Shirley Murphy: Murphy_Shirley_Rousseau_Cat_Telling_Tales_BookFi

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Shirley Murphy Murphy_Shirley_Rousseau_Cat_Telling_Tales_BookFi
  • Название:
    Murphy_Shirley_Rousseau_Cat_Telling_Tales_BookFi
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  • Издательство:
    HarperCollins US
  • Жанр:
    Старинная литература / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2011
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Cat Telling Tales

A Joe Grey Mystery

Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Dedication

For all those who help lost and abandoned pets, who feed, shelter, and care for them, giving of their time and love.

Epigraph

Some abandoned cats adapt quickly to feral life, but others have great difficulty learning to survive outdoors. Often the newly strayed cat will look dirty and disheveled, fitting right in with the common image of the feral cat, while the feral cat will look clean and sleek because it’s not spending all its time trying to learn how to survive. . . . Building a cat-owning consciousness that precludes abandonment is . . . within reach and being worked on throughout the humane movement.

—Ellen Perry Berkeley, TNR: Past Present and Future: A History of the Trap-Neuter-Return Movement

Dedication

Epigraph

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About the Author

Also by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

1

The tomcat didn’t believe in prophetic dreams, he didn’t believe in insightful visions of future events or past events or whatever the hell that was that woke him yowling and clawing at the cushions with sweaty paws. It was the middle of the night, the sky outside the windows was clearer than the glass itself, the stars hung high and bright in their universe; the cool night was tucked around him as if to say that all was good, all was right with the world.

But he’d awakened frantic, still caught in the violent storm of his dreams; black wind driving rain at him so real that, rising up, he licked his paw expecting it to be sopping wet, expecting to have to lick himself dry all over.

That was a dream? What the hell was that?

He didn’t mind lifelike dreams of, say, a rollicking hunt with his tabby lady, feasting on rats and gophers, happy dream-memories that did nothing more than enrich his restful sleep. What he didn’t need was this kind of storm-filled nightmare so real he could still hear the wind howling. Didn’t need this chilling experience of humans he didn’t know, caught up in some violent personal battle, the dream’s aura dark and so damnably loud that his poor cat head pounded and his ears still hurt: rain pelting down hammering a thin roof, two women shouting and screaming at each other with a terrible rage as rain beat against the thin walls of their little wooden shack, both women’s anger elemental, irreconcilable.

Even in the stormy dark, he’d somehow known the shack stood beside a low hill that was flattened off at the top, a fence running along up there. That a small grove of trees stood below, some distance from the shack, sturdy saplings bent nearly double by the driving wind. He had a sense of several cats crouched at the base of the trees, terrified and shivering. Rain drove like hammers against the cottage, its drumming mixed with the women’s shouts, and then he was inside the shack itself, the air cold and stinking of onions fried in rancid fat. A thin greasy light from a bare, overhead lightbulb, only a hint of warmth seeping from a square metal heater, the smell of butane fumes. An old woman, kinky gray hair, her wrinkled face screwed up with rage. The young woman slender, maybe in her twenties, her oval face flushed with anger, dark hair, long and wet and tangled, her brown eyes huge with vengeance. He could see a cot in the far corner, a child curled up beneath thin blankets into a miserable ball like a little animal, hugging himself against the women’s rage.

“I didn’t do any worse than they did,” the girl shouted. “You think just because I was—”

“You were stupid and foolish and now you’re paying for it, now look what you’ve got. If you try to pressure someone like him . . . You don’t know half what he’s capable of. And your own sister—”

“I was doing just fine until you poked your nose in. If you’d left it alone—”

I poked my nose in? I’ve kept a home for you when your own sisters won’t have anything more to do with you, and who can blame them, after how you’ve behaved?”

“Why are you so mean! You don’t care about me and the boy, all you care about is how things look, what people think. Where do you get all puffed up, living in this shack! An old drunk living in worse than a slum. You think I like living here?” She whirled around, crashed out through the warped door into the driving storm, the wind wrenching the door from her hand, blowing it in with a crash. Out in the turbulent dark another figure moved, easing deeper into the windy blackness as she passed, a tall figure, flapping dark coat torn by sheets of rain. The watcher lifted a hand but she didn’t see him, she disappeared running hard into the storm, the rain almost horizontal, as powerful as water sluicing from a fire hose. Over the storm’s pounding the tomcat heard a car start, its headlights blazed on, cutting through the downpour, in the dash lights he saw the woman’s pale face, saw her jerk the wheel as the car took off skidding a geyser of mud up against the house. Behind her, a second set of headlights flashed on, a second car loomed out of the blackness skidding against the hill and then straightening, following her fast, its red taillights quickly lost in the driving rain.

The tomcat had awakened so suddenly, shivering from the storm, amazed to find himself dry and warm within his own cushions, looking out at the calm, still night from within his own cat tower. Safe in his own digs, blessedly alone in his personal tower atop the second-floor roof, its tall windows dry and free of any rain, its timbers strong around him, his pounding heart the only residue of those violent moments. He sat looking out at the calm night, thinking about the violence of the dream, the women’s mutual hatred so real it had sucked him deep down into it, seemed to have left part of him still there with them, shivering with perplexed fear. What the hell was that, where the hell had that come from? It was more like a vision than a dream, an ugly message maybe portending a view of the future—or was it a look at the past, a glimpse of painful conflict that had already happened, and that he might soon have need to know and understand?

Except, he didn’t believe in that stuff.

So-called visions had nothing to do with real life, what folks called psychic portents were nothing but make-believe, temporary derangement. Life was right here and right now. Life was fact, what you could see and smell, what you could touch with your whiskers or an outstretched paw. Life was what you saw happening or could figure out for yourself without any kind of cockamamie ethereal message. No one, cat or human, could call forth a future that hadn’t yet happened. No one could see into a past he’d never witnessed. That was sure as hell nonsense.

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