Hi, there! I’m Tipper Allen, and guess what? I get to write Momma’s Story A Day story today.
It was a cold night in May. The weather had been hot–the kind of hot that leaves meek kittens eyeing their owner’s toilet bowls and watching videos about swimming. But the temperature had dropped like the blade of a guillotine and even a fur coat felt chilly.
I reached into my bottom desk drawer and pulled out a bottle of single malt whiskery I happened to have there and poured myself a shot. I happened to keep a small bowl in the same drawer. It warmed me, and I stretched out on the desk, surveying my domain.
Tipper Allen, Private Paw. Three years in the business, and I was still in a dingy, third-floor walk-up in a lonely part of town. But every part of town is lonely for a Paw. You work your way into the confidence of a lot of people, but you don’t make friends.
My secretary, Chickie, stuck her head through the cat flap from her office between me and the hall.
“Call for you, Boss.”
I answered. The voice was female, breathy. “Mr. Tipper?”
“That’s me. And you are…?”
“Baby. I mean, Jelly Bean. That is, Josephine. Gobbler.”
“No. Well, yes. But no.”
One of the crazy ones. But sometimes crazy pays better than less-crazy, so I said, “How do you hope I can help you, Miss?”
She gave a short laugh that sounded like a mild sneeze. “You already see my trouble. My people call me any number of names. I don’t like any of them, but at least they could settle on one, couldn’t they?”
“You would think so,” I said, not wanted to get into it between a cat and its people.
“What do I do? They would follow my lead, I’m sure. They worship me, but this silliness about the name is getting on my nerves.” Her voice rose by the end of the sentence until she was almost yowling.
I gave her my rates and, when she agreed to them, I said I’d see what I could do.
And what could I do? I didn’t know her people, and they wouldn’t listen to me, if I did. I didn’t know her people, but I knew people.
This would take some thought.
When she called the next day, I had the solution. It was so obvious, I hadn’t seen it at first, like when your human picks at your face and you struggle until you realize that that uncomfortable feeling you’ve had is a cobweb on your whiskers.
“I’ve got your answer,” I said. “Don’t answer to any of the names.”
“But when they call me to supper….”
“You’ll smell it, or they’ll make a noise, or they serve at the same time, every day, right?”
“Why, yes! So, ignore all the silly names?”
“Right. If they come up with one you like, answer to that one. They’ll learn. Humans tend to be very trainable.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you! Your fee will be in the bank by the end of the business day. Oh, you are wonderful! My hero!”
I thanked her, but held off on being flattered until the payment did come through.
Then, I gave Chickie the afternoon off. We spent it birdwatching.
Chickie nudged me and snorted, “Hero.”
“Shut up,” I said, one friend to another.
MY PROMPT TODAY: Hero