by Ron Van Sweringen
Buddy woke Mike Williams at four-thirty in the morning, during a cloudburst. The hands on the glow in the dark alarm clock on the nightstand said it was past the point of no return. By the time he let the little Cairn Terrier out, it would be useless trying to go back to sleep. No, like it or not Mike Wilson was up to stay, facing another jobless day.
Mike stood in the open doorway of the small bungalow, watching the rain pound on the sidewalk and waiting for Buddy to find a semi-dry spot under the porch eves. When the little dog finally made its way back into the light, Mike praised it, “Good job boy,” reaching down to pet the damp head. At that moment, Buddy dropped an object from his mouth. Mike noticed it when he heard the first pitiful ‘mew’ from a black fur ball ensconced between Buddy’s front legs.
“Crap!” Mike said, at the initial shock of seeing a little kitten. “That’s all I need, another mouth to feed. Where is your mother, kitty Cat?” he moaned, bending over for a closer inspection.
Mike considered closing the door and leaving the would-be orphan on the porch. He reasoned the pitiful mewing would eventually lead the mother cat to her offspring and that would be the end of it. But Mike knew life didn’t work like that for him, as he stood staring down at the squirming newcomer. He couldn’t bring himself to close the door, much as he wanted to. Buddy solved the problem by picking the kitten up in his mouth and retreating into the house. Mike stood with his hands on his hips watching him make a bee-line for his basket in the kitchen. “Crap,” Mike sighed again, realizing the die was cast.
Two hours later the rain had stopped and a blood-red sunrise was streaking through the kitchen window. “It’s going to be hot as hell again today,” Mike mumbled to himself, the newspaper spread across the kitchen table. He sat with his chin resting in the palm of his hand watching Buddy lick the kitten. “I never knew you had it in you Buddy,” Mike said, “you’d make a great mother,” as he returned to the Want-ads.
The rain continued on and off for most of the day and Mike’s mood grew as dark as the sky. He’d answered dozens of Want-ads and made phone calls until he could hardly talk. Mike considered himself intelligent, but he was superstitious and this black cat thing wasn’t helping any.
At four o’clock that afternoon the door-bell rang. Buddy was asleep on the living-room floor with the kitten stretched out across his neck. A huge yellow umbrella and a tiny old woman in matching rain coat and goulashes smiled up at Mike when he opened the front door. “Pardon me please,” she spoke in a wispy voice, “but I’m looking for a lost kitten.”
“A lost black kitten?” Mike answered optimistically, pointing at the living-room floor.
“Oh dear,” the old woman replied excitedly, “I do believe it’s her.”
“Buddy found her under the porch this morning and brought her into the house,” Mike explained, the thought of being relieved of this possible bad luck talisman sounding in his voice. “Would you like to take her now?”
“Oh dear no,” the old woman replied. “I’m so happy she’s found a home. I left her under three porches before yours. You have no idea how many people still believe that old wives-tale about black cats.”
Before Mike’s confused brain could process her answer, she was gone.
“What did I do to deserve this?” he asked himself sitting on the sofa later that evening with a glass of red wine, watching the kitten bat Buddy in the face with her tiny black paws. Mike had a sleepless night and when the telephone woke him at eight thirty the next morning he hated the world and it showed. “Mike Williams, here,” he growled into the receiver, his stale breath bouncing back at him.
“Mr. Williams, this is Katherine Conner’s from The Magnum Corporation. You submitted your resume to us some weeks ago. Unfortunately, you were number four on our list of three top candidates. For some unexplained reason, Mr. Gunderson our CEO, added your name to the top three and you were chosen in a random drawing this morning. I don’t know what your good luck charm is.”
“It doesn’t have a name yet,” Mike smiled, “but I’m working on it.”
You can find more of Ron’s short stories here in KRL’s Terrific Tales section.
Get to know the rescued Cairn Terrier pictured in this story, Foxy, by checking out her story here in KRL.