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Jones' Last Hunt

Pirate Jones was tired. He ached from his whiskers to the tip of his tail, which was strange, since the tip of his tail had been missing for years. He stopped his pacing, checking to see if it had reappeared. No, just another phantom pain. He circled his shed in the backyard, weaving along the tall grass and slinking around corners. He glanced skyward, watching the black cloud of crows, the mass murder of crows, flying into the setting sun. He yawned.

Tiger Jones was tired. His teeth ached. He sat beside his shed, cleaning a paw as he watched the lights in the house come on. His orange fur was thinning, his skin clung to him like a tawny cloth draped over a skeleton. “Skinny-Bones,” the woman called him. He tilted his head to one side as he watched the couple move about, the woman standing in the yellow glow of the kitchen, the man sitting in the blue cast of the television. I’m old, Jones realized. He tried to count the years, but cats aren’t so good with numbers, and he lost count quickly. Jones cleaned his paws until he became bored, then wandered to the door of the shed. He sniffed at his bowl. The dry food didn’t smell appetizing. Not hungry, he thought.

Hunter Jones was tired. His body ached, but he kept pacing, vigilant in his patrol. The canyons surrounding his house, once filled with fat fieldmice, quick lizards, and little birds too plump to fly, had long since given way to stuccoed houses and suburban lawns. Long gone were the days of wild hunting, of nights spent in the starlit open, of running from coyotes with his brother. His brother, Grim Gremlin, just a little slower than he, lost so many years ago. He circled his shed, pausing again to sniff at his bowl. Still not hungry. He yawned again. A little sleep, he thought. Maybe that’s what I need. He glanced skyward, watching the black cloud of crows. I wonder where they’re going, he thought. The sky grew dark, then darker still. Jones yawned, then crawled beneath the door of his shed, down into to the cool cradle of earth below. He curled himself into an orange ball, thinking that he heard the woman from the house calling his name. Jones fell asleep, and dreamed.

The second time the paw clipped his nose, Jones woke up. He swiped at the still-blurry figure with his claws, in warning. Cut it out, he mrowed. I’m trying to sleep.

“Wake up, you sleepyhead,” came a voice, familiar, but disconnected. Jones blinked his eyes, trying to focus. It was a bright day. Tall grass was pressed beneath him, a springtime bed in nature’s bosom. He looked around, confused. Where was his shed?

“Wake up,” came the voice again. A tiger-orange blur pressed against his face. A whiskered nose brushed his cheek. “It’s time to go.” Jones blinked, then shook his head in a motion that traveled down the length of his body, all the way to the twitching tip of his tail. He cocked his head to one side, regarding the face. It looked like his own, reflected in the water dish. Rounder, perhaps younger. “Wake up,” said the doppelganger, playfully swiping Jones’ nose with a paw.

Enough! hissed Jones. He lept at the other cat, knocking it to the ground. I’m awake! The two cats tussled, wrestled like kittens, an orange blur on the green grass. They batted at one another’s ears, nipped at necks and tails, and finally collapsed, panting and laughing, brother beside brother in a cluster of clover.

“I missed you,” said Grim Gremlin, turning his head and grinning at Jones.

Yeah, me too, said Jones. Where have you been? I thought the coyotes got you—

“They did.”

But that means—

“I am.”

Does that mean I’m—

“Yeah. You too. And you sure took your time about it.”

Jones sat up and looked around. The grassy field, peppered here and there with trees, stretched on forever. Plump little birds flitted here and there, twittering. Clouds drifted by overhead. In the distance he could hear a babbling stream. The sun, peeking over far-distant hills, warmed his fur. He looked at his brother. What about the people in the house—

“They’ll be fine. You’re here, now.”

Jones settled down onto his front paws. He watched a ladybug ascend a stalk of grass, then open her carapace and take flight, a tiny red speck disappearing into the distance. Here? he asked. Is this the sort of place where every cat is king? Where the rivers run with cream and caviar is delivered three times daily on silver plates?

Grim Gremlin snorted. “Pfft. As if. You’ve spent way too much time with humans.”

So what do we do?

“We’re cats. We hunt. There’s birds, and mice, and lizards, too. At night we sing songs to the moon. And we run from the coyotes.”

There are coyotes here?

“Yeah,” answered Gremlin. “But they’re only this big.” He held his paw a whisker’s span above the ground. “Now come on, we’ve got hunting to do. And later, we’re meeting mom for dinner.” Grim Gremlin wandered off, blazing a trail through the unkempt grass, heading in the direction of the rising sun.

Emperor Jones was wide awake. He sat on the grass, thinking. He watched a moth flit past, its grey wings dotted with black, its markings the shape of a grinning skull. He’d miss the people in the house, he realized, but this was home. Hold up! he called, then ambled through the grass, following his brother.

For Jones (1990-2008). One cool cat.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 5th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
*sniff* RIP Jones, see you on the other side dude.

Ross, you brought tears to my eyes mate, this is fantastic I could see and feel all of it. You really do rock.
Mar. 5th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
Wow, wow and wow.

That was amazing, thank you for posting it :)
Mar. 5th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
Mar. 5th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Dude, that was one hell of a tribute.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I'm going to go wipe my eyes now. I've got something in them.
Mar. 6th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
YOu made me cry....we loved Jones and will miss him, but not as much as you will....what a cool cat. glad I knew him....Watched Aliens the other night how appropriate.
Luv your lil sis.....
Mar. 6th, 2008 03:58 am (UTC)
Aw. Poor Jones. I hope he looks up Rusty on the other side.

Cool cats always leave us too soon. *snif*
Mar. 9th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear that, Ross. I'll miss him, too. Jones was a fine cat (and to this day, I am still very impressed with the name you gave him).

As an aside, was it really that long ago that we played kitty-dervish with Jones and Grim when they were kittens?

- Mike (the gorehound)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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