Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sanctuary, Part One
Genre: Urban Fantasy; Roxburg Stories
Characters: Dan Shapiro, Jase, Misha, Raz Talhami
Summary: A pair of remarkably intelligent cats need to find a safe home.
Sanctuary by J.Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Raz pulled his car into an empty parking spot and squinted at the house across the street. There was just enough lamplight to make out the number through the rain.
"That's 783 Chestnut," he announced. "Ok, you two. That's the one you want. Just wait on the porch."
The two Siamese cats stared at him as they huddled together in the passenger seat. One made a frightened, questioning noise in its throat that sounded damn close to the gurgling of a human baby.
Raz narrowed his eyes, unimpressed. "We've been through this. I can‘t look after you.”
The other cat made a sort of hopeful half-purring noise that begged to differ.
"No," he said, his voice firm. "You need to lay low. This place will do for now. Dan Shapiro's a good guy. Just look like a pair of pathetic but friendly strays--that shouldn’t be hard in the rain--and he'll take you in. “
He hoped that was true, anyway. He didn’t know Dan well--he was relying on his brother’s opinion. But that was ok. Asad might be a sanctimonious prick, but he was a good judge of character.
Of course, Asad would not be pleased to discover that Raz gotten his friend involved in this mess. But by then it would be too late to do anything--even Asad would have to admit that the cats were safer with Dan, and Dan was safer not knowing what was going on.
Raz sighed and turned back to the felines. He knew they both understood him, but his words had no effect except to make them shrink even further into their seat.
“Look,” he said, “worse case scenario, Dan will find you a good home. If he does that, I'll still keep track of you. Don't worry."
He paused long enough to check that no cars were coming and then opened his door. "Out, guys,” he said, waving them to hop over his lap. “Trust me, you'll be better off this way."
Dan swore under his breath. It was late. His paramedic shift had lasted hours longer than it was supposed to. What he needed was a hot shower to ease his muscles, a cold beer to numb his throat and some mindless TV to wash away the stress of the day. He didn't need two stray Siamese curled up on his porch, seeking shelter from the rain.
"Where the hell did you two come from?" he asked as he dug into his pocket for his keys.
One cat ventured near him in response, sniffing at him and then rubbing hopefully against his shin. The other backed away, staying on the porch but giving him a wary look.
Dan squinted at them under the porch light and then rolled his eyes as he knelt down to pet the friendly one. It mewled, sniffed at his hand and then rubbed its head against his palm. The other one watched from what it apparently considered a safe distance.
"You two look like pure breeds," Dan said, scratching behind the friendly one's ears. "Siblings, I'd guess. And you're not starving. No collars, no tags--but you must belong to somebody."
Neither answered that.
He sighed. "Ok, I guess you can stay the night. If you're brave enough to come in, that is. We'll figure out who you belong to in the morning."
He unlocked the door, pushed it open and gestured to the cats. The friendly one ran right in and, after a brief hesitation, the aloof one followed. Dan brought up the rear, closing the door behind him.
He turned around to see to his guests. One of them--presumably the friendly one--was sniffing around the couch. Satisfied, it hopped up and curled into a ball on the corner cushion, making itself at home. The other one, meanwhile, had scooted under the coffee table. It was crouched down watching him, ready to flee at the first suspicious move on his part.
Dan shook his head. They were a beautiful pair, with their lean bodies, pointed-yet-elegant faces and wide blue eyes. And they were obviously used to people and used to being taken care of. Hell, they were probably used to being pampered. They couldn't have been stuck outside all that long. Just long enough to catch fleas, knowing his luck.
He frowned, wondering if he should confine them in one part of the house. He had a big place here; no telling what mischief they could get into. Maybe he could entice them into the kitchen with some tuna and close them in there. But the friendly one looked so damn comfortable. Dan didn't have the heart to disturb it. He decided just to shut the basement door instead, so at least he wouldn't lose one of them down there.
Once he accomplished that task, Dan returned to the living room. The friendly cat was sound asleep, but the aloof one was still crouched under the table. Dan bit his lip, realizing he'd have to make provisions for his guests. And that meant a trip back out into the rain.
He shook his head again. "I'll have to go buy some litter and cat food, huh? You guys better be house-broken."
Raz watched from his car as Daniel Shapiro ushered the two Siamese into his house. He let out a sigh of relief as the front door closed and then started his engine. He'd be back to case the place tomorrow, just to make sure the guy intended to keep the pair.
After that, he'd have to rely on his brother's friendship with the man for information. It'd be too risky to keep showing up here himself.
Dan returned about half an hour later with kitty litter, cat food, and a flea treatment. The friendly cat hopped off the couch and rushed to rub against his legs, unaware of the torture that awaited it.
"Yeah, I'm back," Dan said as he shut the door behind him. Then he set his bags down so he could pet his admirer. "You're not going to like me so much when I give you the flea bath," he warned.
The cat seemed to hesitate at that, bringing a smile to Dan's face. "You look like you understood me. You've heard the words 'flea-bath' before, huh? Well, sorry friend, but it doesn’t take long for a pair of cats to catch fleas outside this time of year. It's either the bath or you and your sibling sleep on the porch tonight."
The cat began rubbing against him again, as if making it clear that it preferred to remain indoors.
"Good choice," Dan said. "Come on--let's get some food into you two."
He stood up and picked up the bags again. Both cats followed him into the kitchen, though the aloof one still kept its distance. He poured the cat food into a big bowl and set it out on the floor. Then he found another bowl for water. The friendly cat attacked the food immediately, but its sibling waited until Dan had stepped back.
Dan left them to the food and went to set up the litter in the downstairs bathroom. By the time he finished, both cats were behind him, watching his progress.
"I take it you two know what this is?"
The friendly one came up and sniffed at the litter box. At length its sibling joined it.
Dan took that for an affirmative answer. "Good," he said as he stood up and closed the bathroom door, cutting off any escape. "Now let's see about that flea bath."
Once he prepared the bath, Dan turned to the friendly cat. "Come on," he said. "Let's get this over with."
The cat gave him a pitiful look.
"That's not going to work," Dan said. "Now get over here. If you have fleas, this will get rid of them. If you don't--well, you'll be nice and clean afterward."
He beckoned to the cat and, to his amazement, the animal approached him. It didn't even struggle when Dan lifted it up and put it in the water. It did let out a couple of pathetic mewls, but otherwise it seemed resigned to its fate.
No, not its fate. His fate. As Dan scrubbed the cat, he found out for certain it was male. "Good boy," he said as he rinsed the cat off.
When he was finished, he lifted the cat out and set him down on the bathroom floor. It shook itself and then sat there looking miserable.
"Sorry, buddy" Dan said. "You'll feel better once you're dry." Then he turned to its sibling.
The aloof cat glared at him. Then, pointedly ignoring his outstretched hands, it jumped onto the edge of the tub. After a moment, it stepped down into the water on its own.
Dan stared at it. "You two are ridiculously intelligent," he said, shaking his head. "Either that or I have a talent for cat whispering."
The cat gave him a disdainful look.
He smiled. "I'm still going to have to scrub you down. You know that, right?"
The cat drooped its head in resignation. Dan got to work.
This one turned out to be male also. "A pair of brothers, huh?" Dan asked as he finished rinsing him off.
The cat didn't answer, but he allowed Dan to lift him out of the tub. Then both cats sat still long enough for him to dry them off with a towel.
"All right guys," Dan said as he tossed the towel aside. "I'm going to bed. You two make yourself comfortable--I'll make some calls in the morning and see about getting you home."
LINK TO PART TWO