A uStory by Gregga J. Johnn
Luke woke up feeling hot and bothered all over. He tried to sit up, but the queasy feeling in his tummy upset that idea.
“What’s up kiddo?” Dad ran the back of his fingers across the boy’s sweaty brow. “You seem to have quite a fever there.”
“I don’t feel good, Dad.” Luke groaned slightly and took a little sip of water.
“Well, I guess you get to stay home today.”
The consolation of a day snuggling in bed watching TV was enough to curl the corners of Luke’s lips, even if he did feel yuckier than he’d like to.
A nest was made on the fold out couch-bed downstairs, with a cold drink and plain toast on hand and Luke curled up after swallowing some mild pain meds to help lower his fever and ease his achy muscles. A parental diagnosis of “nasty cold” was delivered and Dad set himself up with some work to do in the garage.
When Luke woke up out of his snooze, he was comforted to find their rather ancient cat, Elliot, snoring heavily and stretched out across the bed next to him. Luke reached for the TV remote and Elliot sat up, shaking his head rather suddenly. Luke giggled and scratched the kitty’s head. Elliot pushed his head against Luke’s hand appreciatively and purred loudly.
“That feels so good.” Elliot purred continuously.
Luke froze and retracted his hand, quite startled.
“Don’t stop!” Elliot looked intently at Luke’s hand and stepped toward it sniffing and pushing his head into Luke’s fingers.
Luke pulled his hands all the way up to his chin in a surprised double fist, then pointed with both hands, questioning the furry face,
“Yes, I’m done being quiet.” Elliot licked his whiskers.
Luke’s mind scrambled to take in this awesomely, cool news. His cat had just talked to him. What should they talk about?
“What is it between cats and dogs, exactly?” Luke asked the first question that came to mind.
“It’s all a facade. We can’t allow our true relationship to be guessed.”
There was a pause and Luke waited. Elliot blinked at him. Luke waited patiently for another two seconds, then blurted,
“And that relationship is . . . ?”
“I can’t tell you that.” Elliot was matter of fact. “If I did, I’d have to kill you.”
Luke laughed out loud,
“Then why did you talk to me?”
“I was bored, and I’m far too old to be playing all these games anymore.”
Elliot jumped off the couch-bed and began stalking toward the kitchen.
“Where are you going?”
“Mom emptied the frying pan from breakfast into the trash. I love the taste of bacon grease in the morning.”
“Is that why you’re always dumpster diving, for bacon grease?” Luke followed the cat into the kitchen.
Elliot was already standing up with his front paws on the lid sniffing around the edge. The trash can tipped over, its contents splattered on the floor.
“Why do you make such a mess, all the time?” Luke sighed, “just for bacon grease?”
“Oh, bacon grease is worth it, but that’s not the only reason.” Elliot was licking the savoury drips off an old electrical plug that had ceased working yesterday and was thus been left in the trash. He lifted the plug with one paw and investigated the wiring carefully with one eye. “I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now.”
Carrying the plug in his mouth, Elliot slunk downstairs. Luke was feeling a bit dizzy, but followed carefully down into the coolness of the basement. At the bottom, Luke spied Elliot’s tail flickering behind the washing machine.
“Where are you going with that?” Luke called out.
“To my lab,” Elliot poked his head back around and winked at Luke, “if I tell you more, I may have to kill you yet.”
Luke sat on the floor and leant up against the washing machine. Elliot’s voice echoed from behind.
“It’s been a big morning for you.” He reappeared and rubbed up against Luke’s bent knees. “Let’s go back to the couch for now and I’ll tell you more details later.
Luke was genuinely feeling quite awful and so agreed. He staggered back upstairs through to the couch-bed and collapsed into a feverish nap. When he woke again, Elliot was snoring loudly and stretched out beside him. Dad came in to see if he was ok,
“Hey, kiddo. How are you feeling?”
“Still a little dizzy.”
“Elliot’s been dumpster diving in the kitchen again.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Elliot rolled over and yawned silently, looking entirely satisfied with his cat nap.
Dad ruffled the fur on his head and Elliot pushed his head into the scratch.
Dad smiled and said,
“I don’t know why he always makes such a mess.”
Luke looked at Elliot, who was purring with closed eyes, and suggested,
“He can probably just smell the bacon grease.”
“Well,” Dad replied, “I can understand the appeal of that.” He stood, “I’ll be in the garage a little longer if you need me.”
“Ok dad.” Luke scratched Elliot the way he’d said he like it and watched the cat watching him.
Once dad had exited the room, Elliot said,
“Maybe I won’t have to kill you . . . yet.” Then he curled up into a ball and purred in happy contentment.
Luke turned on the TV and ate his cold toast, feeling slightly better, but hoping he’d be sick again tomorrow.