HOUNDED ALL THE WAY TO HALIFAX
“Lacey, I think that cat can hear us.”
“Is he still there?”
“Well, I didn’t see him leave at all, so he’s gotta still be in our house somewhere, hasn’t he?”
“I don’t know, go and look for him, will you?”
“I can’t see him anywhere.”
“He’s definitely there. Go and look for fuck’s sake!”
I could certainly hear them, anyhow. I heard someone getting up-was it George or Lacey? It sounded like George but I couldn’t tell since I was still asleep. I needed my sleep and it must have still been dark outside. It couldn’t have been that long since I went to sleep, could it?
Just what I fucking needed.
I were still behind the sofa at this time and I could tell they were close by. George and Lacey are by a mile the most ungrateful homeowners whose house I’ve slept at so far, ’specially Lacey. I only stopped here ’cause I were hurt and tired; otherwise I would have left when that woman asked.
“Look a bit harder, George!”
Footsteps were approaching slowly-tap, tap, tap-and I could tell I was gonna be caught and turfed out sooner or later. I couldn’t even tell whether he was going in the right direction, but I knew he’d find me eventually.
Tap, tap, tap. It got louder and louder each moment. But in his quest to find me, he’d accidentally let me know I needed to run.
“There you are! Puss, can you hear me or not?”
“What the fuck-“
“Exactly what I would be thinking, mate. Hey! Lacey!”
“Have you found the cat yet?”
“You mean Puss?”
“Is that his name? Why can’t cats come up with more imaginative names?”
“Yeah. Not sure about his last name, though.”
“Cats don’t have last names, George, even when they talk.”
Well, I do for one. My friend Thelonius does, so does Molly, so does Tabby. It’s not just humans!
“I’ve found Puss, yeah. It took ages and he was half asleep, although he definitely heard-hey, where’s he gone?”
“He can’t have moved that far. Our house only has two bedrooms.”
“Puss, get back here now!”
In typical cat fashion, though, I ignored George. I didn’t want any more food; I just wanted to fucking sleep!
I clambered up some rickety stairs, even though I was still half asleep, but because George hadn’t really recovered from his pathetic state he stepped towards me at about the same pace as an escaped tortoise. I was only a few steps ahead of him, literally, and it wasn’t a tall flight of stairs, but that was enough. Thinking he had got me where he wanted, George lunged for my tail in an attempt to snatch me-never a good idea, we’re just too quick and stubborn for your tricks-but I clambered free of his clumsy grab, and he smacked his stupid ugly face right against the stairs.
He’d done it again! I couldn’t help but laugh at his idiotic lunge as I was getting up the stairs, never mind the fact that this moment of mocking laughter would have given Lacey the chance to catch me and cage me. Luckily their house did not appear to have any actual cages in it. I hoped that the way he banged his head would make him even stupider than he already was. Now was no time for mocking laughter, though-I needed to hide and there were no baskets to be had. Nor would hiding under a chair be much use, especially since I didn’t want to be stepped on by some clumsy ape.
They did have a huge double bed, though. It were sagging a fair bit, no doubt from all those hours and hours of fucking they’d done on that bed. We cats have no need for “beds” as such. It’s just as great making kittens in the bushes as it is in a basket, as long as no damn dogs have been making puppies in them. Sadly I’ve only found a handful of bushes that didn’t have dog hair, dog piss, or dog shit in them. We actually bother to clean up a little bit.
No doubt George would need to get to that bed after what he’d been through today. So would I, but not on it-I like a good sit and can stay on some human’s lap for ages but even then I was sure Lacey would be able to move me and turf me out.
I found it, but pushing the door with my paws proved harder than I first believed. I could barely budge it with my front paws, never mind open it. I swiped at it again, but it only creaked. I hit it again, and again, and again, but it just wouldn’t fucking open. And George had recovered from that nasty headbang; even though I couldn’t see him, I could hear him coming up the stairs as he was still groaning a lot, as was Lacey. Finally, I managed to smack the door open, and crawl through the crack into the room and into that little space under their bed. I’m not a fat cat by any means but I’m not skinny either, so it felt a little tight, to say the least. I moved in just hoping not to be crushed in my sleep, which is what happened to one of Tabby’s sisters many moons ago. Tabby had crawled in as she was staying in the same cold house one night, to find Posy as squashed and as dead as Purr-cival, under a huge mattress by some fleshy gorilla who’d obviously crushed it. Whether the fat bastard noticed I’ll never know.
Posy and I might’ve had kittens by now had it not been for him. I do love Tabby, but a tear comes to my eye every time I see her because of Posy.
I was wary when George and Lacey got in even though I had remembered to move into the middle of the bed and even though they weren’t in any state to mate anyway. The bed didn’t look that sturdy-it looked shoddier than my old “owner’s bed”, and that bounced up and down almost every night. But it would do for now, until I could get on my way down to Cheshire.
I was at last able to get to sleep that night, although lying on my side to fit under the bed wasn’t ideal. Not to mention that I’d already been woken up once earlier by that dickhead.
The rest of the night passed without incident.
Morning had broken, rather early. A ray of light suddenly shone into my face and I knew that it was time to go. But not before I’d crawled out of the space and found George and Lacey staring down at me.
“Are you still here, Puss?”
“Yeah, Lacey. I know it’ssss you.”
I can’t help but hiss sometimes when trying to talk to humans.
“Gimme some water, Lacey.”
Lacey sighed annoyingly, “As long as you get out of our house after you’ve finished and don’t ever come back.”
“Follow me downstairs.”
George had in the meantime bothered to get his stupid lazy arse out of bed and get whatever Lacey wanted him to cook, or eat. It wasn’t easy to follow Lacey on all paws, since she was still faster than me on two legs. Was Lacey going to give me water or milk? I couldn’t tell. I certainly didn’t want what George had been drinking last night.
“Hurry up, woman!” I hissed as I was following Lacey slowly.
“Wait just a minute!” she responded.
She found what appeared to be a drinking bowl, like the one I used to drink from many seasons ago. What was a minute compared to that, anyway? It must’ve had something to do with what I saw on their wall last night.
We don’t all measure time the same way, you know.
“Finally!” I sighed with relief when she brought out the bowl, filled with water. It wasn’t fresh rainwater but it would do for now. I wanted to get on my way and she wanted me out of her house. I sipped up all I could, all the while getting summat from hearing their conversation….
“You’re gonna get banned for life from flying if you’re not careful. And we spent a lot of money on that craft and now it’s ruined!”
“Maybe I’ll get off lightly. You never know.”
“It’s the second time you’ve been flying while drunk, you idiot, in less than a year. The cops have probably found the craft by now; someone will have reported the crash last night. You have got to take control of your alcohol problem!”
“And I mean now. I am getting to the end of my bloody tether here with you, George. I thought you were just some social drinker but you’ve turned into a real wino lately!”
“Didn’t you say this all last night?”
“Well, congratulations, George, well remembered. I’m repeating it ’cause I’m still fucking pissed off!”
It took me that long to sip the water that I heard that much. George was in big trouble.
“Lacey, can you open the door?” I interrupted impatiently.
“Have you finished already, Puss?”
“Yeah, just about.”
“George, I’ll be back in a minute.”
As she came to the front door to yank it open, I asked, “do you know the way to Cheshire from ’ere?”
“Fuck no. Wouldn’t know where to start.”
A bigger problem was that I weren’t sure whether it was Marple or Bramhall I needed to be to find Thelonius and Molly. And where was Tabby again?
“Can you at least tell me how to get to Halifax? You go down from here, don’t you?”
“Well, sort of. Turn right when you leave. Then right again onto Spenborough Street.”
“The big main street where all the traffic is.”
I think she meant cars but I could be wrong. She opened the door, which had no “cat flap” as such, but then again she clearly didn’t like cats like me.
“Get out” Lacey said gruffly.
“Whatever.” I replied without a care. I turned right into whatever this road was, and it turned out to be a long road. And a dangerous road just after the sun had risen. The loud noise forced me onto the pavement, as them humans called it. Not sure why.
I found a right turn, and finally clambered onto the sign to read what it meant. The sign read “Brighouse Road”. Never heard of Brighouse and I’d heard of Bradford, Queensbury and Halifax!
I walked on all paws onto what must’ve been Spenborough Street. It was just as Lacey said-cars and bigger cars rushing everywhere, lots and lots of legs running about. It also stretched for paces on end and I couldn’t see where it was going to end. Having turned right as Lacey said I could at least figure out that straight on was the right direction. It was a rather busy time and other signs did not bode well.
There were dogs nearby and I should have seen that barking. And heard it, too. Which ones were loyal to the great apes and which ones weren’t? The chatterbox Chihuahuas, as those pesky little dogs were called, hung around humans a lot because they liked good conversation, even if it was too fast for most.
“Whydontyoucomeandseethatlittleblackdaschundcrossthestreet?” one of them yammered at lightning speed.
“Idontseenodamndaschund!” another yapped back just as fast.
I could barely make out what they were saying, but I could hear the little daschund yap, “Ja, ja, ja, hund!” in the distance. The first Chihuahua was right. Mind you, they were smaller than me and easily hidden in that crowd, although they all look the same-big brown ears, small white body and they never, ever shut their mouth.
Scampering between all those legs proved to be a nightmare, since all them humans kept closing their legs, nearly trapping my whiskers at one point. ”Watch my whiskers!” I hissed loudly at no-one in particular.
They either didn’t hear me or just ignored me, don’t care which. I’m sure that daschund heard me-why they’re even called “daschunds” I don’t know. To me, they’re just little dogs who’re a lot easier to tolerate than yappy Chihuahuas and they bark pretty abruptly.
“Achtung, dick katchzen!”
What the heck did that mean? I’d never heard those barking words before.
“Hey, Schwarzie, Schwarzie, wassupwithya?” one of the Chihuahuas yapped back.
“Come over this street.”
The dog in question definitely heard me, even though she couldn’t see me. She wasn’t going to be quite as bad or as fast as the terrier who terrified me back on the road from Bradford, but she was no tortoise either, any more than she was a hare. I could see better than “Schwarzie”, whose name I could barely hear properly never mind pronounce. I managed to weave amongst the crowd of legs whose faces I couldn’t see, but not for long. To make matters worse, my body told me I definitely needed a piss and all I could see was one long road, barely a tree in sight never mind a bush or patch of grass. Could I find anywhere to hide before Schwarzie went after me?
No, most likely not. I cringed at the prospect of pissing in this road, even though I’m a cat not a human; those dogs would find me in no time after sniffing it. On the other paw, I constantly have to prove I’m better than a dog.
I scampered for several paces, desperate to find somewhere, anywhere, where I wouldn’t piss on anyone else’s legs or feet, or even a pavement with no feet on it. I had to avoid catching Schwarzie’s attention, since a small dog was no nicer than a large dog or a middling dog. They’re all wankers and they all want a piece of my tail, or my fur. I was never going to let them get it, whatever it cost me.
The pressure on my organs was bad, very bad. I had this nasty feeling that Schwarzie, or the Chihuahuas, or both, were following me. They are dogs, after all.
I noticed a strange narrow gap on my right-bliss in these circumstances-but the urge struck at just the wrong moment.
“What the fuck, man?”
Blast. I’d not only not been able to hide in time but had pissed on some bloke who had just set down a guitar, as they called them. And some of it landed on the guitar as well as beside it.
“Fucking hell, you dirty dickhead!” he shouted at me. He actually bothered to kneel down to get to my level. Most just talk or shout down at me without bothering to look me in the eye. I can only look them in the eye by sitting on their legs or climbing onto their clothing.
“You’ve just ruined that guitar! I only set it down for five minutes and it’s almost covered in cat pee! You give us enough bother indoors, you lot!”
“I couldn’t help it, you know. I just didn’t want it to go on the pavement!”
“That’s your excuse for everything. You cats seem to think that you can do whatever you want, even after you bothered learning to talk to us rather than just make cat noises. Well, have I got news for you, Felix. You’re wrong!”
“My name isn’t Felix. I don’t know any Felix. What are you on about?”
“You’ve never heard of that legendary mischievous black and white cat, Felix?”
“No, not at all.”
“Fucking hell. If it weren’t for these things called laws and if it weren’t for my respect for animals, I would give you a right smack in the face. But of course I can’t, and thanks to you I’ve got to clean the mess you’ve made off my guitar and now I’m going to go hungry for the rest of the day!”
“Yeah, whatever. I didn’t do it on purpose.”
“It doesn’t matter!” he growled. I’d already decided to scoot, since any drop would allow those dogs to find out where I’d been and track the scent. I didn’t want to hear any more of his yakking, since every moment was crucial to stop another dog getting on my tail, literally or not. He meant nothing to me; he didn’t have food, he wasn’t in the mood to stroke my fur, I didn’t know him, and his music was probably shit anyway. I’ve heard “guitars” like that loads of times before and they sound either sad and miserable or loud enough to nearly blow out my eardrums.
The rest of Spenborough Street proved just as crowded and dull as when I’d entered it. Walking at a tortoise’s pace with the fear of that daschund or the two Chihuahuas tracking me wasn’t my idea of fun, make no mistake. With all these worries whirling ’round me head, I could easily have shat on the street as well. Eventually, t’road reached its end and I found me way out of the crowd of legs that stood behind me. I was on my way out of Queensbury-but then I heard a fast but discernible barking noise.
Yap yap yap!
Oh fuck. Schwarzie.
Dora-who must have been that Chihuahua who was yapping on and on a while ago-was suddenly racing at breakneck speed, despite being a Chihuahua with tiny legs. They’re smaller than me-did Dora think she could hound me all the way to Halifax?
It was a country lane that I leapt towards-I could smell the air around me and knew this would be hard. Dogs do better in t’country than in t’city-we’re the exact opposite. Cats are city slickers through and through.
I had to get to Halifax by any means, though, and to my shock Dora picked up some speed. But unlike with that terrier in Bradford I had the pace on her. I hadn’t eaten for a while, though, and she certainly had. You can definitely call this a race!
I stayed on the grass as much as I could; moving onto the road itself would mean certain death, whether death by dog or death by wheels. I was dragging my paws all the way through, and each pace Dora got that little bit closer. I knew that unless I found a clever solution I would not make it all the way to Halifax before the bloody Chihuahua caught me up.
I clambered into the open field-and then I spotted a small clump of trees. Some birds can be useful to me other than as food, like crows. By squawking so loudly they can tell me whether I should cross that field or not, and they were too big and smart to get into my mouth anyway, so talking was direly needed.
I rushed towards the trees-and Dora followed me. I was now relying on luck to outrun Dora and I was probably going the wrong way now. But through leaps and bounds I found the cluster of trees I’d spotted, and as luck would have it, I noticed some rooks nesting.
“Yes?” squawked the smaller rook softly and warily.
“See that little dog over there?”
“The one just ahead? I see it. What do you want me to do about it?”
I had to think of something quickly before Dora got to my tail or the rooks attacked me thinking I was going to chew up one of their chicks. Come to think it I would’ve, if it weren’t for the fact rooks, like all crows, are quick fliers and vicious defenders.
“It’s about to knock over your nest. It’s coming towards you!”
“Oh really? Watch this.”
The crow swooped down and grasped something-it looked like a stone from a plum, or maybe it was a nut-in his claws. I watched as the rook instructed, even though Dora was now that close to me. I slipped out of the trees at that moment, and the rook took aim. But where would the stone land? It was like when humans toss coins for no reason. It’s all luck.
Dora chased me.
The rook took aim, and dropped the stone. Maybe he thought it was a hard nut.
I dragged my paws through the grass, and that Chihuahua got right on my tail…
Yap yap yap!
The stone had hit just the right target-which meant not me. Dora rolled over, having been hit right on her arse. I just glimpsed for fun, since I needed to make my way to Halifax. For the second time in just two days I managed to win another cat and dog chase!
After several moments or so, and scratching myself at the temptation to grab the crow’s nest and eat all the chicks, I got back onto the country road, and at last, seeing no sign of Schwarzie and knowing that Chihuahua would not be on my tail for a while, I read the word “Halifax” in the distance on that road. I was a long way from Cheshire Cat and Molly but it was one more step along the trail.
On the outskirts of Halifax, I at last noticed a cat I wanted to meet.
“Puss, is that your purring I hear?”