Happy Holidays! Over the next two and a half weeks, culminating on Dec. 24, I will be serializing FATHER CHRISTMAS, Spam the Cat’s First Christmas, for your entertainment. If you like humor, cats and oddball takes on the holidays, I think you’ll enjoy it. It is on sale for $2.99 as an e-book or 9.99 as a paper book.
At the bottom of this note is the link to the book on Amazon but you need not buy it if you want to read it all here. I loved writing this and I want to give more people and their cats a chance to love reading it. All proceeds from purchase go to the Humane Society of Jefferson, Co. WA, where I found K.B. Dundee. Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (with K.B. Dundee)
Spam the Cat’s
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
with K.B. Dundee
Gypsy Shadow Publishing
All rights reserved
Copyright © January 2012, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Cover Art Copyright © 2012, Karen Gillmore
Gypsy Shadow Publishing, Inc.
Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coin-cidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.
No part of this book may be reproduced or shared by any electronic or mechanical means, including but not limited to printing, file sharing, and email, without prior written permission from the author.
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61950-27-3
First eBook Edition: January, 2012
Second eBook Edition: May, 2012
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012933715
Print ISBN: 978-1-61950-052-5
Published in the United States of America
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Print Edition: February, 2012
This story is dedicated to Kerry Greenwood and Karen Gillmore, whose encouragement has kept me writing and whose friendship made the holidays happy.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring; not even a mouse. Rats! While I’d been out chasing vampires and zombies, my furry housemates had hunted all the fun prey. Now my fourteen feline roomies were all asleep, our human mom Darcy was gone for the weekend leaving us on our own with just a cat-sitter coming in to feed us, and I felt restless. I was nine months old, and this was my first Christmas.
It felt like something ought to happen. It felt like something was going to happen, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be in my boring house with my boring friends and relatives.
On the other hand, it was snowing outside. We were having a white Christmas. Bah, humbug. Bad weather is what it is, the kind that clots white cold stuff in your paw pads. Unacceptable. I would wait until the weather humans came to their senses to go out, I had decided.
That was before I heard the prancing and pawing of each little hoof, apparently coming from up on my roof. I sat down to think, curling my tail around my front paws, my calm pose betrayed only by a slight flick at the creamy end of my plumy appendage. There were stockings hung by the propane stove with care, but a trip down that chimney would be disastrous for anybody, since they’d just end up inside the stove and wouldn’t be able to get out. I considered waking my mother for a further explanation of the powers of Santa Claws. But then I thought that if anyone would know what was going on, it would be Rocky. I jumped onto the kitchen counter and stood against the corner cupboard. I am a very long cat, even without taking my tail into account. My front feet could just reach the top cabinet, where Rocky liked to lurk during the day. Inserting my paw beneath the door’s trim, I pushed. It smelled like vampire cat in there, but not as though the vampire cat was actually in there. Rocky was out. Well, it was night. He wouldn’t mind the snow.
Some more scrabbling on the roof, and I suddenly thought, what if Rocky has Santa Claws and is feeding on him? He might. He was my friend, but he was definitely no respecter of age, gender, or mythological belief system.
I bolted out my private entrance. Only Rocky and I were able to come and go through that new cat flap that had been installed for me since my last adventure. I had a chip in my neck that activated it. Rocky had my old collar containing a similar chip, the one I’d worn before I went to the vet and got tagged.
The cold air hit me with a shock, and the snow wet my pink paw pads, though the heavy tufts of fur between them formed natural snowshoes. I was a very convenient breed of cat for this climate, actually. Maine Coon cats, or their undocumented relatives like me, were built for cold and wet and according to the Critter Channel, used to be ships’ cats on Viking vessels. I didn’t mind a nice trip around the bay on a nice day, but this snow stuff wasn’t my cup of—well, snow.
I dashed into the snow without the benefit of any sort of vehicle, responding to the clatter, and from a safe distance, gazed back at the roof to see what was the matter. Other than snow.
The feel of the air shifted behind me, and I glanced back to see five deer step out of the moon shadows beneath the big apple tree. Nelda, Buck, and some other deer I knew fairly well—as well as a cat can know a family of deer, anyway—stood behind me, whuffing steam from their nostrils and looking up toward the noise.
I saw nothing special up there. Just weathered red tiles, our smokeless chimney, and snow falling on it.
“You guys weren’t just up there, were you?” I asked Nelda.
“No, silly. How would deer get on your roof?” she asked.
“Well,” I said, “You know—it’s Christmas and everything, so I just wondered . . .”
“What’s that got to do with Christmas?” Nelda asked.
“Oh, grandma,” the young doe Gelda said, “Don’t you know anything? Spam is under the impression that all deer are like those horned ones who pull that sled across the sky.”
“The one that’s on half the lighted windows downtown.”
Nelda shook her head, flipping off snowflakes melting on her muzzle. “Christmas is very confusing. I’ve been through several now and it never makes any sense to me at all. Why is there a sled with captive deer pulling it?”
“It’s simple, Grandma,” Gelda said. “The sled is magic, and the deer are pulling it through the sky, following a star that will show them where there is a manger with fresh hay. There are humans involved too, but that part isn’t clear to me. The lights in the windows symbolize the star, I believe.”
“Spam, that is species profiling, thinking we’d get up on your roof just because it’s Christmas. Just because we live in this wet climate doesn’t make us rain deer, dear,” Buck said, snorting at his own pun. He’s hilarious sometimes. Nelda and the other deer I’ve met are mostly as refined and classy as they look. I love deer. Most cats do, I think. They smell great and they are the prettiest creatures alive, other than cats. They have charisma—animal magnetism. It’s a little lost on human gardeners; but we cats appreciate it, though Rocky says it’s only because if we were a little larger, or they were a little smaller, we would find them tasty instead of merely tasteful. Okay, maybe they’re a little hazy on some of the holiday mythology, but they are terrific critters.
Even Buck is handsome enough, if you like that sort of thing, and a lot of the does seemed to. But he was on the rowdy side and too big for me to be anything but wary of all that head tossing and prancing and showing off his antlers. Fortunately, he had respect for his mother, and she seemed to have decided to like me.
“You must have heard something too!” I said. I don’t like being laughed at. “Otherwise, why were you looking up there?”
“There were strange noises,” Nelda said. “And strange scents.”
Just then, outlined against the snow, a masked face peeped up above the ridge of the roof.
“Renfrew?” I asked the coon. Who else would it be than my friend, sometimes assistant detective, and frequent moocher? “What are you doing up there?”
The coon opened his mouth to reply, then threw up his front paws, dropping something that clattered down the half of the roof facing me before sliding down the back. “Renfrew, wait!” I called, anxious to see what he was up to.
He didn’t answer me, and I ran to the house to try to catch up with him, but he had slid off the roof and left a coon-shaped bare patch in the snow before waddling off toward the woods.
“Merry Christmas!” he called back. In raccoon, of course, which sounded more like, “Iiiiiiiiiriii chirrit-termaaaaw.” But mostly, interspecies, we read thoughts for any real communication—sometimes you just can’t say what you mean with barks, tweets, growls, or neighs—or other sounds. Meows, of course, and other cat language, are quite eloquent; but other species don’t seem to be able to master the accent.
What had that silly coon been up to that he didn’t even take time to stop and beg some kibble? What had he dropped? I thought he meant it was supposed to be my Christmas present. It was caught in the gutter. Double rats! Very inconvenient.
But I didn’t want to miss out on a gift, so I raced around to the back of the house, where the scrap wood box was, and leaped up on it, thinking to mount the roof myself.
I jumped onto the steeply pitched part of the roof and slid much faster than I’d planned to down to the gutter, to the amusement of my deer audience. The snow had made the roof very slick, even with all my claws extended. I put a paw into the gutter, but it rattled and creaked alarmingly, so I pulled my paw back and tippy-toed along the edge until I spotted the gleam of silver and red.
Most cats would wonder why a raccoon would have a packet of batteries. I knew raccoons liked anything shiny. But in Renfrew’s case, he might have wanted them for what they were made for, to power a phone or a radio or camera or something, at least until he decided to wash it. Renfrew was very clever with such things, which had come in handy when we were fighting vampires together.
It was really nice of him to give them to me, in that case, but other than batting them around the floor, I didn’t have a lot of use for them. I’d just tell him this was the package I’d got for him for Christmas and give them back to him. No use wondering where they originally came from.
Biting down on the edge of the package, I jumped down from the roof. It’s easier to get down than up. Carrying the battery packet in my mouth, I trotted to the edge of the driveway. The slight skim of snow seemed to have discouraged any cars that might normally be on the road this time of night. Understandable. It was pretty slick. Getting colder by the minute too. I cast one look back at my nice warm house. I could go back whenever I wanted to, have a nibble and a drink and settle down in my favorite office chair for a nap. Off to the right, the deer picked their way across the snowy brown grass, then paused. One of Nelda’s legs hovered, suspended bent over the ground. Her head was up, watching the sky, or the stars, and Gelda and Buck followed her gaze. Then they moved on again, crossing the front yard of Bubba’s house and on down the block.
Renfrew doesn’t have a permanent address, being a raccoon of no fixed abode, as Bubba, the retired police dog next door would say, but he did have a general territory, though it was not his exclusively because there were too many raccoons around. He’d tried living under our house for a while, but said the upstairs neighbors were too noisy.
I didn’t have to look hard for him though. A trail of packing peanuts and the noise led me to a tree near the one where we’d first met a couple of months before. Somebody was singing “Silent Night” with a lot of hissing and buzzing and an overlay of a football broadcast kicking in once in awhile that made the night anything but silent.
His den was a dump of more packing peanuts, torn up cardboard boxes, bubble wrap (ooh, fun to pop with your claws! I wondered if I could sneak a piece out of his stash and take it home to play with), and newspaper. Nestled among the packing stuff were various items that the Critter Channel does not usually mention when talking about raccoon habitat.
Renfrew did not look up. His paw hands were busy turning the noisy shiny white box over and over, looking for a way inside.
I dropped the batteries at his feet with relief. My teeth ached from clutching the plastic. “Here,” I told him. “Merry Christmas. These are for you.”
He could have said thank you. Instead he mumbled to himself—raccoons do a lot of mumbling and grumbling, I’ve learned—and kept fiddling with the box.
This gave me a chance to paw through the opened packages, sort of checking to see if there was one I might want to try on for size. A half-torn label was on the largest one, with an address, a Christmas sticker, and a UPS logo. Suspicion dawned.
“Where’d you get this?” I asked Renfrew.
“Found it,” he said, finally looking up with big masked bright eyes full of innocence and wonder.