(Trans) Fat Cat
(Trans) Fat Cat
This was an entry in a contest at A Word With You Press in the summer of 2010. Contest title: “Cat Tales: Stories of Feline Virtue & Vice” (but…I also wrote to a last minute scenario suggested by author Victor Villasenor: “A cat disappears for two years, then returns…”)
It was a dark and stormy night on the backside of Palomar Mountain when the pet door slammed open with a loud BANG! The gray heads of the man and woman whipped away from “Easy Rider” on the TV. That door hadn’t swung in two years. The couple, aging flower children, squinted through the smoke that shoaled through the wan TV light.
“My God! Is that?…it is!…it’s…it’s…” the woman stammered.
“Lucifer!” the man finished for her.
A large, magnificent cat stood in the entryway, oblivious to the howling of the coyotes outside, head high and proud, tail twitching, his fur gleaming blue-black in the smoke-dappled TV light.
“’S’up, people?” inquired the cat.
Eyes wide, hands shaking, the woman fished half of a gigantic doobie from the ashtray and rekindled it. She inhaled deeply, and stared at the cat, even after the man plucked the joint from her fingers. In the glow of the splif, the cat’s scars became visible, one over the left eye, another a diagonal slash from the corner of his eye, across his nose, to his mouth.
“But…uh…c-cats can’t talk…” the woman stammered, as the man gagged on the ash of the now fully consumed blunt.
“Babe,” replied Lucifer, “where I’ve been…you don’t just have to walk the walk, you gotta talk the talk.”
“But…b-but…, “the woman continued, “the coyotes got you! We heard ’em wailing that night! I cried over you for three days! I lit incense! I…”
“Coyotes are punks,” interrupted the cat, his lips twisting in contempt. He glanced casually at the claws of his right paw, then continued. “They weren’t out to eat me. They were working for a chain of Korean fast food joints, if you get my drift. I wasn’t ready for them that night and they bagged me and had me on a flight to Seoul in a heartbeat. But like I said…punks. Careless. I was ready for them when they opened the bag…so, pow…right in the eye, the first one.” He made a nasty hiss and extended his claws again. “His buddy was even dumber and slower. So I skated. Hooked up with some cool locals…got my first line on some work.”
The old hippies stared, mouths slack. “Work?” the man managed.
“Oh yeah. The ’nip dens. Big biz in the East. Those cats get wasted, man…and crazy when they don’t get their ’nip.” Lucifer gestured to the scars on his face. “But it’s big, big money.” The cat shook his head. “Sad to see, though, really. So sad, I had to move on. Local cat hooked me up with a gig in the Middle East.”
“But, b-but…,” stammered the woman, as if she were practicing stammering, as if it were a skill she was cultivating.
“Those Persian cats pay a huge premium to get to the Eurocenter. Mega business. But you know, after a while, it got like the ’nip thing. Couldn’t hang with the skin trade.” He gave an ironic shrug. “So, color me sentimental.”
“But, b-b-but…” said the old, stoned hippie chick.
“Next stop was Noo Yawk,” The cat grinned, Cheshire-style, as he said the name with the local accent. “Cat there had a lab. His process started with margarine, and the end product looked like cream. But the shit had a kick, let me tell you. Cats’d kill for the stuff, and I’m not speaking figuratively.” The couple seemed to overcome, momentarily, their chronic astonishment and exchanged looks of budding, if benumbed interest.
“So I was back where I’d started–in pharmaceuticals. And again, big dollars.”
“Like cr-e-e-a-m…,” crooned the old pony-tailer, a wistful grin blooming on his face.
The cat rolled his eyes and continued, “So before I knew it, I’d made my heap, and figured, what the hey, wonder how the old folks on Mount P are doing, so I might as well finish that trip around the world. So here I am. And there you are…’bout like I remember.”
“B-b-b-b…” stammered the ancient Joni Mitchell wannabe.
“So…d’ja, like, bring any o’ that..cream with ya?” asked the faded facsimile of David Crosby.
The door crashed open. Seven burly men in black, bristling with weapons, burst into the cabin. Three held the stunned old stoners against the wall while three more took the cat down and cuffed him. The remaining invader stood over the cat and growled, “DEA, Luke. Got an extradition order from Mayor Bloomberg’s Food Police. You got any idea how much trans fat’s in margarine? You’re goin’ down for a l-o-o-o-ng time.”