Cuddles, Boots and Mittens resisted the wind and all the flashing objects. After dodging through the parking lot the moped picked up speed. Reinfeld was giddy, he was going to collect a couple hundred for these cats.
A stop light, a very useful signal to indicate the proper time to go, to stop and to be cautious. Most drivers follow the signals provided. Some do not. Reinfeld always did. He hadn’t had any driving problems in over twenty years. Now he only wanted to get out of town as soon as possible. He tried to ignore the distressed meows from Cuddles, Boots and Mittens.
Jim finally decided to get a move on. He was hoping for just one break. The turn of events didn’t work out, his preferred way, easy. He wasn’t going back to the neighborhood anytime soon. He got up and walked aimlessly toward the intersection. Packard Street, a street that cuts through a healthy portion of Ann Arbor, had its usual traffic back up. Jim looked at the intersection and saw Reinfeld’s smokey moped. That machine always sounded like a high strung V8 without a muffler. it was loud and annoying. Jim thought Reinfeld was okay. He never had much to do with him. Reinfeld was an out of townie. He lived south of 94 (I-94 is a northern interstate highway located in the United States starting in Port Huron, Michigan and ending in Billings, Montana) on some sort of farm. A few years ago that moped fell apart in Jim’s neighborhood. Jim watched from his roof as Reinfeld tried to tie it all back together after about 45 minutes, Jim went down to help. An hour later, using duct tape, wire not plastic clothes hangers they finally got the thing drivable.
Jim approached the intersection and nodded to Reinfeld. Reinfeld smiled and nodded. The light turned green, Reinfeld revved the engine and the bike stalled. Jim gave a sly smile and Reinfeld turned the key a couple of times too fast and the bike protested with a grinding noise. Jim looked back and noticed immediately a black and white cat hanging upside down out of the milk crate like basket strapped to the back of Reinfeld’s moped. The sound of the key ground the starter again. The bike sputtered but didn’t start. Jim saw another cat climb on top of the one already hanging. Both fell to the ground and skittered through traffic. Jim sharp, as usual, watched the cats and started to move, though not really understanding. The events were starting to push through his mental fog. He looked back to Reinfeld and saw a third cat peering over the edge of the crate not quite ready to commit. The grind turned into a sputter and the bike jurked, Reinfeld swore above the noise. Mittens toppled off the bike and hit the ground, apparently on his feet since he bolted through the traffic in a different direction. Jim started after him. Reinfeld turned and watched the last cat run under a car and around the corner.
“Aw. crap! he said. He tried walking the bike to the corner while still on it. That didn’t work so well. Jim now more or less understood what was going and moved to chase down one or all of the cats. He gave Reinfeld a “What the Fuck?” look and broke into a slow trot.
“Here Kitty, Kitty.”
Reinfeld had the same idea but had to deal with a moped that seemed to have other plans. He wasn’t sure what to do when he saw Jim going after the cats. Maybe he’s just being nice. But still he can’t get those cats. After a struggle Reinfeld leaned his bike against the wall and started in pursuit.
The cats, as you know, were in a complete frenzy. Boots ran to an alley, Cuddles ran into a wheel of a car, got up and charged down the middle of the road. Mittens took off around the corner. Jim followed one into the alley. He didn’t see Boots at all but he heard that deep, meow-groan cats give when they are lost, frustrated and mad at the world. Jim found him cornered between two garbage cans. Boots hissed and scratched at Jim. Jim knelt to coax the kitty to him. Boots didn’t care for that idea. He didn’t like the looks of this human who seemed intent on grabbing him. Boots put up a pretty good defense. Jim finally reached in, took a couple of scratches and grabbed the cat by the scruff of the neck. Boots howled and struggled for his life. Jim was not ready when Boots spun around and bit into Jim’s thumb. Jim immediately panicked, released his grip and shook his arm violently. Boots was air born with claws out, just when Reinfeld was going to surprise Jim and try to get the cat back. Boots comprehended little of what was happening, he was free but not quite safe. He flew quickly to Reinfeld’s leg. When he landed Boots attached himself to the leg with all his might. Reinfeld screamed and reached for the cat. Boots disengaged, dove and ran out of the alley back into the street.
Jim got up and started, Reinfeld “accidentally” side stepped into Jim causing Jim to fall. Jim was a little dizzy both were in shock and each wanted those cats.
Jim recovered. He eyed Reinfeld. “What the fuck’s with the cats?”
Reinfeld stared at Jim. He didn’t respond. He didn’t have time to think of an answer. He thought. “Should I get my bike and leave or chase the cats or go to the hospital for shots. Anyway, who’s this clown? What does he care about the cats?”
He replied to Jim. “They’re my cats. What’s it to you?” Reinfeld turned and headed out of the alley.
Jim realized that Reinfeld didn’t remember him and thought no one would be driving around with three cats on a moped? Jim slowly followed while he examined his cat bite. Reinfeld quickly turned out of the alley. Jim picked up the pace to catch up. When he emerged Reinfeld was nowhere to be seen. Everything looked as it should near the corner of Packard and State.
Jim looked up and down the street, ran to the corner and looked, nothing, no cats, no moped, no Reinfeld.
Despair. So “effin” close.
He heard a rustling of paper. He looked up and saw a badly xeroxed flyer, carelessly stapled to the telephone pole…
“HAVE YOU SEEN MY CAT?”