Karlton the Christms Kitty (Part One)
Neyland D. Catt
Winter had the city in its firm, icy grip and every soul within felt its sting. The streets were nearly empty of people. The bitter bite of the cold was just too harsh. The resilient (or desperate) few who braved the cold gave no warm season's greetings or bright smiles. They simply staggered about as quickly as possible in hopes of escaping the cruel wind. This was the scene as night began to creep in over the city like an overweight relative stalking the last piece of chocolate at the holiday buffet. However, if one looked closer, there was more to be seen in the city's alleys and shadowed corners.
It was here, in the layer of the city just beneath the notice of a busy person, that you would find the other residents of the bustling burgh. Residents like Karlton. Karlton was a typical street cat. That meant that he had been born indoors to a family that hadn't necessarily been thrilled with his arrival. The humans quickly separated him from his siblings and sent him packing. He was given over to a young businessman who thought his daughter would just love a cat. Two years later, Karlton was surreptitiously dumped on the corner of 39th and Delaware, proving that young girls are even more fickle than cats. They could have at least asked if there was somewhere in particular that they could drop him off.
Karlton was depressed for a few days, but soon found that there was a vibrant river of life threading its way through the city, a life that was unmatched by the stale, sedentary routine of a house-hostage. There was plenty of food, if you knew where to look for it. The well-to-do humans, for example, were known for throwing away enough food after a single dinner party to feed a small nation. Or several cats. There was always plenty of excitement. Nothing got the old blood pumping like a midnight run through the litter-filled streets, a bloodthirsty dog hot on your heels. Finding a place to get warm in the winter was one of the only tricky parts of street life. However, Karlton had that one covered thanks to a fortuitous meeting.
Karlton had fallen on pretty rough times early in his life on the street. There were times that it looked grim. There was no food and no shelter. More importantly, there was no knowledge of how it all worked. That all changed when Karlton met Vince. Vince was a grizzled old veteran of street life. Rumor had it that he had traveled nearly every inch of the east coast of the country and had developed a system that went well past surviving, forced making ends meet right off the road, gave living comfortably the finger as it passed, and stopped only at thriving. He had shown Karlton all of his best moves. He seemed to view the youngster as a protege of sorts. Karlton had soaked it all up like a sponge. A hairy, devious, and nimble little sponge.
Karlton had become a well-known cat about the town. So well known, in fact, that the local pet association had dubbed him "A Highly Suspicious Animal". They had a photo up and everything. Karlton took a fair bit of pride in this. The local pet association was hardly something he cared to join anyway. This was because Karlton was, to put it bluntly, a con artist. Lots of folks have had that sort of title over the years, but Karlton was one of those who put the emphasis on the artist part. He could pull a scam that would make not only the victim weep in sympathy, but also anyone who happened into a twenty yard radius. It was truly art. Mind you, it was art that left the artist richer and the audience wondering what happened to all the tuna that used to be in the cupboard.
The highly suspicious Karlton was at work on his latest masterpiece on the night when our story began. (You do remember the extremely cold winter night that started this whole tawdry tale, right?) The door to a posh apartment in the high end of town opened to find a rain-soaked cat with huge, pleading eyes and a slight tremble, staring up hopefully. This was slightly odd, as there hadn't been any rain in weeks. The middle-aged housewife at the door, however, failed to notice this detail. She was instantly sympathetic to the plight of this poor bedraggled creature who had been left at the mercy of a cruel, cruel world. Karlton gave a tiny, pitiful meow just to seal the deal.
The hopelessly enthralled woman scooped him up and closed the door behind her. Karlton was delighted to see a very well decorated apartment with lots of over-stuffed furniture. It was perfectly toasty inside. He nearly swooned himself when he noticed the painting of two kittens in a basket on the wall. This was going to be almost too easy. He caught a scent in the air that brought an even bigger smile to his face. His suspicions were confirmed as the lady of the house put him down in the posh living room. There, on a rug in the corner, squatted a fat cat with luxurious long hair and a ribbon around its neck.
"Look, Mr Piggles! We have a new kitty for you to be friends with! Why, he's our little Christmas Kitty! You say hello to your new friend while I go and get the girls," the woman squealed, leaving Karlton alone with the breathing ball of fluff.
"Hello. Welcome to our humble abode. My name is Mr. Williford T. Piggles. Most everyone just calls me-" the house cat started, before being cut off by a flash of claws from Karlton's right paw.
"Stuff it fatty. Now, where do you keep the tuna around here?"
TO BE CONTINUED...
Tomorrow: Part Two! Karlton gets a big surprise from an unexpected guest.
See ya then!
Neyland D. Catt
*I'm not sure there's really any more room in the unemployment line. I'm afraid we might see Rudolph turn back to heavy drinking and Frosty selling drugs on the corner. Well, during the winter. Somewhere cold.