Spotted Cats

Spotted Cats by William G. Tapply Read Free Book Online

Book: Spotted Cats by William G. Tapply Read Free Book Online
Authors: William G. Tapply
won’t come. Wait. Let me get scissors.’
    She left and returned a minute later with a pair of long shears. She sliced through the tape on the back of my head and began to peel it off. I squeezed my eyes shut against the sharp pain of my hair being uprooted. She did it slowly, so that each hair was dragged outgone at a time, each a separate dart of pain. I wanted to tell her just to give the tape a good yank. But, of course, I couldn’t speak, because there was tape over my mouth. If there hadn’t been tape over my mouth, I wouldn’t have needed to speak.
    Irrelevantly, it reminded me of the old childhood joke:
    ‘Hey, you’ve got a banana in your ear.’
    ‘Sorry. I can’t hear you. I’ve got this banana in my ear.’
    As she dragged the tape away from my cheeks and mouth, it seemed as if several layers of skin came off with it. Tears welled up in my eyes.
    When it was off, I whooshed out a great breath. ‘Man!’ I said. ‘You should’ve just given it a big quick yank.’ My voice was a croak.
    She smiled. ‘Sorry.’
    ‘Are you all right?’ I said through stiff and swollen lips.
    ‘Me?’ She nodded. ‘Sure. I’m fine.’
    ‘What about Jeff?’
    ‘Still asleep, I suppose.’
    ‘Go see.’
    ‘Your hands…’
    ‘Lily, for Christ sake, go check on Jeff, will you?’
    She stared at me for an instant, then nodded.
    She was back a minute later. Her eyes were wide. ‘He’s not there. He’s gone.’
    ‘Get my hands. Quick.’
    She worked at the tape with her scissors and soon she had them free. My arms fell beside me, dead senseless weights. I tried to lift them. It was as if they were not attached to my body. I couldn’t even wiggle a finger.
    ‘My arms won’t move,’ I told her. ‘Help me get my clothes on.’
    She tugged my pants up on to my legs. ‘Brady, the jaguars are gone.’
    ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘That’s what they were after.’ I arched my back so she could yank my pants up around my waist.
    ‘Jeff…?’ she said.
    ‘Lily, my sweatshirt.’
    She started to jam my limp arms into my sweatshirt.
    ‘Was anything else missing?’ I said, groaning as she manoeuvred my numb limbs.
    ‘I don’t know,’ she said, frowning as she worked on my clothing. ‘The furniture’s all shoved around and cabinets and drawers are open. I haven’t really had a chance to check. I noticed the cats were gone. Then I came in to get you.’ She tugged the bottom of my sweatshirt down over my stomach.
    Sensation was returning to my arms as blood began to course through the constricted veins and arteries. The pain was exquisite. I whooshed out a deep breath.
    ‘It must hurt,’ said Lily. She began to massage my shoulders.
    ‘It hurts like hell. Rubbing me doesn’t help.’
    She jerked her hands away. ‘Sorry.’
    I pivoted around awkwardly so that I was sitting on the edge of the bed beside her. Lily was still wearing her slinky nightgown. ‘Will you for Christ sake get some clothes on,’ I said. ‘We’ve got to see what Jeff’s up to.’
    She nodded and left the room.
    I lurched to my feet and staggered into the living-room. The big glass cases where the jaguars used to live sat on the long table beside the fireplace where they always did. But the cats had escaped. The sofa had been shoved aside so that the carpet was wrinkled, and one of the big chairs lay on its back. One drawer from Jeff’s desk had been pulled out and tipped upside down on to the floor. The others hung open. Papers were scattered everywhere.
    I yelled for Jeff.
    No answer.
    I went out on to the patio and yelled again. Jeff did not answer. I called for the dogs. They did not come bounding up to me.
    I had started down the path towards the gate when Lily caught up to me. She had donned denim overalls over a pink sleeveless T-shirt. She had wrapped a blue bandana around her hair. Bare feet. Daisy Mae Yokum. Fetching.
    Lily was hugging herself. ‘Brady, where is he?’
    ‘I don’t know.’
    ‘Jeff!’ It was a scream,

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