to say 'no' sometimes, otherwise people are going to keep walking all over you."

"No, it's not Delia. Although I think this one's going to be a serious moocher, too. But at least, I get to cuddle her in bed."

" bed?" Silence, then: "Are you telling me you're gay? 'Cause if you are, you better not let Mom know, 'cause she's going to freak."

"No, Rita, I'm not gay. Unfortunately, I'm not with anyone at the moment, either male or female. My 'girlfriend' is named Ms. Kit, and is one of the cutest kittens you’ll ever want to meet. She has green eyes and the softest fur..."

"Spare me. You know I hate cats. Just don't have that thing around when I drop in."

While Rita brusquely reminds me about her phobia and my penchant for taking in strays, Ms. Kit threatens to fray my jean cuff in her futile attempt to climb my leg.

"Rita, gotta go. Luv ya."

Rita is not one to let someone end her conversation. "I mean it about that cat, Dez. I don’t want..." I hang up mid-sentence. She is going to be pissed. I shrug. I'll just have to buy her an extra latte by way of an apology.

This time when I pick the kitten up, she feels a little heavier. Actually she feels a lot heavier, as though she'd gained ten pounds in the minutes since I'd first picked her up. I head to the bathroom with her in tow.

"OK, Ms. Kit, I have to leave you alone for a little bit, so don't make too much of a mess. I’ll pick you up a litter box and some chew toys on my way home." I mentally itemize all the things I will need to make Ms. Kit a bonafide family member. As much as I don't want to admit it to myself, I could use a roommate. Just not Delia. I still feel a little guilty about kicking Delia out, but she had gotten a little too weird for me, especially those strange concoctions she used to put together that smelled up my apartment. Spells, she called them. She was determined to become a witch.

I place Ms. Kit in the bathroom and quickly shut the door. Immediately, she starts scratching at the wood and mewling pitiably. I feel bad for her, but tile is much easier to clean than my living room carpet. As I close the door to the apartment, the mewing gets louder.

I arrive at the restaurant and see Rita sitting at a window booth working on a second cup of latte. The first cup sits next to a plate holding remnants of scrambled eggs and cheese, hash brown potatoes, pancakes, toast and jam, as well as numerous bacon crumbs.

"Good to see you haven't lost your appetite for carbs," I say as I sit down in the booth seat across from her.

She gives me her evil eye as she takes another sip of creamy latte. "Shut up heifer; you hung up on me."

"Well, I couldn't let you keep talking bad about my cat."

"Hhrumph. I don't know what it is about you and mangy creatures. You know that thing's gonna take over your house just like that other heifer did."

"Don't even compare Ms. Kit with Delia. Two different species, and besides Ms. Kit has a whole better outlook on life."

This time the look she gives me teeters between concern and scorn. "OK, do I need to be worried about you? You're talking like one of those weird cat ladies. Remember Ms. Watkins who lived a few doors down from us on Vernon? Wench had about a hundred freaking cats, and they were always running around the neighborhood shitting everywhere. Mama couldn't keep her flower pots out on the porch because of those damn cats crapping in 'em all the time."

I wrinkle my nose. "Ugh, great breakfast conversation. You're going to ruin my appetite."

"Like you're gonna eat anything worthwhile, anyway. I'll never understand how anyone decides not to eat meat."

"It's a lifestyle choice. I want a clean, healthy system, and all of that fat and flesh just clogs up my arteries. You should think about going meatless; would help you lose more weight."

"Uh uh, I told you. I'm a meat person. Rabbit food just don't do it for me." To punctuate her point, Rita punches her forefinger down and around the bacon crumbs on her plate then licks them off, her eyes daring me to say anything.

When the waiter brings the check, I order an herbal tea with honey. Rita just rolls her eyes. She and I often seem too different to be sisters, as many of my friends note on occasion. We're actually half sisters, though. Rita's dad, Halston, raised me as his own after Mom married him when I was just a little girl. Rita has Hal's big-boned structure. Even though she's lost nearly 30 pounds, she will never be a waif. No where near it.

I lean toward a slender frame, taking after my errant father. A few years ago, Mom took me aside and told me some other ways I take after him. Ways that will always remain a secret between us.

As ascerbic as Rita is, I love her. I truly do. For a younger sister, she tends to look after me more than the other way around. She's always getting after me for not standing up for myself. The waiter brings my tea and a revised check. Wanting to get back to my mewing kitten, I down my tea in a few sips, nearly burning my tongue. I stand and pick up the check and retrieve enough money to cover the whole breakfast. Then in a brief sororal moment, I kiss my sister’s cheek.

"You look great, by the way," I tell her. Because she does.

I leave and drive to the pet store whose address I wrote down before I left home. I talk with the shop owner who gives me details about taking care of a kitten as well as how much it's going to cost me. I am definitely going to have to revise my budget, but Ms. Kit is worth it. Somehow she'd found me, like it was destined. Like she knew I needed another heartbeat around the apartment.

This late in the year, it tends to get darker sooner, so I want to get home quickly. I don’t want her to be alone for too long. After she gets older, she'll get used to being by herself. But for now, she needs someone to be there. And honestly, I can't wait to hold her. Feel her wet whiskers against my cheek.

I unlock the apartment door and immediately, an overwhelming smell of shit nearly knocks me out. It's the kind of smell that burns the eyes and gags your throat. I feel bile rising in my throat. Damn, how much crap could a little kitten produce?

I near the bathroom, holding my nose. And hear a rumbling coming from behind the door. It's a low animal growl. A growl that definitely doesn't belong to a kitten.

"Ms. Kit?" I inquire warily, my pulse racing. The growl that answers is even deeper.

I drop the packages on the ground and back away from the bathroom door. That's when I notice the scratches. Actually, deep gouges that have torn through the wood. Behind one of the more open wounds on the door, a large eye looks out at me.

The next growl that erupts is a monstrous one. Ms. Kit is hungry. Very hungry, as she hadn't eaten anything this morning. And something tells me she won’t be satisfied with a bowl of soy milk.

Still gagging, and wanting to shit on myself, I back out of the apartment, close the door and lock it. I don't know what made me look down, but I do and see a small white card lying on my welcome mat. Resisting an urge to run, I pick the card up. My stomach lurches as I recognize the handwriting.

"Just a little gift to let you know there are no hard feelings. Be sure to feed the kitty. She'll get hungry soon." The little smiley face after Delia's signature has a wink, which looks more malevolent than friendly.

"Damn it," I whisper as I let the card drift from my hand. Who knew that bitch actually had powers. And she knew how much I loved kittens. Now, somehow I was going to have to kill that beast before it got out and fed on me...or my neighbors. Not to mention the kids out trick-or-treating.

But before I did that, there was something else I needed to do. I pull my cell phone from my purse and call around. Finally my friend Amy gives me the address where Delia is staying. I walk to my parking space, get in my blue Toyota and drive the few minutes to the address. So Delia's found someone new to leech off of. The woman had never found a job she wanted to call her own. The only thing she ever wanted to do was become a stronger witch.

I park on a side curb and wait patiently, although I can't afford to be gone too long. That beast could be growing even as I sit here. It's almost pitch dark now, but I don't see any kids making their Halloween rounds. That's a good thing.

My stomach has settled down and is doing some growling of its own. The tea is the only thing I have on my system, so I am hungry. As hungry as Ms. Kit.

It takes almost an hour, but finally Delia emerges from the building. I know her habits. I lived with her for several months. She likes to get an early start on her regular bar hopping and clubbing.

She heads toward her yellow Buick parked a few cars down. I had already spotted it. One of the ugliest cars you'll ever see in a lifetime.

I get out of my car and head toward her. She hears me and turns around. By the surprised look on her face, I am the last person she expects to see. I hadn't fed the kitty as she'd hoped.

"Dez, what...what’re you doing here?"

I smile. "I just wanted to thank you for the gift. How considerate of you."

"What…what gift are you talking about?"

My smile widens. We're playing a cat-and-mouse game...and unfortunately for her, I'm the cat.

I feel the claws moving beneath the skin of my fingers. I see Ms. Kit in my mind - the green eyes, the black fur, the now-monstrous haunches. My flesh morphs to the specifics.

As I take full form, I mentally thank my missing father, the shapeshifter, for his one true gift to me.

Delia's scream is cut short as I snap her throat with my incisors. And then I feed.

Rita would be surprised how much I can enjoy the taste of fresh meat. Yes, I'm a vegan; but sometimes, you just have to indulge yourself.


Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 10/31/2008 04:55:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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