The food called tuna rolled around in his mouth like ambrosia. Clearly Sheldon had been right. When they had first emerged from the lower canyon, Zay had been afraid of the human shouting above. Sheldon had explained that not all of man-kind was to be feared and that he himself had adopted this particular female. Zay had followed the cat across the black-top surface and into a garden where he was offered food and water. Reluctant at first to taste the canned meat, Zay acquiesced after his stomach had made a loud growling noise. He had to live in this world and would need to adapt to the cuisine it had to offer.
The tall human female was named Jane and Sheldon was quick to point out to Zay that she belonged to him, marking her skirt with his hair and rubbing contentedly on her legs while emitting a curious whirring sound. Zay’s green eyed gaze followed the two around the garden as he greedily enjoyed his lunch.
“Your friend sure is hungry,” Jane announced while opening another can. “Something is wrong with his leg though,” she bent to examine the splint and Zay to shied away from her out stretched hand. “I won’t hurt you.” The woman held her fingers out as if Zay was interested in smelling them. When he refused to approach, she backed away leaving more fish behind. He wanted to somehow thank her, but was uncertain how to demonstrate his gratitude.
Perhaps if he moved ever so slowly toward her legs and rubbed like Sheldon had, she might understand his contentment. Standing just behind her and beneath her long skirt, Zay looked up. The human was large compared to Zay’s smallest form and he considered changing shape, but discarded the idea since Sheldon had not transformed. He could see her long legs in the relative darkness and deftly swept his thin body across her bare shins. In reaction, Jane bent down and moved her skirt out of the way to stroke his soft grey fur.
“You are a handsome one, aren’t you?” It seemed like Jane was the one who purred in delight while she carefully examined the damaged leg. “Someone has tried to heal you…”
Zay fixed a stare on the human. He looked at Sheldon for guidance, and when none was forthcoming, he backed away slowly. Zay tried speaking in the cat’s language, but the human responded no better to that than when he had tried to speak in her own, telling her he was hungry. Maybe she just could not understand his accent.
Leg throbbing with every step, Zay hid under a nearby planter and peered out in confusion. He needed to catch his breath and maybe nap. It had been one of the most difficult days of his life…and it was not over yet. Relatively safe under the ferns, Zay let his mind drift as he closed his eyes and faded into slumber.
There had been many strays that had wandered up from the canyons to the old house in past years. It seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary for Jane to feed and worry over yet another wayward soul. If she could not locate the grey cat’s family, this invader was potentially a new resident. Jane took a quick snapshot of the cat underneath her raised pottery, and went inside to run off a few copies of the portrait. When she went into town, she planned to post the image in several conspicuous places hoping to launch a campaign to find the owner.
Enlarging the picture, Jane examined the cat’s fine grey fur and subtle striping. He was unique and beautiful. Surely it would be an easy matter to locate someone who would claim the small creature as their own. Unable to identify the rush of sudden emotion that accompanied her thought, she tried to wave away the desire to keep the cat. Maybe she had just become a hoarder in her old age, but there was no doubt in her mind that she wanted the new cat to remain with her and Sheldon. With an unrestrained passion, Jane clicked the single key that deleted the photograph permanently from her data base. “Whatever has gotten into me?”
If he was going to stay, he needed a name. “Purrfect,” she tried out the sound. “Rascal, Spider, Simon, Randal, Raspberry…” none seemed just right. “Zay!” Oh how she liked the sound of that one!
Cyrus drove like a madman to the bend in the road where he had spotted the woman. She could not have been going far. He slowed down and scanned the home that sat on the other side of the road for clues. Pulling the white van into the long driveway, he waited near the mailbox feeling more than a little foolish and turning over the words in his mind choosing exactly what he would say. “Hello, I saw you on the road this morning…” Cyrus cringed. There was the real possibility that the woman would slam the door in his face.
Driven by the need to find the rock and so save his reputation, Cyrus put the van in gear and moved slowly toward the house, parking across from a garden. He climbed from the van and tried to paint a smile on his tired features.
“Didn’t you read the sign?” the unmistakable sound of a shotgun mechanism allowing the shell to contact inside the barrel registered in his hearing and the scientist froze. “It said absolutely no trespassing.”
Cyrus slowly raised his hands in submission. “Look, Lady, I don’t want any trouble…” he turned around to see a small dark man with Asian eyes peering at him intently.
“If you came here to see the misses, you’ve made a mistake,” the man did not lower his weapon.
“No…I…I’m in the wrong place,” clearly this was not the right house. “I’m looking for a nice lady…maybe so tall,” he gestured moving slowly, “wears straw hats and walks into the canyon?”
The man squinted eyes that were already slits. “We’ve seen our share of troubles up here. Just go before I call the police.” He heard Cyrus sigh and perhaps felt a twinge of sympathy, “You might be looking for Jane…next house. Don’t be fooled though…she can take care of herself. If you’ve come for trouble, Jane Withers will be the one to give it to you.”
Nodding and climbing back into his vehicle, Cyrus watched as the man with the gun never looked away. Apparently Jane Withers, the woman who had stolen his meteor was someone to be reckoned with.