Our Great Summer Novel — Chapter 4: The Cat Speaks His Mind

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“Are you talking to me?” Davis backed up a couple feet until he bumped into the wood counter.
Tater advanced.
“Yes, pardner. We need help.”
“You have a Texas accent!”
“Yep.” Tater stopped to lick his right paw, then continued. “Puss in Boots, I mean, Antonio Banderas has the Latin accent. I make do with what’s left.”
“You are talking to me?!” Davis was shouting now. That was it. This was weird off the bizarre chart, if one exists. A monk whipping a knife out his robes, the whole trunk thing, the guy with coconuts in his rain jacket, Lina on his mind way too much…
“I see that yer head’s about to explode,” Tater said nonchalantly. “Yeah, I can read your mind.”
He had to get out of the hardware store, Davis thought. He had to walk or run or throw something, hard. Or go mad.
“What’s that rattling sound?” Tater said, tilting his head and looking toward the back of the store. Davis found he was listening too, momentarily distracted.
Tater shook his head. “Probably just that tabby from two alleys over,” he sighed and almost imperceptibly shrugged his shoulders. “She’s persistent.”
That was it. Davis was out of here. He moved around the wood counter, up the main aisle and shoved the glass door into place, sending the string of bells banging. He locked up, not bothering to change the hands on the “Back at __o’clock” sign. Would he be back in the store today? Probably not.
Davis left out the store’s back door. He’d go home. The trunk, if there really was a trunk, could be there, he thought as he started the three-block walk to his dad’s house, now his house.
“Good idea,” said Tater, causing Davis to hop to the side. He hadn’t noticed the cat slip out of the store.
Tater continued, “Peach Street Distillers also would have been a good choice. I’ve heard the Peach Schnapps is good. Personally, I stick to milk.” The cat was clearly not as perturbed by the situation as Davis.
Davis cut through the alleys and yards of people he’d known his whole life. “I should just call the cops,” he thought. But for some reason, perhaps the strangeness of the day that made it seem like a dream, he just couldn’t take the cell phone out of his pocket and dial 911. (Yes, I’d like to report an assault by Friar Tuck. Oh, and I have a talking cat.)
Tater talked about food all the way to Davis’ back door, which Lina had painted blue. She was all about Fung Shui.
The house was dark, cool and quiet. Even Tater had enough sense to shut up for a moment.
“The trunk,” Davis thought, running a hand through his hair and looking around the kitchen. Where would Lina have put it? He’d never been good at reading her mind.
“No you weren’t, otherwise you would have known that stashing ‘The Alchemist’ behind the washer wasn’t gonna work,” Tater said.
“Get out of my head!” Davis thundered, but the words weren’t out of his mouth for half a second when he realized…
“Lina’s head? Yep, I was in there all the time,” Tater said, his tail twitching. “Some cats can only get into one head. I was lucky to get two. Lina’s head was full of color and drama. You’re kinda dull, but reliable. To make you feel better, the talking thing is a more recent development.”
“Uh … OK,” Davis wasn’t sure he like being classified as dull. He was interesting, right? He kept up on things, the news, working out, movies. Wait. This is a cat’s critique, he thought.
“Do you know where the trunk is?” Davis asked.
“Yes.” Tater was positively snooty. “It’s about time you asked.”
And just then, there was a tapping on the back door, which opened a few inches and Davis’ best friend Boots’ head and shoulders appeared. Good timing had never been one of Boots’ stronger qualities, thus his “job” as a street musician and status as a semi-reformed white-collar thief.
“Hey, you walked right past me just a bit ago looking ticked. You OK?” Boots asked.
“No,” Davis shot back, then took a deep breath. “Come in. I guess the trunk can wait a bit longer. I need a drink.”
“Me too,” said Boots as he let himself in and plopped down in a kitchen chair. Davis went over the refrigerator and took out a pitcher.
“Mmmm, water,” Boots said, somewhat disappointed.
“I’ll have some milk,” Tater said.
Boots jumped out of his chair, knocking it over. “Your cat is talking!” he yelled.
“I know,” said Davis as he poured two glasses of water. “It’s a recent development, I’m told. Saucer or cup?” he asked Tater.
“But your CAT is TALKING!”
“Sit down, Boots, I’ve got a lot to explain.” Davis set the glasses on the table. “What do you know about rare black and white ebony trunks from Laos?”


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