For Better or Worse

Submitted into Contest #202 in response to: Write about two people striking up an unlikely friendship.... view prompt

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Fiction Friendship

Master Meow lives in a lovely comfortable apartment in Toyko with his human companion, Mr. Sato. Mr. Sato is retired and lives on a small pension, but as he has never married, he has enough to keep himself and Master Meow comfortable and well-fed.

Master Meow is a white and light brown cat, part Persian and part Angora. He is very fluffy indeed. He spends his day lying on a satin pillow in the window, purring contently. He loves it here because his food dish is always full of fresh red salmon, his water bowl is changed three to four times a day with clean spring water, and a small plate is covered with hard tasty snacks for whenever he wants. In the corner is a toy box with all kinds of toys to play with, and once a week, Mr. Sato gives him a small gray toy mouse that smells odd. It makes his head feel light and funny. His pupils expand so large that he swears he can see into infinity. Yes, life is good for Master Meow, and to think all he has to do to repay Mr.Sato is ignore him. Well, not ignore, but at least act indifferently toward him. It doesn’t matter because Mr. Sato loves him anyways. Don’t get him wrong, for there are times when Master Meow is feeling somewhat affectionate and will allow Mr. Sato to stroke him a little. Perhaps a scratch behind the ear, that sort of thing. Yes, Master Meow is sure that life couldn’t be any better than this.

One day while sitting on his pillow, Master Meow feels quite concerned that Mr. Sato hasn’t returned home from grocery shopping yet. This is evident by the way his tail is thrashing about. Like a sentinel in a watchtower, Master Meow surveys the street below through half-open eyes. Perturbed, he thinks, “Where is he? Mr. Sato is at least five minutes late. That’s not like him.” Master Meow’s eyes widen. “Oh, this is just great! It is starting to rain. I hope he brought his umbrella with him! I want to sit on his lap, but I won’t if it is all wet. I hate that!” Meow sits straight, nearly pressing his flat, round face against the glass. It’s hard to tell who’s who under all the passing umbrellas. At long last, he sees Mr. Sato’s umbrella turn up the front steps, and he lays back down as he assumes an expression of calm indifference.

As the front door opens, Mr. Sato pauses to shake the rain from his umbrella before entering. Once inside, he walks to the kitchen table to put down his packages.

“I’m sorry I’m late, but something unexpected happened. I hope you’ll forgive me, but I have a good reason.” Hanging his coat on the back of the chair, he reaches into the grocery box and takes something out of the corner. He holds a white ball cupped in his hands as he approaches Master Meow.

“Look, Master Meow. Look what I have found!”   Meow turns and looks. He next gives Sato a sharp meow of disapproval, for the curly white blob smells strange. It smells like-“No! Can it truly be a-a DOG!?!” As Mr.Sato explains how he found the puppy hiding in a doorway, looking scared, he admits he just had to take him home. The puppy opens its sad big brown eyes and looks directly at Meow. Meow’s eyes narrow threateningly. Mr. Sato places the tiny pup on the floor before Master Meow. “See, Master Meow, isn’t he just adorable? Because he is so white, I’m going to call him Yuki. Don’t you think that’s a cute name?”

Master Meow stares and hisses at Mr. Sato. “No! I don’t think it is a cute name.  I don’t even think it’s a cute dog. What were you thinking, bring a dog into my home? You’ve always had a soft spot for strangers, like when you bought that canary. The damn thing squawked constantly and threw seeds all over the floor. They stuck to my paws and got caught in my elegant fur. We’ll never know what frightened it to death, but thank God it’s gone!”

Yuki staggers toward Meow on awkward puppy paws and woofs sharply at him. “Hello. Are you my big brother?”

Master Meow’s eyes widen in terror as the sweet little puppy approaches. When he seems too close, Meow reaches out and strikes the puppy’s head with a series of quick slaps. Yuki laughs and rushes at Meow. “Yeah! Let’s play!” Astonished, Meow continues to deliver fast but not damaging blows. Mr. Sato reprimands Meow, “Oh, come now, Master, don’t be like that. He’s only a baby and wants to play.”

I don’t play! Get rid of that thing now!” Meow rumbles as he jumps up on the armchair to get away. Yuki tries to follow and repeatedly jumps to no avail. Meow glares satisfactorily at Yuki’s failed attempts. Turning his attention to Mr. Sato, he complains in a series of short sharp meows, “You have until noon tomorrow to bring that thing to the pound, or else find me a new home.!” With that, Meow leaps from the chair and races into the bedroom, where he jumps onto the bed. Tucking his front paws beneath his chest, he closes his eyes as his tail whips back and forth angrily. Of course, Mr. Sato doesn’t understand any of this and reassures Yuki that he and Master Meow will be great friends soon.

Master Meow stays steadfast in his dislike for Yuki and uses every opportunity to attack him. What frustrates Meow the most is that after five years, the stupid dog still thinks Meow is playing! Meow has given up on trying to keep the dog out of his bed. Even though Yuki is grown up now, he is still not any bigger than Meow himself. Meow won’t admit it but finds sleeping with Yuki kind of nice. Mr. Sato always smiles when he hears Master Meow purring loudly when he passes the two of them that way.

One day Master Meow is staring in disgust at one of his favorite jingle balls, all covered with spit and chew marks, when he thinks he smells something strange. He meows loudly for Mr. Sato, then remembers that Sato is gone for the day. “Ah, yes. Now I recall that Sato put out extra food and water for us both. That idiot dog has already eaten all of his and drank over half the water! Still, what is the smell?”

Meow hears the sound of toenails scraping madly across the floor as Yuki comes flying around the corner, barking frantically. “Where’s the Boss? There’s a fire in his bedroom! We’ve got to get out!” The animals have learned to understand each other’s talk.

Meow’s eyes grow wide, “A fire?” He shouts, “How did that happen? What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything. It looks like the cord on the alarm clock frayed, and a spark lit the curtains on fire. We’ve got to get out of here now!” The smoke detector sounds the alarm with sharp, loud beeps.  Master Meow jumps up on his pillow and crouches, trembling nose to tail.

Hearing the smoke alarm, the next-door neighbor calls the landlord and the fire department. The landlord rushes to the door and pounds furiously. “Sato! Sato!” The door feels warm beneath his fist. He grabs his key and opens the door. The room is full of thick white smoke.

Yuki pleads with Meow to leave with him. “Please, Meow, there’s a man here who can help us!”

“No, no, I can’t! I’ve never been outside without my carrier. I’m scared!”

Hearing the barking dog, the landlord covers his nose and mouth with his handkerchief and makes his way through the thick smoke until he finds Yuki. He scoops the little dog up and heads for the door.

“Put me down! Put me down,” Yuki demands. We’ve got to save my brother!” The landlord rushes down the stairs clutching Yuki tightly. Outside, he checks to ensure all the other tenants have made it out safely. He walks over to the fire captain and informs him that the fire is in the bedroom and that the apartment is empty. Squirming to get away, Yuki screams, “No, it’s not!” He growls and nips the landlord’s hand. Cursing, the man releases the pup and Yuki tumbles to the ground. Running as fast as his short, little legs can carry him, he races back inside.

Standing in the center of the room, Yuki notices it has gotten hotter and much smokier. “Brother, brother, where are you?” he barks. He hears coughing coming from the closet and dashes to it. He finds Meow passed out behind the shoe rack. Even though Yuki and Meow are the same size, Yuki is stronger. He grabs Meow by the scruff of his neck and starts dragging him to safety.

A firefighter sees the little dog and calls to his captain, “Hey, Chief, look at this!” When the captain sees what Yuki is doing, he commands, “Get those two out of here and make sure they are alright!” The firefighter races into the yard and lays Meow down. “He’s not breathing.” Turning to Yuki, he places his big hand on the pup’s little head, “Don’t worry, little buddy, I’ve got just the thing to save him.” As Yuki paces and whines, the firefighter runs to the back of the ambulance and returns with an oxygen mask just the right size for small animals. He places the mask over Meow’s muzzle and turns on the air. After a tense minute, Meow begins to breathe and opens his eyes. Mr. Sato pushes through the crowd and drops to his knees. He hugs his pets and sobs with tears of joy, “Thank you. Thank you so much for saving my family.”

Yuki can’t stop licking Master Meow. “Are you okay? Are you sure you’re alright?”

Meow responds, “Yes, Yuki, I’m perfectly fine. I must thank you for saving my life. You are truly a good friend.”

Yuki’s ears shoot up. “A good friend! “Like hell, you’re my brother, and I love you!” Master Meow licks the back of his paw and washes the smoke out of his eye. Then leaning closer to Yuki, he whispers, “Never tell Mr. Sato this, but I love you too.”

June 13, 2023 05:56

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3 comments

Ralph Aldrich
14:57 Jun 22, 2023

Thanks. It was fun.

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Colleen Ireland
22:48 Jun 21, 2023

This brought tears to my eyes; what a beautiful family and story!

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Mary Bendickson
11:48 Jun 13, 2023

Sweet charming tale.😽🐶

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