by Cyn O'Rourke
The story of Sharon Tate, from a different perspective.
|Dust moles littered the sunbeam that warmed us. I purred with contentment listening to the little heartbeat from inside her belly while Mama rested on a white leather couch. It had been a long, lazy day.
There were always a lot of people around Mama and I rarely had her to myself. Lately though, things had been different. With the exception of the dark-haired lady in the grey uniform, we’d been alone more often than not for the past several weeks.
Mama’s mate was expected back in a few days. During his absence, he’d arranged for friends to stop by daily and even occasionally stay with Mama until his return. The current houseguests had been out shopping all day when I heard their car pull into the drive. Running into the living room, one lady laid her palm on Mama’s belly, knocking me off the couch with the swipe of her hand.
“Oh, you look so beautiful,” she cried. Mama always looked beautiful with her alabaster skin, long blond hair and round blue eyes. Some people thought Mama was the most beautiful woman in the world.
“I’m as big as a house and feel myself getting bigger by the minute,” Mama replied, with a wide smile. “But I need to be a hostess before we leave for dinner. Can I get you something to drink? We found some wonderful new whites in Napa.”
“Chablis would be wonderful dear, if it’s no trouble,” her friend said, trailing after Mama into the kitchen.
I picked a new sun spot under the baby grand piano, curled up and slept.
Hours later, I awoke to loud voices and laughter. With the exception of Mama, everyone had obviously drunk too much. After a few rowdy minutes, the revelers retired to their respective guest rooms. Soon the only sound was deep breathing mixed with drunken snores.
I followed Mama down the hall and jumped up on her bed. This was my favorite time of the day, watching Mama perform her nightly “beauty rest routine.” She’d talk to me and then we’d climb into bed together. I always slept at her feet.
Mama’s mate didn’t like sharing a bed with me. He always complained about it, with no result. “Where I go, Coco goes,” was her constant reply.
Their compromise resulted in me staying as far away from him as possible. This was the only time during the day I came near
Mama’s mate, anyway. Otherwise, we ignored each other.
“Coco, I’m too full. It feels like the baby is sitting on top of my chest. I’m going to have trouble falling asleep tonight,” she said with a burp.
While Mama finished brushing her hair, I jumped onto the sill of the open window which allowed a cooling breeze to waft in. The night was clear for a change and showcased the stars. Watching the world from this perch, everything felt peaceful.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that second burrito, Coco but I was hungry. I’m eating for two now you know,” Mama said.
Just as I turned away from the window, I heard a snap.
What was that? I wondered, jumping from the sill towards the bedroom door, intending to investigate. Then I heard some rustling. Was someone whispering?
I ran back to Mama. There’s something out there! I tried to tell her, as I rubbed back and forth against her legs. She misunderstood both my plaintive meows and ruffled fur. Instead of leaving the bedroom to check out those mysterious noises, she lifted me up.
“Come on now, Coco it’s time for bed,” she cooed into my ear, giving me a kiss.
No, I heard something, I meowed back, wriggling out of her arms and leaping toward the floor.
Mama turned back the blanket and climbed clumsily into bed, her condition making it difficult to swing her legs around. I hadn’t heard anything else, but something didn’t feel right. My heart wouldn’t stop thudding and my senses of smell and hearing were on high alert. Every cricket chirp, even the sound of moth wings hitting the window panes, was magnified.
It was probably just one of those stinking squirrels living in the water oak, or maybe even a coyote, I reasoned. Still, I didn’t feel like going to bed, not yet. Maybe if I took a quick saunter around the house, I could relax.
As I strolled towards the bedroom door, Mama called after me.
“Coco, where are you going?” she asked in her sweet, sing-song voice.
The sound of splintering wood filled the air and there was a loud blast, like a firecracker. Footsteps stormed throughout the house. Glass shattered. One of Mama’s guests yelled, “Hey, what the…” followed by a single boom. The yelling stopped.
The invaders were rampaging through the house. Mama’s room was farthest from the chaos. More firecracker noises in short, uneven spurts as doors slammed. A woman’s scream ripped through the air. Loud, strange voices emanated from every direction.
Things were moving at lightning speed, yet in slow motion, all at the same time. I didn’t know what to do. Jumping onto the bed, I tried to get Mama up to run, hide, something!
Come on, Mama, move, I meowed, nudging her thigh with my nose. But her legs felt wooden, frozen in shock. Hearing footsteps in the hall, I scuttled toward the door hoping Mama might think to lock it. But before I could get there, a woman appeared in the doorway.
“There you are,” she whispered.
I was knocked behind the door as she opened it and smelled the intruder before I saw her. Peeking out, I took in mud stained sneakers and jeans. Looking higher, I noticed dark, stringy hair separated in uncombed clumps. Rivulets of dirty sweat trailed down the side of her face.
But my attention was drawn to her eyes. Dark with dilated pupils, they were devoid of any expression, nothing more than black holes.
“I’ve been looking for you,” she said, yanking Mama by her freshly brushed hair.
Without thinking, I leaped through the air straight at the intruder, sinking my teeth into her wrist. Let my Mama go! I growled at her.
“Shit!” she yelled in pain, dropping Mama to wrap her fingers around my neck. The pressure forced my jaw open but I couldn’t breathe. Squirming, clawing, trying to get free, she clamped her hands tighter around my throat.
Run Mama, run! Knowing I’d never break this death grip, my only hope was to distract this woman long enough for Mama to escape. She’s forgotten about you, at least for a few seconds!
But instead of running, Mama clutched at the woman’s wrists.
“Let him go! Stop it,” she shrieked.
It was almost over. I felt myself going limp. Run Mama, was the last thought before everything went black.
I awoke on the floor, half under the bed. I could barely breathe from my bruised neck and aching ribs. She probably kicked me I thought easing myself up and heading down the hallway. A lone shriek pierced the air.
Racing for the stairs, I stopped short at the top of the landing. The living room was full of strangers. Some carried sharp, shiny
tools like the one Mama’s mate used to cut the big bird that was cooked about once a year. Others had odd shaped metal rods stuck inside the top of their jeans. A strange scent hung in the air, smoke mixed with something I didn’t recognize.
Glass shards and shattered porcelain covered the floor and holes marred the plaster walls. Overturned furniture and shredded fabric littered the room. Two of Mama’s friends were face down on the floor, immobile.
But it was the blood streaked walls which caught my eye and sense of smell, sickeningly sweet with a hint of saltiness. A short, stocky woman was using the wall as her canvas and her hand as a brush, scooping her paint from the bodies’ seeping holes. Robot-like, she moved from the corpses to the wall, writing until her fingers went dry, then dipping her brush back into the oozing wounds, replenishing for the next word, oblivious to everything else around her.
After several seconds, Mama’s voice penetrated my numbed brain. She was on the couch, arms tied behind her back, eyes wide with fright. “Please don’t hurt my baby, please don’t hurt my baby, please don’t hurt my baby,” she begged, over and over.
A tall, thin man held one of those sharp tools over her tummy.
“Lady, you belong to me now,” he said in a light, happy voice. He acted like he was at a party celebrating. Then he raised his arm to strike.
Bolting down the remaining stairs, I leaped from the banister, sailing towards this evil creature that threatened my Mama. Fangs extended, I landed squarely on his shoulders, digging my teeth into the back of his neck. His skin was gritty and smelled like a trash can that been sitting out in the sun. My claws sunk into his upper back as he wildly swung around.
“Mother fucker!” he yelled, lashing out blindly.
Before he could land a killing blow, someone yanked me from behind. I was thrown across the room but able to roll under the piano.
The man chased after me. He poked and jabbed, missing my chest by inches. The piano would only provide safety for a few more seconds.
“I’ll get you, you sonofabitch!” he yelled.
I knew I had to get out of the house for help. The upstairs bedroom window was still open. Could I cover that distance before he caught me?
When he was as far from the staircase as possible, I picked my moment and streaked out. Enraged, he bolted after me screaming, “Catch that god damned cat!”
Slivers of glass sliced into my paws as I dashed through the wreckage.
Got to get out, got to get help, I thought as adrenaline surged through my body. Something told me I was Mama’s last chance. There was no one else in the house still alive that cared about her.
Hurry, hurry, I egged myself on. Each step embedded the glass deeper and deeper into my paws. I gasped for air, my throat still tight from the earlier attack.
You’re almost there, just leap onto the bed and straight out the window. That’s all you’ve got to do, I thought, trying to focus. Desperation set in. I was panting for air and pain seared up my legs.
Can’t limp now, I’ve got to leap. I can’t breathe, my sides hurt. Go, move, move, go, I kept repeating.
The bed was in sight. The shouting was louder and the floor vibrated with heavy steps. Was that a fingertip hitting my tail? I panicked.
I won’t make the bed. Just leap from the floor straight out the window! Don’t miss, can’t miss. Need to leap now, need to push. Go, go, push hard… oh no, my tail, my tail!
Sailing blindly into the night, my tail barely slipped through the pursuer’s grasp. I landed on the graveled path behind the house, twenty feet below. Pain seared through my paws, but I kept running. A backwards glance showed the stranger peering out the window.
Thankful that the darkness hid my tracks, I ran through the thick landscaping that had been designed for privacy, instinct taking me to the closest neighbor. Meowing loudly, I hid under the leaf of a banana tree, afraid the evil man might be following.
“What’s going on out here?” our neighbor yelled from an opened window. Keeping up my vigil, desperate to the point of screeching, I yowled with every ounce of strength I had left. Finally, the front door burst open and the porch light illuminated the front lawn.
Barely able to crawl out from my hiding place, I limped forward. Frowning until she noticed my bloody paws, she picked me up and crooned, “What’s happened to you, Coco? Why aren’t you at home? It’s too late to call your mother. I’ll take you back tomorrow.”
No! You need to come with me now! Don’t you understand? There’s a mean man with a sharp tool threatening Mama! I wriggled to break free, but she held fast.
“Stop your fussing and fidgeting. You can stay in the powder room and go home tomorrow,” she said. And with that, she slammed the bathroom door.
I yowled and cried, scratching the door and leaving bloody streaks, but it was useless. She ignored me.
My exhaustion and despair were complete. Clawing at the door had only sunk the slivers of glass deeper into my paws, making the pain unbearable. When I finally collapsed onto the cool tile floor, the bleeding stopped. My fur was fouled with a mixture of blood and brambles, but I had no strength left to clean myself. The neighbor hadn’t thought to leave down a water bowl. I was thirsty, in pain and totally defeated.
I must have slept because when the door opened, for a brief moment I didn’t know where I was.
“Come on Coco, let’s get you home. Oh my, look at that mess,” the neighbor cried. Worried about staining her clothing, she grabbed a towel off the nearby rack and wrapped me up. I was immobilized.
She held me tightly in her lap, but slackened her grip as she rounded the corner. Wriggling free, I jumped on top of the passenger’s seat to get a better view.
Lights were flashing from several police cars and a long truck with ladders blocked the street, clogging local traffic. Tape was wrapped around all the trees that lined our drive and front yard. The neighbor left her car to join the others who were milling about. I escaped just before she slammed the door. She’d forgotten all about me, anyway.
Tables on wheels rolled out the front door. They were topped with blue bags and one lone arm dangled free. It was Mama’s!
Relief flooded through me as I raced up the front walk, ignoring the searing pain in my paws. Nudging her palm with my nose, I wanted Mama to know that I’d been held captive all night, trying to get help.
I nuzzled her fingers. Mama’s hand was cold and her fingers didn’t stroke me back like they always did. Was Mama asleep? Just as I was about to leap up to find out, a woman wearing a blue uniform scooped me into her arms.
“Are you looking for your owner, kitty?” she asked as she stroked my back. Then she noticed the blood that was dripping from my cuts which had reopened.
“What happened to your paws? Did you get caught up in that hell-hole last night? What did you see?” she asked me.
“Hey Joe, I think I found our star witness,” she called out.
“Oh yeah, where is he?” asking as he walked over.
“Right here in my arms. Look at his feet. You can’t tell me he didn’t see what happened in there last night,” she said as she held out one of my paws.
He nodded. “Poor little guy looks done in,” Joe said as he walked away.
“If only cats could talk. Don’t worry, little fella. We’ll get you fixed up and find you a new home. I’m sure you’re spoiled rotten,” she said. “After all, not every tomcat has slept with Sharon Tate.”