Cats in a Dreamspell
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by Lisa Rene' Smith
Description: Enjoy twelve assorted genre feline adventures! There's a little something for everyone. Cat in the Cockpit by Mark Rosendorf--A cat stows aboard a 747 jet; Chester's Treasure by Linda Houle--A mischievous feline makes a startling discovery; Amelia and the Better Path by Tony Williams--Why are cats are mysteriously disappearing? A Cat Named Ginger by Laurel Lamperd--A man's jealousy over the doting attention to a beloved cat; The Purrsistant Cat by Teresa Leigh Judd--A writer and her cat find themselves trapped in a cottage by a lake; Dog Matters by D. Nathan Hilliard--Cats and dogs experience a different and more dangerous world than humans; Smokey & Bandit by Randy Rawls--Two cats lend a hand to their Private Investigator human; Mystery, Mischief and Mayhem by Teresa Leigh Judd--Two cats find crucial evidence in a murder case; Just the Three of Us by Jacqueline Seewald--Why does a mysterious kitten love Angel, but he hates her boyfriend Jeff? Investigator Incarnate by Christy Tillery French--A former dirty cop reincarnates as a feline, but still wants to help with a murder investigation; Chronicles of a Cat Woman by Cathy Noonan--A journalist does a story on an elderly woman who takes in stray cats; Mal's Bounty by Darren Pearce and Neal Levin--Experience a strange fantasy world.
eBook Publisher: L&L Dreamspell/L&L Dreamspell, 2010 Spring, Texas
eBookwise Release Date: September 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [320 KB]
Reading time: 162-227 min.
"Where did you say you were from, Dearie?"
"The Boston Globe." I smiled, trying to ignore the yellow Chiclets the woman sported for teeth. How could teeth stain that bad?
"Scuse me." The woman spit a stream of amber colored tobacco past me into the front yard. I had my answer.
"Nasty habit--I know." She winked at me. Her crinkly eyelids did not seem to go with the brilliant blue eyes they held. "Well, come in. I was just putting on the tea. Just step lightly. I have a bit of a tribe here." She held the door open for me and I could see beyond to the objects of my visit. At least twenty cats milled around the foyer. They lay here and there, stretched out in the six windows that lined the once elegant entry way to the massive house.
"Well, come on, it will be lunch before we know it. Don't want to put you through the trial of feeding all my babies." She whispered as she walked past the cats.
I cursed Jon Gibson one more time under my breath. This assignment had been his idea. I was chosen for it because they figured I would have a better chance getting to know the twenty or so 'cat women' I was doing the piece on.
"You're cute, blonde and ambitious." Jon had bantered. "What more could we ask for? You'll get right in. Anyone would let you in their house. I even would." He looked me up and down, raising his eyebrows.
He was just one step under a sexual discrimination suit if I were the type to do such a thing, and he knew it.
"If I was a cat woman." He had added.
Always flying just under the radar. I detested, yet admired his ability.
"Have a seat just anywhere." The cat woman swept an arm over plastic-covered furniture that was topped off with just about every breed and color of cat I could imagine. Siamese cats purred on the settee near the huge marble fireplace. The hearth was lined in cats and even inside the fireplace under the hanging kettle, cats slept. Everything in the room seemed to be purring or ticking, I noticed, as I glanced around. Clocks in multiples hung from every wall and sat on every end-table. Some of them were simple and newer and some of them were antiques of some merit. Harp playing cherubs on one in particular caught my eye along with the name TIFFANY & CO. across a sterling imbedded porcelain dial. The luxurious rose-colored brocade fabric of the chair I was sitting on came into focus under the scratched dull glaze of the clear plastic it wore. This room must have been grand in its former life, I decided. I plastered the casing against the arm of the chair. The fabric looked clean and unmarred underneath.
Slanted blue eyes peered into mine. The cat had managed to jump to the top of the wingback I sat in without my knowledge, or maybe she was always there.
"Shoo!" I swished my notebook at her, glancing around for the woman.
"Oh, don't mind Arabella." Her voice came from the kitchen. "That's her spot, but she is pretty good about sharing."
The cat moved down to the arm of the chair I had just been studying and sat, cleaning her paws. I glanced in the direction of the voice. I couldn't see her; how could she see me? I wondered as I pushed the cat off the arm of the chair.
"Now, be nice." She rounded the corner, moving toward me. The silver tray she held had the most exquisite little porcelain teacups and the silver pot with its matching creamer and sugar gleamed brightly, as if someone had just polished them. I thought of my set at home, tarnished and unmatched.
"She just wants to be your friend." The cat woman slid the tray amidst cats and clutter. I focused on the things being moved, trying to glean some sense of the creature before me. Old stamps from a company I knew had been out of existence for years, playing cards, rubber bands and brass buttons, rested with the two cats that occupied the upper tier of the table. Two more shelves held more cats and things that gave me little in the way of clues. I did spy one TV guide, or half of one, because a mottled looking calico was stretched across the other half. The words, 'TRICKS OF THE TRADE: HOW ABC WENT FROM NO. 3 TO NO. 1 were exposed, along with the tops of what I knew were Valerie Bertinelli, Bonnie Franklin and Mackenzie Phillips heads. My affection for retro TV shows had paid off. The cast of One Day at a Time were one of my favorites, which made the TV guide vintage 1970's.
"Sugar?" The cat woman held silver tongs in anticipation of my answer.
"No, thank you." I smiled. "I don't think I have even properly introduced myself." I raised my hand toward her empty one. "My name is Bethany Stevens."
"Pleased to meet you." Her handshake was damply warm, but firm. "My name is Muriel Whethorford, well, actually, Muriel Bartholomew Penelope Andrea Whethorford, but that would be a bit tricky to remember, so Muriel will do." She laughed, dropping two perfect cubes of sweetness into her cup. She handed me my tea with hands that belied her apparent age. No shakiness accompanied the tradeoff, not until the cup reached me. I almost spilled it, which would have been most unfortunate for the feline napping underneath our pass-off.
"What brings you here today, Bethany?" Muriel pulled a sleeping cat to her breast, stroking its fur with her free hand. Purrs erupted all around us.
"I am doing a story about, well, people who love cats to the point of, well, obsession is the word my boss uses--which by the way--this is his story idea."
"I wouldn't call my love of animals obsessive." She watched me as I sipped my tea.
I looked around, exaggerating my gaze purposely. "You wouldn't call all of this obsessive?"
"Not a bit." She dismissed my brazen boldness with a wave of her wrinkled hand. "These are just good cats that needed a good home and they have found it."
"Which actually is what I am after in the way of a story." I turned to her, hoping she would understand my need and liked me just enough to possibly want to help me. "I am trying to find the common thread between people like you who do this sort of thing."
"And what sort of thing is that, Sweetie?"
Is that sarcasm, or is she really not understanding my question?
"I am after the back story." I continued on, hoping she would empathize with me and not just become mad like the last two cat women had. I had only gotten as far as their names and amounts of cats before they grew tired of my questions. It was probably a good thing though, because my stomach was to the point of protesting the smell of cat urine mixed with old lady perfume with a round of barfing. Those ever present odors in the last two interviews were something Muriel's house lacked. No scents seemed to penetrate the room we were in, beside the delicious whiff of clove orange tea that emanated from my cup as I bought it to my lips. The tea was hot and spicy, just the way I liked it.
"By back story, I am assuming you mean where all my brood came from?" Muriel's questioning gaze bought back to me the enormity of what Jon was after. How in the hell would this old lady remember where all these cats came from? My quick cat inventory had come up with about fifty in just the one room we were in. I was sure there were more in the deeper recesses of the house and I had not even taken into consideration the ones in the entry way.
"Yes--that's basically what I am after."
"Did you want to write this story?" Muriel studied my face in a maternal way that reminded me of my own grandmother, long dead, but deeply loved by me. My heart cleared a space for Muriel amidst the empty cobweb-infested place it had become. I'd lost my immediate family years before. My work consumed the only time left after my grief had taken root. I knew those two things drove one another--one could not exist without the other. Lately, the grief took a back seat to my work, making me quite successful as a journalist. Jon hired me on the spot, right after the interview, before I had even pulled on my coat to leave. I was happy, or what I deemed happy, since work was the only thing that seemed right to me any more. Jon gifted me with several interesting assignments. I sighed, thinking of this one. To every good thing must come an end...
"I would guess that you did not want this assignment." Muriel read my sigh.
"Well, it's mine, so I am trying to make a go of it." I tried the cheerful approach, not wanting to discourage her from talking. "So, where did all these guys come from?" I scratched the head of the nearest cat, hoping fleas were not an option that came with touching it.