Alice and the Cat


I feel I ought to say, for both these pieces, the prompt has come from the Accentuate Writers forum and consists of the first two sentences, those separated from where my tale takes over. New blood is always welcome there so try out the forum if you are looking for help, advice and all things writerly 🙂

A cloud of dust trailed the old pickup as it sped toward the farmhouse. Alice watched with mild curiosity, her grip on the shotgun tightening,

…but her attention was actually focused on a patch of earth twenty feet from the back porch. Her mind noted the truck hurtle by and swing into the Brown’s weed-strewn lot, Jeff slamming the rusty car door and heading into the house with a readily recognisable brown paper bag in hand.

The dust settled, no further sound issued from the Brown house, and Alice let her body regain balance, her faded blue eyes sweeping back and forth across the yard, waiting, the epitome of patience, the shotgun now resting gently on the window frame. It would come; it had every damn day for a week, but this time she was ready for it.

The scrubby grass by the fence rustled, stilled, parted, and allowed admittance to a rangy, ginger tomcat. He paused, and Alice could have sworn it searched her out, looked her right in the eye, flicked its tail and strolled right over to the patch of dirt. The second it put a paw out, aiming to claw at the ground, Alice let fly.

The report deafened her and forced her back in her chair, but she had many years of hunting behind her and made it back to the window in the twinkle of an eye. The cat was gone and a small crater remained close to the debated patch of earth. Alice knew it was too much to hope that she’d hit the cat; darn thing had a few lives left in it, and it was smart, but maybe she’d done enough to scare it off for good.

‘What under God’s blue sky are you doing, woman?’

Art shuffled in and Alice gave a mental shake of her head. He’d been pretty as a picture, seemed like only yesterday, but he’d let himself go in the three years of their marriage; maybe too far? She brought her attention back to the gun and the window as Art peered out, noting the new excavations.

‘The cat was back’
‘And you shot it? Jesus Christ, Ali, you’ll have the sheriff out here!’
‘So what? I have every right to shoot vermin in my back yard don’t I?

Art shook his head, giving her that disapproving look she was seeing far too often; the look that told her he’d decided he was the alpha male and she was a dimwit who needed his constant orders to live her life straight. He wandered into the yard and she watched him approach the disturbed ground, scuffing at it with the toe of his boot. He paused, cast a slightly puzzled look back at the window and Alice felt her stomach clench, her body tense, already preparing for the inevitable, absently reloading.

Art bent, sieved through the dirt with his stubby, nicotine-stained fingers, fingers that no longer reached for her to make her sing, and came back upright rolling something white between finger and thumb.

“Something here, Ali. You musta hit that cat, girl, cos this sure looks like bone.’

Alice swore, leveled the shotgun and fired as Jeff Brown exited his house and gunned the pickup. He left in a cloud of dust, sound and vision obscured, oblivious to Alice fetching a shovel; the same one she’d used to bury her first husband. Damn cat would be back for sure. Time for a patio, she chuckled and set to her task.

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