The Old Orange Tom Cat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I wrote this story as part of my book Distorted Perceptions of Reality.

Submitted: September 03, 2012

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Submitted: September 03, 2012

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Old orange tom cat

Dane Broome

When she moved into the old white farm house with the abandoned, collapsing barn out back, there was a full grown orange cat that would come around to be fed. She didn't have hardly any money and she had lots of hungry mouths to feed; three young, hungry kids, a couple of dogs and a few horses and now this wise looking old orange tom cat. There was never any man in the picture, at least not one that bothered to help her pay the bills, so she got herself a job driving school bus. All her kids were real young and rode that bus to the school house in the mornings and later on in the afternoon they rode it hope. She thought it could be a good job for her; she could make a little money and still raise her own kids. She rented a vast field of clover from her wealthy neighbor. She spent a month driving fence posts and wrapping it with barbed wire so she could let her horses run that field in the summers where they could eat good. When she had enough money she had a shed built of tin where the horses could stand in the brutal winters of cold wind and snow.

The world kept on turning and soon her kids were a bit more grown. Her oldest girl starting seeing a boy from school and her boy started hunting rabbits out back across the creek. She had herself a nice homestead. She had a couple real nice buck skin mayors and a German shepherd and a lab. The only problem was that shepherd didn't care much for that old orange cat and every time he'd come around she'd chase him off, til one day when she was backing that old diesel bus out of the driveway to pick up all those kids up from school, the dog chased that old tom cat on under her back left school bus wheel and she felt his brains squish out onto the gravel. She got out and beat that dog a good one and then went to tend to the cat and found his eyes popped out and the sockets filled with bloody guts from the brain. If she'd had more time she probably would have stayed to weep a bit for that old tom cat, after all, it was the cat’s home, it had been there longer than she had and now she had crushed his skull and flattened its face into the gravel and cut off his life too short.

She hadn't much time to do things how she'd have liked, so she had to leave things how they were and set out to the school house to pick up all those kids. She set the cat down yonder the old oak tree next to the tin shed and backed out the driveway, scolding that shepherd the whole way. The sky had been gray all morning and she had been expecting rain but the most they got was a light drizzle; she turned on the wipers for a moment to get the window good and clear. There wasn't much traffic that afternoon, nobody was out and about on a Tuesday, they were all still at work and would be getting out about the same time as the kids left school. She traveled down that highway through the rolling fields, across the bridge over the river and through the forest of red pines. She couldn't stop thinking about the image of that striped orange cat that had been chased under her tire by that damned shepherd.

Before long she had a full bus of kids and took that same highway through that same forest and evergreens, now northbound. She crossed that bridge over the river and now the rain was coming down a bit heavier, and the traffic was now a bit heavier too-- everybody was in a hurry to get home and start dinner. The sky was getting real dark and a storm was moving in. She stopped at the neighbor boys' house to let them off the bus, where they'd cross the road and run down that long driveway to their house where their mother would be waiting with hot biscuits fixed up, and the last thing that she saw was a flash of white go by to her left side right where that neighbor boy was passing.

The time froze--the seconds seemed like minutes--she watched the eyes of the other kids all fill with dampness of terror and fright. The time sped up. She began to hear the screams and the cries. The time froze again--the other neighbor boy ran to the bus--slow motion--said "he ain't breathing"-- and then somebody must have called an ambulance. The time sped up; she heard the siren ringing out among the thunder and the rain and saw the flashing lights of red and blue approach from behind the school bus.

That woman's life changed that day; I am yet to see the same person in her as whom she used to be. I've seen her many times early in the morning out on the front porch drinking her coffee before the sun comes out, just staring off beyond that abandoned barn, beyond that field of clover, off into an endless tunnel, into an abyss of solitude and nothingness.


© Copyright 2017 Dane Broome. All rights reserved.

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