Where does Cat go at noon?
S. E. Schlosser
Where does Cat go at noon?
At breakfast, Cat sits on the deck of the pool, outside the glass doors to the kitchen. Bang, bang. She hits the door with her paw. This means “Johnny, feed me” in Cat’s special language. I get up from my chair and feed Cat.
At dinner time, Cat shadow-boxes the door, with the glimmer of lights reflected in the pool behind her. Cat is saying, “I’m hungry. Let me in.” I know this, because I know everything about Cat.
Except, I do not know where Cat goes at noon.
After breakfast, Cat curls up in the sunshine and sleeps. When I get home from school, Cat trots down the road to meet me and tries to trip me by winding her sleek black and white body around and around my legs.
“Did you see her at noon?” I ask my mom as I empty my bookbag.
“No sign of her,” says my mom, handing me a glass of milk. She frowns at the three cookies I have taken from the box. There is a strict two-cookie rule in our house. I put one back.
“I’ll find out,” I say confidently.
Tomorrow is Saturday. I will be home at noon.
At eleven-thirty Saturday morning, I lurk outside in the space under the deck. I can see Cat above me, lying on the sun-warmed boards. She is fast asleep. Time passes very slowly. While I look at my watch, Cat disappears. Where did she go?
Then I spot her trotting down the street towards town. I quickly follow.
“Hiya Johnny!” calls Mr. Gonnella from across the street.
“Sh! I’m following Cat,” I call back.
Mr. Gonnella nods seriously. He knows about our mystery. At noon, his daughter’s cat disappears too.
Cat has turned the corner, and is walking down the block towards the traffic light. It is red. Cat stops, licks a paw thoughtfully, and crosses when it is green. Cat passes the corner store. She walks behind the small strip mall, and I think I know where she is going.
The smell of fish is strong in the air. I wrinkle my nose. Mr. Johnston’s Fresh Fish Market is in a small, white building at the back of the strip mall. Cat has joined several of her cat colleagues. There is my buddy Tom’s black cat. And Emily, the cat belonging to Tracey Gonnella. There are a few other cats as well, but I do not know them.
Mr. Johnston comes out of the back door, carrying several black trash bags. He piles them into the dumpster, and then pulls out a small, clear plastic bag full of fish heads. He scatters these on the ground and watches the cats pounce on them. He spies me lurking by the corner of the strip mall.
“Hi Johnny,” he calls in his thick Brooklyn accent.
“So this is where Cat comes at noon,” I say, walking towards him.
Mr. Johnston laughs.
“Yep. All the cats come to visit me at noon. They used to tear up my garbage, so now I just put the fish heads on the ground for them. Is that your cat?”
Cat ignores me. The fish head is more interesting at the moment.
“That’s my Cat,” I say.
“She’s here every day,” says Mr. Johnston.
He goes back inside his store.
I wait until Cat finishes her fish head, and we walk home together.
“You know Cat,” I say in my sternest voice. “There is a two-fish-head rule in this house.”
Cat blinks up at me and purrs.