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Author's note: I had to write my very first mystery story for my creative writing class. I wasn't in the mood to use humans, so I wrote with cats. Go felines!
“Tom Cat is dead!” Snowball hisses into the air. Her white face is buried in the sides of fuzzy bodies, hoping to find the missed warmth of her dearly departed mate in their children.
The morning is cold. News is traveling around the small town and the back country of the loss of Tom Cat, Alley Cat Leader. Every cat, young and old, travels to the meeting hall on the edge of town – it is simply a condemned warehouse which the humans haven’t used for over ten years.
They need to determine who will take his place as Alley Cat Leader.
Chester is asleep on her male owner’s chest, dreaming of the small rodents that are hiding under the house. She is too large to get under the house, but in her dreams she is small enough to capture them all and have a great feast with her family; father, mother, brothers, sisters, cousins…
Chester wrinkles her nose. She doesn’t want to be bothered so early in the morning. Her owner rolls onto his side, Chester rolling with him. She lands on her back between him and the female owner. Her paws twitch as the mice in her dream run away from her sharp claws and razor teeth.
Something lands with a thump on her chest.
Chester hisses and awakens quickly. She rolls over onto her paws, moving the item off of her chest and onto the bed. She sniffs the dead object.
“A dead bird? Who would give me such a luxurious treat?” Chester raises her head.
Snowball sits on the window sill, eyes not as bright as usual. She looks old and frail to Chester, as if she had been drained of all the life she regularly expresses.
Chester sniffs the air. “Mommy?”
“Come honey. We need to talk.” Snowball turns slowly and jumps down from the window sill onto the nearest trash can. She slowly slides down the body of the can and leaps out into the alley, walking at an unusually slow pace.
Chester takes the bird into her mouth and hurries off of the bed. She jumps up onto the window sill and follows down after her mother. The last she has heard from her mother was when her brothers and sisters were born, only a couple weeks prior. She never comes into the neighborhoods on the hill outside of the town unless something big happens.
“What about?” Chester speaks with the bird still locked between her teeth.
“Don’t speak with your mouth full. Eat and then talk to me.”
Chester rolls her eyes but obeys her mother, setting the bird on the ground. She begins to dig into the scrumptious bright blue bird as her mother watches her with pale green eyes.
Chester’s appetite fades and she looks at her mother with concern. “What’s wrong?”
Her mother shakes her head. “Eat first.”
Chester growls. “Tell me mother, please. You are obviously hurting. What happened?”
“Snowball!” A voice echoes down the small alley that divides the street block.
Chester looks behind her mother and finds her grandfather walking down the alley.
“You might get sent to the pound if you don’t head home. Your kittens will be worried.”
“Oh, Thomas…” Snowball lays her body on the ground and covers her face with her paws.
“Mom!” Chester goes over to her and begins to lick her head.
Snowball whimpers lightly.
“Tell me what happened,” Chester pleas.
“Tom Cat is dead.” Thomas replies to his granddaughter.
Chester looks at him in horror. Her father can’t be dead. She had only seen him a few days earlier, digging through trash cans. She hunted a big bird with him so he could take it home.
Snowball rolls onto her back, howling.
Thomas shushes her. “You will be taken away if you don’t quiet down. Now go home and take care of your youngsters. There are other tom cats in this town, you know.”
Snowball sighs. “But I loved Tom. And he loved me.”
Chester lowers her head, staring at her paws. She didn't believe that her father cared for her mother like she did him. However, he did stay with her as a mate; it isn't common for tom cats to do that.
“He was having litters with other cats, not just you.”
“But he stayed and cared for our litters. He didn't run off when we had our first. He's different with me.”
“She has a point grandpa,” Chester comments.
Thomas simply snorts and wanders past them down the block. Chester watches him as he walks away. He doesn’t seem very sad that his son is dead. He was more depressed when Tom's sister was attacked by a dog and killed – why isn't he acting the same way for him?
“Come on Chester.” Snowball regains her composure and rolls back onto her feet. “Come with me to the meeting house. We need to figure this all out.”
The meeting doesn't go very well. Many of the head males insist that they should take Tom's place as head tom cat. Everyone believes they are the right animal to take charge of the “clan” as they call it. Chester ignores them all. No one seems depressed about the fact they had just lost their leader out of the blue; no one is as hurt as Snowball and her children, which leads Chester to believing that Tom Cat's death wasn't an accident.
“How did he die, mom?” Chester leans to her right and whispers into her mother's ear.
Snowball sighs. “A car ran over him on the road. Reports from some of the other alley cats say there wasn't a human driving the car. There probably was, but might have been one of those short humans.”
Chester nods and leans back over, staring off outside one of the warehouse windows. She thinks to herself.
“Even if it was a short human driving the car, at least one of the witnesses would have seen something, Chester ponders in her head. There wasn't a human in the car, which means either it rolled down the hill on its own or... the car was running and a cat sneaked inside and sat on the pedal that makes it move.”
Chester gasps. “He was murdered!” She cries out.
All of the cats in the room stop their meows and stare at her.
“What are you talking about?” Snowball cries out.
“Mom, if no human was in the car, then something had to cause it to move. Sometimes humans leave their cars running to heat them up or if they forget something inside. My humans have done that. The car could have rolled off on its own, which is highly unlikely in a town with little hills. So something HAD to be on the pedal that makes it move.”
“What something?” A male cat in the crowd yells out to Chester.
Chester looks at him. “Another cat maybe?”
“That is impossible!”
“Who would want to kill Tom Cat?”
“I want milk mommy!”
“Quite down honey. You have to wait your turn.”
“Cats, quite down!” Snowball hisses out as loud as she can.
The cats slowly quiet their voices down.
“Chester, no one would want to kill your father,” Snowball reasons.
“From the way everyone is acting tonight, it is possible someone killed him to take his place.”
Voices begin to rise in protest.
“Quiet!” Snowball snaps.
They quickly shut their mouths.
“Chester... you just want a reason for why your father died. But their simply isn't. He was hit by a car – that is it.”
“Someone did this for some reason or another. And I will find out!” Chester runs from the warehouse and down the street, her mother calling out to her to stop.
“I will find out who did this, daddy. I will.”
Chester wanders down the street in the quiet town. It is still early morning and a Saturday, so no one is heading to work. The town is very quite until about eleven on the weekends.
She reaches the small alley where her mother and siblings live. Sniffing around the large over-turned box, she doesn’t smell anything that seems suspicious. Her father had a serious addiction to cat nip, and it could have been what led to his death. Her mother can be addicted to it as well.
“Chester, what are you doing here?” Snowball and her children walk down the alley to their home. The youngest children begin to play with each other, rolling around back and forth down the alley.
Chester approaches her mother. “Mom… do you use cat nip?”
Snowball freezes up. “Um… why?”
“I want to know.”
Snowball stares at her daughter for a long time, and then groans. “He wasn’t killed because of his cat nip addiction.”
“You might have killed him.” Chester snorts.
Snowball gasps and the children stop playing.
“Chester, how dare you say that to your own mother!” Snowball hisses and walks past Chester to sit down in the box.
“I want to know – do you use or not?” Chester turns around, facing her mother directly.
“No.” Snowball turns away and lays her head down.
“You’re lying.” Chester growls.
“I am not. If you must know, I was out with your uncle hunting rodents in the fields outside of town. Your aunt watched the children for me.” Snowball lifts her head and stares at her oldest daughter. “Stop with this nonsense and go back to your owners. Don’t want them coming into town and finding you here, now do you?”
Chester looks away from her mother. She watches her siblings tackle each other and chew each others necks. She is the only one in her litter, so she never had the pleasure to play with brothers or sisters until a year later when her mother had another litter. She was then too old to play.
“Come play with us Chester!” A brother calls to her from under a sister. She shakes her head and jogs out of the alley. She wants proof her mother is telling the truth – if she isn’t, she probably is using cat nip.
Snowball’s story checks out, thanks to a rat who promises to tell the truth if Chester doesn’t eat him. She promises; she hates the taste of rats anyways. The rat stated that his very large family was being hunted down in the fields by two large white cats, one with long hair and the other short hair, the night before. Sounds like Snowball and Blue Eye’s to Chester.
Chester then moves onto her grandfather. He hates Tom Cat deeply for his life choices. Instead of staying with the owners of Grandfather, he ran off so he didn’t have to have the dreaded “surgery” all owned cats have to have, unless they are being breed – which is what Tom's parents are. Tom Cat wanted to keep his manhood.
Thomas is outside in the grass of his home with his daughter, Shea, hunting birds. Chester sits on the side walk, waiting for her grandfather to notice her. When he does, he leaves his daughter to hunt on her own while he talks with Chester.
She quickly gets to the point. “Where were you last night?”
He is quiet for a moment. “At the vet… getting a shot; I was picked up early this morning because your grandmother is in heat and they wanted-”
“Enough.” Chester stops Thomas from continuing. “I don’t need anymore details.”
“Why did you want to know?” Thomas looks Chester in the face. Immediately he knows her reasons. “I didn’t Chester.”
“I’m checking every possible cat. That includes you. You never liked my dad.”
“But I didn’t want him dead! Yes, he should have stayed here with me, but I still cared.”
“If I come back, that means you lied to me.” Chester turns away and walks down the street and down the hill to the vet’s office. She has a friend in their getting neutered today who can tell her if Thomas was there last night or not.
Thomas shrugs and chews his paw that has a bug on it, and then goes back to Shea.
Thomas lays in the shade under an oak tree, thirty minutes after Chester had left. He seems quite happy.
Chester approaches her grandfather from behind. “Your story doesn't check out.”
“Huh?” He mumbles under his breath.
“I said I would come back if you lied, which you did.”
Thomas groans and sits up, staring at Chester. “I didn't kill him.”
“What's going on over here?” Chester's grandmother and aunt wander over from the porch.
Chester looks at her. “Where were you and grandpa at last night?”
Her grandmother looks at Thomas and then back at Chester. “I was asleep with our owners and your father took Shea out hunting last night.”
“No he didn't.” Shea answers, lifting her front paw to lick it. “I hunted by myself. I saw him wandering down the street when I left.”
Thomas lays back down in the grass.
Chester stares at him intensely. “Tell me where you were or I'm going to tell everyone you killed him.”
“Killed?” Chester's grandmother sways side to side before flopping down on her side in the grass.
Shea stands next to her and licks her cheek. “Who?” Shea asks, concerned.
“I didn't kill anyone.” Thomas stands to his feet and walks to Chester, flicking his tail back and forth in furry. “Go home Chester.”
“Then where were you?” Chester hisses.
Thomas growls, lifting a paw in the air as a threat. Chester hisses more.
“Tell them dad.” Shea pleads.
Chester looks at her.
“Or I will,” Shea states.
“How do you know where I was?” Thomas questions.
“I'm not an idiot.” Shea sits down next to her mother. “I’ve seen you sneak out and wander around the town with other females.”
“What?” Chester’s grandmother lifts her head and stares at Thomas.
“Honey...” Thomas begs. He looks her in the eyes, feeling weak in his legs. He sighs. “I’m a hypocrite.”
“How so?” Chester asks.
Thomas walks over to his mate and lays down, resting his head on her side. His voice stays soft. “I say I hate how Tom acted with random females, but I too go around with other cats in that sense.”
It is quite for a while. Shea isn’t stunned by the news because she already knew, but she is worried at how her mother will react. Chester is shocked that her grandfather lied all these years. Maybe he acts the way he does about Tom because he is covering up his own shame.
Chester’s grandmother rolls over onto her back and stares up into the tree. She licks a paw and then speaks. “I, too, have been with other men.”
Thomas lifts his head and looks at her.
“Tom isn’t your son,” she says sadly.
Everyone gasps. Thomas looks hurt.
“He belongs to some cat from downtown. He might be dead now, I don’t know.”
“Wow.” Chester mumbles.
Shea nods her head in agreement.
“So Thomas isn’t my grandfather?” Chester asks.
“He is still like your grandfather, but no, you aren't related to him at all.” Chester’s grandmother rolls back over and slowly stands. She looks Thomas in the eyes apologetically. “Can you forgive me?”
Thomas is silent.
“Dad?” Shea asks. Chester watches them in suspense.
Thomas soon lets out a long purr and licks his mate's cheek. “If you forgive me.”
Chester's grandmother responds by rubbing her body along side Thomas’s. He purrs louder.
“PDA!” Chester howls.
Shea darts off inside the house as her parents commence with making her brothers and sisters.
Chester runs down the street and back into town. “Onto the next culprit. Ugh, my family is messed up.”
Chester lays her body down on the sidewalk. She stares at the spot where her father was hit by the car. She spent her entire morning interrogating every possible male and female cat to see if anyone has a good motive for killing Tom Cat. She has no luck. They all come up clean.
A tear falls from her eye. “Who would kill you, daddy? Who would want you to be gone? I want to know why you were taken from mom, your children, your parents, your friends… from me.”
“When I find that cat I will strangle it.” Chester’s ears perk upward toward the human who has spoken.
“What happened, John?” Chester turns her head and stares at the man and woman standing behind her in front of a large building, where many different groups of humans live. Chester thinks they call it an apartment building.
“My darn cat decided to climb into my car last night.” The man’s voice is thick with anger.
“So?” The woman asks, sounding annoyed.
“My car was on! I go inside to grab my bag that I left in the lobby; I come outside and my car is rolling off down the street! I run after it and see my cat is sitting on the accelerator fast asleep. Before I can get the door opened and the cat out, the car hits a truck!”
The woman breaks out in hysterics.
The man growls angrily. “Stop laughing at me!”
“Sorry! But it seems funny because last night I went out here for a smoke and found a dead cat right near where that cat is.” She points at Chester. “Your cat ran over that cat!” She continues to laugh.
“You’re drunk, aren’t you?”
“I only had one beer today.”
The man growls again and goes inside the building. The woman soon stops laughing and heads inside behind the man.
Chester turns her head back and stares at that single spot in the street again. This time she is smiling.
“So it was an accident… but not by a human, a cat.” She sighs and walks across the street. “I should probably say sorry to everyone I blamed-”
A horn blares. Chester looks up and sees a car heading toward her. She arches her back and hisses at the beast. It comes to a speedy halt and the driver gets out of the car.
“Chester!” Her male owner picks her up. “I nearly killed you! Stupid male cat, you down here picking up chicks?”
Chester stares at the man.
“Whatever. You’re getting fixed tomorrow, so no more fun time for you.” He carries her to the car and tosses her into the back. “Sounds like me when I got married.”
Chester sighs and curls up in the backseat on her owner’s jacket.
“Man, he and the she are idiots. Apparently they don’t know what cat balls look like.” She closes her eyes and quickly falls to sleep. She is late on her daily cat nap number one.
“Meow.” By daddy.
Greenville, New York
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