Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012.01.26 — Bar Cat — A Short Story

Here is bar cat, a short story. I don't write many stories, and my efforts at publication are disorganized and rather pathetic. Is that the mark of a real writer? Someone who organizes his/her efforts enough to get published. What is truly pathetic is that even now, with the blog world, I don't put my stories up. Not sure why, given that a blog is anything I want it to be.

Anyway, something about the nature of an engaging dream discussion
with BH brought forward my two cat stories, neither of which I've blogged — here. I've put them both up in Scribd. The other one, the long one, is called Bilgewater in Heaven. (BH is reading it — her review, if she gives one, is pending.)

bar cat is also there, but it is an old revision. This version has been significantly changed. So, here is some of my short fiction, blogged.

bar cat

"Are you talking to me?" I ask the shelf of spirits
behind the bar's working area. I figure that since that is what the cat-man seems to be talking to I will follow along. But I shift my eyes left to better see the pair without looking looking at them. His suit is a fine cut. And old. Even half seen in a bar that is evident. But the cat on his lap? Of course it is black — but with one white foot and a nearly perfect circle of white on its forehead.

Before I can turn away my eye's curiosity wrenches control of itself from me in order to fixate on the cat's very green eyes. They are so bright and so wide open that they seem to pierce my left eye and create minor baby finger explosions in my brain. After a moment I am quite sure I hear it say, just audibly through the bar noise, in a monotone baritone "What's it to you?" That seems to break the spell, and I am able to look forward again.

I take a sip from my glass of beer, sigh with pleasure at the cool bubbles in my mouth and throat after I swallow, and wonder how I heard a cat talk. With the back of my hand I wipe away the foam that I feel caught in my moustache. Philosophically, it is an interesting question, I think. I mean the cat's question: What is it to me? Or is that, What's it to me? Or, what if it's What's it to me?

The subtle variations of meaning give me pause. I don't know how to answer. Nor how to ask the cat for clarification.

I take another sip. Or, maybe it means What is it to me? Too many questions, too few beers.

I take another sip, a little longer, a little slower. Then I turn to look at the cat.

"I," and I place big stress on that 'I,' "see you."

The cat says nothing. I think I hear it begin to purr. It slowly closes and re-opens its eyes, and with a rock steady gaze intently stares into both of my eyes, and perhaps past my brain and into my soul. I do not blink. I dare not!

The man takes a sip from his martini, eats an olive then fingers the empty plastic stick with the one hand while rubbing the cat's head between its ears with the other. The cat lifts it head in obvious pleasure with each rub of the man's fingers, and when it closes its eyes I feel I have once again been released from something nameless, wordless.

There is no glass plane separating them from us, I think.

That's what you think, I hear the cat speak without moving either its lips or jaw. He never ever gives me a martini. Hell, I'd even take a foo-foo drink. But no. By the end of the night, he's feeling no pain, and I'm left feeling left out.

I nod with a rueful smile. That I understand. I turn away from the cat-man and his cat to take a slow sip from my beer. While looking at the plethora of colourfully bottled liquors, I think, Beer may well be the gods' greatest gift to man. But just man's? I wonder.

I turn slightly to take another side-look at the cat. I see with my left eye that the cat is still watching me, continues to examine my little soul and finding it, no doubt, not up to the task. The man finishes his drink and I see him, without a breath of pause, gesture for another from the keep. And again I find that I cannot turn my head. The cat licks its lips.

I become aware that my right arm has moved, without my knowing it. Is still moving with my half full glass firmly clutched in its — my! — hand. I watch in amazement, as if in slow motion and outside my time reference, while my beer is moved by me but against my will towards the cat, and then slowly tilts. As if this moment will last forever, the cat turns its head upwards, and my golden beer flows in a graceful, gentle arc into its sharp fanged maw.

"Thanks," the man says.

I don't say anything. My hand appears to have rejoined my arm and I bring it back to where it belongs.

The cat says nothing. I hear it burp with feline delicacy and watch it lick from its whiskers a small splash of beer foam that had missed its mouth. It slowly blinks its bright green eyes, and I feel it rubbing itself against the legs of my soul without moving from the man.

And I wonder, Who of me here can hear the cat purring? and order another beer. What else is there to do?

The End


  1. Yes! Bar Cat is awesome! Rereading it was as fun as it was reading it the first time, even better. I think I understand it a bit more now than before.

    There were many great parts throughout the story. This one was my favorite:

    "They are so bright and so wide open that they seem to pierce my left eye and create minor baby finger explosions in my brain."

  2. Al, thank you! For a story to read better on a second reading I take as the highest of praise. Especially from an as accomplished short story writer as yourself. TY again. (Maybe I'll squeeze from my time more short stories, because I thought this was fun, too.)

  3. Accomplished short story writer?! You're way too kind, but thank you!

    Yes, write more short stories. They're very good and this one was captivating.