Ghost Cat

A little girl and her ghost cat fight crime in a city overrun with hooligans.

Sally Young was six years old when she met Fancy. He was busy rummaging through the trash in a back alley looking for food. He was a scrawny old cat who had already run through most of his nine lives. Most humans chased him away, but not Sally. She knelt and looked him square in the eyes. “Hello, pretty kitty. Are you hungry?” She dug through her pockets and pulled out a handful of jelly beans, offering them to the stray. The old cat sniffed at the air then cautiously approached the little girl’s hand. He sniffed at the offering and not wishing to insult the little one’s generous nature licked a jelly bean into his mouth. It was difficult for him to chew and Sally was soon laughing at the old cat’s faces as he tried to eat the sugar laden treat.

Sally felt sorry for the old raggedy cat and dug through the contents of the can until she found a piece of chicken to offer him. Fancy tried to spit out the sticky candy but it was stuck to his teeth. “Here, let me help you get that out.” He held open his mouth while she pried it loose then quickly snatched up the piece of chicken and ran off to eat it in private. He had been laughed at enough already. When he finally reemerged from behind the cans, she had another piece of chicken waiting for him. While he ate that piece, she removed the foam container from the trash can and slid it to the back where he could eat in peace. “There you go, kitty. I have to go home now.”

The following day it rained. Sally wore a matching raincoat, rain hat, and boots. In her pocket she had tucked an empty margarine container with some leftover fish inside. The trash had been picked up earlier that morning, before the rain started. There was no sign of the cat. Sally sighed and started to walk back toward home when she heard a faint mewing from beneath some old boards leaning against a fence. “Oh, there you are kitty! I brought you some nice catfish. I hope you like butter.” She pulled off the lid and slid the bowl under the lean-to. It was at that moment that Fancy adopted Sally.

Not that Sally knew she had been adopted by Fancy. As far as Sally was concerned they were just good friends. Fancy had managed to track Sally down to her back yard where the girl was busy making mud pies and building mud men and generally getting as filthy as humanly possible. When she was done playing in the mud she ran as fast as she could and jumped into a small backyard pool, splashing water everywhere and shrieking with laughter. Fancy heard the shrieks and misunderstood. Thinking that Sally was going to drown he ran as fast as he could and jumped into the pool with her. Finding that the little girl was in no danger, he swam over to the step ladder and climbed out of the pool.

After rinsing off all the muck, Sally climbed out of the pool and grabbed a nearby towel to dry herself off. She could hear her mother calling her through the screen door. It was time for her to come inside and get dressed for dinner. She quickly grabbed a towel and before Fancy could react, bundled the cat up and carried him inside to her room. She carefully unwrapped the towel and told the cat to be quiet and hide whenever her mother came to clean the room. Fancy was having none of that nonsense and bolted for the door the first chance he got. Sally’s mother let him out as soon as she discovered him yowling at the screen door. Sally pouted through dinner. Although she ate her meal, she didn’t talk to anyone.

Sally did see Fancy off and on after that day. Occasionally, he would accompany her on walks around the block. When she went back to school, Fancy would wait for her to return by resting in the sun on her front porch. She had come to accept that Fancy would never be a house cat, but he would come to visit her in her room whenever his window was open. She talked her mother into buying a small dog house with windows. Her mother installed a cat flap over the entrance to keep out the bad weather.

The following summer Sally met a man who offered to buy her ice cream if she would take a ride with him. Fancy hopped up to the top of a fence and hissed at the man. Just as he reached for Sally’s arm, Fancy pounced on the man’s face. Sally had never seen Fancy act like that before and it frightened her enough that she ran home to tell her mother about it. Her mother was shocked and puzzled. Her mother sat her down and told her the sad news that Fancy had passed away.

“I didn’t tell you about it because you never asked where he was. He died from the cold last winter, but I didn’t find his body until the dog house started to smell. I kept it just in case you adopted another stray. I’m so sorry, Sally.”

“You’re wrong. Fancy isn’t dead. It’s a lie. Take it back.” Sally ran off to her bedroom and buried her head under her pillow. A few minutes later she felt a familiar nuzzle and heard an all too familiar purr. “Oh, Fancy, I knew you weren’t dead.” She picked up the cat and walked down the hall to show her mother.

While Sally pouted in her room, her mother called the police to report the incident. Just as she was hanging up the phone Sally appeared in the kitchen with a smile on her face. “Mom, look! I told you Fancy wasn’t dead. He came in my window.” She lifted her arms to show the cat to her mother.

A puzzled look crossed her mother’s face. “But Sally, there’s nothing there. Either he’s gone invisible or – I can’t believe I’m saying this – or he’s a ghost. And as I buried his body under the dog house, I know he’s dead.”

“Oh, cool. You hear that Fancy? You’re a ghost cat!” Sally turned around and skipped back to her room with Fancy cradled in her arms. The man with the van that had been trying to lure kids into being kidnapped was easily identified and arrested due to the multiple scratches on his arms and face from Fancy’s attack.

Sally still went for walks with Fancy venturing a little farther from home because she was a whole year older than when they first met. As she passed a neighbor’s house one day, she saw a stranger entering the back yard of the house. “Hey mister! They aren’t home!”

“Shh! Little girl, I’m preparing a surprise for them. Now run along home.”

“I don’t think so.” Sally strode up to the stranger. “You should leave, or else.”

“Or else what? Are you going to sic your cat on me?”

“You can see him?”

“Of course, I can see him! He’s just some scrawny old alley cat.”

Fancy took umbrage at the would-be burglar’s remarks and pounced. When he landed, he was a full-grown cougar. The burglar was knocked over, hit his head on the concrete patio, and rendered unconscious. Before leaving him, Fancy took a signature swipe at his face, marking him as a criminal. Sally went home and told her mother about Fancy becoming a fierce lion and knocking out a man trying to break into a neighbor’s house. Her mother dismissed it as a fanciful story.

A week later the burglar tried to rob a convenience store and was easy to identify because of the cat scratches across his face. As Sally and her mother watched the evening news, the burglar’s face appeared on the screen. “That’s him! Mommy, that’s the guy who tried to rob the house.”

As Sally’s walks became longer, her encounters with thugs and petty criminals increased, but Fancy the ghost cat was always with her to deal with them.

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