Every now and then I dust off old stories to see how they look. Some of them are terrible and shall never see the light of day. Some might be worth polishing up, if I took the time to do so. And others, while never serious pieces, are cute enough that I’m okay with sharing them here. What follows is one such story…
The Story of a Cat, Pizza, and a Fork
Sash, Cat of a Tractor Trailer
Sash, the dark tabby cat, smelled the spicy, savory scent as he walked by one of the large, growling beasts man called tractor trailers. Food, pizza in fact. Good, because he was hungry.
The window was partly rolled down, and the cat jumped from sideboard to hood to mirror. From the mirror it was a quick leap through the opening.
There was a large, thin cardboard box lying on the seat, and Sash nudged it open with his nose. The pizza was only partly eaten, and the tabby pulled a piece onto the seat and began to eat it, only partly concentrating on food, despite his hunger, for he had to be ready to flee if the driver returned.
Delicious and heartening it was, and Sash ate a second piece, then sat, washing his face and paws.
A few minutes later the sound of whistling approached. Sash wrinkled his nose in distaste, for the song was ‘How Much is That Doggy in the Window’. The cat stretched, then waited by the door, ready to jump out when the driver opened the door. A door slammed and a different beast drove away, the whistled tune lost in the roar of its motor.
Sash sighed and stretched again, then curled up in a patch of sun on the passenger’s seat. It was so warm and peaceful, other than the growling of the tractor trailer’s engine. Before he knew it, the cat had fallen asleep.
He awoke about a quarter hour later, when a door closed. The cat shot upright, fur bristling. The driver had already gotten into the truck and closed the door, and now was setting the vehicle into drive. He hadn’t noticed the cat yet, thankfully, but he probably would soon.
The tabby realized that he was trapped when the man rolled up his window. Crouching, the cat slipped onto the floor, almost losing his balance when the beast jerked into motion.
“Can’t imagine it, four restaurants and not a single fork,” the driver muttered. “Blasted truck stops. And no soap in the showers, either. Eh, what was that?”
Sash had emitted a little mew of surprise when a crumpled brown bag was tossed onto the floor, almost hitting him.
The man looked over, then grinned. “Now where did you come from, little kitty?”
Sash hissed and spat, showing his teeth down to the gums. His fur was standing up all along his spine.
“Whoa, boy, I’m not going to hurt you…” The man glanced out the windshield in order to turn onto the highway. “Want some pizza… I see you already helped yourself,” he finished, ruefully, noticing the diminished pizza. “How about some coffee?” He gestured toward a cup sitting in a holder. “You’ll have to come get it, though, I’ve got my hands full.”
The radio suddenly crackled to life next to Sash, and with a yowl the cat leapt onto the seat, growling at the strange, noisy object.
“What, scared of the radio?” The driver laughed. “Foolish cat, it’s not going to hurt you.” He used one hand to take the cap off the coffee cup, set it on the seat, then risked turning his eyes from the road for a moment in order to pour coffee into the makeshift dish. “There you go, drink it if you want.” He took a gulp himself, swallowed with difficulty, then gagged. “Ech, this stuff is disgusting.” He glared at the cup and set it back in the holder. “Let it sit for days, then sell it for two bucks a cup. Cheapskates.”
Sash waited until the driver was watching the road again, then crept over to the cover and sniffed it. He lapped up some of the liquid, then shook his head violently, trying to get rid of the taste.
“Don’t like it either?” asked the driver with a laugh. “I’ll get you some water later.”
Sash curled up on the seat and fell asleep again, having decided that he wasn’t going to be let out for a while.
The truck stopped several hours later.
“I’m going to get lunch,” the driver told Sash. “You stay here, and I’ll have some jerky for you when I get back.”
The cat yawned, then washed his paws, hoping that the man would roll down the window. He cracked it, but not enough so that the tabby could get out.
“Be right back,” the driver said again, then left.
Sash watched as the man walked into the large building, then lay down in the sunlight. Soon the man returned, and set down a small bowl, then filled it with water. The tabby shot to his feet at the sound of splashing, and, after a suspicious sniff, drank the water quickly.
The driver got in and closed the door, then tore open a package of strong-smelling strips of meat, shaking a few onto the seat next to Sash.
“I’m going to have to name you something, kitty,” he said. “I can’t call you kitty all the time.” He thought for a moment, then reeled off a long list of names.
Sash wrinkled his nose at all of them, then leapt onto the dashboard and looked out the window, his tail twitching.
“Hmm. How about Dash?”
Sash’s ears pricked up.
“Dash?” tried the driver again.
This time the tabby’s ears flattened.
“Cash? Flash? Hash? Mash? Sash?”
At the last one, Sash’s ears pricked and he gave a soft meow.
“Sash it is, then.” The driver shook his head. “Awful particular for a cat.”
Sash meowed again, then leapt back to the seat and started eating another piece of pizza.
“Hey, stay out of that!” The man swatted at the cat’s nose. “Don’t eat my pizza.”
“Oh, all right, fine. Eat it. You’ve probably got fur all over the cheese by now, anyway.”
They drove on, not stopping until nightfall.
“Well, I’m sleeping here for tonight,” said the driver. “You want to come in, cat?”
Sash meowed in reply.
“Come along, then.” The driver shook his head. “I’m talking to a cat like it understands me. Maybe I really have been driving for too long.” He got out and held open the door.
Sash tore out of the truck like his tail was on fire, disappearing into the darkness.
“Hey, wait!” The driver called, then waved his hand. “Never mind. Ungrateful cat.” Muttering, he locked the truck doors and went inside.
As he opened the store door, a grey and brown streak shot through.
“No animals allowed in the store,” the cashier said.
“He’s not mine…” The driver stopped, because Sash came running back, climbed up the man’s pants and shirt, finally sitting on his shoulder with a light purr.
“Well,” relented the woman. “If he stays there, you can have him inside. Does he have a name?”
“Sash,” replied the man. “Very particular about it, too.”
“I see.” She gave him a quizzical look, then smiled. “He’s a very pretty tabby.”
“Thank you. I don’t suppose you’ve any forks in this place?”
“Of course.” The woman seemed surprised. “Doesn’t every truck stop have forks?”
“You’d be surprised. I’ll buy some.”
So he bought some, and the woman gave him a small package of dried fish for the cat, and Sash purred as he ate a piece of salmon.
The next day the driver left, but not before buying more of the fish.
As they drove, Sash napped for a bit on the seat, woke for lunch, which was anchovy and pepperoni pizza, and to stretch his legs a bit on a romp across the grass of the truck stop’s pet walking green. He then fell back asleep, not waking until the late afternoon.
Yawning, the tabby paced across the seat for a while, then played with a discarded fork, batting it with his paws back and forth across the seat’s covering. Sometimes the driver would offer him a piece of pizza crust, which the cat would sniff, then gulp down. After each crust, Sash washed his face and paws thoroughly.
And that is how Sash came to be the cat of a tractor trailer.
The End, for now
No story is ever truly finished…