Big Red is a moochie cat. He goes by many names Carl, Red, and whatever his human marks want to call him. He makes his rounds every day in search of the elusive canned cat food. The manna of canned cat food is usually the fare of beloved house cats. Red, however, earns his kibble by acting. He is such a good actor he is sure that the humans he mooches off of do not notice his girth. Big red is a big fat cat. Yet, the humans fall for his starving cat routine every time. He does his kitty version of puppy eyes and adds a pathetic meow. Every once in a while he scores the coveted canned cat food. He is admired by the stray and feral cats for far and wide for his acting skills. Still, Big Red is plagued by memories of a certain long-eared dog he was sure could fly. He left home to avoid the dragon-like baby basset hound and still nervously watches the sky.
The cat, big and rounded and pleased with himself and with a satisfying look on his face walked down the alley. His tail swooshed from left to right as its paws gracefully tapped the solid earth. It had been a great one for the cat even though he did not get what he wanted initially. But it was still a full stomach all the same and a full stomach meant a nice night of dreamless sleep. Carl did not like what he dreamt about when he was still a kitten. His dreams always sent his eyes flying wide open and whiskers dripping with sweat. He would then find it difficult to go back to sleep. His dream was a recurrent one too; a basset hound puppy swooshing down from the sky to grab him by his ears and carries him high up into the scary sky; a dream that came about when he had a little skirmish with a basset hound puppy as a kitten.
Carl or Big Red as he is fondly called is one cat that leaves a lasting impression on the mind. He didn’t look like a stray at all. His stomach was big and rounded and his walk always has this lazy feel to it like the earth underneath his feet is soft. Big Red minded his business in the alley but would speak out when spoken to. Little kittens, whose parents were strays, would always come around Big Red because of the stories he told. They all looked up to him as a hero and one worthy of emulation. Big Red doesn’t disappoint in his act. He would go out every day and return with stories the next day of a world the little kittens could only imagine.
The other strays have at one time or another cornered Big Red to ask him questions about things they feel they should know about him. So this evening isn’t different as Big Red walked nimbly on his purrs looking for shelter he would rest his head in for the night. A black cat was the first to stop him. The cat, a beautiful, Russian Blue baited her lids and rubbed her tail against Big Red’s whiskers. She turned around and walked slowly around him, her eyes darting around him hoping no one was going to see her.
“Big Red, I have been meaning to ask you…”
The voice, it sounded like tambourines in the ears of Big Red. He turned around quickly cleared his throat:
“Meaning to ask me? I am all ears.” Big Red replied.
“Well, it is nothing really. I have been around for a while and I know that the alleys don’t have food. Your body, your coat, the way you walk, it all shows satisfaction. What is the secret?” She asked.
Big Red looked at the beautiful cat in his front and meowed in admiration. The cat was surprised. He has met a lot of female cats but none had the unique beauty of this feline.
“There is no secret. It is just the food windfall favoring me a little bit above others.” Big Red replied.
“I disagree… I don’t think so. I feel there is something you know that the rest of us do not.”
The cat did not finish her statement before another joined them in the middle of the alley. This time, it was a Siamese. The newcomer did not even bother to beat around the topic, he came straight and direct.
“Big Red, everyone has been trying to look like you but none of them has made any progress. You look like you just came out for a stroll from one of these big houses. Do you feed on their food?”
Big Red looked at the two cats in his front. If he had known, he would have turned through another alley. Not only was this tiring, it was also pitiful as the other cats looked different from him.
“Okay… It is not some magic. I am a little bit different from you lot. Not only do I get what I want, the humans really cannot tell that I am well fed. I perfected an act and that act is what sustains me this moment.”
The other cats whose numbers continue to swell looked on in awe as Big Red suddenly twirled around. He flicked his tail and moved two of his ears back a bit then suddenly focused his sharp eyes on them. Slowly his pupil dilated and expanded. The effect of that on the other cats was unique.
“Awwn…” They all meowed, “…what lovely eyes you’ve got?”
“I wish I had something like this…”
“This isn’t just a secret, it feels like a spell…”
The comments kept flowing with none of them taking note as Big Red leaped a little above them, danced to the side and continued his journey. His mind was a barrage of thoughts. The cats may be fancying how their lives would be if they knew how to do the same tricks that Big Red could do but they didn’t know about the sacrifices they have to make.
Big Red turned left and walked through a crack just big enough for him to wriggle through. Inside the dimly lit room was a pillow made of straw. Big Red looked at it and yawned very long. He would sleep tonight and go scavenging for more food the following day. He shook his head a little bit as he remembered the danger associated with the little magic he performed.
Big Red adjusted himself on the pillow and was soon dozing off. It didn’t take long for his eyes to shut to this one and open up in the dream world. The world he didn’t tell the other cats about. The world where he tried his charms on the humans hoping that someday he would get the priced food his mentor, Shake Em Down Sphere always spoke about, a canned cat food. The world where he always had to defend himself against dogs who try to chase him off the pouch of the houses he went to beg by scratching their nose; the world where none of his dreams was fulfilled. A world of bassets, beagles and strange looking hounds with long ears.
“Goodnight world…” Carl whispered slowly as he fell deeper into his world of dreamless periods of sleep.