It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. Mitzee watched as Snow did a complicated in air twist, landing lightly on her feet like a ballerina, her thick, white coat gleaming under the streetlamp. Her breath puffed in little tendrils in the icy cold air.
“Locked,” she muttered as she walked off the pain of her fall. Nothing shook her for long.
“Yep, locked,” Mitzee agreed. “C’mon Snow, this area is the worst for the likes of us.”
“Pickings are the best here, though.”
“Not much to pick if there’s no way in.”
The two incongruous companions sauntered away from the tantalising smells that seeped through brightly lit windows that didn’t seal tightly.
There was a storm coming. Mitzee could feel it in his bones, especially his left leg, that had healed with a strange twist after he had narrowly escaped being run down by a maniac on a bike.
“Let’s find a nice bolt hole for the night, Snow. My leg’s telling me that it’s gonna be bad.”
“Mitzee, old man. You know I’m not doing anything with you. You can just keep your dirty paws to yourself, now.”
“Snow, love, you wound me.” Mitzee gave her his best innocent, wide-eyed stare.
“You know I’m not interested in raising a passel of brats, so if you try anything handsy, I’ll rip you to pieces.”
She meant it too. Snow might look like a princess, blue eyed with soft silky hair, but she had claws, and she knew how to use them. Mitzee had witnessed her single-handedly taking on the neighbourhood bullies who thought that residing in the grand houses meant that they didn’t have to take no for an answer. She had been a sight to behold, spitting vicious insults on their parentage, their courage and their less-than-agile, well-fed bodies, as she slashed out at them with her weapons. He laughed as the fat cats ran screaming and bloodied from the alley. Poor little rich kids! Ha, Snow was worth twenty of them.
Together they crept along garden fence lines, peeping in to each yard as they went. You never knew just what you would discover if you kept your eyes and ears open. It was how Mitzee had stayed alive for so long. The Jones residence was one such place. They never remembered to lock the window leading to the kitchen, no matter the weather, and he remembered that the catch had been broken the last time he was here. He nodded to Snow and tilted his head at the casement as it flapped in the wind. Snow smiled, a feral grin of mischief and delight. Sneaking into tight spaces was her speciality, and this was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Mitzee sat below the window as Snow did her thing. She scaled the wall with a single agile leap and easily wedged herself through the window, ensuring that it didn’t hit her on the way in. Mitzee grinned. Her ass looked spectacular as she shimmied the last few inches inside before she dropped out of sight. He’d look, but never touch and certainly never tell her that he looked. He didn’t have a death wish. Quickly, he brought his attention back to the mission. His job was to keep a lookout, to cause a distraction if needs be and allow Snow the time to escape should things go bad. He looked about him. So many good distractions, garbage cans, log piles, children’s toys. And if none of that worked, there was always the tried and true, a good, loud and long, blood-curdling scream. They were his speciality.
Just as he finished scoping out the yard, a soft thud told him that Snow had tossed the loot out of the window. He rushed to collect it, and seconds later, Snow dropped beside him, landing on dainty, delicate feet, a much better landing than her previous one. Mitzee nodded at her and she winked back. She knew she was good, and together they scampered from the yard. You never stayed near the scene of a crime.
They dined that evening on succulent chicken cooked with eleven secret herbs and spices. It had been so long since their last meal that they tore into the carcass with frenzied gusto. Neither of them gave a single thought to manners or decorum. Mitzee watched as Snow cleaned the grease from her face with dainty swipes. She was always well presented, even in the midst of a burgeoning storm.
The sound of hail as it began to patter and pelt against their little improvised shelter didn’t disconcert her, and she calmly continued to clean herself. Mitzee longed to help, to reach across the tiny nook and wash away the spots she missed, but Snow would take out an eye if he so much as offered to assist. When they were both as clean as they were going to get, they curled up, huddling together for body warmth as they settled in to wait out the storm.
The next morning, Mitzee stirred and yawned, his mouth stretching wide as his jaw popped and creaked. When he opened his eyes, he noticed that the weather had blown over, leaving murky puddles and wind ravaged trees strewn over the roads. Fortunately, though, the storm itself was long gone, but so was Snow. He was alone, not an unusual occurrence in his world, and often he preferred it that way, or so he told himself.
Sidling out from his secluded shelter, he stretched in the weak sunshine, arching his back and extending all his limbs to work the creaks and knots out of the old bones. It was breakfast time, and after last night’s feast, he was hungry. His stomach had been re-acquainted with food and protested its lack this morning.
The Jones place was out of the question after last night’s expedition. He was sure they would be alert for intruders this morning, so he padded in the opposite direction. Some of his less discerning neighbours were dumpster diving this morning. He could hear the commotion as bins were rattled and knocked over. Dumpster diving was dangerous. If that lid came down, you were done for. Mitzee always avoided the occupation.
Down one tree strewn road, a moving van reversed its way into a long driveway. Moving vans meant chaos, and chaos was the perfect distraction for the criminally inclined. Mitzee considered himself to be a mastermind when it came to manipulating a situation to his advantage. A fallen tree that was uprooted in one corner of the yard provided excellent cover for close surveillance. Mitzee approached the house cautiously, the branches hiding his approach as he slinked closer. Boxes, crates and bags littered the back verandah. People came and went with no predictable pattern as they unloaded items from the large truck and placed them under the large covered area. They moved quickly, glancing often at the sky, which was clear now, but threatened more rain, with large, heavy, grey clouds rolling in.
Still and silent in the shadows of the fallen tree branches, Mitzee observed the people as they hustled back into the moving van, and drove away down the long driveway. Mitzee hesitated as he listened and observed for a few long moments more. No sounds, nothing to raise an alarm. So he cautiously crept closer to the boxes, hoping to investigate their contents. Perhaps they contained breakfast.
He was sniffing around the abandoned boxes, and cataloguing the contents in his mind to identify the perfect box to open, when it happened. They say curiosity killed the cat, and sure enough, Mitzee saw his whole life flash before his eyes in an instant. From nowhere, a large, muscular, and angry dog charged him, growling and snarling as he scampered, nails clacking with hysterical frenzy on the concrete patio.
Mitzee defied gravity and leapt vertically with desperate fear, his legs stiff, fur on end and back arched. But Mitzee was not as young as he used to be, not as fast or spry, and the pup had youth on his side, pouncing upon him in an instant. He felt the jaws close painfully on his head even as he hissed his terror and fury in the face of the enormous monster. His claws extended and he madly scratched at any flesh he could reach. The pup yelped in surprise and Mitzee was gone, straight up the fallen tree, over the fence and down the lane, leaving a trail of blood behind.
He could barely see, through the blood that covered his face and dripped into his fur. The world began to swim and pain soon edged fright from the forefront of his mind. Without knowing where he was, Mitzee staggered to a stop, and collapsed in blind agony. This was it! His nine lives were over. It had been a good nine lives, and he was set to die as he had lived, alone.
The concerned voices, the horrified, and urgent voices, did not register in his brain. He was hardly breathing, and so thinking was not happening at all. Vaguely, he felt a soft fabric cover him, and the smell and warmth of human was strong enough to penetrate his mind. He tried to run, his brain said flee, his body would not comply.
Many days passed in a blur of befuddled drowsiness, the kind that brought strange shapes and ideas to mind. He dreamed of flying, of catching that bird, of swimming with fish and collecting the pinpoint stars with his paws. Day after day, the pain and confusion slowly receded, and he began to stagger to his feet. But his balance was off and he tumbled to a heap of tangled paws. Mitzee gingerly glanced around to see if anyone had seen him embarrass himself.
“Hey good looking. Welcome back.”
The voice was familiar. Mitzee looked about him and saw bars, prison bars, but across from him lay Snow. He was ashamed to admit that he was glad to see her, and so he hissed at her. It was just to prove that he was still fearsome, and would ensure that she did not pity him!
“Settle down, old man,” she said condescendingly. “I must say, I’ve seen you looking better.”
“Where are we?”
“Prison, Mitz. They finally caught us.”
“So this is it?”
“Oh, no!” she smiled, a feral glint in her eye. “I’m getting out. A cute cat like me will not stay locked up long.” She eyed him up and down critically. “Sorry Mitz, old man. Now that you only have one eye, I seriously doubt you will get out of here any time soon.”
One eye? Mitzee blinked and shook his head. One eye! He had lost his eye! He yowled his anger and despair at any who would listen.
He soon gave in, but he promised, if he ever got out, someone would pay, and they’d pay dearly. He glared, one eyed at the people as they came and went. He had one plan: have a bath, eat the food, glare at everyone. Bath, eat, glare. If he was to go down, he thought, then he’d go down the same way he’d lived, alone and fighting.