I’ve got the cat’s tongue


In the first draft of Waiting For Spring, Tess owns a cat, a very fat orange tabby she rescues from behind Zeke’s bar and subsequently names Jabba. He never made it past draft number one, mostly because he didn’t bring anything to the story. I put him in because I wanted a cat, couldn’t have one at the time (long story), and kindly gave one to my protagonist instead.

In the first draft of The Wendy House, Rick LaChance owns a cat, a rather rebellious and neglected little lady he ends up giving away to a neighbor’s daughter. This cat actually did add something to the story, but other subplots took precedence and Lucy was caged. I wrote a flash fiction story based on the idea and entered into a contest (it placed third), so it wasn’t a total waste. But I still. I kinda miss the feline presence in both books.

I guess it will be up to Book #3…

—————————————-

New Beginnings

The morning he decided to stop drinking, John woke up on the bathroom floor, a mound of cat shit three inches from his nose. He couldn’t blame poor old Lucy. Three hours earlier he had puked in her litter box and it seemed fitting: shit for tat.

He stood up slowly, clutching his throbbing head. The stench of combined waste sent him diving once more for the toilet, and this time his aim was mercifully accurate. He stumbled into the shower a few minutes later, but it did nothing to refresh him. Each droplet was a tiny, torturous needle, prickly reminders of his sins, of all he had lost. Wife-son-daughter-job. Car.

Naked in his bedroom, he tried to piece together the forgotten events of the night before. His rumpled, unmade bed was nothing new, and itself not a helpful clue, but it did reveal a stain on his sheet and some blonde strands on his pillowcase. And as he pulled on his pants, he tried to remember what she’d looked like. If she had been any good. If he had been.

He dragged himself into the kitchen, tripping over the pile of garbage strewn across the floor. Lucy had knocked the trash can over the day before, in search of food. She had apparently feasted on Chicken McNuggets, a meal John had discarded three days earlier, having settled instead on Jack Daniels. Now the empty bottle taunted his shaking hands from the countertop. It lay next to an empty bag of Kibbles N’ Bits. Lucy rubbed herself against his ankle, an appeal, not for attention, but for food. He reached down and scratched behind her ear anyway, suddenly hungry for a display of honest affection. She bit his hand.

He rummaged through his wallet, wondering whether he had enough money stashed away for a small bag of cat food. He was in luck. Six one-dollar bills. His gaze fell once more onto his messy countertop, shifting from the empty bottle to the empty cat food bag, then to his empty cat, who was now howling in obvious distress. From outside, a squeal of childish delight joined her cries, piercing his still-aching head. It belonged, he knew, to his neighbor’s nine-year-old daughter. He struggled to think of her name, but could only remember that it started with an M.

And his hands would not stop shaking…

~~~~~

An hour later, the late morning sun beat down on Lucy as she rested, full-bellied, on a warm, sweet-smelling lawn. Nine-year-old Madison beamed just as brightly as she skipped rope on the driveway a few feet away.

“Just five more minutes, Fluffy,” she said. “Then we can go inside for lunch.”

Lucy licked her paw contentedly, not seeming to mind the indignity of her new name. And she pretended not to notice John as he hurried past her, toward his dilapidated trailer, clutching a brand new pint of cheap whiskey.

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About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

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