Return to Synature Home         Notes From the Prairie Hollow Cat, number second

by Brandon C. Smith

copyright 1993

My human was standing by the door, holding it open for me. With my tail in the dignified erect position, I paced over to the opening. I inspected and admired the sparkles created by the early morning sun reflecting off the dew-covered grass. It was quite a sight, but my human was getting fidgety so I leisurely stepped out. None of my humans seem to be able to smell the glories of nature. I've told them repeatedly to simply remove the doors and windows, but they always mutter something about bugs.

I wandered over past the barn to the bushes whose main purpose is to provide me a place to lurk. I skillfully lurked in amongst the leaves and found a pleasant rock to perch on. Lot of activity this morning as I took in the show with my carefully polished appearance of nonchalance. I certainly didn't want any of the bushes, rocks, or animals thinking I was new to all this.

The city had had plenty of activity, but somehow it always seemed so furtive. Whenever things warmed up around my house in the city, some human with no cat to correct him would show up. That always brought the activity to a screeching halt. Here the lizards and butterflies and birds just kept going and going, dancing around doing their various things as if there were no tomorrow. Even when a human wandered by the edge of the bushes, the pause was only momentary.

Suddenly the rock on which I was sitting started moving. Now I knew rocks had souls, but I'd always thought they were like trees; thinkers and dreamers, not movers and shakers. I peered down and suddenly realized my rock had grown a head and four legs.

"What the heck!" I exclaimed. The rock promptly stopped moving and the head and legs disappeared. I moved a little forward and noticed that there was a hole where the head and disappeared. I craned my neck and looked into the hole. One eye peered out at me. Then it closed and another eye looked at me. Then it closed. I reached out a paw, mostly to see if I could get the eyes to open again.

"You want that paw?" A voice asked, "or can I have it for breakfast?"

I jerked my paw back. I leaned forward and looked down at the head, not too closely.

"Good morning," I said, "Nice to meet you. I'm TW."

One of the eyes opened and studied me in silence for longer than I had patience for. Which is a long time. I'd decided to go lurk somewhere else when it spoke again.

"Good morning to you," it said and paused. "I'm Alfonse. You must be the new barn cat."

"What's a barn cat?" I asked.

"Lives in the barn, eats mice, has fleas . . . " Alfonse's neck stretched out and up and his head turned to look at me from closer than I wanted. His jaw looked formidable.

"No, you're not scruffy enough to be a barn cat. You must be a house cat, laying around all day doing nothing. What are you doing out here?"

"Of course I'm a house cat. I come from a long line of house cats. We've owned humans for thousands of years. I've got two big ones, two little ones, and a baby. Why should I live in the barn?"

"I think you have it backwards. The humans brought you here because they own you. Humans own cats to control the mice and snakes."

The thought stunned me. I had never considered the possibility, but, truth be told, I certainly would not have chosen to ride around in a cat carrier for months on my own. I had told my humans in no uncertain terms what I thought of that, but they had paid no attention.

"No," I said firmly, "they give me food and pets and a comfortable place to sleep. I own them, period."

"Have it your way," Alfonse said, "but don't be surprised when they lock you out at night. And when they do, stay in the barn. Coyotes eat cats."

I started to reply, but Alfonse stuck his legs out and began to move. I perched on his back for a few steps, but he was headed into some pretty thick stuff so I gracefully leapt off.

"See you later," I called as he disappeared under the bushes.

Later that afternoon my humans got out the cat carrier. I waited beyond reach and was relieved when they told me they were going to get a barn cat. I told them it was OK, just remember that I was the boss around here and this is my house. A barn cat is fine, just don't bring it in the house or feed it my food.


I've got a small chapbook of 12 stories if you are interested: contact me via redwoodtwig at yahoo. There are more than a hundred of these hiding on my hard disk.



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