by Grayson Moon
A suspicious black cat follows a boy down the alley, watching the odd events that follow.
The Cheshire Cat
A chilling gust moans through the crevasses of the winding alleyways. The smell of rotting trash and pungent sewer water never seem to dissipate, no matter how much the wind wills it to. Although spring is meant to be a time of new life, all I see is the same old cycle. Wake up, spend the entirety of your day scrounging for a single bit of food, then fall asleep even more empty than you were before. Children in the apartments wale from the cold. Brainwashed cattle drag themselves from their homes to jobs, where the pay barely covers their rent, let alone their clothes.
A rather miserable existence if I must say. Then again, what would a cat know of happiness?
I crouch at my undignified perch on a dumpster, picking at one of the scrawniest rats you have ever seen, when a curious sight catches my eye. It is a boy, no older than twelve, with messy brown hair and wide hazel eyes. He seems to be in a hurry as he scrambles past, leaving flurries of trash in his wake. Although, it is not his urgency that intrigues me, nor the suspicious paper bag clutched in his arms. What strikes me as odd, is the enormous grin stretched from one half of his face to the other.
As you can imagine, it is an irregular occurrence to see a face such as this in a place such as here. It is considered similar to laughing at a funeral! This being said, I'm sure you can understand my curiosity in this matter, and the motive for my following this young man.
I trail behind at a distance through the swamp of abandoned refuse and broken aspirations. All the while, this uncanny boy leaps through the alley with the nimbleness of a mountain goat. After heading a ways into the shadowed labyrinth, we come to an abrupt halt upon one of the many ominous doorways. There is nothing extra ordinary about the entrance. A single stone stair, leading up to solitary wooden door, surrounded by a windowless brick wall. The door's garish green paint almost chipped to extinction; rust enveloped, metal hinges cling precariously along the rim.
A rather grotesque sight if I must say. Then again, what would a cat know of beauty?
My enthusiasm of the chase begins to waver as my prey approaches the door, and proceeds to rap upon it in a polite manner. Without pausing for a reply, the boy lets himself in, then swiftly shuts the door. At this moment, I believe my fun to be over. With my mood returning to its all-time low, I head away from the garish green door toward the endless unknown. If not for the sudden joyful echo of children's laughter, I have come to think the following events would progress without me. Succumbing to my ever-present curiosity, I trace my steps, following the strange noises. My trail stops at the door I had abandoned but moments ago. The grotesque, monstrosity I had scorned for its ugliness at first sight, became the source of this harmonious laughter.
I become so entranced by the sounds emanating from the door, that I let loose a startled yowl when a short figure bursts out from behind it. After quickly collecting myself, I recognize the figure as that brown-eye boy who I had originally followed. He no longer clutches the paper bag, although the grin refuses to leave his face. I become increasingly puzzled as the boy heads down the alleyway once more.
Not long after, our path halts at another doorway. Unlike the one prior, this brick wall holds a small barred window. Upon closer inspection, I catch glimpses of a few slabs of pork that hang temptingly inside. My mouth waters at the sight of the swinging delicacies I could only dream of devouring. I am jolted back to reality upon the reoccurrence of the boy entering yet another door, without hesitation of course. My thoughts wander as I ponder what business a twelve-year-old street rat would have with a butcher.
I steal another glance at the slabs of meat, contemplating whether my reach is long enough to procure one. Upon further argument with my hollow stomach, I build up the slightest bit of courage to attempt the feat. With quaking haunches, I leap upon the tallest trash bin, then onto the window sill. I am able to slip my boney limbs through the cold steel bars, but the bits of juicy heaven barely escape my reach. I let out a shaky sigh as I recoil my paw from what would have been the feast of a lifetime.
Disowning the pork, I turn my attention to the events inside the butcher shop. There is a husky-looking man, with rough-looking hands, and a grease-covered apron. His face humorously resembles the object of his trade, the swine that is, and in his greasy grip is clenched a butcher's knife. The man seems to be using said knife as a baton to direct the boy in chores around the shop. Sweeping meat scraps, cleaning tools, stocking supplies, the whole package. I conclude that this must be the occupation of my grinning little companion, as narrow-minded as I am.
The boy completes his final task, then prepares to vacate the premises. I half expect the child to approach the butcher to collect his payment, but he simply bids farewell to the grease-covered man, then leaves with the cheerful grin stretched across his face. There was no reward, no sign of appreciation, not even a scrap of food to take home. He had worked long and hard without anything to show for it, so what purpose is there for his joyful smile?
A rather pointless endeavor if I must say. Then again, what would a cat know of charity?
Again begins the game of cat and mouse amidst the endless alleyways. The boy's unrelenting of enthusiasm refuses to waver, even the attempts of the vicious wind fail to snuff his flame. At first it was only a chilling breeze, but now the gusts are whipping at my fur in hopes of tearing it off completely! The corridor becomes a hurricane of scattering garbage, and I begin to rethink my plans. After diving into a sturdy cardboard box, I dare to poke my head out into the ensuing chaos. Upon looking upwards, I spot the boy along with an elderly woman positioned on one of the black, metal balconies. He appears to be assisting the lady in saving her clothes, along with various undergarment, from being stolen away by the mischievous wind. The boy is not only risking his own hide and hair, but he seems to be doing this with the same grin plastered on his face!
A rather mad young man if I must say. Then again, what would a cat know of compassion?
I would have watched this event further, if not for the impending doom forcing me deeper into my cardboard box. Although regrettable, I am afraid my narration of these puzzling events has come to an end. Upon waking the following morn, the boy I had spent all the previous afternoon chasing had vanished without a trace. Finding no reason to bother searching for my source of entertainment, I return to the events of my everyday life. Although, even now I find it difficult to comprehend the purpose for the hazel-eyed, brown-haired, boy for doing what he did. Most of all, the mysterious grin that he wore like a proud trophy upon his face.
It is rather confusing if I must say. Then again, what need would a cat have for a smile?