Animal Stories

March 9, 2014




Cheryl Walker

          Frisky lazed in the orange-yellow sunlight on the wide ledge next to the high-rise apartment’s window.  She could see the busyness of the neighborhood below her, if she chose to look.  But instead she chose to doze quietly, paws curved inward in front of her chest, eyes closed, with a small smile curved on her face.


         The back of the couch ran alongside the window some short distance from it; the couch was large blue-red and tan flowers on white print.  Frisky liked it, though she was discouraged from being on it.  She mostly adhered to the policy, as her owner, Stan, liked to say.

          Nearby was a blue plush chair.  And near to that was a pedestal table with a fish bowl on top.  The fish bowl was old fashioned.  Most people had aquariums.  But Stan liked fish bowls.  They were less trouble and his fish never lived long enough to warrant aquariums anyway.  He knew.  He had tried.  Many years of past experience had taught him that his luck with fish meant any fish he owned would last an average of two months.

          A fish bowl was good enough.  He changed it weekly.  It had pink, orange, white, and aquamarine blue gravel in the bottom.  It also had the requisite treasure chest overflowing with fake treasure.  The current occupant was one of those orange goldfish looking things with the fan tails.  Stan hadn’t known what it was.  Frisky didn’t either.  But she liked it.


          Nobody knew where Frisky had come from.  She appeared one day at the bottom of the apartment building, hanging around the ground level.  Sometimes people would see her at the building’s entrance, seemingly pleading for a home.  Other times she would be sighted at one of the businesses dotting the building’s street level.  It was common in the city for apartment buildings to have businesses residing in the first level and apartments in the floors above that.  The businesses helped pay for the buildings and provided convenience both for the residents and for the rest of the city.

          Each time an agency came to officially collect the animal, Frisky was nowhere to be found.  And somehow, Frisky proved too wise to take any bait.  She only took food from familiar people, and then from a distance, never letting anyone approach too closely.  Nobody really could ascertain how she survived on the street.

          One day Stan turned the corner of the building on the way home and nearly stepped on her.  She half rolled over out from under his foot, glaring up at him with fangs bared, then shot safely away under a parked car.

          Stan stood startled and stared at the car.  He spoke softly, well aware that the cat could hear him over the din of the city.  He apologized for the misstep, though he hadn’t done it intentionally, he took pains to point out.  He told her he understood her fear.  He told her she was safe and nothing was going to harm her.  (As a result of having been stepped on, he meant.)  And he told her to be careful under the car.

          Being a kind, compassionate, and considerate man, Stan could not go on inside and just leave a scared cat under a parked car, a cat that he had just stepped on.

          Now, the odds of this particular cat coming out from under this particular car after having just been stepped on by this man, when she had not been particularly open to anyone else, even with food involved, were decidedly slim.  However, Stan was not considering this.  He just wanted to care for the cat.

          He got down on his hands and knees near the car, with people on the sidewalk taking a wide berth around him as they walked briskly during rush hour from their jobs to their apartments.

“Kitty, kitty,” he said, hesitantly.  He had never dealt with a cat before.

          After a short pause came a small “Mew.”  He could barely hear it above the noise.

          He crouched down even lower and a little closer.  He began his spiel, in earnest.  “I am really your only hope.  You don’t have a prayer out here.  Sooner or later, you’re going to get hit by a car or killed by a dog or taken to animal control or something.  Something’s got to give.  Can you come inside with me to my apartment and live with me?  I’ll take real good care of you.  I’ll feed you the best cat food I can find and fresh water.  And you can sleep with me.  I’d like that, and you would, too, I bet.  Living on the street is no life for a cat.  What do you say?  Will you come out from under there and live with me?”

          He stopped talking.  He felt deep inside himself:  his soul, his mind, his emotions.  Why had he spoken so earnestly to a cat, he wondered?  Had it even heard?  Did he really expect it had understood?  Did he really mean what he had said?  Why did the situation matter to him so much?  Why did he care whether this cat came to live with him or not?  He sat and pondered, his focus leaving the cat, which was a good thing.  The cat needed time to think.

          Presently, the cat wandered out.  Stan looked up and the cat was by his knee.  He reached down and stroked her head, then her back.  She looked up at him and mewed, then rubbed her head on his thigh.  He maneuvered from his knees to a crouching position, picked her up, stood, then carried her into the building.

          And the rest is history.  Frisky has a home and she is dozing on the window ledge of Stan’s apartment.