A Man Meets a Cat and a Cat Meets a Lady



This is the fourth chapter in the story The Unruly Toy. If you aren’t familiar with the premise of this story the chapter might be a bit confusing. The three former chapters can be found in Ela’s page and in The Cat Blew Up-challenge page.





Fire works wonders. Justin the Cat wouldn't have believed it if someone had told him such a thing, but he had to believe his own eye. He turned his head and the other eye confirmed the wonder: his newest toy, Brian, was walking towards him through the smoke that was left of the fire that just a second ago flew up, up into the sky!


It had been a spring of frustration. Since the miserably misfired attempt with the naked mouse, his toy had visited Toronto only twice. Both times the toy’s cub Gus had told the household about its sire’s coming well in advance. He had had ample time to plan schemes to make his toy begin to understand its duties as the cat’s pet. But his toy must be as dumb as the dog it bought for its cub. Justin the Cat’s attempts had not had the desired effect. As the first time, the toy left him behind as it left for the place called Pittsburgh.


Summer had begun without his toy visiting at all. The Gus-cub had been devastated, and so had he if truth be told. He needed his toy to feel complete. But, he wouldn’t have admitted such a thing if someone had told the truth to him. He was living his fifth life; he was not as needy as a mere first or second life-timer.


The Gus-cub had been even more devastated when it had learned that its sire was not coming at the middle of the summer either. The cub had been so sure that it would meet its sire at the big celebration that took place every summer at the same time. For some unfathomable reason, toys celebrated several times a year, and not one of the events was in honor of them, the cats. He couldn’t understand such an idiocy. Why celebrate at all if one wasn’t smart enough to celebrate the glorious creature that owned it?


He had taken the disappointment much better than the cub: he had not cried his eyes red, he had not had temper tantrums, he had not begged in a tear-stained letter. No. He had just gone to the next house, to the root cellar, and broken havoc among the mice. A yummy way of letting out some steam.


The day of the celebration had dawned with the little cub in tears. For the entire morning, the cub had locked itself in its room, and only a phone call from its sire had lured the cub out. For the rest of the day and evening, the cub had showed no sign of a festive mood either. It had been withdrawn and at odds with everyone. It had been a long and miserable day. For them both.


But, the fire had worked a miracle: it had done what nobody had believed would happen. At long last, he had his toy where it belonged: with him. He wouldn’t mind it if the toy spent a little time with its cub, too. It wouldn’t take much to be included in their play or whatever they would do together.


Justin the Cat sat on his haunches and waited. In vain. Of course, his unruly toy didn’t hurry to his side as would have been proper. He had to take a few hurried, yet graceful, steps and cross the yard to meet the toy before the other toys - they were gathered at the garden of his house for the celebration - could flock onto it. He brushed his side against one black clad leg of his toy before, with a purr, wrapping his body around them both. He nuzzled his nose as far up the toy's leg as he could reach. All the parts with interesting smells were out of his reach, but even more disturbing than that was the fact that there was a smell of a cat entwined with the smell of his toy.


That made him mad. Another cat?


Justin the Cat meowed in outrage, but at the same time, the toy shouted out in its much louder voice to his substitute toy, "JR! Come get your rat trap before I kick him after that firecracker!"


That got him even madder. Rat trap? Rat trap!!!


"Daddy! You came!" the Gus-cub cried and ran out of the group of toys watching the fires in the sky.


The young toy launched itself into the air and landed in the arms of its sire, laughing in joy. “I love you, daddy,” it whispered.


“I love you, too, Gus,” the Brian-toy whispered back.


The cat bucked the leg he had been nuzzling. He wanted his share of the attention. It was his due!




“JR!” the unruly toy shouted and shook its leg. “Did you hear me? Come collect your pussy!”


Unfortunately, the young female toy heard and indeed did “collect” him. As he looked at his toy from the arms of the JR-or-Jenny Rebecca-substitute-toy he could but meow in frustration. He could not use his nails to free himself. The young female was way too nice to be shredded in strips with his nails.


As Justin the Cat had guessed, in no time his toy was surrounded by the other toys from the sky-watching group. Apparently, the sky could fend for itself for the time being. All the toys were talking to his toy. The loud shouts and constant gaggle of speech were almost enough to cover the cracking sounds coming from above. The cat was appalled. It wasn’t proper that his pet was bestowed with such attention when it wasn’t because of him. The Brian-toy was difficult enough to rear as it was; he didn’t need the other toys putting ideas of grandeur in its stubborn head.


Suddenly, a whistling screech echoed from above, soon to be followed with a loud crack from the roof of the house in the garden where they were. The toys fell silent as they all turned to look at the house. Also his substitute-toy turned around.


First, they didn’t see anything, and some confused questions were let out: “What happened?” and “What was that noise?” Soon though, it was apparent what had happened and what the noise had been. By the flames blazing out of the broken window, the attic was on fire. The house was hit by a firecracker!






What happened at the blazing house, Justin the Cat didn’t get to know. The two unclaimed female toys that lived in his house sent the Gus-cub and the other immature toy away: they were going to live with his toy Brian. He was more than happy to follow them. Finally, his toy was doing the right thing!


The only thing staining his joy was the fact that the dumb dog followed in tow. It looked as perplexed as ever as they drove away in a car.


Soon, the cat noticed something amiss. The Brian-toy was driving. Apparently it was his car. But, there was a definite smell of a strange cat in the car. He couldn’t believe it. How could his toy acquire another cat when it was claimed by him? It was too much.


True to his feline nature, Justin the Cat ignored unflattering truths about himself. He was not going to acknowledge the fact that it was his own miserably misfired actions that had prompted the acquisition. It was not his fault if the dumb toy couldn’t reach the proper conclusion and take him to take care of the pest problem.


The cat lay down in the lap of his substitute-toy and wrapped his fine tail around his delicate front paws. At the moment, his toy wasn’t worthy of his attention. It was better to just drive the car and ask nothing of him.


The car stopped at a building Justin the Cat knew from an earlier visit. When the Brian-toy brought him to the JR-or-Jenny Rebecca-substitute-toy as a birthday gift - the thought still made his ruff stand up - they had briefly visited the place. This time their visit took much more time.


It was a boring place. Or rather, it was a place where he was allowed to do nothing. His toy put him in a cage. He gave the toy a few scratches on a hand, just to remind it who was the boss. It was beneath the supreme being like him to be put in a cage! Even if it was a fine cage with a soft mattress. Even if it was a roomy enough cage for him to stretch out his feet. Even if it was a private cage in which no dumb dog could disturb his rest. Still, it was a cage. How humiliating.


The visit to the boring place came to an end, but his toy didn’t let him out of the cage. No. Something even worse befell him: his toy gave him away to some female of its kind.


Justin the Cat lost it completely. As loudly as he could, he meowed in resistance of such an outrageous act. He attacked the grill at the opening of the cage with bared nails. He rushed around the tiny space as only a cat could. To no avail. The female gave him to another stranger. He was given from a toy to a toy to a toy until his cage was put in a closet space with other cages containing equally outraged cats. He joined in the ruckus.


Even though the cats were mad at their toys, it would’ve been stupid to keep up the racket after yet another unfamiliar toy left them alone in the closet, behind a closed door. Some of the beginners let out little whines, but the more advanced cats sat and talked.


It was nice to talk with other intelligent beings for a change. His house, the one he shared with his substitute-toy, its mama-toys and the Gus-cub, stood in a neighborhood in which there was an abundance of dogs but no other cat within a radius of an hour-long run. He had felt the lack of intelligent discussion quite keenly.


Suddenly, there was a very unpleasant and loud noise coming from somewhere. The closet lurched in a strange way, and soon after, a sharp pain attacked their ears. The cats meowed in distress until one of the more advanced cats put an end to the cacophony.


Ladies, gents! Calm down, she meowed firmly.


Out of respect for her ninth life-span, every cat stopped meowing.


This is nothing to be afraid of, the ninth-timer went on. The sound you’re so afraid of comes from some kind of a machine. This closet is a means of transport the toys have invented for our comfort. We will be here for some time, and when they come and take us out, we will be in another place.


But, why? a second-timer ventured to ask. I can walk to places.


It’s a rather good invention in fact. Think about it: would you really want to jog to places that are more than one-day-run away? I prefer taking a nap instead.


A nap is always good, a fourth-timer agreed. But why aren’t our toys coming with us? I’d like to have my toy with me in the new place, too.


Don’t worry. You’ll find your toy again. They must have their own way of travelling the distance, but undoubtedly it’s not as comfortable as this snug closet.


Justin the Cat listened to the old lady cat in silence. There was something about her explanation of the situation that triggered a memory almost forgotten. He remembered being in a closet like this, when he was very small. The memory was oddly fractured, the image in his mind’s eye like a dreamscape.


He concentrated on the memory, trying to make sense of it. He remembered the shop where he first had met his newest toy, Brian. He remembered that the toy had left him in the shop, but later it had come back to get him, and the dumb dog. Then nothing. Just those vague images of the closet space, and then the boring place before he was in his house. What he remembered best was the humiliating discovery of being a gift for the little female toy.


Had the shop been someplace else? Had he been transported from the shop to his house by the closet space machine? But why did he not remember it, not clearly? It was a mystery.


As the lady cat said, the closet was a comfortable, snug place. He enjoyed the chance of discussion with his kind and later a nap, too. He was rather rejuvenated when the doors were opened and the attendant toys - the lady’s word for them - took his cage to a place similar to the boring place where he waited before the transport. There was the same echoing quality to the sounds, the same mix of smells, the same feel of restlessness. Fortunately, he didn’t need to stay there for long. His toy, its cub and the little female toy in tow, came to get him just minutes after he was brought to the hall of echoes.


The journey continued in a car, and he was finally let out of the cage. It wasn’t the same car as before, Justin the Cat noticed. It had a different shape, it was smaller, and there wasn’t a smell of another cat in it, and the smell of his toy was much more prominent. He was confused. Why had the car changed in the transport machine? Why did the smells change? Well, it was a change for the better, so why would he complain?


Justin the Cat turned his mind to more gratifying thoughts. He was on his way to the house he would share with his toy, his own personal toy Brian. Finally! After so many months of failed attempts, the fire had worked even this miracle! Life was sweet as cream.


They arrived at a nice house with a garden at the back. His toy let the little female out of the car, and he jumped out, too. He let his substitute toy lead the way to his new home. A big, red-haired, female toy opened the door and welcomed them in. There was no smell of a cat on it, so regardless of its advanced age, it was an unclaimed one. How peculiar. Older female toys usually were claimed, and some of them were shared by more than one cat.


“JR! You’ve grown so much,” the big female said in a loud voice. “Come in, come in! And welcome to you, too, Gold.”


“It’s Justin,” the cat meowed at the big female who stepped aside to let him in.


“Grandma Debbie,” the little female said and was claimed in a hug. “Thank you for letting me and Gold stay here with you and Grandpa Carl while the house is being repaired.”


“It’s unfortunate that your papa Ben is in hospital right now. Michael and Ben would like nothing better than to have you living with them. You know that, don’t you, sweetie?”


“I know. How’s papa Ben?”


“He’s getting better, but he’s still too sick to be sent home to recover.”


While the two female toys were talking, the cat was getting worried. What was his toy still doing at the car? What was its cub taking out of the trunk? Oh, bags. Of course, his toy always came to the house in Toronto with bags. He sat at the door, watching as the two males brought the bags in.


“Here, JR, your baggage,” the Brian-toy said as he entered the house and put the bags on the floor. “Hi, Debbie.”


“Hi, Brian,” the grandma-toy smiled and pulled his toy into its arms. “And how’s Gus?” It grabbed the smaller male into the hug, too.


“Let us breathe, Grandma Deb,” the Gus-toy giggled a moment later and got a slap on the head from the big female.


“You’re as bad as your father, Gussie-boy,” the grandma-toy laughed. “And where is Soot?”


“He’s asleep in the car. It’s better to let him sleep after the flight,” the Brian-toy chimed in. “And we better get Gus to bed too: it’s late for little boys,” his toy went on, looking at the setting sun.


He agreed. It had been a long day. The nap in the closet had been enough for him, a nocturnal creature, but toys slept at nights. His toy and its cub would be in bed very soon now. He would have time and privacy in which to explore his new house.


“Hi, JR,” the Gus-cub said to the other little toy and skipped out of the door waving at the grandma-toy.


“Apparently you’re on your way,” the grandma-toy laughed and his toy laughed too.


“I’ll bring Gus and Soot at eight in the morning on my way to work: is that okay?”


“That is fine. Bye until then, Brian.”


“What is this?” Justin the Cat was getting alarmed. His toy was getting in the car again.


Why would he do that? What now? The car started moving away.


“NO!” the cat meowed at the top of his lungs and sprinted after the car.


“You can’t do this, you tailless excuse of a toy! You can’t leave me here and drive away with that dumb dog!”


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