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Fiction: The Fabulous Cat
This story is an experiment in style.
(Style is a big deal. Even Virginia Woolf agrees)
The Fabulous Cat
The cat climbed up the tree at dusk and, yawning wide her mouth, she showed such fangs as would terrorize a clown at midnight.
Circus freaks and fugitive dentists altogether live a gleeful life, and this was a cat who lived that life. She had come from far away, from Edmonton, and settled here to enjoy the very clown-like hustle and the dentist-like bustle of a life filled daily with sheafs of cotton candy and lines of children holding drooping pizza, spilling pepperoni and pineapples onto the sidewalk to the glee of dogs and ants who felt like kings. How it was she had become a member of this troop—this is a story for another time. But she was a fabulous cat.
This cat, yes, this cat was named Orion and her speckled mind, so old and wise, was as vast and chilling, and sometimes even as joyful, as the cosmos itself—which is to say, a swirly mess with whirling colours and a dark centre filled with who knows what, and the only order to be found was what a bearded physicist with hair to his knees and a handful of centuries could find.
What was she up to this night? Timidly and then faster, faster, she walked then dashed along the branch above the fence and—whoosh!—she sailed through the sky, past the window of a family bewitched and bedazzled by their tv, and then—she tucked and caught herself, nestling against the window and listened and watched.
Beyond the pane the family sat arranged in a half moon, and speaking to them was a man in a white coat shaking a tool at them, beckoning, pleading, BUY NOW, this deal CANNOT last, your TEETH will thank you, your SMILE will thank you, and up he raised this tool and pressed the button and it buzzed and squirted out a stream of sudsy liquid, splattering onto a giant statue of teeth sitting before the faces of people in the audience who sat in rapt joy at what he was saying, rapt at watching this strange sudsy liquid drip from stone gums and painted lips, their faces like those just baptized. This man on the television was a great priest of the dentists, a man to be feared but whom none could oppose.
With the family transfixed, the cat pressed the window, and budged, and wiggled, and squeezed, and then her nose was through, and then her neck, and then she nudged the pane up just a little more, and she was inside. Quiet like all cats except the ridiculous (yet charismatic) Turkish Vans, she crept along the baseboards past a baseball and a badminton racquet and some birdies covered in cobwebs and dust (to the glee of the spiders), and up the carpeted steps covered with race cars and socks, climbing them one at a time until she came upstairs to the little boy’s room and slipped inside like a thief in the night. Inside the boy lay sleeping, the room lit only by the moon and by an object in the corner, and for Orion, this was as good as all the light in the world.
What was in this boy’s room, she wondered? He lay upon a bed in the shape of a rocket whose nose pointed at the window to the stars beyond. Opposite this vessel was a grey desk, a temple, and on this temple sat a minor god in the form of a glowing black rectangle that cast light even though it was black. These computers, she had learned, could take more than a little boy’s teeth—they could take their minds and souls as well, and for that reason, Orion feared the god. Other objects included roller skates, and storybooks, and folded clothes, and baseball caps, and plastic guns in all their painted splendour.
Orion climbed upon the rocket bed and stepped, silently, carefully, towards the boy. His mouth hung open a crack, a spittle of drool hanging like a teardrop of ice cream dripping down the side of a cone. The cat reached forwards and lifted the boy's lips, ever so slightly, a millimetre at a time, and as the boy’s hot breath that smelled of hotdogs moistened the cat’s face, she eventually saw what she needed to see. No dentist or clown or babysitter had yet taken this boy’s teeth. But there was a hiccup with tonight’s plan, the likes of which drove uncertainty and hesitation deep into the feline’s heart. The boy was too young to lose his teeth.
Long had it been the way of the dentists and the clowns who used funny gas to help remove teeth to never take the pearly, food-encrusted treasures from those who were still pure at heart. The entire institution of the tooth fairy, grand as you know, was built on a pedestal of trust, and like engineers and accountants, the first rule of their professions was to do nothing to harm the public’s faith in the profession. There had been many a clown who, thinking it would be funny, would take a tooth from a boy and swap it with a tooth from a girl, and watch through the windows while hiding behind skeletal bushes in autumn as the children tried to tell their parents that their teeth were wrong. The parents would always refuse to listen. Such clowns had been barred from practice for years now, but some hushed rumours said that they still lurked in the forests, offering two-for-one root canals to those who still believed in them.
The cat swore, using words that only cats know, and pulled her furry paw from the boy’s face, watching the upper lip fall downwards and smack against the bottom lip with a moist slap. She was an honourable cat that would never take the teeth of one who was not ready, and for this, she was held in high regard amongst her peerless peers. She licked the spittle from his mouth as an added kindness, savouring the salt and the residue of mustard, and left the room, a fabulous saint amongst cats.
It is frustrating to be a cat burglar dentist, lurking to and fro, trying to time home invasions with the ebb and flow of teeth and human moral development, which peaked at a young age and then began its decline in pace with the children’s teeth beginning to fall out. Satisfying work though it was, she wondered sometimes… what did the clowns want with the teeth anyway? And why did they no longer wait until the teeth fell out naturally before claiming them, as was once the tradition long ago (the pearly days, they were called)? Back then, a child would put their fallen teeth under their pillow—much easier work to retrieve those than to retrieve teeth from a mouth. But oh well. At least they used laughing gas for it now, instead of the fear gas from the medieval period.
More fiction (considerably less silly):
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