Amy is a long haired, owl-eyed Calico who distrusts everything that doesn’t align with her worldview. Her son, Maxo, is a yearling Orange Tabby whose personality is closer to that of a Golden Retriever than that of a Cat.
You cannot fully appreciate Amy’s coat of many colors until you see her in the sun. Every known pattern and hue in Catdom is present and never repeated in Amy’s quilt-like fur; yet away from the window she comes off reddish brown. Maxo is a standard Orange Tabby, his color is comparable to that of a creamsicle. Amy is small, mostly fur; whereas Maxo (despite a diet large enough to sustain three cats) has yet to grow into his long, gangly frame. Imagine one of those once adorable child actors who hit puberty while the show was on hiatus and you will understand Maxo’s appearance. But since he has recently been “fixed,” the vet opined that healthy young Master Maxo should soon expand like a self inflating raft.
Mother and child share the same house with two humans, a pair of Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters named Lucrezia and Zippy, a tamed three-legged rescue Squirrel known as Trey, a smart aleck Parakeet whom the people call “Dotty” but “self identifies” as “Diamond Dixie,” as well as a recent addition “gifted” to the people by a friend: a Gecko who is under the false impression that she is a “Karma Chameleon”–call her Christine.
All animals can perceive and interact with human “Spirits” (Spirit being yet another case of persnickety “self identification” in defiance of common courtesy). Most humans lack the belief in their own senses to do the same. Although everything that lives eventually leaves a ghost (and that means everything, plants, microbes etc.), only human ghosts wander back into this reality. Not all or even most do that; mainly, it’s the annoying ones. Those who insist on being called a Spirit.
Although all animals see Spirits (whom rodents refer to as “Ghosties”–much to the chagrin of the lofty Spirit ego), some Spirits are attracted to certain species more so than others. Some even to the degree that they go to great lengths to be seen by one kind of animal only. Such is the case of the Fabulous Felinespy, a powerful yet essentially useless phantom who approaches Cats late at night in order to create mayhem in a sleeping household.
As you may have already guessed, Amy is not overly popular in a home that contains three rodents, one bird and a bite-sized lizard. Maxo is beloved by the others in the menagerie because of his eager to please personality. Amy grew up rough; abandoned at a young age she became a street cat until she was three. Amy is Unforgiven–in the sense that she has “killed everything that walks or crawls at one time or another”–but to be fair, she did it out of necessity. Now well fed, spayed, mostly humanized and somewhat spoiled, Amy, despite her unrepentant attitude, has given over the thug life. But it doesn’t mean she gives a yarked hairball about what others may think of her. Thus, Zippy, Lucrezia, Christine and Diamond Dixie refuse to have anything to do with her; and Amy is so embarrassed by Maxo’s supplicating eagerness to please that she avoids him at all cost, save for the occasional lecture. And yet Amy has an unlikely friend, Trey the three-legged squirrel.
“Will your ghostie come out tonight?” Trey asked Amy recently, a bit after midnight. Everyone else was abed, including that fanny-smooch boy of hers, all cozy with the piebald slave humans.
Amy sighed. She admired her fellow “hard case”—a creature who’d spent most of his life free–but there were times when Trey had all the mental acuity of a walnut. I guess you are what you eat, she thought.
Mammals, reptiles and amphibians do not “talk” in the common sense, but they do have a universal language of pantomime and facial expressions that get them across to each other. Their senses are so keenly honed that their form of communication (even between species) is superior to speech. Birds, however, have more spoken languages than do humans, one per species; but they also have something called “Commonbeak,” which allows wildly divergent Birds, such as Sparrows and Kingfishers, to have conversations. Squirrels and other tree dwelling varmints usually learn Commonbeak via osmosis, and serve to interpret what birds have to say to creatures who do not know it, like a Cat. Trey usually edits Diamond Dixie’s observations on Amy for the sake of tranquility.
Amy is a Cat of few words. She seldom miaows, purrs, hisses or chatters. But she gets herself across quite clearly with subtle gestures and her owlish eyes, which, like her coat, contain several colors but not one more than any other. She usually converses only with Trey; and although she says more to Maxo, those instances are more along the lines of a one-sided lecture than an exchange of ideas.
Although much has passed since Trey posed his question, Amy eventually nodded, “Yes, the Fabulous Felinespy will come tonight.”
Trey, who had lost his front right leg to a cruel human trap, and was rescued by the male slave, slapped his “knee” with his left, twitched his bushy tail, winked one eye twice and the other once. “Will I see the ghostie?”
“Umm, no, Trey,” Amy replied, with uncharacteristic patience, by briefly swishing her own bushy tail and issuing a series of blinks and slight tilts of her head. “She’s the Fabulous Felinespy, not a Sensational Squirrelspy.”
Trey shrugged, said goodnight and tri-podded off to his bed in the bookcase. Amy admired the way the guy could run and climb in such an altered physical state, and was glad they hadn’t met during hard times.
Amy felt no similar warmth for the goddamn bird. Fucking thing screeched from sun up until the female slave placed the cover over its cage at night. It would have been a pleasure in the old days. Amy had no feelings whatsoever about the little Hamsters–or Rats or whatever the hell they were supposed to be. And though she didn’t much care for the Lizard’s immature attitude, reptiles were chewy and hardly worth the bother.
Someone pushed open the bedroom door. Amy hoped that it was one of the piebald slaves coming out for a snack. But, no, it was Maxo. She had vainly wished that he’d sleep through the upcoming Fabulous Felinespy revelation, but, since Maxo was a Cat, that was an awfully tall wish.
“Don’t embarrass me in front of the Fabulous Felinespy.”
“I mean it,” she said. “You do any of that disgusting friendly dog stuff I’ll prove that you aren’t too big to be buried up to your neck in the litter box.”
“God damn it, you’re a Cat. We don’t take shit from anyone, especially other Cats–and yet there you go with that hangdog ‘Aw, Mom’ nonsense. Next you’ll be fetching or lifting your leg to pee…”
Amy ceased the lecture when an eerie green light suddenly shone in the room. It’s source was the female piebald slave’s Kindle, which lay on the coffee table. No, Kindles are neither known for producing eerie green lights nor forces strong enough to spontaneously flip open their covers; but unknown to the slaves, this particular device had been formatted as a doorway for the Fabulous Felinespy.
Now we run into a bit of trouble. Only Cats perceive the Fabulous Felinespy, so only Cats can describe one. Unfortunately, your author isn’t a Cat, and the Cats ain’t telling. Even a friendly and eager to please sort like Maxo is elusive on the subject. The best you get from him are laudatory 80’s YA adjectives inferred as nouns: “awesome,” “radical.”
But your author does know Catfooney when she sees it. And upon gaining “instruction” from the Fabulous Felinespy, Amy and Maxo proceeded to “craterize” the living room. Everything that had stood now lay, and all that had lain now stood. Maxo managed to take down the drapes and Amy raced about the room toppling everything she touched.
Fabulous Feline inspired acts of Catfoonery take somewhere between thirty and forty-five seconds to complete. That is usually how long it takes for the slaves to awaken and rush into the living room.
The crashing and thudding had also awakened the Lizard and the Mice-like whatever-they-ares in their glass enclosures, but none seemed to be all that concerned. Trey sat munching a walnut atop the too heavy to move (but mostly denuded) bookcase, as though he were at a ballgame. When the light came on, Maxo sat next to him, up there, doing his best to feign innocence.
Amy had somehow shinnied up the pole to the goddam Parakeet’s cage, knocked off the cover and was attempting to worry the door open. Whether you call her Dotty or Diamond Lil’ you knew that the Bird was awake due to the angry squawking she began as soon as she sensed Amy’s approach. The angry squawking was a robust string of Commonbeak expletives. Trey understood them, and he related such to Maxo, who tilted his head in amazement.
Although books and bric-a-brac all lay everywhere, the slaves weren’t overly excited by what had happened. For in this apartment the Fabulous Felinespy came around on average twice a week.
The male calmly detached Amy from the Bird’s cage. Any other creature would immediately feel her wrath upon such insolence, but Amy maybe had a thing for the guy, so she simply bit him for the sake of appearances (a nip, hardly enough to draw blood) and leapt from his arms.
After settling everyone down and recovering the cage, the female said something about going back to bed and that the mess would keep till morning. She called Maxo down (who incensed his mother by responding to his name) and carried him into the bedroom.
The male attempted to coax Amy into the bedroom as well, but she wouldn’t have any of it. “Have it your way, fiendette” he said, “just leave Dotty be, or you’ll have to sleep in the laundry room. Goodnight.”
The amazingly nocturnal Trey tripodded down from his spot on the bookcase and sat down beside Amy. “That’s sure some ghostie.”
Amy nodded. “Say, what was that shit the bird said about me?”
THE AMORAL: A CALICO CANNOT CHANGE HER SPOTS, STRIPES, POLKA DOTS, PLAIDS, OR PINSTRIPES.