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The Tallywacker Chapter 7
The seventh episode in the weekly serial
from the fountain pen of Alexandra R. Nyfors
Previous Chapter Chapter Index Next Chapter

Further Adventures of a Feline

Mr. Hibbert had told the full story of Smidgen’s perfidy to Mrs. H, finally
receiving the sympathy and understanding and generous attention he deserved
in return. At the end of the evening, she got him to allow as to how the cat
really hadn’t been to blame, since it was she who had forgotten to feed him.
This inexorably led to him having to accept the presence of the interloper
in the household.

Smidgen knew it would be thus. He knew his woman, and nothing was going to
get him thrown out, no matter what the man said. When Mrs. H went to the
kitchen for a moment, he stood next to the man and stretched to his full
length, extending his claws into the sofa cushion, aware that the man was
helpless.

“I suppose you think this is the end of it,” Mr. H said to him. “That if
this doesn’t get you thrown out, nothing will.”

The cat looked up at him with a complacency that was unmistakable.

“Just you wait,” Mr. H said.

Smidgen squeezed his eyes shut at the man slowly, completely aware that this
was war, and confident of the eventual outcome.

Enraged, the man stomped off to his office.

The following Saturday found Smidgen bored and perversely longing for a
return engagement of the excitement of the weekend before. The woman was
gone increasingly often and for increasingly long periods of time. The man
was unable to put him out if he hid, but hiding was nearly as tiresome as
being out of doors in the heat of this time of year. His whiskers twitched
at the thought. What to do? He wondered. The gentleman (sic) needed to be
brought to heel, and that quite sharply.

He stretched, preparatory to taking a reconnaissance of the man’s territory.
The sight of his own claws reminded him that they needed a good sharpening.
Of all the furniture in the house, the leather chair in the man’s office was
certainly the most useful for that purpose.

Donning his felinus knightus invisibility cloak, he drifted into the
confines of the office, where the man sat, interminably doing nothing
important as far as the cat could see. However, he did provide a nice anchor
for the chair, which had a tendency to swivel away from his paws when empty.
He coyly threaded his way under the desk and into position behind the chair.

The sound of claws ripping at something behind him awake Mr. H from a slight
doze.

“What?” he gasped, startled. It took him a minute to identify the source of
the sound, upon which he tried vainly to reach behind the chair and swat the
cat away. The cat ignored him. He tried to spin the chair around, banging
his knee on the desk in the process.

“You blighted beast!” he raged, standing up. Inspection of the back of the
chair revealed extensive depredations, more than he had heard occur in the
immediate past. “Damn it!”

Smidgen regarded him from the doorway to the office, clearly laughing at
him. On the whole, the cat thought it was time for the constant companion
routine. The ice had been broken; it was now time to wear the enemy down.

No matter where Mr. H went or what he did, the rest of the day found the cat
nearby. Sometimes snoozing (but never so deeply that Mr. H was able to grab
him and throw him out), sometimes silently watching him in sphinx pose,
sometimes bathing, but always within sight.

At one point, Mr. H sat down at his desk with the newspaper spread out on
it. Smidgen jumped up onto his desk and walked into the middle of the paper.

“Now I’ve got you!” Carl cried, scooping him up.

Smidgen employed the old wriggle-and-claw method with great efficacy.

“Augh!”

Smidgen bounded away, only to return to wind about his ankles a few moments
later, while Mr. H was still nursing the bloody gash on his arm.

Finally Mr. H settled to his paper again. Smidgen jumped up on the corner of
the desk and sat like a statue of Bast, regarding him with solicitude.

Now this cat was surely an attractive beast. He had the strong, square,
broad head of a dominant male. In addition, he had one of those wise leonine
faces, which was filled with a bluff, hearty, honest expression that acceded
to nobility when he forgot himself (which, to be fair, was not very often).
In addition, thanks to a diet that was the best Mrs. H could devise, he was
sleek and shiny with impeccable whiskers and clear green eyes.

Forced to pay attention to a beast he had been assiduously ignoring for the
last three years, Mr. H was forced to admit that this was a cat an owner
could be proud of. Naturally it was in the nature of having a nice lawn,
nothing to do with the cat as a companion per se. But as the afternoon wore
on, and Smidgen made himself comfortable on the desktop, Mr. H found himself
looking at the cat not in a spirit of enmity (which appeared to be useless
anyway), but of inquiry.

Smidgen returned his gaze. Unless he missed his guess entirely, the war was
nearly won. It was now time to sooth the savage beast, i.e. the man.
Carefully avoiding all the furniture of the desktop, he picked his way over
to where Mr. H was sitting and rubbed himself on the man’s hand. Mr. H
tentatively stroked him, upon which Smidgen decided to reward him with a
loud rumbling purr.

“Good heavens!” Carl said to him. “What’s all this about?”

He continued to pet Smidgen, who decided it was time to throw himself down
on the paper in a rapture of ecstasy. This he did, rumbling his lungs as
loud as he possibly could.

“Well, you aren’t such a bad boy are you?” Mr. H asked. “You’re a bit of a
devil, but not such a bad old boy.”

Carl hadn’t realized that the cat was so smooth and fluffy and just
generally nice to feel.

“You’ve got kind of a luxurious fur coat there,” he commented, rubbing
Smidgen’s head.

Smidgen, being the smart cat that he was, gave every evidence of going wild
with joy.

When Mrs. H’s car pulled into the driveway, he started and realized that it
just wouldn’t do to change his attitude like this.

“It’s only because she’s not here,” he told the cat, “and we both miss her.
Now scram!”

Virginia was glad to find no obvious evidence of cataclysm. While both of
her pets were alpha males, she had hopes that the fact that they were
different species would avoid actual bloodshed. Given Mr. H’s temper and the
cat’s weaponry however, she expected to be swabbing wounds at some point.

“Hello dear. How was your day?” she asked.

“Very quiet,” he allowed. “The cat clawed my chair.”

“The leather one?” she asked, surprised, “In your office?”

“While I was in it no less,” he said calmly.

“Well, it’s a good thing he didn’t miss and claw your butt,” she observed.
“Did you punish him?”

“I tried,” he said. “But he’s hard to catch.”

“You didn’t chase him?!” Visions danced through her head.

“No, at least not much. Mostly I yelled at him.”

She sighed. “Well, he probably didn’t pay that much attention.”

“It didn’t seem like he did.”

“You could close your office door.”

“But when I do that the air conditioning all seems to collect in there and
it’s freezing. Then the dining room is an oven.”

“That’s true,” she agreed. “Well, I’m sorry about your chair.”

“Me too.”

She wondered at his mildness. The Saturday before he had been fit to be tied
when she came home. For a little bit, she had seriously considered trying to
find a new home for Smidgen. Of course, shit in a shoe and a clawed chair
were two very different things, but Mr. H loved that chair, and it was an
expensive one. What could account for his unwonted calm?

It was a puzzle. He should have been filled with dudgeon, requiring soothing
and a spectacular dinner. Instead she could get away with the shrimp Caesar
salad she had already planned. As if shrimps weren’t enough of a treat, she
thought, but he did get fractious if he didn’t get an occasional break from
her rather strict vegetarian regime. She’d let him have all the shrimps and
put some cheese on hers. Of course, he would want cheese too, and what was
she going to do about his cholesterol level if he kept that up?

She was getting distracted. What was she to make of his response?

Smidgen sat in the doorway to the kitchen, staring up at her all wide-eyed
and innocent, which was an infallible sign that he was up to something. She
gave him one of her looks, and he twitched the tip of his tail at her.

“Okay, I’ll trust you,” she said. “But leave his chair alone.”

Smidgen looked away, which she rightly took as a sign of acquiescence.

For Smidgen’s part, he simply couldn’t understand why there were such vast
differences between the males and females of the human species. From all he
could tell, the females were sensible and accommodating, while the males
were irritable and quite irrational, and therefore unpredictable.

>From some experiences of his own, he couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t
because the human male did the thoroughly unnatural thing of limiting
himself to one female. While he had ceased to be interested in such childish
activities (after a notable trip to the vet nearly a year ago now – a
distant and horrid memory full of awful smells) he did remember with a
certain pride the string of intrigues that had littered the neighborhood
with ruddy kittens.

It could also be a mistake for human males and females to live together. It
could be deleterious to the sanity of both. Certainly no cats that he was
aware of would countenance such a life-style.

Smidgen wondered if human males were also stupid. It seemed likely.

During dinner, Smidgen decided to up the ante. There were shrimps involved,
and that was worth daring a bit. He got next to the gentleman’s ankles and
rubbed against them.

Mr. H was shocked. What was that? He looked down to meet Smidgen’s eyes,
which were pleading with him.

“No,” he said firmly. “Go away.”

“It’s the shrimp,” Mrs. H said. “Shall I put him out?”

“No, no, that’s all right. Go away!” he said again to the cat.

“Mrrrrow?” Smidgen enquired.

“No,” Mr. H said firmly, shaking his head.

Suddenly, Virginia tumbled to the reality of the situation and strategically
went to the fridge to refill her glass of water from the pitcher therein.
Out of the corner of her eye she unmistakably saw her husband slip the cat a
large shrimp. She sighed with relief.

Smidgen’s conquest was now complete.

Previous Chapter Chapter Index Next Chapter

Legal stuff: Please do not print, copy or distribute this without prior
permission from the author. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2001 Alexandra R.
Nyfors. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

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