Bright Lights, Big Kitty

Mungo J. McNugget

You are not the kind of cat who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the territory is entirely unfamiliar, although the map is a little furry. Or that might be the hair in your eyes from the exotic asian chick grooming your head. She's little, about 1/8 your size; you figure her to be a Turkish van.

The locale is either Animal Crackers or Little Creatures. At least it's not PetCo. You hope. It might all become clear once you got yourself over to the treat aisle for a little Bob Hope. Then again, it might not. A small voice inside you insists that there is more of a possibility of a second breakfast than there is the chance that you could get some thumby to open up a vat of peaches and herb. You shake the turk off your head, stretch up in imitation of a 2-D halloween window decoration. You amble over to aisle 2, pronounce the situation hopeless, and decide that the fishy smell coming from the back of the store might actually be something better than some thumb's dirty laundry. The van scrambles after you, mewling rambunctious warnings.

If this were a movie, there would be some bad wacka-wacka disco guitars entering the soundtrack at this point, the screen stuffed with an even bigger version of you than the real-life XL you, camera shooting you from below, giving you a slightly menancing demeanor. The camera would show the complete lack of concern you have for the caterwauling bitch trotting behind you. Your tail, upturned and flicking, would be visible from behind your head. Your nails could be heard clicking heavily on the floor. Your expression would be impenetrable. No one would see anything behind those wasabi-colored eyes.

The aroma of fish gets stronger as you approach, but this is fish of a kind that you've not had before. An exotic treat, jewel-like, shiny baubbles undulating in clear cool liquid. Someone, maybe it was your mother, told you about this a long time ago: that fish were like you at some point--alive, with heads. Somewhere, a file dated sometime 1986, this data resides in your hard drive. It makes you misty and almost melancholy, thinking about all the things that your mother told you that you were sure were lies: that the cops could confiscate your skateboard if they found nip seeds imbedded in the wheels, that your half-brother Mungo was half-weasel/half wolverine... now, you see fish, alive, swimming, with little heads. Maybe all those things were true.

Yes, you miss your mommy. Mommy had thumbs, as did so many other women who came after her, the humans you referred to as 'your wives.' The women who would gladly share their chicken vindaloo, or even order you your own mugli paratha--the king of breads for the king of cats. Now, at the end of the evening, morning about to rudely bumb into permanent midnight, your only chance for bread is the Tom Cat bakery truck loitering outside Coffee Shop. You amble outside, up to the big silver truck with the familiar blanco y negro cat painted on the side. The smell of hot fresh bakery items makes your eyes water behind your very cool oakleys. At least you hope they're still your very cool oakleys and not those terrible ray bans you carry for emergencies. Your huge empty stomach, collapsed like an uninflated silicon implant, speaks its strange language.

"Hey! Hey you!," yells the driver, his manhattan roots showing through his heavy accent, "Don't eat the damn tire, Jabba!" The driver laughs at his tiny attempt at wit. You look up angrily. Although he still can't see yours, you lock eyes with the driver. He looks very much like the tom cat on the truck. He throws you a baguette. "Here. My brother wants you to have this." You lick the toasty, buttery crust. You're enveloped by warm dough. You will have to go slowly. You'll have to learn everything all over again. Except the litter box part. That you remember.