For Creature Features. My favorite animal is a cat. 669 WORDS
A shadowy figure watched the shapes in the alley with wonderment.
Slate sat wearily on the piece of cement divider, knees drawn up to his chest.
“It’s the only way I can seem to stop my stomach from rumbling loud enough to wake the neighborhood asleep around me. It’s been so long since I’ve had a decent meal, I’ve forgotten what real food tastes like,” he whispered.
The food he’d had lately just didn’t cut it most of the time. Especially when he had to serve the slop three times a day as a cook in the prison kitchen. He was out as of yesterday and tonight…
“Tonight it was supposed to be prime rib and cognac at Steeple’s, just like the old days,” he muttered.
Slate licked his dry lips and sighed, remembering.
“If Kelso hadn’t ratted on me, I woulda been in the south of France with a Swiss bank account and outa cat burglarin’ for good by now!”
Slate had heard Kelso had gotten ten to twenty last year through the prison grapevine.
“That’s just God’s judgement on a rat, I figure,” Slate told himself.
He looked up with a start, and the watching figure shrank deeper into the shadows.
“The bloody thing’s watchin’ me again!” Slate murmured with a shudder.
At his feet and about arm’s length away, the ebony figure of seated cat with ruby eyes seemed to look right through him. He’d tried putting it in one of the deep pockets of his Army surplus combat coat and covering it with newspapers from the trash cans that lined the alley he was sitting in. Finally he resorted to removing it again and hurling curses at it. Nothing worked.
“It’s been doing that since I lifted it from the hall table at Old Man Prentice’s place last night. Too bad the old geezer caught me at it, though!”
Slate strained forward to rub again at the stain on the figurine’s head.
“That’s the blood from having to use it to stop the old boy from calling the cops. Won’t come off no matter how hard I rub. You can’t actually see it, but I know it’s there and it’s giving me the creeps!”
Slate was afraid to rub too hard as the rare black jade and full carat ruby eyes were said to be priceless by the newspapers.
“I never cease to be amazed at the stupidity of rich collectors like old Prentice. They always insist on showing off their most priceless possessions in the papers without giving a single thought to proper security.”
The thief cursed again.
“Why does that dame thing keep watchin’ me like that?”
His loudly growling stomach distracted him only briefly. Spooked, he started to reach over to cover the offending eyes of the cat with one of his tatty black wool gloves. He stopped, his hand in mid-air to shake his head as if to clear it and rub his eyes frantically.
The eyes of the statue seemed to be pulsing and glowing with an eerie light. Slade couldn’t turn away, although he tried. With a smothered cry, he fell onto his knees and his head slumped forward onto them.
The shadow detached itself from the wall and headed home. He read in the morning paper that Slate was still in that position when a patrolman on the beat found him the next morning. The hospital reported that a mark resembling a cat’s eye was burned into the middle of his forehead.
The doctor who treated him in ER said he didn’t know who or where he was, let alone how he got there. He kept raving something about a black cat all the way to Penetanguishine and the hospital for the criminally insane there.
“The estate of Old Man Prentice went up for auction yesterday, and I, Sam Kelso got the ebony cat for song. Funny though, I feel like the thing’s watching me constantly. Hope I can sell it soon, ‘cause it’s freakin’ me out!”