The first rays of sunrise streamed past posters taped to the butcher shop window, casting squares of shade onto the sunny linoleum floor. Beef Kidneys−$.39 a pound, Oxtails−$.15 a pound, Beef bones−$.10 a pound. The housewives never complained about the poor cuts of meat because the best cuts were sent to feed the troops. Rationing and serving meatless meals was considered patriotic in the summer of 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Kilcuddy Kitty stretched out in a sun puddle. He needed a rejuvenating nap before Shamus O’Reilly, the butcher, came to open the shop around 7:00 AM. Kilcuddy Kitty’s heart pattered as he recalled last night’s events after Shamus locked the doors and the bright moon slid beyond the horizon, leaving the shop in shadow.
Shattered glass had awakened him from his slumber atop the roll of butcher paper behind the meat counter. His ears pricked forward. His muscles tensed. His paws hit the floor without a sound. He levitated to the top of the meat counter where he had the advantage of height. Hunkered in a crouch, he stared at the doorway leading into the back room. He heard the crunch of footsteps creeping through the broken glass! Faint light from a flashlight skittered up the front of the meat counter. Fear smell emanated from the masked figure.
Kilcuddy’s hair stood on end. He waited...
The thief moved closer. A pinprick of light played across the cash register.
Kilcuddy Kitty gathered his muscles and leaped onto the unsuspecting intruder’s shoulders.
The thief shrieked, jerking from left to right, trying to dislodge the sharp claws digging into his back. In his frenzy, his torch fell to the floor.
The taste of warm blood filled Kilcuddy’s mouth as he sank his teeth deep into the back of the man’s neck. The prowler screamed, reached back, grabbed Kilcuddy and flung him down.
Kilcuddy landed with a thud, momentarily stunned. He heard frantic mumbling and scuttling sounds as the intruder plunged through the back room and escaped out the window. Running footsteps pounded down the back alley and then faded away.
Kilcuddy lay on the floor, his ears ringing and warm blood tickling his palate. Human blood tastes different than animal blood. Sweeter, somehow! Or was it the satisfaction of thwarting a burglar and protecting his person’s property that tasted so sweet? Without a doubt, the thief had come to rob the cash register and steal the best cuts of meat.
Kilcuddy Kitty rolled over, presenting his tummy to the warm morning sunshine as he reminisced over the night’s events and waited for Shamus to appear. What fine trimmings of beef or snippets of pork chops would Shamus spoon into his bowl in reward for thwarting the burglar? How about a medal for bravery? Maybe his picture in the paper? He wouldn’t mind being the Grand Marshall in a parade, sitting beside the mayor’s pretty wife.
A click at the back door!
Shamus O’Reilly turned the key and shoved open the door. “Begorra, the window is shattered and me clean floor is covered with glass!” Shamus dashed into the shop, rushed to the cash register and punched in the proper key. The drawer popped open. All the cash from yesterday’s sales lay in neat rows. “Sure and I’m blessed by the saints above. All me money is here!”
Shamus glanced around the shop and seeing nothing further amiss, began to sweep up the broken glass by the back door.
Killcuddy Kitty cruised against the cash register, his whiskers swept back, his back arched in sheer ecstasy, waiting patiently for Shamus to lavish him with praise and rewards for his night’s work. Maybe it would be a salmon steak that sold for a whopping $.62 a pound, like the salmon the mayor’s wife bought each Friday. Shamus always saved back the best cut for her. Though, where she got all the ration coupons she needed was a mystery. The other ladies in town rarely had the money or coupons to spend on such cuts of meat. It was enough to give one pause...
Shamus stalked back into the shop, shaking the broom and dustpan. “So, there you are, Kilcuddy, just standing about as usual, while I clean up the mess. You probably slept right through the scoundrel breaking my window and scampering off. What luck he didn’t rifle me shop and steal me money! You’re a worthless cat. Me thinks it be time to buy a good watch dog.”
What? What? The injustice! Kilcuddy Kitty arched his back, hissed and puffed up his fur. He sprang off the meat counter. How unreasonable the master! How unmerited the disparagement. Hadn’t he warded off the perpetrator, jeopardized life and limb to save his person’s cash, suffered a bonk on the noggin when he was so unceremoniously pitched to the floor? Where was his praise, his parade, or even a scrap of meat in his bowl? Oh, deliver me from the unjust man!
Kilcuddy Kitty shrieked, leaped through the broken window and bounded down the back alley. And fare thee well, Shamus O’Reilly, for I’ll never darken your door again!
Every Saturday night since the burglary, Shamus sits in the local pub, whining to all who will listen. “I found the bugger’s flashlight beside the cash register. Me best friend, Kilcuddy Kitty, must have scared ‘im off before he stole me money. And, now I’ve driven him away and lost me good cat.” Whereupon, Shamus cries and orders another beer. Soon his buddies tire of his whining and bid him good-night.
They say that Kilcuddy Kitty has moved in with the mayor’s pretty wife. Every Friday, she pulls another ration book from her desk, detaches the salmon coupon and takes it to Shamus’s butcher shop. If you asked Kilcuddy Kitty what he thinks about it, he’d say, “I love the salmon, but where she gets the ration books is a still mystery. If you ask me, there’s something fishy going on...”
If you enjoyed my story, please go to Amazon and check out my two CAT mystery books, Black Cat's Legacy and Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. Both are cozy mysteries, without extreme violence, graphic sex or profanity.