The Skinny Cat

The Skinny Cat

          The bruises on my neck are obvious. I scan my reflection in the mirror which shows bright eyes. I can't help but finger the raised marks. If I tie this scarf around my neck, just so… there, that’s better. Now, get that frightened look out of your eyes. Calm down.
          The tea kettle interrupts my internal monologue. I fix some tea and snuggled under the blanket on the sofa. I replay the events of yesterday as I drink the steaming brew.
          His eyes were menacing! I wish I’d never gone there. Me and my curiosity. Momma said it’d get me into trouble and this time it did. I nearly got killed! If it hadn’t been for the cat… If only I’d stayed on the lane. It’s been years since I’ve taken the shortcut through Delany’s.
          The morning had been beautiful, with a blue cloudless sky, trees moving slightly through the breeze, and the soft grass under my feet. He didn’t hear my approach. The barn door stood ajar. His back was to me as I slipped in. My eyes adjusted to the darkness just as I saw him… or did I hear him first? It must have been at the same time. The shovel thumped the ground as he patted it smooth. He leaned the shovel against the wall and stepped back to view his handiwork. I should’ve left the moment I saw him but having a curious nature, I stepped closer. That’s when he heard me. He spun around, leapt at me, and grabbed me. It happened fast and before I knew it, he had his hands around my throat, choking off my voice and breath.
           “What are you doing here?” He sneered.
            His breath almost made me swoon.
           “You’ll not get my treasure nor a chance to tell anyone about it either.” He squeezed tighter. Everything started to go black.
           At that moment, the cat jumped on his back. He dropped his hold with a yelp. My skirt tangled up and almost tripped me as I ran faster than I ever had before. I didn’t glance back.
          When I got home, I locked myself in and moved the chest in front of the door. I checked the windows and crawled into the back of my closet. I dozed off. The knocking on the door woke me. After recognizing the sheriff’s voice, I moved the chest and opened the door.
          “Yes Ma’am, we caught him. We’d been tracking him, saw you running, and grabbed him as he flew out the barn coiled tight as a rattlesnake ready to strike. He robbed the train a week ago and a reward was set for his apprehension. You’ll be notified when you can retrieve it.”
          “Why would I get the reward?”
          “Miss Kirkpatrick, Rosalyn, it seems to me, you witnessed where he buried the money and led us to his whereabouts. I’ll write up the report from your testimony. There will be some papers to sign but other than that you won’t have to do a thing, not even testify. Don’t worry your pretty little head about anything. Well, that about covers it.  I’ll let myself out now and you won’t need to use the chest against the door,” he said with a wink and a smile.
          I caress the cat as it purrs on my lap. The sheriff brought the skinny cat when he put two and two together. I smile at the memory, picturing his face. He has a very nice smile.


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