They were playing, a boy and his cat, both of them aware that it was just a preliminary
to what was yet to come. This was the ritual, the moments of anticipation and reflection before the curtain rose anew and revealed the stage behind it.
The cat was frantically trying to capture and dismantle a yellow ball of yarn that the boy - thirteen years of age next month - kept pulling away when the cat got too close to it with a darting paw. It was frustrating the cat and the boy was enjoying it, relishing it. Around them, the living room of the beautifully decorated, two-level house was filled with the boy’s laughing and the cat’s meowing, and here they sat on the couch awaiting the game to begin anew.
The feline was a rather attractive animal. It was a dark black on top, as black as night, and its underside was white with white streaks running down the length of its legs to its paws. Probably it’s most striking feature were the creature’s eyes, a light green that did not seem to quite belong in the eyes of such a simple animal. Almost totally out of place. The eyes spoke of intelligence. Of something else than just a simple house cat.
The boy finally let the ball of yarn go and the cat immediately pounced on it, attacking it and clawing it to pieces with what seemed like an uncommon, savage fury. He started to stroke the cat’s back, running his fingers through its soft fur and could feel the vibration of its body as it gently purred, like a car idling before a speedy takeoff. It stopped its destruction of the tattered ball of yarn and looked up at the boy that it knew so well, the young human with the blonde hair and blue eyes who fed him every day, who gave him the attention that he craved, that he needed. The boy that he had been drawn to and he to him. They looked at each other, regarding each other, and the boy slowly smiled, revealing perfect, white teeth. A few seconds later, the cat seemed to smile too. Both of them knew it was almost time and they were both ready.
She was standing in front of the mirror hurriedly getting ready. Lipstick there, mascara here, eye-liner there, powder all over. God, it was such a time-consuming pain in the ass. Every day it was the same thing and it was starting to become more and more of a chore. As the years went by, it seemed it was getting harder and taking longer to keep up her appearance. She had a one o’clock hair appointment at the rather pricey beauty salon that she frequented and she did not want to be late, did not want to be late for a very important date. Her name was Ramona and she was an attractive woman, and she knew it. Ramona was no longer a twenty-two year-old dancer with all sorts of men fawning over her, but she was still attractive. She knew it because she was able to catch every pair of male eyes boring into her, especially her rather sizeable, manufactured chest everywhere she went. For most of her adult life she had been getting everything and anything she wanted, so much unlike her youth, and she would never settle for anything but the best. Clothes, houses, cars, restaurants, all of it – The Best, nothing less. The very thought of going back to what she was…well, it was a thought that was so abhorrent that she would actually rather die than return to being…poor, a nobody like those kinds of badly dressed people who shopped at Wal-Mart. She had seen the photos of them online on those joke sites and it really did not seem so long ago that she was once a part of the crowd, something which she did not like to be reminded of. The old saying was “never forget where you came from” or something to that effect. As far as she was concerned, where she had come from was a place better left only in distant memories and nightmares.
She had a date later tonight and she wanted to impress the man, that man being several years her junior, not that he was aware of that fact and she had no intention of telling him, at least not in the immediate future. As she applied a new shade of lipstick that she had purchased yesterday at one of the finer stores in the mall, she was debating on sleeping with him or not. It would depend on how the evening went. If she did, it would not be the first time she slept with someone on the second date. She was pretty sure that she already had him hooked, the look of appreciation in his eyes whenever he marveled at her miraculous body quite evident. If she did sleep with him, she might allow herself to get pregnant. A couple of years ago, she had begun a habit of keeping several condoms in her purse with small holes punctured into them in case the need ever arose. It would be a shame to ruin her figure (she went to aerobics class every day and did free weights three times a week, not to mention counting every calorie), but she had to face facts - the money was running out and she was not getting any younger. When her rather comfortable (RICH!) husband had died in a car wreck five years ago, he had left everything to her and their son. But, due to her rather expensive wants and desires (which were quite large and momentous, but don’t tell her that to her face or she’ll scratch your eyes out), it was starting to run out. The house and the cars were all paid for, but there were still other things that needed to be taken care of. Clothes, traveling, jewelry, eating out several times a week, etc. She knew that if it wasn’t for Tad, she could probably last for another six or seven years. Clothes, food, school, it was all so expensive. Why did she ever allow it? Because of him and his desire to have a son, damn him to hell. That male ego thing of having to have a baby - a son, preferably - so the family name could live on, as if a man were some kind of royalty and not just something to be used. If it wasn’t for Tad she could…she waved her hand and dismissed the thought from her mind, ashamed of herself for even thinking such thoughts. Still, they did pop up every now and then. Quite often, as a matter of fact. Every day to be totally honest about it. If she did not come into marriage soon, she may have to start looking for a job and the very thought of something like that disgusted her. She had not had a job since she was eighteen years-old (not counting her more than several years of intimate experience with the pole until she met her husband while giving him a rather nice lap dance) and she had not missed it. At night when she went to bed and stared up at the ceiling, she could still smell that distinct smell of the club, hear that loud music and, smell the smoke and, the very worst, feel all of those numerous hands groping at her, squeezing her. When it became too much, she would simply break down and cry, remembering that she had only done what she had had to do to survive and live comfortably and escape her past. Now, the very thought of having to work instead of spending her days and nights shopping and clubbing around the city with her friends and traveling sickened her. It even made a chill run through her, the thought of it so revolting.
“Hello, my name is Ramona. May I help you?”
I don’t think so.
“Hello, my name is Ramona, how may I be of service to you today?”
Not going to happen.
“Good afternoon! My name is Ramona, how may I help you today?”
Definitely not happening.
Yes, she would definitely have to sleep with him. Not to mention that fact that she still had to ease into the conversation that she had a son who was just entering his teenage years to the man of the moment and hope he did not leave skid marks when she told him. She had learned from experience that kids were the surefire way to make a man deflate like an old balloon. But first, she would have to check his bank accounts and make sure that everything was in order, something that would be very simple to do because she knew what websites to go to in order to do such a thing, not to mention certain people she knew from the old days who could hack practically any system in the world. Besides, thorough background checks were pretty common these days. A woman could never be too careful. He had never been married before so there was no alimony or child support to work out and he did not seem the gambling type, so those were both pluses. No sense wasting her time if he couldn’t supply her with her needs and wants like she deserved.
She finished up and checked herself in the mirror. Make-up in place (extra coats covering lines that nobody needed to know about), blonde hair teased to the top and spilling down around her shoulders, eye-liner flattering her deep-blue eyes and a nice, black dress showing off her curvaceous figure in all the right places.
She pulled out her checkbook from her genuine leather Prada bag and looked at the balance.
A frown came across her face.
Yes, she would definitely have to sleep with him and scream like God Himself was causing her to orgasm no matter how boring he might be. At this point, she wasn’t ready to go to the extreme and ruin her figure with the prospect of becoming pregnant again. It had been hard enough to lose the weight the first time. But, if push came to shove…
Ramona walked elegantly downstairs to the front door lost in thought. She was about to walk out the door when her head popped up as if she were in a cartoon and she had just remembered something.
Sometimes he just slipped her mind completely.
Wasn’t this report card week? she thought. Maybe its next week. Wasn’t there something about a school project that needed to be worked on? Oh, who cares? I have more important things on my mind right now.
She detoured into the living room and saw her son and the cat sitting on the couch, playing.
Looking at him, she thought that it still seemed odd to be thinking that, that she had a son, even after all these years. Whenever he brought his few friends over from time to time, they would stare at her with lust in their eyes, those same eyes that she remembered from her dancing days, back when it was her lot in life to have to serve the animals and pretend to actually be interested in whatever it was that was spilling forth from their mouths.
Her eyes focused on the cat. It had not been that long ago, maybe just over two years that the cat had shown up at the door. The bell had rung and she had gone to answer it. Sitting right there staring up at her was the cat, nobody else. There was no possible way that it could have rung the bell, but there it was, eyes staring up at her as if expecting something. Tad had walked up behind her and seen the cat, his eyes going wide. It had practically been love at first sight and, as much as she had been against it, she had allowed him to keep it. If anything, she thought she it would keep him from constantly bugging her about having a little brother or sister to play with. The nerve! Practically asking her to turn her body into an abhorrent mess once again just so he would have somebody to play with! Still, the way things were looking…
What was it with that cat? Boys were supposed to like dogs. Cats were for girls, she thought.
She had thought at one time that he might be gay, which was something that would open up a whole new floodgate of problems. Having a son was already bad enough, but if a man – a prospective husband - found out that he was gay on top of that? Well, so long, it was nice knowing you. Needless to say, she had been more than happy when she had found some Playboys under his bed last month when she had been in his room scrounging for hidden money…and there had been none to be found, much to her annoyance. She idly wondered how much she could get for the cat. All it did was suck up food and lie around and do nothing. It was a waste of money.
It did not cross her mind, or, if it did she did not care, that she was very much similar to her feline counterpart. Ramona walked over to the couch and announced her plans for the day.
“Tad, I’m going to the mall to get my hair done and then do some shopping. Did you need anything?” She tensed as she asked the question.
Why did I ask him that? she thought. Because it was the right thing to do? No, nothing as unimportant as that. It had just slipped out. I really need to get a grip on things and concentrate on what’s important.
She had a lot on her mind and was not thinking clearly. She did not resent her son as much as she used to. After he was born, it seemed like it had taken forever to get rid of the excess weight and reclaim her hard, toned body. Because she did not want sagging (those repugnant, deflated mother-breasts that hung like bags of wet dough), she had breast fed a little as possible and relied on regular milk. Sometimes, if she could spare the time, she would even warm it for him. Sometimes.
She unknowingly held her breath as she watched her son think; wondering what was going through that little mind of his. Cds? Books? Toys? Porno magazines? Who knew? Who cared? She hated spending money, unless it was on herself.
“Naw, I can’t think of anything, Mom. You can pick me up a candy bar if you want.”
She started breathing again. “All right, sweetheart,” she replied as she lightly kissed his cheek, being careful not to smear her lipstick. “I’ll be back in two hours.” She would say when she got back that she forgot to pick up the candy bar and that she would remember it next time.
They walked up the stairs that led to the front door together. The bottom level of the house was in the ground so that when a person entered it, they would actually be on the second level. The house looked like a one level, but it was actually a two, three if you counted the ceiling. Ramona kissed her son again, this time on the forehead and walked out the door.
When she was sitting in her silver Mercedes, she looked in the mirror and checked her hair, then did some last minute make-up additions. When she was done, she stared at herself in the mirror and started to cry. She wondered why life had been so cruel to her. She was a good person. All she wanted was to live like a decent human being and vacation in Europe twice a year. Life was so difficult for a hard-working woman. She dabbed at the tears with a tissue until she looked like her regular, attractive self and then started the car and drove away.
When the car had vanished down the street, Tad turned from the window to face the cat with a large smile spread across his lips. The cat faced him and rose to his feet, accepting the challenge.
It was time.
Tad let loose with an ear-splitting battle cry and hurled himself from the top of the stairs onto the couch where the cat was standing. He was literally airborne as he flew through the air for a few seconds before he came crashing down into the spot where the cat had been less than a second earlier, before it had darted away just in time. Tad reached out with clawed fingers but it was much too late. Cursing, he slammed his fist on the cushion in rage and got up. His face was contorted with rage, a savage snarl twisted across his lips. Vanished was the friendly little boy who had been there just a few moments before. He was gone now, something else now having taken his place.
Tad had seen the cat scurry away into the kitchen. He ran after it, completely unaware that he was growling under his breath like a wild animal. Tad walked slowly into the kitchen and looked around, listening for the tiniest sound. He even slowed his breathing so that he would not make as much noise as a normal person, something that he had taught himself about a year ago. He waited. All he could hear was the chirping of some birds coming from outside and the slight humming of the refrigerator. It was so quiet. He needed the quiet to concentrate, to stay alert. Tad stood in the middle of the kitchen trying to detect anything, his arms outstretched at his sides in front of him in a martial arts position, his legs tensed. He stood this way completely still, unmoving for a full five minutes before he heard a slight rattle and he whirled towards it.
The cat was hurtling down towards him in a spread eagle fashion with claws extended from a cupboard that it had been hiding in. The way the cat was coming towards him was rather odd. It was not simply leaping at him; it was spread out in such a way that it almost looked as if it were skydiving, eyes focused on its target. Tad put his hands up in front of his face for defense but the cat was already there, savagely clawing and scratching, the legs in constant motion as it fought for purchase. He could feel the fur against his face, the slim body underneath; feel the thumping and slapping of the legs as they constantly banged against him as it strained to find a grip. Also, in one of its favorite moves, it was using its tail to try and strangle him. Tad could feel it curling around his neck like a coiled snake, searching for a solid grip so that it could give him a good squeeze. Through it all, the cat did not make a single sound.
Roaring with rage, Tad dug his fingers into the cat’s back and clawed at it, then started pounding on it but it would not let go, regardless of the noises it was now making because of the pain of the blows. It hissed with each impact that the boy rained on its slender back but held steady and continued to attack. The cat was trying to find an opening and make its way towards the boy’s eyes and Tad knew that if he didn’t act fast, he would not be seeing anything again in the near future. He moved his fingernails down the cat’s back until he got a grip on the tail and then, after three yanks, pulled it off from him. But he did not let go of the tail. Oh, no, no, no. That would not do at all. With a smile of victory on his hideously scratched and bleeding face, he started swinging the cat around the kitchen by its tail, yelling with each impact that the cat made as it hit something.
He banged it against the counter.
The body made a “whumping” sound with each impact and Tad looked like he was doing a cross between a ballet and battling somebody with a rapier. With one last final blow, he grabbed the tail with both hands, swung it around, and brought the cat down hard with everything he had on the counter.
Some glasses and dishes were knocked off the counter from the thunderous impact and crashed to the floor. The cat let loose with a sickening gurgling sound as it struggled to get up, obviously more than a bit dazed. When it finally regained its senses, it ran away as if nothing had happened. It darted back to the living room, back to where it had all begun two years ago, where it usually begun.
After a few quick moments of catching his breath and wiping the blood and sweat from his face with his forearms, Tad ran after it, yelling a war cry at the top of his lungs. He was alerting the cat that he was just getting started, that there was definitely more to come.
The cat was hiding again. Tad heard movement coming from somewhere in the huge room but could not tell from where. He shook his head to clear away some of his disorientation and concentrated, willing himself to focus, ignoring the burning scratches on his face. The noise sounded like something big was moving, very big. He turned around and looked up, his eyes popping open, his mouth forming an O.
The giant bookcase, at least seven feet tall and made of solid oak, was crashing down towards him. For a split second, he had a comical thought about him being Jack and about to be stepped on by the Giant and squashed like a bug. From his perspective, the bookcase looked like the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Tad darted out of the way just in time as it came lurching down with a thunderous impact on the wide screen television, completely obliterating it. Books, wood and electronic components flew everywhere. He looked wide eyed with shock at the destruction. At what had happened. At what could have happened to him.
“You son of a bitch! You bastard!” he yelled so furiously that his voice almost gave out. He realized how the cat had managed to push the giant bookcase down. It had leaped on top of it and had then used its legs to push it (those tiny legs?), and when it was started and it had had enough room to squeeze in, the cat had then maneuvered itself behind it and used its own body weight and leverage to push it until it had come crashing down. Crashing down towards Tad.
“All right! That’s it! No more Mr. Nice Guy!” Tad yelled as he ran to the gun case and yanked open the glass doors. He pulled out a shotgun and loaded it, an insane grin on his sweaty face. He turned around and saw the cat just sitting on the floor beside the couch, its tail swishing back and forth, calm as could be. “Get ready, asshole! Kiss it good-bye!” He cocked the gun, shouldered it, aimed it at the cat and fired.
The sound had been deafening in the enclosed area and the end of the couch was instantly blown to shreds, pieces of cloth and stuffing flying around the room. Tad put his left arm in front of his face to protect his eyes. When everything settled and the smoke had cleared, his jaw dropped and he almost screamed. The cat was still sitting there as if nothing had happened. It began to meow, but it sounded very much like laughter. Condescending laughter. The laughter said, “Is that the best you can do?”
Tad began firing all around the living room trying to hit it, reloading with a speed that was almost a blur of motion in his practiced hands. He missed the cat every time but succeeded in completely destroying the living room and everything in it, including the walls. Everything except the bookcase and the widescreen television. Those had already been taken care of.
He lowered the smoking gun and looked around the room, what was left of it, with a sad and desperate look on his red face. The cat laughed. There was no mistaking it. Tad loaded up the gun again with some more shells and sprinted after it. He fired at it as it streaked up the stairs, missing it completely but destroying the bottom part of the stairwell. He ignored it and ran up after the cat, a tight grip on the gun. He was near the top of the stairs when he saw it. The ladder leading to the attic had been taken down. The opening in the ceiling was waiting. Waiting for him.
“You little shit,” he muttered.
He knew that it was a trap but he had to answer it. And he did. He slowly climbed the steps; ears alert for any little movement. When he reached the top of the ladder, he let his eyes adjust to the darkness, but it was pretty was like looking into a can of black paint. The light bulb was blown out. How convenient. Tad crouched down and started walking along one of the main beams, looking for the cat, hunting. When he reached the wall of the house, he wiped his drenched face with his shirtsleeves. It was boiling all around him, hardly any air at all. That’s when he heard it, the sound of the ladder being folded up and the door slamming shut.
“You dirty rat!”
Tad tried to walk quickly back to where the door was but it was near impossible to see through the darkness, all he could do was walk along the beam and try to feel his way. He thought he was almost to the door when he lost his footing and slipped off the main beam. Crying out, he came crashing down through the ceiling and landed hard on his rear end, his face instantly turning into a grimace of unbearable pain as he gasped, tears falling from his eyes.
“Jesus! I think I broke my tail bone,” he moaned. “You bastard! You Goddamn bastard! I’ll get you for this!”
He looked up through teary eyes and saw that he had arrived in his room. He eyes wandered towards his favorite poster. It was of a smiling Katy Perry and she was standing in a provocative pose and wearing hardly anything.
“Stop laughing at me, you slut!” Tad yelled at the California gurl who once kissed a girl and liked it.
He heard a familiar meow. Turning his head, he saw the cat sitting on top of his stereo system looking down at him pathetically, nodding its head back and forth. It seemed as though it were saying, “tsk, tsk, tsk.”
Tad looked around him and grabbed his baseball bat. Forgetting his anguish, he got up and brought it down at the cat, missing it at the last instant before it jumped away but succeeding in destroying the eight hundred dollar stereo system that he had received for his last birthday. He looked at it with an “oh, shit,” expression on his face, and then began to whimper as he gazed upon the ruins.
By now, Tad was obviously now very upset. He let loose with a cry of furious anger and then started jumping up and down in a tantrum. In a complete rage, he picked up the shotgun that had journeyed down with him and ran downstairs, ignoring the pain in his ass and in pursuit of one that walked on four legs. Breathing heavily, he looked around the near destroyed house hunting for his enemy. He eventually found him in the kitchen lapping water out of its bowl. Grinning in victory, Tad cocked the gun and aimed it at the cat. The cat looked up at him and then stood straight up on his hind legs with its paws folded over its chest, its head tilted slightly to the side, staring at him as if it were saying, “All right, what do you want now? Haven’t you had enough, yet?”
Tad was about to show him.
He smiled as he fired his weapon in triumph.
Enraged and yelling and cursing, Tad threw the gun at the cat and missed. However, he did succeed in putting a giant dent in the dishwasher. He picked up a steak knife from the knife holder on the counter and advanced on the cat. It darted between his legs as though he was not even there and Tad almost tripped turning around. He ran after it to the living room and saw that it was about to run behind a chair. Thinking quickly, he picked up a wooden book end from the floor and hurled it at the cat. It sailed through the air and came down hard on the cat’s back, the impact of it sending the cat rolling across the room. The cat struggled to move and meowed in pain. It appeared to be paralyzed and, even more, helpless.
Tad stood there, enjoying and savoring the moment, a big smile on his battle-scarred face. He had won and it was time to finish the game. He raised the knife above his head with both hands gripped on the handle and ran towards the cat. The cat looked at the boy with horror and struggled to move as he came running after him. The boy leaped at the animal and in the cat’s eyes the boy was moving in slow motion, flying through the air, coming for him like the Angel of Death. As the boy came down, the knife slammed down into the cat, just under the rib cage, and it made an inhuman cry of pain, a cry that had absolutely no business coming from the mouth of a cat as it sounded like nothing that such a small animal could possibly make. Tad came down so hard that the breath was knocked out of him but he did not care. He had done it. He had done it and he was glad. Oh, so very glad. His heart sang with joy at the pain the cat must be feeling at this moment. Staring at it, he withdrew the long, steak knife now with a newly red blade out slowly from the cat’s body. Staring down at it, he was about to bring it down again into its chest when he stopped and threw it to the side instead. The cat looked up at him in astonishment.
“No,” Tad said looking down at it. “No, I’m going to do this right. I won this time and I’m going to make you suffer.”
The severely injured cat looked on as the boy pulled some kite string from his jeans pocket and kneeled down. He the proceeded to wrap the string several times around its neck.
This is better, more personal, Tad thought, his eyes focused on those of the cat.
He moved around until he was right up against the cat’s face and then began to tighten the string with his hands, watching the cat’s face bulge and swell up.
“Yes!” he yelled into the cat’s face over and over again. “Yes! Yes! Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!”
The cat began to gurgle and twitch when they each heard a noise and looked through the window, seeing the edge of the car passing. Ramona had steered into the driveway and was about to start walking towards the door. Tad and the cat looked at each other and they both knew what it meant. He unwrapped the string from the cat’s neck and discarded it and he then crawled around on the floor until they were on their stomachs facing each other. They put their hands and paws on each other’s temples, each staring intently into the other’s eyes. A moment later, there was a blinding white flash that filled the entire house.
Ramona walked in with her bags and saw the two playmates lying on the floor, enjoying themselves. Everything in the house was back to normal as though nothing had happened. There was not a sign that the house had been a battleground and was almost totally destroyed only few moments ago.
“Well, you two seem to be having fun,” she said sarcastically.
“Sure, Mom. We always do,” Tad said.
“Well, that’s good,” in a couldn’t-care-less tone of voice. “I have a date tonight. Do you think that you two can behave yourselves while I’m gone?”
“Sure, Mom. We always behave ourselves.”
The boy and the cat looked at each other, smiling.