Disclaimer: Anyone recognizable belongs to MGM, Mirisch and Trilogy.


JD stepped out of the saloon, and paused.  A cat he had never seen in town before sat in the morning sun on the edge of the boardwalk, staring out toward the street.  The tip of its tail twitched back and forth slowly.

“Where did you come from?” He eased out of the batwings the rest of the way.  He liked cats – there had always been barn cats at Mister Farthingale’s estate to keep the mice out, and he’d enjoyed playing with them when he was young.  He wanted to see if he could make friends with this one, maybe keep it around.

The cat was a tiger, like the ones JD remembered best; he was trim, mostly a soft buff color, lightening into almost white at the tip of the tail and onto the feet, with stripes in a gingery shade.  He glanced over his shoulder when JD made a noise, and flicked an ear, but then went back to studying the street, not quite like he was hunting, but just… not interested in what JD might have to offer.

JD grinned.  Yeah, you be like that, he thought.  You’ll be curious soon enough.  He sat down in one of the chairs to wait it out.

He’d no sooner sat down than he saw another stranger; another cat, this one a sleek brown with white markings, slunk out from underneath one of the other chairs and crouched, wriggling, before pouncing on the tiger’s enticingly twitching tail.

JD laughed aloud when the tiger scrambled away from the brown cat, only to turn and leap at him in turn.  They tumbled, batting at each other with sheathed claws, first the tiger on top, then the brown, wrestling in near silence, except for the thump of paws and bodies against the planks of the boardwalk, and JD’s laughter.

They were near the edge of the boardwalk when the tiger leapt at the brown cat, and they both fell down into the street.  Still laughing – the shocked expression on the brown cat’s face was priceless – JD stood to see if they were still there or if they’d crawled under the boardwalk in embarrassment.

They were still there.  The brown cat disengaged and turned his back on the tiger, sitting primly, tail wrapped around him, licking one paw and passing it over his ear in apparent unconcern.  Just like a cat, JD thought, grinning.  The tiger shook himself, and stropped against the brown cat’s chest, giving a rumbling purr, tail tickling his nose.  The brown cat almost seemed to sigh, but didn’t object when the tiger sat close and washed his face.

JD knelt down at the edge of the boardwalk.  “Ain’t you handsome boys?” he said, reaching out with one hand, not to touch but just to see if they’d approach.

The cats both looked up at him, green eyes shining.  Then, as if through some unspoken signal, they leapt up on the boardwalk, brushing against JD on either side as they did.  Then they trotted together to the corner of the saloon and down the adjacent alley.

Well, JD thought, standing again, least they’re friendly enough.  Maybe they’ll hang around...

“Hey, JD, whatcha doin’?” Buck leaned lazily against the doors, his arms draped over each.

“Oh, just watchin’ a coupla cats,” JD replied, dusting off his knees.

“Chris out there?”

“Nope, ain’t seen him.”

December 11, 2011