Le Chat Noir

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December 30, 2016 by David.Groveman

It was a the kind of night where I wanted nothing more than to curl up into a ball and forget about the troubles of this dark world.  A night with dark clouds so heavy they couldn’t decide if they want to rain or just fall from the sky.  

I was still recovering from my part in the Calico Caper and I knew better.  Like most men who know better, I decided to throw caution to the wind and head out anyway.  My roommate was away and I figured that if that great big clumsy oaf was having a good time, why shouldn’t I?

Do you know that feeling you get when you know you’re making the wrong call?  That twisting sensation in the pit of your gut that makes you feel like you’re about to cough up a hairball?  Well I got that feeling as I left the apartment.

I used the fire escape.  I always used the fire escape as my roommate, bless his sweet dimwitted heart, never remembered to make me a key.  Had I used the front door I never would have seen her, but that’s just the way fate is.  

She was the hottest piece of tail I’d ever laid my eyes on.  The kind of girl that mothers worry their sons will get mixed up with and warn them about.  Unluckily for me, I never knew my mother.  The dame was wrapped snug in soft white fur and had a pink little nose peeking out beneath her deep green eyes.

She was coming out of the apartment next door.  A classier joint than the one my roommate and I shared but as I was dramatically behind on my half of the rent, who was I to complain.  She’d left the apartment and stopped by the street, seeming unsure of where to go and what to do.  I could’a given her a few suggestions but instead, I minded my manners.

“What’s a dame like you doing out on a night like this.”

She turned and looked at me with her emerald eyes and stopped me in my tracks.  I’ve always been a sucker for dames but I’d never felt so naked in my entire life.  “I’m not interested.”

I heard what she said but her eyes had said something entirely different.  “I wasn’t offering, but maybe I should.”

“Didn’t your mother tell you girls like me were trouble?”

“Didn’t know my mother, perhaps you should give me some instruction on the subject?” I was smitten as a schoolboy and didn’t know the half of the trouble I was really in. “How about you and I get to know one another over drinks?”

She was ready to refuse when a sound from her apartment made her jump like a flock of sparrows.  “Let’s go!” I was a fool for following her but, follow her I did.

 

 

She’d taken me to a joint behind the Old Presbyterian Church.  It wasn’t the kind of place where a classy dame like her should be, but I wasn’t exactly the type of man to tell her she’d made a mistake in going out with me in the first place.

The owner of the establishment nodded to me, “What’ll it be, Jasper?”

“The usual.” I spoke trailing off to give her time to make an order.

She took the hint like this was a game she’d played before. “Make that two and see if you can give us a little privacy.”

She gave him a wink that made me feel fuller of myself than a float at Macy’s on Thanksgiving but she gave me a cool glare that quickly rained out my parade.  We made our way to a quiet corner and waited for our drinks while I felt the searing envy of every other guy in the room.  If things turned ugly, which I was sure they would, it wouldn’t end well for me.

“So, Jasper, what’s a young man like you do for a living?”

“This and that,” I answered vaguely.  I didn’t need her to know that I was as down on my luck as I was.  Besides, if this dame said she needed me to be a trained circus lion you could bet your last dime that I was perfect for the role.  “What about you, miss…”

She rolled her eyes as if annoyed to play this game.  “My name is Clara and I’m fortunate to not have to work for a living.”

Classy dame with fur like that, I should have known she was born with a silver spoon.  I was already over my head and drowning fast so I cut to the chase.  “So, what’s a slinky little minx like you going out with a ginger haired shlub like me?”

Her eyes narrowed again, but not with anger.  The deep green orbs filled with laughter as she sized me up for the fifteenth time that night.  “You’re cute, in a rumpled and dirty kind of way, you know that?”

“Not at all, but I’ll let you go on at length, if you must.”

She laughed and I knew, even without my mother telling me, that I was in far too deep.  To call it love would be trite and melodramatic but there were several other feelings she inspired in me that I wouldn’t want to share with my confessor.  “Jasper, I like you, you’re funnier than most men and I haven’t laughed in a long time.”

My luck hadn’t been this good in years, so I decided to press it before it changed.  “Why don’t we go back to my place?  My roommate is out and I’m sure we can continue to find ways to amuse ourselves.”  I’d like to think she would’ve said yes, had she had the chance, but I’ll never know for sure.

In that moment there was a clash from the front and a voice like a slow roll of thunder. “Where is she?”

 

 

In short, I was a dead man.  To make the same story longer, I didn’t have much longer to live.  The man at the door was all in black, as clean and sleek as my Clara and twice as dangerous.  I wasn’t scared of him, of course, I was terrified.

“Calm down, Max.  I’m right here.” Clara stood up and walked forward oozing sex in a way that made our previous flirtations seem like a schoolyard crush.

“Who’s your friend?” Max said prowling up to me in a way that was meant to make me feel small and afraid.

Clara stepped him back. “He’s no friend, just a likely Tom trying to make me smile on a rainy night.”

“A funny man, eh?”  Max glared at me, his eyes shining yellow and fierce.  “Tell me a joke, funny man.”

I cleared my throat.  “Have you heard the one about the fella who bought another guy a drink to show it had all been a misunderstanding.”

“As a matter of fact, I have.”  Max spoke in his deep growling voice making the hairs on my neck and back stand on edge.  “I believe the guy broke that fella’s neck to show how deeply he understood.”

Clara stood between us. “Max, no!”

Max simply shouldered her away and leapt at me like he was a panther and I was his prey.  I darted away, avoiding his lunge by a whisker.  He had me on size, speed and fighting prowess, that was plain to see, but I had him on intuition.  I bolted like a rabbit from a trap and hoped against hope that my friend wasn’t asleep.

Max was on me in a flash, with the distance between us vanishing faster than a snowball in Hell.  It was my neighborhood and that small advantage kept my hide in one piece, for now.  I slid through an alley and hopped through several gardens, Max dogging my heels at every turn.

I made my way up a flight of steps and across a dark porch sure I’d feel Max grabbing from behind when a light came on and a door flew open.  I was just on the other side of the wash of bright white light but Max was stunned and blinded by it for an instance.

My friend reached down and grabbed him up in her firm grip.  “What a big kitty-witty,” Mrs. Pollander cooed at the bewildered muscular black cat.  “Would you like some yum yums?”

She carried him away and I knew that poor Max had an evening of stale kibble, a cold bath and maybe even a cute little sweater ahead of him.  It was a cool trick, but I didn’t care so long as it kept me in one piece.  I made my way back to the dumpster behind the church.

Clara was as surprised as I was to see me walking back, not too much the worse for ware.  “How did you?” She began, but I stopped her with a wink.

“Looks like Max didn’t know about Mrs. Pollander and her penchant for caring for strays.  Now, how about you and I find something to laugh about.”

 

 

Clara and I didn’t last.  I never thought we would, her a purebred princess and me a ginger tabby, but we had fun while it lasted.  I returned to find my roommate asleep in his bed and a fresh can of liver waiting for me.  

I thanked him and nudged him to give me some room beneath the covers.  Afterall, I’d had a hard night and deserved it.  

After that night I didn’t see Clara ever again though I think I spied Max in the window of Mrs. Pollander’s wearing a bonnet and booties.  I supposed it was for the best that I never saw her again.  I was a confirmed bachelor and I could never make a classy broad like Clara happy for long.  Besides, it was far more excitement than an old cat like me needed and I vowed to not go chasing anymore dames.  That vow didn’t last long, but they never do.

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