The Black Cat

Max ran down the steps and out the front door of his apartment building and sure enough, there was the cat again. For days now a black cat that didn’t seem to belong to anyone on the street, as far as he could tell, had been turning up most anywhere he went. He deemed it odd enough that it was always near the apartment building whenever he came out, but the weird thing was the way it would turn up across town wherever he happened to go.

It was definitely the same cat. There was no mistaking the way it narrowed its eyes at him, and the tiny tufts of white hair at the tips of its ears. He ignored it and continued down the street, but he could feel it’s eyes on the back of his head. Feeling creeped out, he hurried along, looking for a taxi. He jumped into the first one he saw and couldn’t resist looking back to see if the cat was following. It wasn’t, but he knew it would turn up again soon. He put it out of his mind and got out his briefing papers for the big meeting and lost himself in his work.

He got out of the cab, still going over the briefing papers and as he reached for the door handle there it was. It was just sitting there giving him that same squinty look, it’s tail wrapped neatly around its body. Opening the door, he willed himself to just move on but something made him turn to the cat.

“Why? Why are you following me? What do you want?”

A woman who had come up behind him unnoticed gave him a quizzical look, and he hurried inside, his face burning. Running for an open elevator, he pushed the door close button before anyone could join him. He put his briefcase down and rubbed his face with exasperation. This is insane, he thought to himself. How in the hell could that cat have known where to find him, let alone have travelled that distance faster than the cab? He tried to reason it out. Of course, the cab had to stop at lights and stop signs. The cat must have run alongside and caught up at the lights. But why? What did it want? He put the briefing papers in his case and exited the elevator. He needed to focus; he had a presentation to give. Straightening his tie, he went in to the meeting room.

Doing his best to lose himself in the meeting, he asked lots of questions and gave comments as he could, forgetting the strange goings on. His turn came up and he went up to the front and got into his PowerPoint presentation. After the meeting, heading back to his desk he chatted up the new secretary and made a mental note of the possibility of asking her out soon. Hoping she wasn’t a cat person, he caught himself and grinned. Back at his desk he made some calls and finished off his day.

Leaving the building after work he looked around, half expecting to see the cat waiting outside, but it wasn’t there. Hailing a cab, he headed off to meet some friends for drinks. Being in a celebratory mood because the meeting had gone well he was really looking forward to a good time. The manager had come by his desk not long after the meeting to tell him that his presentation was outstanding. He tipped the cab driver a little extra and headed for the pub doors.

Stopping dead in his tracks he couldn’t believe his eyes. There it was, sitting in that same pose, giving him that look. His good mood deflating quickly he stormed toward the cat and tried to shoo it away. It looked at him a moment longer then rose slowly and sauntered off, giving him a backward look and then disappearing around the corner. Several passers-by frowned at him and an elderly lady shook her cane at him and threatened to call the S.P.C.A. and report him. He waved her off and went inside to let the revels begin. Nothing was going to ruin his night.

Everyone was in a party mood and the drinks flowed freely. Max was the life of the party, bordering on manic. Whooping it up and making the most of a good time, he made quite a spectacle of himself and the bartender warned him twice to keep it down. The other guests were starting to stare, but Max kept it up. His friends tried to get him to simmer down, but it was clear something had gotten in to him. The bar maid, having finally had enough told the bartender she couldn’t serve him anymore and that was that.

Wiping his hands on a towel, the bartender came out to the tables and put his hand on Max’s shoulder and told him it was time for him to leave. Max’s friends all looked like they’d rather be anywhere else and wouldn’t meet his eyes. Max, embarrassed by the scene told the bartender what he could be with his suggestion and took a swing at him. The bartender ducked it easily and put him in a half nelson and frog marched him to the door.

Shoving him through he gave one last hard push from the middle of the sidewalk, propelling Max out into the street. Max hit the blacktop hard and got to his hands and knees, dazed and disoriented. He turned his head and saw a car coming straight for him and tried to stand up, but he was dizzy and moving slow. From out of nowhere a black streak flew in front of him, just above his head. The driver saw the movement and then Max struggling to get up in the roadway and swerved with only inches to spare. Max could hear him swearing out of the open window as he passed, barely missing an oncoming car.

Max got to his feet, adrenalin pumping now and swivelled his head around, trying to figure out what had saved him. At the opposite curb sat the black cat, sitting calmly as though it had been there all along. Max could swear it had a self-satisfied look on its face. The cat got up and walked over to him as he made it back to the safety of the sidewalk. It rubbed against his leg and looked up and meowed, then sauntered off down the street.

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