The streets of Wenatchee were unusually quiet for a cool July evening. A tabby alley cat perched atop a trashcan just outside the door of a fast food restaurant, licking grease off of a paw. That day had been good. The tabby had hit a jackpot in this alley. Sure, a gang from Seattle messed around with a gang from Spokane, but the tabby had managed to get away without being kicked once, and the hubbub of it finally brought the attention of the pretty little Russian Blue that sits in the windowsill of the apartment building next door. He purred with satisfaction and dropped the now-spotless paw. Yes, today was good.
Suddenly a loud, aggravated growl split the air around the tabby, and he started, though the growl was muffled. The can he sat on started to shake and he shot across the top to a nearby dumpster, where he pressed against the wall of the restaurant and hoped that whatever mutt was inside the can wouldn’t notice him. With a thud, the lid burst off and flew over eight feet to hit the side of the apartment building, where it clattered to the ground. But the tabby was no longer concerned - though ‘mutt’ hadn’t been too far off, at least it wasn’t a dog.
A girl slowly climbed out of the can, picking torn wrappers and bits of cheese out of her incredibly long golden ponytail. The tabby recognized her - she had been involved, of sorts, in the gang fight, and she was a regular in this part of town. An ugly scowl on her face, the girl stumbled and sat down hard on the pavement, then made no move to get up. Instead she grabbed the rim of the trashcan and yanked it down beside her. Trash spilled into her lap, which she ignored and promptly reached into the can, pulling out a rather large backpack.
Well, if she wasn’t going to do anything…. The tabby hopped off of the dumpster, landing lightly on his feet, and padded over to root through the trash. This was sort of a regular occurrence. Except, normally she talked.
“They just got lucky,” she muttered angrily. “If they hadn’t snuck up behind you, you woulda torn ‘em apart.”
Yep. There it was.
She snorted, and her voice changed slightly to a higher lilt. “More like she’s the lucky one. If she’d been facing them, they’d have hit a lot harder.”
“Shut up, both of you!” she cried, her voice different once again - lower, softer, yet a lot stronger. She paused for a moment, then leaned back on her palms, seemingly oblivious of the tabby. “’Sides. I never said I’d tear them apart. DJ did.”
“But I only say what you’re thinking,” she pointed out in the first voice.
In the third, her usual, voice, she growled, “I said shut up!”
She fell silent again for another moment. The second, sweeter voice whispered, “’Shut up’ isn’t a very nice thing to say.”
“Don’t talk to me and I won’t have to say it!”
The tabby didn’t really care about her - oh, a half-eaten cheeseburger! Who would throw that away? - but he did get around quite a bit, and he knew that normal humans didn’t talk like that. But he knew the girl’s cats and they didn’t think anything was seriously wrong with her.
“Hey, there, Tabs,” the girl murmured in her normal voice, scratching lightly behind his ear. He leaned into it, but he was too intent on the cheeseburger to look up. “You must think I’m bonkers. Don’t mind me; I’m just upset, that’s all. You always seem to catch me at bad moments.”
She scooted out from underneath the trash pile just as the tabby swallowed the last bit of greasy meat and stale bread. He licked his lips and sat down to watch her heft the backpack onto one shoulder and start down the alley toward the street. She stopped and turned back. “Hey, you haven’t seen Princess anywhere, have you? She’s been missing for a few days.”
The tabby blinked, not sure how exactly to respond to that. No, he hadn’t seen her, but it’s not like he spoke English, or anything. He had seen a couple humans communicate with head gestures, but he’d never been able to figure them out. It didn’t matter, anyway, because before he could do anything, the girl bounced her shoulders and continued on her way.
He blinked again. He liked humans, he honestly did. But he never quite understood why some people just insist on holding conversations with animals. Then again, he didn’t understand why she held a conversation with herself.
This is one of many opening scenes I've got. It's my favorite so far. What do you think?
~Charli Rae |Job 39:19-25|