The wind was up. And so was Cat's dander. He'd been playing with the pair of shorts he'd had snagged off the clothes line in a fit of displeasure at his mistress’s lover, Batt Pherson.
Cat is a cat.
Batt is an idiot.
Batt is a boor.
Batt is a bat without a ball.
"And oh ho ho," Cat thought, "wouldn’t I like to snag me one of his sweaty balls with a freshly sharpened claw just when he's steps up to bat! That’d finish him off."
Cherie, his mistress ... . No, dummy, his, Cat’s mistress, not Batt’s. Although, given a moment of reflection, isn’t that kind of a twofer?
Cat gave the pair of shorts a huge bat, ending up by snagging them on a claw and thus wrapping them around himself so that he couldn’t see a thing.
"Hell’s bells," Cat thought. "This’ll never do."
It was just at that moment when the bartender at the Midnight at the Oasis bar and grill came out into the alleyway and started clanging non-returnables into the trashcan, one after the other, like a hail of shots.
Cat took off. Galloping, racing, running. The shorts, quickly unwinding in the passage of wind, caught securely on Cat’s left rear paw claw and now streamed behind Cat like some kind of weird Cat banner.
As Cat neared the Church, he began to slow his flight, dropping to a fast trot, then a canter, and finally, to a limp as he was now trailing the shorts through the dirt and gravel and they were pulling painfully at a left rear paw-claw. When he reached the grass surrounding the church tower, he stopped and sat so he could lift that leg and chew at the offending threads that were pulling on the claw on which they were snagged.
“Damn Sam,” Cat thought. "Anger never pays. Well,” he quickly amended that. “It doesn’t when you get caught.” -- And, then. “Oh, ha ha,” he thought. “A pun. Just what I needed, right?”
For the first time since he’d purposefully snagged the blasted things from the clothes pin that held them he questioned the wisdom of revenge.
"And by the way," Cat thought, lifting his head the better to think for a bit, "why am I calling this one piece of loud purple and green striped cotton, ‘them’? It's all one piece of cloth, never mind it has two leg holes. What's that all about?" he wondered.
He shook his head, tried standing up to put his hind paw on the ground, but it wasn’t having it. The shorts wadded themselves under both rear paws. The shorts had to go. He resumed chewing, trying to catch the threads with his teeth to pull them away from his paw. The claw pad on that paw pad was now a raw pad. Had a bad tear in it. Just like life, in’it? Try and have some fun. Bam, yer under the gun. Honestly, sometimes life’s jokes are - just bad.
“Yep,” he thought. “I’m a poet and don’t know it.” He went back to nipping and chewing and making tentative yanks, but it wasn’t working. He couldn’t grip right, the shorts were still caught on that one claw. Cat sat back to regard the shorts with venom. The wind picked them up and covered his head with them and he leapt back to shake them off, but they remained caught on that one claw.
“Ya know, it kinda serves ya right.”
The voice was melodious. It was husky and sweet and - it was one that Cat HATED. Cats are capable of hate. They can hate with the best of them. And where Midnight was concerned, Cat HATED. Hated, with extra nasties and miseries on top and a side of gruesomes, please. Mostly because She was pretty nice looking and had Her eye on Cat. Had had Her eye there for some time now. But, no thanks. He wasn't having any because he knew Midnight was looking for a lover and a litter. Even though She knew he was a confirmed Tom Cat. So, unnn-uhh. Not him. No thank you.
“Ahh. I say. -- Cat? ” It was Midnight’s voice all right. Right over there in the shadows.
Cat returned to tearing at the ragged edge of the shorts, just managing not to yelp at the pain he caused in his claw each time he pulled. Worse, it wasn’t getting him anywhere. "This was like the time I'd been licking out that almost empty jar of peanut butter," he thought, "and got my head stuck inside. That’s when Cherie poured olive oil all over my head. Okay, it got me out, but auggh, yerggkk," he recalled. "It'd been awful. "Cuz then she gave me a bath. A bath! And if baths by themselves are terrible? Repeated shampooing of a car’s head, where the eyes and the nose and the ears are located is water boarding. That's just what it is. Torture, pure and simple."
“But it gotcher head out.” God-dang-it-all-to-hell! It was Midnight and She'd snuck up closer. “Midnight,” he thought, “when She isn't even pure black. Has a reddish color running all through that tar-black coat. Yeah, maybe it’s pretty. Well, it IS pretty. But it isn't 'Midnight'!”
“How’ja know that, Cat, hmmmmmmereowww?" Midnight had the most - insinuating - voice! "Been looking at me, huh, have ya, huh huhowweeew?”
Cat gave up. He turned to where he could see Midnight, reddish black coat or not, shadows or not, nighttime or not, bushes or not, and sang.. “Ohwoooh, would you, could you, might you help? This poor helpless, hapless, hopeless Cat? Whose claw is torn and bleeding now? Might you, Midnight? Help? Poor cat, me?”
He gave it all the twang and fervor he used in his best Alley Cat serenades, even ending with a bit of Cat Skat on the last few bars. If She could get him out of this, he'd sing to Her. He could do that. And She'd come.
She did. Like a flash, Midnight was right there beside him. Her eyes, extraordinary. Large and tilted and a warm golden amber like ---. “Oh for My God’s Sake, get a grip.” he told himself.
But of course he couldn’t. Not with only three working paws. You needed four-paw traction for a move like that. And he was un-manned anyway. Caught with Batt’s shorts hanging from his left hind foot like a - like a cartoon cat-tail. His head hung low and he growled softly out of sheer cat shame.
“Oh knock it off, Cat,” Midnight purred. “You’re stuck and you know it. I’ll help if you lie down and show me your tummy.”
Just then the door to the Church banged open and a group of fellows cantered down the stone steps to race across the drive. “Got that thing rigged right?” they heard someone ask and another answer, “Give it two seconds more and you’ll know.”
But even as the word ‘know’ died away, all of the Church’s programmed bells were chiming and clanging and knelling away like it had gone berserk.
“Freeeeeeeeeee!” Church gonged. “I’m outttttttttt!” Church clanged. “Wakkkkkke” “Upppppppp” Wakkkkkkkke” “Upppppppp” “Wakkkkkkkke” “Upppppppp”. Church had been let out all right. The sound waves wove out into the night air and thudded inside the two cats’ bodies.
Midnight gave a great snap and snipped the caught threads free from Cat’s claw. The two of them were up and off together, racing away in tandem. Cat felt a lift and a lilt in his old tomcat heart. Midnight’s hope took heart. Actually it took Cat’s heart, and Midnight began to believe Her next 7 lives might feature cat-nip love and even some cat-kins.
“Kittens!” Cat howled, skidding to a stop.
“Kiiiitttties,” Midnight purred, right beside Cat and washing Her rough tongue up beside his proud whiskers, puurring and puurrruuuing and - . And we had best leave them to their catnip carrying's on. They’re okay without us.
The Church fell silent at last, after another round of knells and chimes and clangs. It was permanently de-programmed the following day.
The only clue as to who what where how and when to the sudden Church Outburst was the pair of Batt’s shorts, livid purple and green striped, lying on the grass beneath the Church’s tower, one hem a bit frazzled with some threads pulled.
In the resulting talk and gossip, Cherie dumped Batt, too embarrassed by his shorts having being seen hanging on her clothesline.
Batt became a regular at the Midnight at the Oasis bar and grill, where he drowned his sorrows in beer and karaoke. Bad karaoke.
Midnight carried kittens to term and gave birth in May, just 63 days from the night Cat caught his claw in Batt’s shorts. And fell in love. Currently he is having cat fits trying to wrangle six kittens.
Cherie has taken a new lover, Matt. Don 't ask.
Cat, as has been said, is otherwise engaged, if not yet downright married.
How it all work out? Like everything else, that remains to be seen. But not too promptly