I scrub the carpet with my back, trying to rid myself of the new collar around my neck, but the stubborn thing will not budge, so I capture my tail between my paws and nip at it gently, testing the sharpness of my teeth against the boney ridges beneath the fur. The form of a bird flies pass the window and I instinctively jump to my feet, before I realize that it was only a shadow.
Ginger sits beside me, licking her front foot and then wiping it over her face. Ginger washes more than any cat that I have ever known. Personally, I think it’s a little neurotic. Ginger has never set paw outside the den, and her excessive cleaning seems like a nervous tic. Her fluffy, yellow tail twitches and I swat at it.
“I’m pretty. So, so pretty,” she purrs in mid swipe.
“Says who?” I ask.
“Momzy says. She tells me I’m so-sooo pretty all the time.”
I study Ginger for a second. She is rather attractive with orange and yellow bands of fur swirling around her body. Loose hair floats around her head like a halo. Her eyes are big, green saucers that cast a hypnotic spell. It is a fact that I can not deny; she is pretty, but instead of saying the right thing, I blurt out the wrong thing.
“You’re fat,” I say.
Ginger hisses, a nasty challenging spit, and pounces on me. We roll across the carpet, and do not stop fighting until we hit a table leg. The lamp on the table tilts and rocks, but it does not fall off the table. We screech and run in opposite directions.
“What do I care about a dumb ole alley cat that Momzy picked up off the street,” Ginger hisses. Her white fangs glitter in a streak of light from the window. I can tell that her teeth are just as sharp as her nails. She curls her tail around her feet, and she says, “If I tell Momzy to get rid of you, she will throw you out on your skinny black cat butt. Momzy loves me best.”
I don’t really believe that Ginger can do that. Momzy does not speak cat. But the two of them do have a mysterious bond, and I think better of my words. Perhaps, I should be more diplomatic. Living on the street has made me tough and rude.
I pad nonchalantly over to the couch, dig my nails into the pimpled material, and lift my weight off the floor while I think about things.
“You are pretty, Ginger,” I say, purring softly. “But you shouldn’t let yourself get too fat. How would you catch a meal if Momzy suddenly disappeared?”
“Momzy won’t disappear.”
Ginger jumps onto the couch, plucks at the pillow, circles three times, and then lies down. She stared at me with those imperialistic green eyes. She is Supreme Empress—and she knows it.
“Momzy might disappear. It’s possible. I had another owner before Momzy found me. Her name was Grandma, and she disappeared.”
“What happen to her?”
“She died. She was old.”
“Do you miss her?”
“Yes, but only when I’m dreaming.”
“If my Momzy died, someone else would adopt me. I’m so-sooo-sooo pretty.”
“Perhaps, you’re right.”
Ginger stares at me until I have to blink. I always lose at the staring game. Her big eyes close, and her chest moves in slow rhythmic waves. For a moment, I think that she had fallen asleep, and I slip down into a curl beside her.
I am almost asleep when she springs up and arches her back. She tramples over me only to get to the other end of the couch. I spit at her, baring my teeth all the way to the back.
“Teach me to hunt, and I’ll tell Momzy to keep you,” Ginger says—and there it is again, that mysterious connection between Ginger and Momzy. This is a threat to my full belly and warm bed. I have to learn the secret of Momzy’s love.
“There’s nothing to hunt in this house,” I say and yawn. My thin black tail curls into a question mark.
“There’s a mouse in the basement,” Ginger says and purrs coyly.
“There is?” I try to feign disinterest, but my heart is beating so fast that I am sure that Ginger can hear it—after all, her ears are plenty big enough. “I will teach you to hunt, but only if you lick my face.”
Her pink tongue darts out and dry licks the black fur under my ears. It feels so marvelous that my right, hind leg jiggers uncontrollably. Ginger acquiesces so quickly to my demands that I dare to ask for more.
“And you have to tell me the secret. Why does Momzy love you so much?”
“Silly alley cat. Momzy loves me because I’m so-sooo pretty,” she says.
“That’s not fair,” I say and rip a large hole in her pillow.
“That’s life,” Ginger purrs. “Now, let’s go get that mouse.”