Category Archives: Uncategorized

Image

INTERVIEW WITH SNEAKY, THE LIBRARY CAT

Gentle readers and feeders, today we have the privilege of intermewing a library cat who is also the featured protagonist in his own mystery series.

Welcome! Pull up a cushion and introduce yourself and your author.

My name is Sneaky, and my author is Debbie De Louise.

debbieeditedcover

Great to meet you, Sneaky. What books have you appeared in and how would you classify them?

I’m a cozy mystery cat, and I appear in the Cobble Cove mystery series. The series, so far, consists of three books in the following order: A Stone’s Throw (where I am introduced); Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and Written in Stone (my latest where I am featured on the cover).

betweenarockandahardplacesolsticecover

stonesthrownewcoversolstice

Mrrrr-wow! That is one fine feline cover on the last book. Congrats on not only being a cat who is chronicled but a cover cat as well! Did your author use one of her own cats as inspurration for your character ?

Written In Stone-001cover

I am a Siamese and am loosely based on my author’s cat, Oliver, who is also Siamese. He is turning 17, so I am quite a few cat years younger. I am about 3 in the series.

How about treating us to a scene where you particularly shine?

 

This is from my first book, A Stone’s Throw, where I lead my human co-star, Alicia, to a clue in the library’s storage room:

 

After Alicia unpacked her things, heated up Sheila’s stew that turned out to be quite tasty, and changed into pajamas, she lay in bed with a book, but she couldn’t concentrate on her reading. She turned off the light and tried to sleep, but the heavy rain against the window kept her up, as did the loud purring of Sneaky Cat, who snuggled against her, happy to have company again. She thought about Tina, the girl who’d stayed here last. From what Alicia knew of her, Tina was a young library school graduate who’d been hired by Sheila as quickly as Alicia had. She’d lived over the library in this space, as well, taken care of Sneaky, and left after two years to care for her sick mother in Florida.

 

Sneaky dug his paws into the quilt at her back. It had been a long time since she’d had a cat, but she recalled the kneading sensation both male and female cats practiced to comfort themselves. Maybe it would comfort her too. Had she done the right thing by returning to Cobble Cove? Would she be bored in this small town with only a hand full of people patronizing the library each day? Sheila had mentioned the large number of homebound patrons, the seniors of the town, who needed books delivered. She might enjoy that. She liked reader’s advisory work, selecting books that would interest people. Sometimes it was a challenge, but she always learned through the experience and even found new authors and books for herself.

 

After a few hours of restlessness, Sneaky finally got sick of her tossing and left the room. She felt strangely deserted. She decided it might be better to get up and do something than spend unproductive time in bed. She turned on the light and went out into the hall. All was quiet from downstairs except the continuous downpour. She didn’t plan to go into the library, but she considered checking some of the unprocessed books Sheila had mentioned Mac was working on in the storage room. Perhaps she’d find something more interesting than her current reading that could help her fall asleep.

When she entered the storage room, she didn’t see Sneaky, although she thought he might’ve headed there to use his litter box. Cats can be quiet and liked to sleep in the strangest spots, so he could be there in some corner. Mac’s jacket was still draped across the chair by the desk. She laughed recalling the story about what Sneaky had once done to it out of spite, so typical of an angered cat. She sat in the chair and perused the stack of books on the desk. A few were from James Patterson’s “Private” series. She didn’t read too many series and had only read a few of Patterson’s standalone titles. As she was about to choose a book from the pile, she heard scratching in the corner. She jumped. Hopefully, that was Sneaky and not a mouse he hadn’t caught, for this place probably attracted them. She walked cautiously to the corner where she’d heard the noise. It wasn’t coming from the litter box under the window but from the opposite side.

Since the one bulb in the room was dim, she could hardly see in the dark recesses of the room. She wished she had a flashlight. As she approached the area where she heard the noise, she saw a bunch of boxes. She was relieved to see Sneaky scratching the side of one, cardboard pieces scattered at his feet.

“Oh, Sneaky,” she said. “You scared me, but you’re only using a box for a scratching post.”

The cat, caught in the act, stopped in mid-scratch and scampered away through his cat flap. Alicia made a note to speak to John about helping her find a real scratching post for Sneaky, but before she left the room, she went over to the boxes. She figured they contained more books, but when she looked inside the one Sneaky had been scratching, she saw a few papers bundled together with rope. Newspapers? They weren’t that thick. She realized as she picked up the first bundle, they were a stack of letters. She felt uneasy snooping through them and was about to toss them next to the other two stacks in the box when she caught the name on the top envelope, Miss Carol Parsons. Her heart thudded in tempo with the rain. Were these the letters Mac wrote to Peter’s mother all those years ago? If so, how had Mac gotten them back? 

Excellent! Looks like your human sleuth is really going to need your help to solve this. What do you like most about your role in these books?

I like the fact that I am featured in each book. I would love more exciting roles, but Debbie is starting to give me more active scenes. I also enjoy helping the Cobble Cove peeps find clues to the mysteries. Detecting is great fun, and I am able to use my wonderful cat senses and keen observational techniques to help my human co-stars solve crimes.

So you’re not the kind of cat-sleuth who talks directly to the humans he’s helping?

I am quiet except for the usual cat sounds – meows, purrs, hisses. As a fellow cat character, I am sure you are familiar with the feline noises.

If you could converse with them, what would you tell your human co-detectives?

I would tell my human assistants, Alicia, John, and Gilly in my latest mystery, that they should pay more attention to me and the other pets in their stories because we have senses way acuter than they do and can sniff, observe, and hear stuff that they may not be aware of. Also, they need to be more careful. Even though our books are cozies, there have been murders in them. I’d hate to see one of my human co-stars get hurt. Fido, my dog co-star, had an incident in our second mystery, but he pulled through fine. We pets are quite resilient, but humans are fragile creatures.

Any words of wisdom for your fellow litterary cats?

Don’t shed the small stuff. Don’t let other pet characters overshadow you especially dogs. I have my canine co-star, Fido, firmly in paw about that.

What are you up to next? Have you a new case to tell us about?

Nothing new at the moment, but I know Debbie is planning to start a possible fourth book in our series in the fall.

Then we’ll definitely need to stay in touch! How can we find out what you’re up to online?

I don’t have a catFace page or tweeting bird account, but I do have a blog where I interview other pet characters. It was my pleasure to interview you on it. It’s located at https://sneakylibrarycat.wordpress.com. I also show cute cat videos on Friday. Debbie’s social media links are as follows:

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian  

Google+:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DebbieDeLouise

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Debbie-De-Louise/

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: https://debbiedelouise.wordpress.com

 

Spam and the Sasquatch story–just the cat, ma’am

I’ve already talked about the wonderful graphic novel Karen Gillmore made from my adventures with Bigfoot, but graphic novels cost lots to print so there are only a few copies and so far they are mostly available from one or the other of us at personal appearances, Comic Cons or sf/f cons or signings.
With Karen’s permission and a cool cover taken from the illustrations in the graphic novel, I’m offering the story by itself online for those who want to read it. The graphic novel is brilliant. but the story alone is fun too!
To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spam-Sasquatch-Cat-books-stories-ebook/dp/B01HDRDMFM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498270840&sr=8-1&keywords=Spam+and+the+Sasquatch spamandsasquatch

Spam!

 

Tour Bus of Doom or Spam and the Zombie Apocalyps-o

 

Tour Bus of Doom is the story of how zombies invaded Port Deception, the nom de litter I made up for my real hometown.

I was just enjoying a quiet lick of ice cream at one of my favorite hangouts, Elevated Ice Cream, when the tour bus full of zombies drove up with zombies demanding brain-flavored ice cream, playing drums and lurching down the main drag.

They were not the kind of zombies who are shown these days lurching around trying to eat brains. These are the Caribbean type of cursed zombies who have to do their masters’ bidding. In other words, they could learn a lot from cats.

If all started when a bunch of our neighbors went to Haiti to help out with the post-earthquake work and got in trouble with a zombie-master. He zombified some of them and when they came back, they were so messed up that my little sister Marigold (you met her as the kitten in Father Christmas) actually was afraid of her own family!

It took me and all of my friends to try to protect the town from the invasion and reunite Marigold’s family with their loving feline.

It’s quite a tail!

Spam

to buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tour-Zombie-Apocalyps-o-Purranormal-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B009I3WMGA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498191873&sr=8-1&keywords=Tour+Bus+of+Doom Also available at other online book sellers and in paperback.

Spam Vs the Vampire

Looking back over my blog, I see that I haven’t told you about the first book of my adventures: SPAM VS THE VAMPIRE. This is what the super comix would call my “origin story” all about how I was born in the shell of an old MacIntosh computer (one of the retro ones in Blueberry, to match our eyes when my littermates and I were kittens) to our mother, a recently adopted stray our guardian, Darcy, named Board.

Darcy is a graphic designer and at the time we were born, almost all of her best friends were cats because all together, she had 15 of us, so didn’t have that much time for humans. That made her lonely enough to fall in with eeevil companions on the internet, including a suave looking vampire she thought was a fanpire, someone who liked to pretend to be a vamp. Actually, turns out he was the real thing.

He had watched too many movies about how vampires sparkle on the Olympic Peninsula, where I live, so he moved down from Montreal. Long story short, he kidnapped Darcy, leaving all of us cats with no food, water, or litter box changer. This would not do and I, although I was only a kitten who had never been outdoors before, escaped the house and set out to find her. I didn’t really know what to do but a retired police dog named Officer Bubba lives next door, so I asked him for clues. These led me to the deep dark forest through which runs a path from our house into town.

I almost got eaten by an eagle right away, but talked my way out of it. With so many housemates, I’m a very sociable guy, and we watch a lot of the Critter Channel at my house so I knew a lot of handy stuff about wildlife.

Wildlife such as Renfrew, the raccoon kit I met next. I realized that in order to utilize the most up to date tech to find our Darcy, I would need an assistant. I am, by the way, very computer literate because I’m Darcy’s office cat and help her build websites and navigate the internet a lot, but I lack thumbs. Right away I noticed Renfrew’s paws are a lot like little human hands, which was, you know, hand-y.

Plus he had a clue. He’d found Darcy’s cell phone. So Renfrew was my first assistant.

Sherlock Holmes has his Baker Street irregulars, but none of them run a taxi service as well. A lot of my clues as to the whereabouts of my suspect came from the local deer herds. Since our town butts right up against the Olympic National Park and forest, we have tons of wild animals , none more numerous than the deer, right here in town. They are friendly, cats like them and they like cats, so they were the purrfect allies to help me find Darcy. Since my legs are way shorter than theirs, they also gave me rides so I could cover longer distances in shorter times.

I was introduced to them by the Boat Haven’s otters, who have an unusual and kind of stinky way of telling time.

While I was out detecting, however, the vampire wasn’t sleeping. He actually showed up at our house while I was gone and ran a-foul of my old mentor Rocky, a former feral who (constantly) told me all kinds of horrible stories about what awaited clueless kittens who left their safe homes. One of those things happened to him when he defended our home against Marcel of Montreal.

Do I rescue Darcy? Do raccoons like shiny things? I promise you will not read SPAM VS THE VAMPIRE in vein!

Purrs,

SPAM (the cat)

PS: To buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spam-Vs-Vampire-Cat-Book-ebook/dp/B004XD6YCI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498183279&sr=1-1&keywords=spam+vs+the+vampire
It is, however, available at other online retailers in other formats, as well as print on demand paperback.

 

Spam, the Spooks, and the UPS Bandit: Spam’s second Christmas story

It’s a good thing those WordPress people are paying attention. They reminded me I haven’t sat on the keyboard recently enough to tell mew about the independent publishing of the Christmas story originally written for the Naughty or Nice anthology published in 2015. It was VERY exciting.

Spam, the Spooks, and the UPS Bandit is now available as a solo short story on Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Spam-Spooks-Bandit-Purranormal-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B01NAFP2JV/ref=sr_1_45?ie=UTF8&qid=1498168521&sr=8-45&keywords=Elizabeth+Ann+Scarborough

Karen Gillmore made it a spooky holiday cover!

Purrs,

Spam, author K.B. Dundee (with typing by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough), Renfrew Raccoon, Maddog the Vampire Law South of the (Canadian) Border, and Mat, my Under-Dumpster Dwelling Bro.

FATHER CHRISTMAS, Spam the Cat’s First Christmas, Conclusion, Dec. 19th, Meowy Catmess!

FatherChristmas5web

Well, this gift didn’t keep giving quite long enough but we hope you enjoyed it and everyone has happy holidays! 

“Who asked you to stick around?” Hank asked as they left.

“Nobody,” I said. “But I’m going to anyway.”

“So you can see what they do to me? Like those females?”

“They won’t do it right away,” I said. “They’ll give you your shots and probably trim your mats—they might wait till they put you out to do that though.”

“Put me out? You mean like put me to sleep? Like the long sleep?”

“No. Not kill you. Just help you go to sleep so you don’t feel any pain when they do the snip. It makes your legs not work right for a while and you walk funny, but it’ll be okay. They’re just trying to make you healthy. And really, you don’t need to make any more kittens. You could have stopped with me, as far as I’m concerned.”

“This is so unfair. I am a leader among cats, father of my race, a mighty warrior . . .”

“You’re more a deadbeat dad than anything,” I said, then remembered another part of the seasonal stories I’d been seeing on TV and the internet. “Think of me as the spirit of kittens past. La Toya’s baby is kittens present. And if you keep on doing what you do, before long there will be so many orange kittens and cats, there won’t be any more prey, and wild cats like you will be eating each other to survive. They usually eat the old feeble cats first, I hear.” I was just making that up, but somehow I needed to convince him that changing his ways, however involuntarily, was a good thing—or at least the lesser evil.

“You are awfully damn sure of yourself for a kid,” he said.

“My mother saw to it that we have a safe home with Darcy—my lady who took La Toya. I’ve had a good education. Not all of your kits are going to get that chance.”

“Thank Bast. One of you is enough.”

“Is that so? Then why didn’t you stop at one?”

“Son, my seed spreading is not a character flaw. A tom’s gotta do what a tom’s gotta do.”

“All the more reason to retire, Pop.”

“My clowder won’t respect me anymore.”

“Maybe not, but when they get trapped, you can let them know it’s not the end of the line for them. Like I’m trying to do with you.”

“Why? I thought you hated me.” He had stopped snarling now, and his ears had gone from laid back to kind of flat out to the sides of his head, sad-looking really. His voice was a little whiny, but I figured that was understandable, under the circumstances.

“No, Pop. I don’t even know you, really. But maybe when you get back to the clowder again, we can help each other out sometimes.”

“Help how?”

I think I actually put him to sleep telling him about me and Darcy and the vampire, Renfrew, Maddog, the deer and everything. I at least shut up the lady cats, who stopped bawling at him to listen to my story. Eventually I put me to sleep too. But we awoke once, and my old man had put his nose up to mine. He was purring, finally. “You okay, Dad?” I asked him.

He ignored my question, saying, “You ever caught a fish with your paw, Junior? When this is over, come down to the dock, and I’ll show you.”

“It’s a deal,” I said.

I stayed with him till he met Dr. Ginny later that afternoon. Always the ladies’ man, he took a shine to her. “You go home and make sure your little sister’s okay, Spam,” the old man said.

When Ginny put him in her car to go to the clinic for his snip, she gave me a lift home. I was just in time to play with the boxes and the crinkled balls of wrapping paper with my brothers, until I finally fell asleep again in one of the boxes.

Father Christmas family

Meowy Catmess from Spam, Marigold, La Toya, and Hank as well as Elizabeth Ann Scarborough and K.B. Dundee.

THE END

FATHER CHRISTMAS, Spam the Cat’s First Christmas, 6th Installment, 18 Dec. 2014

FatherChristmas5web

Tomorrow will conclude the serialization of Father Christmas © by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough and K.B. Dundee, with illustrations by Karen Gillmore. We hope you’re enjoying the story and will share the links so your friends can too! The digital book or a print copy may be purchased from any of the usual online outlets, and all proceeds support the Humane Society of Jefferson Co, WA. 

As they left, I skinned out the door with them and hopped into Deputy Daryl’s car and onto Darcy’s lap. Deputy Daryl had been present during my final showdown with the vampire when I had to save Darcy, so he didn’t question my motives any more than Darcy did. I got some extra petting on the way. The car warmed up before we reached the end of the block.

The lady from the house with the manger was waiting for us, the big cage set beside her, and a smaller carrier on the other side. Both cage and carrier had colorful fleece blankets thrown over them so the cats could have some privacy. Daryl let us in the shelter. The minute we were inside La Toya began crying, and the old man’s cage rocked furiously as he scratched, tore and pounded at the heavy wire. While the people were talking, I stuck my nose under the blanket of La Toya’s carrier. She and the kitten were inside, the kitten nursing, but she was panting heavily, stressed. “Oh, Spam, what’s going to happen to us? Will they take my kitten? Will we be killed? Who are these humans and why did they take us?” Her cries were growing shriller and shriller.

“La Toya, shush. All this yelling isn’t good for the baby. You’re going to scare her too. Don’t worry. My human lady knows the man here, and I’ve found out a little more about this place. They only want us cats to be looked after, make sure we get food and water and don’t get sick or anything. Lots of times cats who come here find new humans to live with. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Who needs them?” she said. “Hank said I’m better off living wild and free with his clowder.”

“Yeah, well, Hank told you a lot of things before, didn’t he?” I asked, guessing that Hank must be the name my old man used.

“I’m so afraid,” she said with a small piteous mew and a shiver.

Darcy knelt down, removing the blanket and petting me as she checked out La Toya and her baby. “Spammy, that kitten is going to look like you and your brothers when it’s a little older,” she said. I wished I could tell her who else the kitten would look like too. “Would it be okay with you if we take these two home with us so I can make sure the kitten gets what she needs? They’re a little fragile to stay here with the rest of the cats all night, especially by themselves. I’d have to put them in the office.”

I purred. Normally the office was off limits to the other cats, being my territory, but the truth was, now that I had my own entrance, I wasn’t in there as much as I used to be.

I turned back to La Toya, “Darcy—that’s my lady—wants to take you home. You’ll be okay. There are lots of other cats there.”

“What if they hate me? What if they try to kill my baby? I’ve heard that happens sometimes!”

“I’ll be there, and my mother too. We’ll see to it that you’re treated right. They’re a good bunch.”

“LET MEYOWWWWT!!!” The old man—Hank—hollered at the top of his lungs, rocking the cage back and forth.

I poked my nose under his blanket, and almost got it sliced as he tried to bend the wire like Superman. “Cut it out,” I said. “You’re scaring the baby.”

He growled and snarled like a wildcat, but I was stern—it was easy to be with him inside the cage and me out. “I mean it, Hank. If you’ll shut up for a minute somebody will put you in a bigger cage and . . .”

“I don’t belong in a cage!” he roared. “I have to be free! The minute they open this I am out of here.”

He wasn’t, of course. It might have been harder if the other cats hadn’t chimed in. “Will you look there, Myrtle? It’s Prince Charming himself!” One of the lady cats sneered.

“Oh yeah. Hey, handsome, do you ever see any of my kittens anymore? You sure haven’t been back to see how we were!”

“Yeah, I got kicked out of my house because you knocked me up,” another one complained.

“They dumped me in a parking lot to die,” said another one. “It’s all your fault.”

“Not my fault,” he cried back, this time on the defensive. “It’s those humans! You should never have trusted them.”

“Humans don’t give you kittens, Slick. Tomcats give you kittens. Well, I hear they fix that in here.”

What?” he jumped—and landed in the new cage, where Daryl, Darcy and Amanda meant for him to go. The capture cage was decorated like a Christmas tree with clumps of his matted fur and streaks of blood.

“You’re getting snipped, Stud,” Myrtle, a calico with one red eye, told him, lashing her tail.

“Snipped?” he asked.

“Don’t let them scare you, Hank,” I told him, suddenly a little sorry for the old man in the midst of all of these vengeful queens. “It doesn’t amount to much. All the males at my house have had it done, and it doesn’t really make any difference. You just can’t make kittens anymore.”

“How do you know my name?” he demanded suspiciously. “Wait—wait, I know you. You said you were my kid. I met you down at Sea-J’s, trying to move in on the clowder’s fish franchise. Is this your twisted idea of revenge?”

“No,” I said.

“Spam, we’re going now. Are you coming?”

I looked back at Darcy, who had the carrier with La Toya and the kitten in her hand. La Toya wasn’t crying now. In fact, I think she was laughing—probably at Hank’s predicament. But terror rolled off him like an incoming tide, and the females were not making it easier, of course. They were imagining what his surgery would be like in gory detail while he wailed and railed against them.

When I trotted back to Darcy and rubbed her legs he squatted in a corner bawling.

“I gotta get out of here,” Daryl said. “Poor old guy.”

I jumped up on the second tier of cages, where the old man cowered, and sat on top of his cell, which wasn’t very comfortable, since it wasn’t a solid surface. Darcy took off her sweater and shoved it on top of the cage for me to lie on. “Spam wants to stay with him.” She caressed my head and ears with her hand. “We’ll be back for you in the morning, sweetie.”

FATHER CHRISTMAS, Spam the Cat’s First Christmas, 5th Installment, 17 Dec. 2014

FatherChristmas5web

Looks like I’m going to run out of book before we run out of countdown days. The sections will be a little shorter to draw it out so you have it all closer to the target date, but probably only a couple more days. Hope you’ve enjoyed it and will share! E.A. Scarborough, K.B. Dundee, and Spam the Cat.

According to the Critter Channel there were too many kittens already, and a lot of them didn’t survive infancy. But those kittens weren’t ones I was taking care of. I purred as loudly as I could to reassure the little thing and worried myself into a doze. Then I really had to pee, so I jumped down and poised to go on the floor of the carport.

The owl sailed into the enclosure and perched on the side of the manger, cocking his head first to one side, and then the other, studying the kitten, who was kind of bumbling around like It in a game of hide and seek. I was frozen. This was it. After all we’d been through, I wasn’t close enough to reach the kitten before the owl could eat her. I started to growl, but then instead of slashing at the kitten with his beak, the owl, put his beak to his own wing and plucked out a feather, allowing it to drift down onto the kitten’s ear. The little one raised a feeble paw, tried to bat the feather, and fell over.

The owl said, in a formal kind of way. “I’m sorry I tried to eat you. The coon explained to me that it’s unwise to eat someone born on such an auspicious day, and furthermore, bad luck. That the custom is to give them gifts instead. So here’s one of my personal feathers. Should you ever need me at any time, just lick the feather, and I’ll help you however I can—and won’t eat you before, during or after.” He bent down and winked at me. “You explain it to the kid when she’s old enough, okay? You cats have a nice day.”

I was about to hop back into the manger when the door opened behind me, and a woman wearing a puffy purple jacket over pajamas and gardening boots bustled out and headed to the cage in the back yard, without seeing me or the kitten. I returned to the kitten and waited, and pretty soon, here she came, hauling the cage. She’d put a blanket over it. I sat up and meowed for her attention, pawing at the air just in case she was deaf.

“Hello, handsome. What’s the matter? You didn’t climb aboard before the door shut?”

Father Christmas Marigold's feather
She set down the cage to pet me—and maybe add me to her catch, I don’t know, and I moved aside so she could see the kitten. La Toya mewed piteously, which could almost be heard.

“Oh,” the woman said. “Oh, dear. Well, this is different. We’ll have to go inside and sort this out.” She picked up the kitten and stuck her in one of the jacket pockets and picked up the cage again. I decided I had done about all I could do and that I didn’t have time to get taken into custody and released again. It was Christmas, and according to the older cats, there were treats and new toys to be had at home.

Home seemed a very long way away however. The woman didn’t grab for me, but held open the door so I could go inside too. I guess she had decided I wasn’t feral because of the very brave and confident way I acted with her. I declined her gracious invitation, and before she had the carrier inside, had hit the sidewalk and was two houses away.

I was very tired. I had not had my customary five or six rejuvenating naps that night while staying alert against possible threats to La Toya and her kitten. Had it not been so cold, I’d have found a nice little spot to curl up and sleep. But it was cold, and Christmas morning was here. I pattered up the sidewalk, but confess my tail had less than its usual perky curl, and the light hurt my eyes. It’s not surprising that I missed noticing what was not there, under the circumstances.

Nelda’s little herd stood grazing at the edge of the woods.

“Oh, Spam,” she said, her tone in my mind a bit whispery. “The coyote didn’t get you. Good.”

“Thanks for the backup,” I said, a little sarcastically. The coyote might be a supreme predator, but the deer were bigger and had very sharp hooves—and Buck had antlers. They might have helped a little.

“You’re very welcome. Good thing we were there to warn you.”

I felt sorry for being so grouchy and rubbed against her slender front legs. “Thanks.” They were deer, after all, and almost always bolted at the least threat. “Rocky took care of the coyote.”

“Oh, good.”

Gelda said, “You are a tired kitty, aren’t you? A long night?”

“You know it. I’ve been on the move, busy all the time, since I saw you guys last night.”

“Want a ride?” she offered. The deer had let me ride them before in an emergency, but had made it clear they were not a cat taxi service. “In honor of the reindeer and the manger.”

I jumped onto her back, my front paws around her neck, my back ones straddling her back. And I was out of it until, almost at the upper edge of the woods, I heard Darcy calling me. “Spam! Spammy! Come and get it, kitty! There’s goodies!”

I said, “Merry—uh—hay manger, Gelda!” and started to jump down, but she said, “Wait, cat. The street is dangerous. I am bigger. Let me cross.” And she carried me over saying, “Merry Manger to you too, cat.”

Darcy stood at our door, clutching her sweater tight around her. I started to jump into her arms, but noticed one of her hands was occupied—a tattered brown box with bubble wrap poking out. She caught my look and bent down and picked me up, juggling her package. “Just because you can go out whenever you want to doesn’t mean you should stay out, Spammy. I was worried.” She kissed my head between my ears and buried her face in my fur. She smelled nice, and I knew she was fresh out of the shower. I started the arduous task of marking her with my scent all over again, starting with cheek rubs.

She carried me inside, dropping the package on the table, and me on the floor. I made straight for the food dish. The kibble was low. I looked up at Darcy, who was messing with her package and wearing a puzzled expression.

Deputy Shelter Dude walked into the kitchen from the living room. “Anything the matter?”

“No, Spam’s back, but—there was a package on the stoop, kind of beat up. My cousin in Minneapolis sent it a month ago and gave me the tracking number. It should have been here two weeks ago.”

“That is one messed up package,” he said. “Maybe it got lost in the mail, or shredded in one of the machines . . .”

“But nobody delivers on Christmas Day,” she said. “Hmmm.”

“Maybe it went to a neighbor by mistake and they dropped it off.”

“Yeah, probably.”

Somewhere, a dog barked. It turned out to be in DSD’s jacket. “Sorry, I gotta go,” he said. “Don’t suppose you want to come with me?”

“What’s going on, Daryl?”

“Three new cats coming in—a very small half-frozen female and her newborn. Amanda Baker says it’s a wonder the kitten made it since somehow she trapped the mother, but not the baby. It would have frozen, but another big fluffy cat was curled up with it in the manger in the nativity scene in their carport.”

“I wish she had a picture of that!” Darcy said, casting a quick look at me. She knows from personal experience that I have skills not possessed by my siblings. “You said three cats?”

“Yeah, a big male, definitely feral. Badly matted coat. Ginny’s going to come in tomorrow morning and do his surgery and shots.”

His surgery? The old man was not going to like that.

FATHER CHRISTMAS, Spam the Cat’s First Christmas, 4th installment, Dec. 16th

FatherChristmas5web

This is the 4th installment in the free serialization of FATHER CHRISTMAS, Spam the Cat’s First Christmas. Please return tomorrow for more of the story by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough and K.B. Dundee and more of the wonderful illustrations by Karen Gillmore.

“You planning on grazing here long?” I asked Nelda.

“It’s nice grass,” she said. “Still green and moist under the snow.”

“Could you wake me up before you go or if an owl comes, or a coyote?” I asked. “I really need a nap.”

“Of course, Spam. When you wake up, it will be Christmas morning, and we may be flying off into the sky with the reindeer. But I’ll be sure and let you know first.”

I can sleep anywhere if I want to, and I decided to rest on top of the fake camel. I forgot to say there was a fake camel, but there was, and I slept between his neck and his hump.

A pungent, and yet oddly familiar scent awoke me, I’m not sure how much later. But Nelda and her family were not there, as they’d promised, and my old man with his matted, tattered coat was peeing on the perimeter of the makeshift manger and chatting up La Toya.

“So, sweetheart, just one kitten, eh? I’m slipping. Used to get five or six at a whack every time.”

“You told me you were fixed! And now my people have abandoned me and our daughter!”

Dad laughed. “It’s not all that bad. Come with me. Join the clowder. My other mates will show you the ropes, help you take care of the kitten, and you’ll be just fine without people. Take a break now, and I’ll tell you all about it. See, there are lots of ways to get fed when you’re wild and free without having to put up with people. I can show you one if you come have breakfast with me.”

He turned tail and headed for the back yard. Looking over his shoulder at her he called, “Come on, honeybunch. Lately they’ve been serving a regular buffet here for all us homeless kitty cats. Sonny boy, you stay here with the kid. It’s about all you’re good for since the humans got a hold of you.”

“Maybe I’d like to eat too,” I said. I didn’t feel I was cut out to be a mother, or even a kitten sitter.

La Toya looked at me pleadingly. She’d told me she hadn’t eaten in days, and she’d need to in order to feed the kid. I knew where my

Father Christmas Hank

kibble bowl was at home, and if I acted really pitiful, could probably get Darcy to break out the good stuff.

I shrugged my whiskers. With a little growl at the smug and very male hind quarters of my old man, slinging his excess baggage under his tail, I jumped up in the manger, and she jumped down. “I’ll watch the kid,” I told her. “Hurry back.”

I curled up next to the doll in the manger with the kitten between us. It squalled a couple of times, and then tried to nurse in my long fur. Most of the kitten was buried in my coat, which kept it warm at least. It kneaded and kneaded, its tiny little paws massaging my side. Soothing. Maybe being a mother wasn’t such a bad job. I grew a little drowsy. La Toya and the old man were sure taking their time about eating. I hoped what was keeping them wasn’t what I feared might be keeping them. Poor La Toya hadn’t been fixed yet, and she still had one kitten to raise—could she even START a new litter before this baby was out of the nest? I licked the kitten on the part not buried in my belly fur. “I’ll try to talk her out of it, kid,” I told the baby. “She wouldn’t like the rough life he leads, and would spend a lot of it trying to protect you from those other females he thinks would take care of you. He knows how to make kittens, and that’s it. My human would probably take you two in if I got your Mom to bring you to the door. Maybe it would be best if I carried you, and she just came with us. I mean, you can’t do without your mother, but if I was carrying you in my mouth, and pawed the door and looked up at my human with big sad eyes, what’s she going to do? Resist me and a baby kitten and a pretty young queen? I don’t furry think so. Not my Darcy.” Okay, it was kind of a one-sided conversation. But it’s never too early to instill family values in the young.

I was actually talking to the kitten to try to keep myself awake. It seemed like hours since the old man and La Toya took off for the back yard. The night was clearer and colder, I was exhausted, and the kitten was actually quite a soothing little thing. It was very . . .

“Coyote!” Gelda cried, and the deer scattered. At almost the same instant, from the back yard, there was a loud “Clang!” and the spitting, hissing, yowling of angry cats. I hoped the coyote would eat the old man first, I thought, believing it was the cause of the commotion behind the house.

So I was looking the wrong way and didn’t really see the coyote until it was eye-to-eye with me.

I must have jumped back, the kitten still attached at the mouth to my fur.

The coyote licked its chops. “An entree and dessert all on the same plate!” the coyote said, slavering.

There had always been someone between me and coyotes before. Bubba the police dog, Rocky . .

Somehow I hissed, snarled, and caterwauled for, “Rocky!” at the same time.

The coyote leaped for me, snapping its jaws where my head used to be. I sat back on my tail, ready to snatch up the kitten and head for the shoulders of the nearest statue.

The coyote lunged again, giving me a whiff of his rancid garbage breath. The wind from his snapping jaws blew back my fur, which was sticking straight out from all my follicles.

The kitten suddenly lost her grip on me and tumbled out the back of the manger onto the porch step.

New plan! I flew in the face of the coyote, going right for his nose and eyes with all claws deployed and raking.

The coyote snarled in return, and I gave him another smack on the nose. Then suddenly he flew into the air, bawling, “Kiyi! Kiyi! Kiyi!”

He snapped, growled and squirmed, but it had nothing to do with me.

Behind his head I saw the transformed batlike ears of my roomie, the vampcat—or catpire, take your pick—Rocky, who had been a creature of the night ever since he bit the vampire who was invading our house. With his supernatural strength, the battered old tom held the coyote by the throat in midair while he drained his blood with really rather disgusting slurpy sounds.

I jumped from the manger to the step to comfort the kitten, who was okay, except for staggering around saying, “me, meep, me, meep!” looking for me or her mom.

Rocky bore the coyote to ground, sucking away until the doggy creature was quivering and cowering and crying. I was no longer worried about Mr. Coyote. Since Rocky had become a catpire, the predators who had once scared the poop out of him when he was on

Father Christmas Coyote

his own in the wild were now his very favorite prey. He loved seeking them out to harass and feed on at every opportunity.

He gave the one at his feet a clout on the nose, and said, “Get outta here. I’m not gonna kill you on accounta there’s children present. But find yourself some new territory, hound dog, because if I ever catch you near another cat, I’ll finish what I started.” As an afterthought, he added, “Mewaahahahahahahah.”

Father Christmas Rocky

The coyote cringed.

I spat at him and washed my shoulder as if flicking off the spot of bother he had caused me before meeting my friends in high places. He skulked off as fast as he could go with his tail tucked between his legs.

With a lash of his tail, Rocky went airborne again, and for a moment hovered in front of the bathrobed human with the wings at the top of the carport. “Any more trouble, just sing out, kit,” he said to me.

“Thanks, pal,” I replied. “You’re a life-saver.”

He melted back into the night.

The deer gingerly tip-hoofed their way back toward the yard. I picked up the kitten as gently as I could by the scruff of the neck and turned toward the back yard to see what was left of La Toya and the old man. I didn’t know what the yowling and clanging had been about, but I was sure if La Toya were still alive she’d have come when I started snarling in her kitten’s defense.

Good thing the kitten didn’t have her eyes open yet so she wouldn’t have to see her mama all messed up and bloody. Except—wait. There was no smell of blood, only angry but healthy cats. All was, in fact, quiet now in the back yard. A big rectangular box sat on the lawn under the bird feeder. Cat snores rattled the wire front. Carrying the kitten closer, I saw the latch at the bottom. It would have made a clang when it slammed shut.

My old man and La Toya lay together in a furry puddle near the back of the cage. The scent of salmon still perfumed the air, but not a scale remained inside the cage.

I set the kitten down on the grass, and she clung to my leg, trying to nurse on my toes. A skim of snow covered the ground with the grass spiking up through it. I rowled at La Toya, but she didn’t wake up. See if I ever kitten-sat for her again! I rowled again.

She thrust one paw out, then the other, stretched forward, then put her rump up and stretched back. Her eyes opened, and I think it was then that she remembered she was a new mother. Or maybe it was when her back end went in the air and she realized it was still sore from giving birth.

“How did my kitten get out there?” she asked.

“The question is how you got in there,” I told her. But I thought I knew. I had heard Darcy’s new boyfriend the shelter dude/Sheriff’s deputy (who was not a vampire) talking about the live traps Olympic Mountain Rescue set out for feral cats, baiting them with food and letting the cats enjoy the chow for several days before setting the trap to spring. The wily old con cat who sired me and half the kittens in town had finally been conned himself. Good. And it might be a good thing for La Toya to be taken to the shelter and let her rest up and get some food—except that if she weren’t there for this newborn kitten, the baby was for sure gonna die, because Uncle Spammy did not have the required equipment to help her out.

Small as the kitten was, it was too big to stick through the wire mesh of the cage door. I hoped the people would come soon and pick up the trap. They wouldn’t take me, or if they did, they wouldn’t keep me because I had a personal ID chip that also let me in my personal entrance to my personal home. But I wasn’t sure the kitten could survive in the cold this long.

The kitten was shivering badly now from being out in the air. The sky was lightening, and I could see a thin fuzz of ginger among the white fuzz on her. She was going to be another orange tabby, like me, and like the old man would have been if he weren’t such a matted mess.

La Toya didn’t help matters. She started crying and crying and crying. She woke up the old man, who started cussing in cat, which sounds a lot like crying, only louder. “Maybe you two could shut up?” I said. “You’re safe from predators, but the kid and I aren’t . . .”

La Toya shut up, and with a final growl, so did my pop, though he continued to pace and mutter furiously.

“The snow isn’t good for the baby,” I told them. “I’m taking her back to the manger. Then I’m going to shred that door, and wake up those people to come out and get the trap and the kitten.”

Father Christmas kitten
I snuggled next to the kitten letting her warm up in my fur again and pretend to nurse. She shivered for a long time. After all she and her mother had been through, and now with them separated, I began to worry. What if she didn’t make it?

STAY TUNED! Another installment tomorrow.

FATHER CHRISTMAS, Spam the Cat’s First Christmas, Dec. 15 (3rd installment)

FatherChristmas5web

“Hello there,” I called. “Where are you? The owl’s gone, at least for now. I scared him away.”

“Meaa?” The sound was weak and faint. Another voice, maybe responding to the alarm in the mother’s voice, added, “Me me me . . .” Okay, a queen with a kitten. But where?

I crawled out far enough to look around. “Do that again,” I prompted.

This time there was another growl. And without the owl in the way, I smelled the blood, and my lips curled up. The sound and the smell both came from a rickety wooden step joining the bottom of the house to the ground. I looked around, didn’t see the owl, and in a flash faster than Renfrew could empty a kibble dish, made a four-point landing in front of the step. Hunkering down in the gathering snow, I slunk on my belly to the shallow opening. I stuck my nose in and jerked it back out again, narrowly avoiding the slashing claws of the cat inside.

“Whoa!” I said. “I’m on your side. What’s going on? Did the owl try to take your mouse?”

“Mouse?” she asked.

“Meep!” a small voice squeaked. It wasn’t claiming to be a mouse. It smelled new and catty and bloody, and its cry was puny and shrill. “This is my kitten,” the queen said proudly. “There was another one, but it died. I just had this one, and I will tear you to shreds if you try to hurt her you—you tomcat, you.”

“Why would I do something like that?” I asked. “Some of my best friends used to be kittens, back when I was one. Please, may I come under there too? I don’t know how long that owl will stay gone.” She didn’t say anything, so I scooted a claw length forward with each paw and asked, “Why are you and your kitten out here? It’s snowing.”

“Is that so?” she asked. “Do you think we wouldn’t be inside if we could be? This used to be my house. I’m no stray. A family with a little girl came to my mother when I was a baby and brought me here to live with them and be a friend for the little girl. She dressed me up in doll clothes. I really hated that, but I wouldn’t mind one of those doll blankets now, I can tell you. My poor baby is so c-cold.”

I heard rat-like scrabblings next to her and an occasional meep as the blind kitten stumbled. Its cries were quavery. “If you’ll let me come in, I’ll lie beside you and warm your baby. You can tell me all about it. And I’m not exactly a tomcat. Darcy took me to the vet as soon as I was old enough so I can’t make kittens.”

“Are you sure?” she asked. “The last cat who told me that fathered this one!” Her eyes widened as I blocked some of the light, pulling myself inside, and lay down with my head facing the opposite direction from hers so my tail wrapped around her front and her kitten. The hole went all the way through beneath the step so I could see out the other side.

“You look a little like him, as a matter of fact,” she said, shifting her kitten to a position more comfortable for her. She was a gray-brown tabby whose fur was still matted with rapidly freezing blood and other fluids from giving birth. I snuggled in so that the nursing kitten was sandwiched between us, causing it to “meep” again. “His fur wasn’t as nice though. You do have a lovely coat.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I think I know the cat you’re talking about. He’s my father too. Your kitten is my half-sister.” It may be hard for humans to tell the sex of kittens, but I could smell it. “He makes a lot of kittens, and most of us look like him. I’ve met him though. Kind of nasty.”

“Not if you’re a female in heat,” she said. “Not at first. He got a little rough later, but I sent him off with a nose full of claws. Then my people decided to move. I think Maddy, my little girl, had convinced them to take me with them when they moved; but then when I got pregnant, they just went off and left me. Maybe if they come back and see I only had the one kitten, they’ll take me with them.” Her voice broke, and she disguised her distress by licking her kitten. “They’ve been gone a really long time, and don’t seem to have told anyone else to look after me.”

I was so busy listening to her, feeling sorry for her, wondering if I should tell her what Rocky told me: that her people were probably gone for good and wouldn’t be back, that I didn’t hear the wings until what to my wondering eyes did appear? Long claws of an owl, entirely too near!

New mother cat

New mother cat

The new mom shivered, but I puffed up as big as I could within the confines of the hole and growled. “I thought I told you to hit the clouds, bird! Pfssst!”

The owl didn’t answer this time, but his claws vanished for a split second—then I heard them overhead, on the step, ripping at the rotting wood. One splintering moment later his large eye peered down at us through the hole in the stair. “More than one way to skin a cat,” he said.

“I can’t believe you said that in front of the children!” I scolded.

“I only see the one tender little kitten,” he said. I was glad owls couldn’t lick their beaks and drool, or he’d have been doing that, and it was disgusting.

“She’s not even a beak-full to you,” I said, letting my mouth do the sparring while I figured out what to do with the rest of me—and him. “She’s just newborn and hasn’t even opened her eyes yet, so she can’t be properly terrified of you. Her mom has had a hard time.” It had worked with an eagle I met earlier to tell her about how bad I’d be for her and her babies since while I’m organic I am not exactly additive free, but the owl wasn’t raising babies, and he didn’t give a hoot.

He inserted his talons into the hole and ripped a strip from the stair. I was at a loss for the first time in my young life, really. I am a very clever cat, but he was a very large bird, and I was more impressed than ever with his claws, seeing them at such close range. I could slip outside and attack him, but I hardly had the advantage of surprise. Plus there was nothing to stop him, once I moved, from snatching both the kitten and her mother out of the hole and flying off with them before I could wriggle all the way out from under the stair.

“I want you to think about this carefully,” I told the owl. “You have the reputation for being a wise old bird.” Inspiration struck. “You do realize this is Christmas, don’t you?”

“Why, yes. And as soon as I smelled your friends there, I thought to myself, “Merry Christmas to who? Me!”

“Well, you’re not doing it right,” I told him.

“What?”

“Christmas. Wise creatures aren’t supposed to eat babies for Christmas.”

“Is that so? I would settle for adult housecat if you keep getting in my way.”

“You, you, you. You’re messing up the story. Think about your place in history.”

“How’s that?” At least he didn’t ask “who?” He looked genuinely curious. As I suspected, owls didn’t get wise by declining to acquire new data.

“Wise—uh—things, are supposed to bring presents to babies at Christmas. Check those scenes in some of the yards around here if you don’t believe me. You go on and check it out. We’re not moving.”

He wasn’t that full of scientific curiosity though.

“Yes, I’m afraid you are. Keep talking though. The hot air you’re spouting will give my wings extra lift when it’s time to carry you to my nest.”

He ripped another strip off and looked at my beautiful gold striped body with what struck me as an unwholesome appetite. “You’re a plump one. If I take you, I can come back for the other two later. Nothing personal, you understand. We’re all hunters here, yes?” He jerked back suddenly, flapping and whirling in a feathered storm. “Who? Who’s there?”

“Hey there, big bird, but have you seen a cat around here? Maybe carrying a doll or dragging a box?”

The owl flapped and sat back on the step he’d been destroying so that some of his tail feathers tickled my nose, and I sneezed.

“This is my lucky day,” the owl said. “Cats of all sizes, and now a big fat raccoon.”

“Hey!” Renfrew said. “Be nice! I am worth way more than a meal. I have treasures. Shiny treasures. Like this!” The owl moved away, and I could see out a hole that had opened in the side of the step when the top of the step was ripped open. The snow had stopped, and bright moonlight now reflected alluringly from the surface of the freshly washed metal box thingy in the coon’s paw.

The owl was on him—or on where he had been—in one hop. Renfrew, however, was out on the sidewalk and halfway up the street squealing his head off.

I hollered too, and the mom cat hissed, “If you’re going to carry on like that, get away from us.”

“I’m calling for help,” I told her.

“I’ve cried and cried for help, and all that I get is things that want to eat me,” she mewed.

That didn’t discourage me, but I didn’t argue with her. I’d come to help her after all, hadn’t I? “Can you carry your kitten?”

“Of course I can! I’m her mother!”

“We need to find a better hiding place for you,” I said with a meaningful look at the stars shining down through the hole the owl had ripped in the step. “Maybe under the house?”

“I can’t go there,” she said. “I thought of that when my people first left. There are big rats in there—bigger than I am. They would kill my kitten.”

“Mrrr,” I said, thinking. “Pick her up and walk with me. Well, trot if you can. We need to cross a couple of yards.”

Renfrew had either been eaten by the owl, or had eaten the owl, or both of them were really busy picking through his new treasure. They weren’t in sight as we crossed the darkened yards. The queen tottered with the kitten and had to stop twice to rest, but refused my offer to carry her baby for her.

Finally we made it to the carport, which was where I thought maybe they would be safer, under the roof, amid all of the stone people, who might scare the owl, and up off the ground in the horse trough thing.

I was surprised now to see Buck’s antlers alongside the lit-up deer in the yard, and Nelda and Gelda grazing beside him.

It made me feel better that friends were there. Not that they could be depended upon to defend the new mother. They’re pretty shy. Still, I said, “Hi, deer—uh—Merry Christmas. Good to see you here. This is, uh—”

“La Toya,” the mother cat said through a mouthful of kitten.

“La Toya and her new kitten. An owl has been after her, and so I thought if she got up in that thing—”

“That’s a manger, Spam,” Nelda said. “It’s where the hay was in the original story. The hay the reindeer seek every Christmas as they fly through the sky following the star.”

“Yes, the manger.” La Toya needed a little boost to help her jump up into the hay—there was real hay—but she managed it and laid down, exhausted.

I wanted to do the same thing, but felt like I needed to stand guard at least until morning.