The Cat's Pajamas by Ray Bradbury

The Cat's Pajamas by Ray Bradbury

Author:Ray Bradbury
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins

THE CAT’S PAJAMAS

2003

IT IS NOT EVERY NIGHT driving along Millpass, California’s Route 9, that one expects to spy a cat in the middle lane.

For that matter, it is not every evening that such a cat could be found on any untrafficked road, the cat being, more or less, an abandoned kitten.

Nevertheless, the small creature was there, busily cleaning itself, when two things happened:

A car traveling east at a rapid rate suddenly braked to a halt.

Simultaneously, a much more rapid convertible, traveling west, almost ruptured its tires to a dead standstill.

The doors of both cars banged wide in unison.

The small beast remained calm as high heels clattered one way and golfing brogans banged the other.

Almost colliding over the self-grooming creature, a handsome young man and a more than handsome young woman bent and reached.

Both hands touched the cat simultaneously.

It was a warm, round, velvet black ball with whiskers from which two great yellow eyes stared and a small pink tongue protruded.

The cat assumed a belated look of surprise as both travelers stared at the placement of their hands on its body.

“Oh no you don’t!” cried the young woman.

“Oh no I don’t what?” cried the young man.

“Let go of my cat!”

“Since when is it yours?”

“I got here first.”

“It was a tie.”

“Wasn’t.”

“Was.”

He pulled at the back and she at the front and suddenly the cat meowed.

Both let go.

Instantly they re-seized the beautiful creature, this time the young woman grabbing the back and the young man the front.

They stared at each other for a long moment, trying to decide what to say.

“I love cats,” she explained at last, not able to meet his gaze.

“So do I,” he cried.

“Keep your voice down.”

“Nobody can hear.”

They looked both ways on the road. There was no traffic.

She blinked at the cat, as if trying to find some revelation.

“My cat died.”

“So did mine,” he countered.

This softened their hold on the beast.

“When?” she asked.

“Monday,” he replied.

“Last Friday,” she said.

They rearranged their hands on the small creature and did not so much hold as touch.

There was a moment of embarrassed silence.

“Well,” he said at last.

“Yes, well,” she said.

“Sorry,” he said, lamely.

“The same,” she said.

“What are we going to do? We can’t stand here forever.”

“Looks like,” she said, “we’re both needy.”

For no reason at all he said, “I wrote an article for Cat Fancy.”

She looked at him more intensely.

“I chaired a cat show in Kenosha,” she offered.

They stood, agonizing on their new silence.

A car roared down the road past them. They jumped away and when the car was gone saw that they both still held the wonderful creature, carrying it out of harm’s way.

He stared off down the road. “There’s a diner down there, I see its lights. Why don’t we go have coffee and discuss the future?”

“There’s no future without my cat,” she said.

“Or mine, either. Come on. Follow me.”

He removed the kitten from her hands.

She cried and reached out.

“It’s okay,” he said. “Follow me.”

She backed off, got into her car, and followed him down the road.



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