Katya is pleased to note that there is now a cat in it, although it doesn’t look like her. I looks more like Al, her late nemesis, but I gave him the white patch she has on her front, so she’s okay with it.
Here is the bit I just wrote yesterday with the first appearance of the cat. Please bear in mind that this is a rough draft, and don’t be judgey.
WORSE THAN HIS BARK – excerpt
by Marian Allen
“I’m getting too old for this,” Del said, when he had closed the theater’s front door behind them and snapped on the house lights.
“No, you aren’t. You’re just tired of it.”
“That, too. It used to be exciting, blowing into a new town and helping fund some wonderful dream. Meeting new people, navigating theater politics, bringing order out of chaos. Now, all the chaos and infighting runs together.”
“Who’s fighting, other than you and Frank Nelson?”
He gave that some thought. “Frank isn’t fighting me. He’s helping.”
“So who’s fighting?”
Del scratched his head, rumpling his curls. “Damn if I know. But I feel like I’m fighting.”
Feisty sniffed at the floor, sneezed, lifted his head, and scented the air. Chirp-chirp! Chirp-chirp! He “barked” harder and harder, hopping himself off all four feet, then scrabbling against his leash. The lunge was so sudden, he pulled out of Waddy’s grip and disappeared into the gloom under the seating.
“Rats?” Waddy always expected rats in theaters, ever since the time he saw one outside a stage door in Chicago.
“Feisty! Come, boy! Leave it!”
The chirps and the rattle of the leash’s hardware passed to and fro and back and forth under the seats until they reached the orchestra pit. Then a hissing and yowling destroyed the specter of rats.
“Feisty!” Both men shouted and ran.
Del had never see Feisty tangle with a cat before, and didn’t care to see cat or dog – or both – torn and broken.
Chirps, hisses, and yowls ceased abruptly. The men stopped and stared at the scene frozen in the upper left corner of the depression where live musicians might play for performances.
Feisty had his mouth clamped around the neck of something furry – something that was almost as big as he was. Neither moved, although Feisty rolled desperate eyes up at them as if begging for direction.
Waddy whispered, “What is that?”
“I don’t know.” Del tried not to move his lips, afraid to upset the delicate balance. “Do they have opossums in this part of the country?”
“Opossums have hairless tails,” Waddy said. “That thing’s tail is bushy.”
“Oh, at least,” said Del, having identified the object that had appeared to be a dirty feather boa as a tail.
“It sounded like a cat.”
Feisty whined. The cat barely opened its mouth and gave forth a kittenish meep.
Del knew how it felt to find yourself deep in the middle of something you wish you had never started. He said, “I’m sorry, guys, but this one’s up to you.”
“Do they have animal control around here?”
Del was about to draw his phone and see if he had connectivity inside the theater, when Feisty moved.
Hesitantly, the beagle eased his mouth open and stepped away from his prisoner.
The cat stayed in exactly the same position he had been in with Feisty’s teeth around his throat, eyes blinking from closed to barely open. Without the warning of an indrawn breath, he sneezed explosively.
Feisty thumped into a crouch and chirped.
The cat turned its head and looked at him.
“Meep!” And a rumbly purr filled the air. The animal, now clearly a large, long-haired black cat with a white patch on its chest and a chocolate undercoat, bumped Feisty’s nose with its head, purring like a buzz-saw. Its fur stood out in spikes all over, revealing a skeletal frame.
Waddy reached down to pick up the end of Feisty’s leash. The cat’s tail puffed out and its tail went into an arch. Feisty licked Waddy’s hand.
The cat relaxed, sauntered over, and licked Waddy’s hand, too.
“Huh,” said Del.