Theres a new cat out in the neighborhood, a cat that doesn't crawl into the cars on cold nights, like the others. No this cat is different... noticeably different.
I first saw it up on lower Low Street over by High Lowe Ave. First off it only looks like a cat in the most basic way. You know, like these are the only tools I got to describe this thing and it’s a cat... ok but thats where it ends. Not a dog and not a hippopotamus.... ok so you get me? Cat!
First thing is first, its head is too big. Yeah it’s got ears but the ears don't sit right on it’s oversized head. Its almost like the ears are one on one and they’re all...I dunno...weird. Like ones too far back and the other is too far forward. And it’s got these eyes, oh the horrible eyes on this malformed thing. Small, little pupils that never seem to fix right on you , like a person's eyes and not a cats. This thing is a walking blank stare, like its eyes are just for show or something and the actual part that ‘sees’ you is somewhere else on that rotten fruit of a head. Like its actually looking from those off kilter ears or something. Oh and heres the other part, the thing aint sportin no whiskers! Aren't cats supposed to have at least a few of those? Well this one didunt!
Anyways it doesn't stop there with the odd appearance. The body is not right either and I'm talking legs, paws, claws tail and fur. The legs are thick and long, the paws are like cleats with yellow claws that are always extended, and that tail....yuck! The tail is the worst part, all segmented and hairless. It looks like a giant earth worm! That tail even seems like it has a life of it’s very own, like it purposely moves contrary to the cat, like it bobs around in the air trying to get free. Yuck, yuck, yuck! Maybe thats the part of him that actually does the seeing....ya think? Yuck indeed, double yuck! Don’t even get me started on the fur neither, mismatched stripes make the thing look like it got run over with a paint roller.
Well, you're probably wondering why I'm bringing this up, and ill tell ya. The cat’s dangerous and I'm not sure to what or by how much. The only way I come to find out is by my little nephew whom we call Lil Ampersand. You see the boys parents have needed a little help looking after the little kid so they call upon yours truly, good ole Handsome Boy! Seems the kids been acting out in school and getting into all sorts of trouble. What can I say he’s a fighter like his handsome uncle. Thats me...thumbs up for this guy right over here at the end of the bar.
Anyways, that isn't even the half of it you see, turns out the kid is a sleep-walker. Which I don't come to find out till my first night looking after the chum. Never mind that my sister and her no goodnick husband seemed to forget that part. Its all “oh yeah he does that sometimes”.
Ah what? SOMETIMES my handsome ass and a new pair of clean underpants! The kid gets up and moves around every night, goes himself for a little walk around the block with a little smile on his little face. Like this is amusing or something?? And it gets worse, buddy boy. Lil Ampersand gets mean and violent-like when he sleep walks. Mean and ugly and mouthy like a little drunk. They say its his bad dreams, but I never had any dreams that made me scream and holler and run myself into the walls after a full head start. Who’s he racing anyway? I dunno! He curses something awful too, in a voice that makes him sound like he smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. The kids only seven years old! Oh boy is he mean too, he’ll punch and kick and bite atchya too...and all while he’s sleeping so ya cant hit em back! Not that I would mind you, cuz he's family. Which is why they call The Handsome Boy to help look after him cause I'm the toughest guy everyone knows.
"Lil Ampersand gets mean and violent-like when he sleep walks. Mean and ugly and mouthy like a little drunk. They say its his bad dreams, but I never had any dreams that made me scream and holler and run myself into the walls after a full head start. Who’s he racing anyway?"
Alright, alright, alright I get it, go ahead and skip forward to the good part right?
Ok so one night I find Lil Ampersand opening his window and climbing out on a rope of binkies....those are them soft kid blankets, buddy boy. Keep in mind he’s fast asleep, like a sack of dead pigeons, I mean he is out! Funny thing is though, that his eyes are always wide open. Even when the lil tyke is destroying his bedroom and spouting garbled nonsense like a crazed lunatic that works the lunch line at an insane asylum.
So I go up to him and say his name but he don't respond. He just climbs out the window and leaves me three stories up scratchin my head. Before I know whats what, he's reached the bottom and thats when I see that cat thingie!
First off, all I see is it’s earth worm tail twitching back and forth behind some garbage cans. Then, its on the move as my little nephew starts walking around the block, making his rounds. Before I rush downstairs to follow my charge, I notice that the cat is looking awful skinny. He's wretchedly thin and frail, like a bladder of dirty fur that pissed out all it’s air and now its just muscling along on its wrinkled belly.
When I get to the street, they're gone! No worries I rush around the block a few times to find out whats what. Theres the little Ampersand and theres that disgusting cat stalking him! I mean it, you never see a cat hunt anything? Like a mouse or a bird or a squirrel? They get them ears down and they crawl real low to the ground and they don't make no sound. In fact the only part of that cat that isn't focused and ready is that horrible open faced sandwich of stare he got. That creepy blank nothingness that seems to wonder off towards the sky.
This is why I say I think the cat is dangerous, cause at first thought it looks like its going to pounce my nephew. Bowl him over with that huge head, and then stand on him with those huge clod paws. For a second there I think I even see the wretched thing lick its sour puss’ sour puss. Right before its about to launch itself at Lil Ampersand!
So thats when I start yelling and throwing things at the cat. I toss a trash can at it, lift it right over my head and barrel toss like when I was on television. When I do this the cat just stops and turns and gives me that awful stare. Then my lil nephew wakes up and the cat loses interest and darts off down on it’s hindquarters like its doing a trick or something.
Now I know, that from this point on I'm going to have ta-get that cat. Its a dangerous predator that hunts children in the dead of night. My brain began to kick into overdrive and I imagine this supernatural feline is the product of some horrible unholy curse. An evil cat that eats sleeping children and it must be stopped at all cost!
Guess what though, good ole Handsome Boy is just the guy for the job.
The next night I set out to the street at dusk. My plan is to make my rounds in the neighborhood. I check the alleys and trash cans, I check the empty lots, I check some of the old buildings that are getting knocked around a bit before they fully demolish em. I find lots of cats, dozens upon dozens of em. Strays and stragglers and all types. Normal cats, the whole bunch of them, they all move like cats are supposed tah, they all look like cats are supposed tah, and they all got normal looking cats eyes too. But that weird cat is nowhere to be found, so I take a load off, on that park bench just outside Cagger Elementary, GO THUNDERBOLTS!
Now a good solid city bench, thats Handsome Boy’s domain, so I make myself nice and comfortable. Stretch out and let my hair down. Wouldn't you know it, just as soon as I get to relaxing I get a glimpse of that cat!
There he is with that heavy oversized grapefruit head, practically dragging it across the ground, thats how sickly it looked, like it was so weak it could barely move. So I take advantage of the situation and help myself to a golden opportunity to be done with this abomination and save my nephew.
"...the only part of that cat that isn't focused and ready is that horrible open faced sandwich of stare he got. That creepy blank nothingness that seems to wonder off towards the sky."
So I get up real close to it and it doesn't even run away or nothin, too pathetic I suppose. I raise the jammer leg, this one right here, and prepare to squash this thing wide open and wipe its head guts and brains across the pavement. I mean the way I figure it this thing’s noodles have got to be like an overripe punkin and Im gonna smoosh yellow right out of those mismatched ears.
Then...and then suddenly I laughed. It starts in my chest, my massive chest. I balance on one leg and raise the jammer up real high at the knee...and then I..just...giggle. Up into my throat and out of my nose and mouth. I dunno where it came from, or why, and I don't know where it went when I left it. Something about squashing that things head like a can of yamma yams was funny for only a brief moment...
Thats when the tail came up, that disgusting hairless, segmented thing. The rest of the animal seemed to resign itself to its fate but-not the tail. It was like a tentacle with a life of its very own. It started flipping about in the air like it was looking for something, like it had found something. And the next thing I know, I hear the sound of a tongue against the lips, a tongue against the teeth. The cat had something in its paws, and I could see it consume as if the remains of some mouse are being hastily gobbled up. But I see nothing of whats left, only a large purple tongue with backward facing spines now grooming the paws, right there right in front of me as if I wasn't about to smash that blank stare right off of his face.
Then you want to know what that awful thing does next? It started to purr and it rubbs my legs like i just gave it a saucer of spiked-milk and now it’s kitty-cat happy hour. It’s no longer that pathetic horrible thing now, in fact its got some life back in it and its wrapping itself around the jammer all loop-de-loop.
Thats when I back away, mortified at the affection this thing is cominat me with...So I decides to let live. Hey! Let it be known that the toughest guy everyone knows has a real big heart too. So I leave the cat be and head on my way, but that thing sticks with me. I cant get over that earthworm tail and that blank stare, it haunts me every night since. Even when I settle into my favorite spot, my favorite spot of all places! Thats when the dream becomes a nightmare and that strange creature is the size of a house...and he’s looking to squash me like a bug. Its so bad, I wake up in a cold sweat, with my oversized heart thumping away in my oversized chest. Needless to say I couldn't get back to sleep, but the timing was right when the phone rang.... Little Ampersand was missing.
I'de search far for him but what good would it do, so I have to do something..which is better than nothing, and nothing is walking around the block over and over again, which is actually how he’d end up showing up. Lil Ampersand was stumbling around like a foul mouthed drunk as per usual. Eyes were wide open and he was stumbling over his binky and wiping his jaw like a drooling idiot.
At first I don't even see the cat, but its close, I know for some reason its like I can feel him. I don't know what to do, so I start out real slow and head for the kid. And then I see him....the cat.
Oh he looked wretched again, yeah he looked sickly. Like one touch could send him into convulsions and all of his fur would come right off. He’s perched up high too, like he's given up and ready to jump and end it all. Then I notice that he’s waiting for that moment when my nephew passes right underneath. Now I can’t move fast enough and it’s too late before I know it. The cat makes his move, the pounce, the pounce, and it tumbles down clod feet out first like it was a real feline or something.
Would the cat gouge out the boys eyes with one of its permanently extended yellow corn chip like claws? Would it crush his spine with the brick feet? Maybe that awful tail would wrap around the boy’s throat and crush his windpipe. But none of those things happened...
"Oh he looked wretched again, yeah he looked sickly. Like one touch could send him into convulsions and all of his fur would come right off."
The cat jumped into my nephews arms like a stuffed animal. The force of which woke the boy up, snapped him right out of it... And then the kid laughed...from what I'm not sure but the kid giggled and then laughed and then let lose a full chortle. A barrage of gasps and jips and squeals. All the while that cat just stared back at Lil Ampersand and licked it’s chops.
I tell you one thing that cat fed off that laughter...ate it right up! And you dare call me a liar, I know what I saw!
It started with that tail which waved back and forth just like before. Next came the paws which reached up into the air like it was grabbing at something that was fluttering around, something only it could see, when it caught it, the paws brought it home to its mouth. Then it opened wide and with sharp canine teeth and a purple tongue, that flopped around in dire anticipation, it began to feed with a desperate hunger. But on what I couldn't tell ya! It was like an invisible mouse or something I swear!
Those sounds of laughter, that my nephew was making, well it was like he was being muffled somehow. Them giggling and carrying on could be heard from his mouth and set free, but just as soon it departed it disappeared from audible range. It just up and gone and all thats left of it is that freakish looking feline licking its lips.
Then something even stranger happened. That cat didn't look so bad no more. Not so wretched, not so decrepit. In fact he started to transform right before my very eyes. He began to fill out and grow and get bigger too! He took on some weight so much that his belly protruded like a balloon gets inflated. Then he was too heavy for Lil Ampersand to carry. The cats fur changed as well, now it took on a strong voluminous sheer. Like the very fur had been seeded and sprouted with new life and was now glossy with a strange sparkle when the light hit it just right.
Other things happened, the stare was focused, there was more spring in it’s step and it didn't take long for it to dart away after prancing around in a circle like it was putting on a show. Finally it left, after uttering a deep sonorous purr so loud I could feel it in my handsome chest, like I was a drum.
Then it was gone, it jumped to a set of trash cans with a speed and agility that seemed impossible from it’s new corpulent frame. I knew it was gone when it was gone, but it never was truly gone for good. Ampersand slept better then he ever had that night and the next night and the next night after that. But it didn't last and when the boy started getting sleep surly again we stated leaving his bedroom window open for that cat.
That cat that eats laughter.