The Cat Who Danced
“Hey, Red. Is that your cat on the fencepost?
“Yup,” Red said. “Probably so.” He didn’t even look up from the disassembled pistol he was cleaning on his kitchen table. He held his head low, the tip of his beard tantalizingly close to the oiled metal.
Royce stood next to the sink and looked out the window, a glass of Red’s best whiskey in his hand. He took a long sip and watched as, a hundred or so feet away, a cat stood on its hind legs on a fence post. The bright full moon sat behind it on the horizon and obscured any detail. All Royce could see was its lean and furry silhouette, up on its hind legs. That, alone would have been odd enough. But the cat was not standing still.
It appeared to be dancing.
“Hey, Red. Let me try that question another way,” Royce said as he drained the glass and sat it on the counter. “Is that your cat dancing on the fencepost?”
Red looked up this time and squinted out the window where the cat had spun itself gracefully on one paw, its ears alert, its tail low and relaxed. “I don’t reckon he’s dancing. I reckon he’s doing Tai Chi.
Royce was momentarily dumbfounded. “Wh…your cat knows Tai Chi?”
“Yup. Knows it pretty well, too. Got himself a black belt. Ain’t you ever noticed his collar?”
Royce leafed through his memories. “As it happens, I did notice that fancy collar. Even asked you about it, on account of how fancy it is. I don’t recall as you ever answered me.”
“I didn’t answer you, because you didn’t need to know. Still don’t, really, but I might as well tell you since you’re going to hunt that bastard Slash Dog thing with us. That cat’s special. Maybe only three or four in the whole world now. It’s bred to find and hunt evil things, like what killed Clem Fassman last week and what’s been stalking the Old Meadow since then.”
“But…Tai Chi?”, Royce shoot his head. “That’s a lot to believe, friend. I’ll buy into evil things and a Slash Dog but…that?” He gestured out the window. The cat lashed out quickly with both forepaws. Its claws caught the silver moonlight and flashed like the scythe of Death itself.
Red finished assembling the gun and shrugged again. “Believe it or don’t, you old coot. Fact is, Hosanna came right from a holy place. I can’t tell you where, but you’d know it if you heard. He’s been trained, as much as you can train a cat, in arts so deadly I ain’t even heard much of half of ’em. Some of ’em, you can’t even learn because you ain’t a cat. You know he’s different. Tonight, I ‘spect he’ll show you just how different. Now stop jawing and get that alley cannon.”
Royce shook his head and picked up the shotgun. The silver inlaid cross on the stock gleamed under the incandescent light of Red’s kitchen.
“You ready?” Red stuck the pistol known only as Red’s Gun into the special-made shoulder holster.
Royce shrugged. “I guess I am. Prayers all said. Got some holy water in the Chevy.”
“Good,” Red said and reached past Royce to tap the window. Outside, Hosanna the cat lowered himself to four paws, leaped down from the fencepost, and looked toward them as he ran to the battered blue Chevy pickup truck. Royce would have sworn it was smiling.
I happened across the picture that inspired this story while looking for a picture to use as the weekly prompt in the I Am A Writer Facebook group and Discord server. When I saw it, my first thought was, “Why is that cat doing Tai Chi?” My second thought was, “Why is that cat doing Tai Chi??” My third thought was, “I need to write a story that explains why that cat is doing Tai Chi.”
And here we are. The cat’s name is Hosanna and it is a black belt. Well, a black collar, really, because cats simply won’t wear belts. You can try, but I’m fairly sure any attempt would end in tears and an ambulance ride. For you, not the cat.
By the way, I’m not in love with the name of this story. I’d love to hear better ones, if you have one. Truth be told, I stink at giving my stories names!
(Photo Credit: gustavito1917 on Pixabay)