The Cat From Tomorrow: Part One
Beth was finishing up work at Wiggles Market when her friend Joann suddenly appeared at the deli window. Beth thought she looked pale, maybe even upset which was nothing especially new.
Joann was an interior decorator who was always off to home furnishing shows and drapery conventions. Despite how Joann would complain about her stressful career Beth nonetheless felt a bit of envy.
“How are you?” Beth asked.
“Horrible,” she sniffed. “My allegers are assaulting my sinuses and I fear I need a new shrink.”
“That would be your third this year,” Beth said.
“This time it’s not my fault, it’s her problem,” Joann said. “But it’s a long story. Could we go have a glass of wine?”
“Sure, it’s quitting time anyway.” Beth clocked out and Joann drove them to a nearby bistro. Curled up in a cat bed in the back seat was a Seal Point Siamese with piercing blue eyes. He looked at Beth and purred.
“Meet Mookie,” Joann said.
“How did you come to call him that? Doesn’t Mookie play for the Red Sox.”
“When I first got the cat, my nephew Edgar called him that and he liked the name, so I switched from Leonardo to Mookie. Here we are. She got out, said, “Now Mookie you be good.” She locked the car and they got a booth at the bistro.
“Now tell me,” Beth said when they had been served wine spritzers, “why are you switching shrinks again this time?”
Joann sighed. “Because she doesn’t believe me; and once a shrink stops believing her client it’s time to jump ship.”
Beth took a sip of her spritzer. “What didn’t she believe?”
Joan frowned and motioned to the waitress. “I’m sorry but this soda water is flat. Please replace the drink.” She turned to Beth. “That Mookie can talk.”
The waitress eyed the almost empty glass, shrugged and took it away.
Beth smiled. “You mean he purrs answers or can even send you telepathic messages?”
Joann shook her head adamantly. “No! I mean he talks. He uses words, just like we’re using now.”
Beth’s eyebrows flew up. “You told her your cat can talk?”
“I tell my shrink everything. Of at least I did until the last session when my therapy got terribly disjointed and I could tell she was beginning to think I was delusional.”
“Oh dear.” Beth said.
Joann started sneezing. “Just talking about this kicks in my allergies. My eyes start to burn, and my throat gets scratchy.”
“That’s awful,” Beth sighed. “But what do you mean by talk?”
“Human words,” Joan said, her voice louder. “Don’t tell me you don’t believe me either. That would be too much for me to handle.”
The waitress replaced her spritzer and Beth noticed she gave Joann a
“Oh no,” Beth said quickly. “Of course, I believe you. Why shouldn’t I? But what you’re saying could come across as a little, um,” she paused, “farfetched?”
“Well it isn’t,” Joann insisted. She motioned to the waitress and waved her half empty glass. “More ice please.” Then she started sneezing again.
“Do you have an allergy to wine.”
Joann shook her head. “After four hundred dollars’ worth of tests my allergist had the audacity to tell me I’m allergic to cat hair.”
“That’s terrible,” Beth said. “But finish your story. What happened with your shrink.”
“I decided that the only way I could convince her Mookie really could talk was to bring him to my next session. I asked him to speak but all he did was swish his tail and hiss. I begged him to say something like he always does when we’re together at home. I even started to cry,” she spread her hands, “but nothing, zilch, nada. “That’s when I terminated my sessions.”
“You believe me, don’t you?”
“Sure, I guess. Beth didn’t really know what else to say. Her friend seemed perfectly rational in every other way. And she wanted to be supportive. “How can I help you,” she asked?
Several sneezes more ensued. Finally, in a dry rasping voice Joann said, “I fear I’ve got to find a new home for Mookie. I was hoping you’d take him.”
Beth smiled. “That would be wonderful, but he’s a valuable Siamese show cat. I could never afford to buy him from you.”
“Consider him a gift,” Joann said. “I know you love all animals. I know he’ll be happy with you. You’ll pamper him. He needs that: pampering and lots of attention.”
“Really? You mean it. Oh, I’ve always wanted a Siamese, and he’s so beautiful!” Beth said.
“He’ll talk to you too,” Joann said. “Just give him time. He’s terribly shy. I know he will. After I left the shrink I talked it over with him. He said yes.”
“I’m grateful, really I am. I hope he will be ok with me though,” Beth said. “He’ll be home alone a lot while I’m working.”
“That’s fine. Just turn on PBS. He loves listening to All Things Considered and the classical music station too. Hearing Bach makes him dance and purr. Mozart might make him seem a little jumpy. But he may insist on watching baseball games. I never let him. They’ve always given me a headache.”
“How do you know all this?” Beth drank the last of her spritzer.
“It’s obvious; he told me. How else could I know?”
Joann drove Beth back to her car at Wiggles. She loaded Mookie’s scratching post, winter turtlenecks, commode, a bag of pricey cat toys, several bags of kitty litter and a portfolio citing Mookie’s heritage into Beth’s car.
Mookie jumped into the back seat, sniffed and purred.
“What brand of cat food,” Beth asked?
“Please!” Joann seemed slightly indignant. ” I’ve never given him anything like that. He loves people food: smoked sardines, fresh ahi tuna, if push comes to shove some chicken, but be sure its only white meat–maybe some salmon. He’ll tell you. Mookie’s very vocal about what he wants to eat.”
Beth nodded and smiled. Mookie and Joann shared a lot in common.
“I’ll call you when I get back from the furniture expo in Seattle. We can do brunch. By then I’m sure you two will be wonderfully bonded.”
“I just hope he likes me.”
“Oh, he will,” Joann said. “You have the perfect personality for a persnickety cat; loving and giving with just a hint of maternal submission. See he’s already content to stretch out in your back seat.”
Then before Beth could respond Joann gave her a restrained hug, hastily waved, threw Mookie a kiss and was gone.
Beth fastened her seat belt. “Well if you really can talk I hope you’ll say something.”
Mookie stretched, turned on his back, meowed and began to purr.
As she drove back to her condo Beth thought she heard laughter and a request for smoked sardines for supper.
(To be continued)
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