The Case of the Creeping Cat



	I was lying on the couch, grooming my left rear leg.  Bars of light
	slanted across the room through the venetian blinds.  I woulda had a
	bottle of hooch and a glass handy, but the Humans put the vodka in the
	freezer.  Too high for me to reach, damn the luck.  Business had been
	thin lately.  I was just thinking about jumping up on the windowsill to
	check out the action on the birdfeeder next door when the phone rang.

	I ran to the bedroom RUN RUN RUN SKID POUNCE! and knocked the phone off
	the cradle.  "Mrrroww?" I said.  My tail curled into a question mark.
	Silence.  Then I heard something - distant purring?  I mewed
	plaintively, just in case.  Click, then the dial tone.  Damn.  The
	second time today.  Someone was playing cat and mouse.  I gradually
	coaxed the handset back in place.  Man, that thing is heavy.  I ran
	crazily around the apartment several times, just for luck, and... oops,
	time for food.  The case would have to wait.

	Back on the couch, I licked myself all over and pondered.  There was
	something fishy about those phone calls -- I could smell it.  My claws
	extended involuntarily, and I kneaded the upholstery for a while.  Hmm.
	Patches was doing time in San Quentin, but maybe one of her torpedoes
	was prowling around.  Or who knows -- maybe those damn tomcats from Miss
	Puff's gang wanted revenge.  I'd made a lot of enemies in my career.

	Suddenly there was a flash of movement at the other window.  My ears
	pricked up.  GO GO GO adjust my back feet for traction POUNCE onto the
	end table!  Crash!  Aw nuts, didn't see that beer bottle.  I stared out
	at the ratty calico with the notched ear on the outside sill.  Her ears
	went back, and she hissed.  This kind of trouble I didn't need.  I
	locked my stare on to her, bristling slightly, until she looked away.
	Oh yeah, lick your paw like nothing just happened, I thought.

	She gave me a low growl.  "Stay away from the big tree at the edge of
	the parking lot, get me?" she gritted.  "That's my territory.  I chase
	the squirrels down there, see, and I don't need any two-bit gumshoe
	horning in on the action."
	
	Something clicked.  Yeah, I'd seen her before.  Used to be a B-girl down
	at the Kit Kat Club.  Rap sheet twice the length of my tail.  I hear her
	Human calls her Snuggykins now, but I'd seen her yowling and dragging
	her butt down the gutter plenty of times when she was in heat in the old
	days.

	I combed my whiskers with my paw.  "Quit pussyfooting around," I said.
	"We both know you didn't come here to talk about squirrels.  Give."

	She gave me an innocent look.  "Don't they say curiosity killed the
	cat?" she purred.  I felt my tail switching back and forth in
	irritation.  "They say a lot of things," I growled back.  I woulda
	slugged her, if the screen hadn't been in the way.
	
	She looked around.  "This is strictly on the Q.T.," she whispered, "but
	I hear Pumpkin and Sheba are gettin' kinda tired of you prowling around
	their operation.  Keep your paws outta their cat dish, OK?  Be a shame
	if some kind of *accident* knocked off a couple of your lives.  I hear
	you're down to five or so."
	
	Just then, we heard a car turning into the parking lot.  She stiffened,
	then jumped down and crept around the corner of the building.  I raked
	the screen with my claws in frustration.  The car pulled up and
	stopped.  Could it...?  I mewed.  Yes!  My Humans!  They were home!
	Meow meow meow!  I heard a key in the door, and ran over.  All RIGHT!
	Cat toy!  Cat toy!  Make it MOVE!  Food food food KITTY TREATS KITTY
	TREATS!  "Hi, Franny," my smaller Human said.  "How was your day?"

	She picked me up.  Man, I HATE that.  Let me down!  Mew!  Cat toy, no
	hugs!  Cat toy!  CAT TOY!  She stroked my head.  My larger Human looked
	over and saw the broken glass under the table by the window.  "Sheesh,
	Franny," he said.  "Did you do that?"  Aw, hell.  I arched my back
	slightly and relaxed.  Purr purr purr.  Beer bottle?  Little old me?
	Somebody *else* did *that*.  Look how cute I am.  Oh yeah, scratch under
	my jaw.  Oh baby.
	
	Later, when they were in bed watching TV, I saw something moving under
	the blanket.  SMALL ANIMAL!  POUNCE?  But wait.  Every time I attack, it
	stops moving.  Maybe it's just the small Human's hand, like it was the
	last forty-seven times.  But what if it's really a SMALL ANIMAL?  No.
	Maybe it is.  Maybe it IS!  Tense tense TENSE TENSE wiggle butt POUNCE!
	
	D'oh!  It was her hand again.  I turned away and started licking my
	paw.  Didn't fool me, nuh-uh.  I curled up on the blanket.  I'd solve
	the Case of the Creeping Cat tomorrow.  Big yawn.  Purr purr purr.
	






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