Twitch rocks the bowtie.
“For the record, Kitten, doing catnip was your idea, not mine.”
“Be that as it may, Twitch, it wasn’t my boneheaded idea to microwave it wrapped in foil!”
“How was I supposed to know that would happen? You’re always complaining that you don’t like your stuff cold so I wanted to heat it up, and I thought that the microwave would bring out the aromas in the catnip. Which it did by the way, so you’re welcome. Too bad our human Chris got rid of that dog. I miss the days when I could blame all our mishaps on him.”
“First of all they’re your mishaps, Twitch, so leave me out of this. Second, why would a dog microwave catnip? For that matter it was also your less-than-brilliant idea to throw two cheeseburgers, also wrapped in foil, into the microwave once you saw the sparks from the catnip.”
“I thought they’d cancel each other out, or something. Besides, I only added in those cheeseburgers because I know that you get hungry when you have catnip. Excuse me for being so thoughtful.”
“Twitch, what are we going to do with you? Chris is out a microwave and the whole house must smell like burned catnip and cheeseburgers. I’m glad we’re not there right now, but where are we? The last thing I remember was a bright light when you blew up the microwave and now we’re … here.”
Mr. Kitten and Twitch surveyed the bleak urban landscape before them. The streets were full of potholes, the sidewalks were cracked with piles of garbage strewn about, and the buildings looked in disrepair with most windows either boarded up or broken. They also saw rough-looking people on the street with many standing in groups with no obvious purpose. Twitch looked up and saw a street sign barely legible beneath the graffiti covering its surface.
“Kitten, I don’t think this is a question of where we are, but when. Look at this sign and the one across the street. We’re in our neighborhood, but it’s not as we know it. I remember Chris mentioning how bad this area used to be before the tech companies moved in and gentrified it. We’re in the bad old days; I don’t see a Sumerian Systems Store or a Balanced Meal market anywhere around here.”
“Come on Twitch, let’s get out of here. I don’t like the looks of this place. I think that guy over there is a pimp and we’re standing in front of a crack house. I’ve seen enough movies to know it when I see it.”
The two cats walked nervously down the street, trying to avoid staring intently at any of the angry-looking humans. They saw a group of kids dressed in uniform colors that suggested that they were gang members. At that moment a voice called out from the narrow alley between two buildings,
“Get in here, quickly!”
The two cats ducked into the space, both of them thinking that there was something familiar about that voice that they heard. Mr. Kitten and Twitch saw a gray cat before them. He looked emaciated from poor nutrition and had a mangy coat, yet he carried himself with a sense of street-smart confidence.
“Those kids are up to no good, like always. They go around committing acts of vandalism just for the hell of it, and they like torturing whatever animals they come across. They broke a pigeon’s wings yesterday just for fun and word has it that they set a stray cat on fire last week and then laughed about it. Believe me; you don’t want them laying their grubby mitts on you. I suggest you stay here until they find something else to occupy their time.”
“Thanks for the save.”
“No prob, we cats gotta look out for each other. By the way, the name’s Anton and I don’t mean no disrespect, but you two look like a coddled pair of house cats who wouldn’t last five minutes on these mean streets.”
Twitch narrowed his eyes and replied,
“Who says we’re coddled house cats?”
“Come on; look at that silly bow tie. I wouldn’t be caught dead with one of those things.”
Twitch self-consciously passed a paw over his bow tie.
“This was a gift from my human. She took a great picture of me wearing it for her book.”
“Like I said, I don’t mean any disrespect. I just calls it as I sees it. So what are your names?”
Mr. Kitten and Twitch introduced themselves and then looked at each other and nodded in mutual understanding. Was this really their supervisor Anton Fitzgibbon the Chaircat in his youth? Considering his sharply pressed suits and unwavering professional demeanor, Mr. Kitten and Twitch expected him to have a more glamorous background.
Anton knocked over a nearby garbage can, spilling its contents onto the pavement. He clawed open garbage bag and began sifting through the contents.
“While we’re waiting for the coast to clear, we can at least get something to eat. Check this out, there’s some good eats in here.”
Mr. Kitten wrinkled his nose as his face made a queasy expression. Anton pawed Kitten’s ample frame.
“There ain’t no filet mignon in there, house cat, and judging by your girth maybe you can use a change in your diet. Come on, there’s no harm in some dumpster diving. I can see you’re not used to this so stick with me and I’ll show you what’s safe to eat because you sure don’t wanna get sick off this stuff.”
Mr. Kitten shrugged and followed his future supervisor’s advice. Mr. Kitten wondered if this was the first time he ever actually listened to what Anton said. Twitch dived in with more enthusiasm and made an audible nomming sound. Anton erupted into a good-natured laugh.
“You guys are alright. You guys look like you took a wrong turn when your human went to Rosenbloom’s. Am I right? You didn’t fall out of her purse, did you? Stick with me and you’ll be fine. I can tell that your human loves you a lot and takes good care of you, so I’ll help you guys get home. No cat should be separated from his adoring human.
“My human does what he can for me, but he can’t do too much. He’s in and out of jail and he’s mostly on the lam when he’s out. He leaves me alone for long stretches and comes back when the heat’s off, but in between those visits I have plenty of time to learn my way around these streets. I also have plenty of time to walk around in some nicer parts of town and even more time to think of a plan to get out of this ghetto. Not now, of course, since my human loves me and he’s the best friend I’ve got, so I don’t want to go too far just yet.”
Anton slowly walked to the alley’s exit and peered out into the street. He then turned to the two cats,
“Come on guys, the coast is clear. My human taught me all about the importance of scoping out a place before you stick your paws in it. Let’s go to my place first and we can come up with a plan from there.”
They watched Anton deftly exit the alley. Mr. Kitten and Twitch faced each other for a moment before they followed him. Twitch spoke first,
“I’ve never seen Ditzy Fitzy without a suit. It looked so wrong.”
Mr. Kitten rolled his eyes.
“Insightful as always. Let’s go and see if Anton can help us get home.”
Twitch darted out of the alley after Anton and Mr. Kitten followed at a steady trot. As he stepped out onto the broken sidewalk, Mr. Kitten wondered whether this time-traveling misadventure would give him some new insight into his uptight boss Anton. He then wondered if he should feel remorse for shedding on Anton’s suit back in the present, but he quickly perished that silly thought.