By John Stiles
“That cat ain’t no bigger than a speck.” The boy said and the ol bub from the mill who found him laughed; the cats’ ears drew flat; the antenae of observation and wariness are keener in cats than in even the most sensitive of men. The big lummox of a man laughed and put the cat down.
"That’s what we`ll have to call him then,” said the man and the little boy picked him up and claimed him as his own. “Speck. It’s got a good ring to it.”
”C’mere Speck.” The little boy said and he put a bowl of milk down on the floor for it.
The cat wasn’t stupid and it had a feeling that it was never going to see the two deaf white sisters again (they had grey spots on their heads and someone had called them bird droppings, not a tone of endearment!) He knew he would never again see the orange one claimed by the man with the bow legs who came into the barn for milk or the black one with the yellow eyes. It was probably floating in a bag in the river; black ones were cursed, doomed even in the cat world; they skulked along ditches, sat under shrubs, were targets for boys with rocks, farmers with mean streaks.
He was not sentimental to think this way of his siblings or to guess whom his father might have been. The tatty one with the long coat, the big, wolf spider-faced shy one that lived up in the pulp wood and scrapped with the females who picked through the dead chickens outside the chicken barn. He would never wonder if his father was the sleek one that lived in the farmers house down by the orchard, lazy and a little dopy, whom the females seemed to like.
Never mind this little kitten first named Speck and now Mo’ was a survivor; He knew his place in the world of man and beasts.
Published originally in "Michael Jackson Edition" of Trespass Magazine in the United Kingdom in 2009. It is part of a novel in progress.
John Stiles is originally from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. He currently lives in London with his wife. He is the author of Scouts are Cancelled and the novel, Taking the Stairs.