Johnny America


Cat Con­tract


Be­cause y’know… I was just stand­ing there when this cat of­fered to sell it­self to me. I felt a lit­tle weird about it. Yeah. But that did­n’t mean that I was­n’t go­ing to con­sid­er it. It’s not like it was a stray or any­thing like that. It cer­tain­ly did­n’t look like it was. It was in a car­ri­er and every­thing. It sat in there peer­ing out ca­su­al­ly, of­fer­ing to sell it­self to me. Seemed like a per­fect­ly ra­tio­nal de­ci­sion. Seemed like a per­fect­ly ra­tio­nal thing to do if it were, in fact, ra­tio­nal. I knew full well that cats didn’t talk or any­thing like that. But I was OK with it. And it of­fered it­self for $20. I fig­ured it was­n’t re­al­ly that big a deal; if any­thing, it would be an in­ter­est­ing sto­ry. So I reached in­to my wal­let and pulled out the $20. And I hand­ed it to the cat. The cat pawed the $20 and put it in the far cor­ner of the car­ri­er. I fig­ured, you know, if I came to a po­si­tion where I re­al­ly need­ed the mon­ey, I could just reach in and take it. Emp­ty out the cat and just take the $20 back. Sim­ple as that. So I was off. With this cat in the car­ri­er. This cat which was now mine.

It was a big sur­prise for the kids. Sud­den­ly we’ve got a cat. My wife seemed OK with it. She’d been mean­ing to get a new cat for a while. I would’ve ex­pect­ed my sto­ry about how I picked it up to be a lit­tle bit more in­ter­est­ing to them. I guess they prob­a­bly just had a thought I was jok­ing about it. Which is to­tal­ly un­der­stand­able. I mean… I can com­plete­ly iden­ti­fy with the idea that they would think that I was just jok­ing about that. Be­cause one sim­ply is­n’t se­ri­ous about that sort of thing, are they?

When the kids were off do­ing their school­work and my wife was read­ing in bed, the cat got my at­ten­tion. I went in to meet with it. I did­n’t ex­pect the scam I got; though hon­est­ly, it was­n’t a scam ex­act­ly. But the cat was­n’t re­al­ly play­ing fair. Not that I would ever ex­pect a fe­line to play fair. They are in­her­ent­ly self­ish crea­tures. Not that that’s a judg­ment call or any­thing like that. It’s just that cats don’t hap­pen to be… tra­di­tion­al­ly so­cial. And so they can be very self­ish. I kind of re­spect that about them.

Any­way, the cat had ex­plained to me that he kind of liked the place­ment and every­thing. He was per­fect­ly will­ing to stay. I had bought him, but I on­ly had bought him “on spec.” I hadn’t con­trac­tu­al­ly spec­i­fied that I would buy him for­ev­er any­thing like that. Or even un­til he died. All nine times or what­ev­er. The agree­ment was that I would buy him. And own him. Noth­ing ever spec­i­fied for how long. So it was at the cat’s dis­cre­tion as to when it was that I would no longer own him. I guess that made a lot of sense. There was no agree­ment be­yond the ba­sic transaction.

And so there were ne­go­ti­a­tions. The cat had a con­tract drawn up. I felt as though I was very shrewd in my deal­ings with the cat. The ne­go­ti­a­tion went ex­treme­ly well. I had got­ten quite a bit out of it. How­ev­er, it seemed kind of strange to be pay­ing it on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and agree­ing to all of those oth­er things that I’d agreed to. Again, I sort of fig­ured that went with it be­ing a cat and every­thing that none of the con­tract with the hold up in a court of law. But I did­n’t want to push it.

With the con­tract signed every­thing was quite cool. I felt very good about the deal. The kids liked play­ing with the cat. The cat seemed to like play­ing with the kids. How­ev­er, it did­n’t talk to them the way it talked to me. It didn’t talk to my wife the way you talk to me. I had this fifty page con­tract with this pet that on­ly con­sid­ered it­self to be on speak­ing terms with me. And it’s not like it’s and of the con­tract was com­plete­ly un­rea­son­able or any­thing like that. The cat did what it need­ed to do and in ex­change I gave it what it want­ed. Kind of weird watch­ing a cat curl up in­to someone’s lap due to a con­trac­tu­al oblig­a­tion, but it seemed as sin­cere as any pet when it was purring or whatever.

Hon­est­ly every­thing seemed very clear and ra­tio­nal. Every­thing seemed very sol­id. Very down to earth. Every now and again the cat and I would have a very busi­nesslike ex­change. Maybe we talked pol­i­tics for a lit­tle bit. And then it would go back to do­ing what cats do with my kids and my wife and so on.

There was noth­ing in the con­tract that specif­i­cal­ly said that I had to live with my fam­i­ly. Or that they had to live with me. I sus­pect that the cat felt as though it was un­able to keep up with his usu­al busi­ness due to the con­stant time con­straints of play­ing with the kids and hav­ing the kids play with him. So it set-up a few fake pro­files and ac­counts on so­cial me­dia. Be­fore long it man­aged to con­vince my wife that I was cheat­ing on her with younger woman. It had paid close at­ten­tion to the idio­syn­crasies of my writ­ing style and was able to deft­ly fab­ri­cate fic­tion­al af­fairs that I was pur­port­ed­ly hav­ing with a few oth­er women. Ac­tu­al­ly, I kind of re­spect the way the cat wrote very in­tri­cate de­tails in­to things that felt to­tal­ly be­liev­able. E‑mails and those in­stant mes­sages and things like that; all very be­liev­able. A part of me half-wished the women in ques­tion re­al­ly ex­ist­ed. There were mo­ments where I kind of won­dered if I might have been los­ing it on some lev­el. Cats don’t re­al­ly talk, do they?

Filed under Fiction on March 8th, 2019

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