“Bye guys!” Jeff’s parents called, whilst leaving the house to him and Bruno the cat. Jeff disliked Saturdays, though him and Bruno got on surprisingly well (given he was an animal). Bruno was a chubby black cat with the most magnificent tail: almost ‘magical’ in the way it was naturally rainbow coloured. This is the story of when Jeff noticed something a bit strange about what happened when he pulled Bruno’s tail…
Jeff slumped down on the corridor wall, Bruno in his hands, “So Bruno: what do you want to do today?” His cat just stared blankly at him. Jeff was so angry, because he wished so much that Bruno could talk. He pushed the cat away roughly.
“Aaaaahh! Who am I kidding?” Jeff sighed. As if Bruno could get angry and have teenage strop, he made a run for it. Out the back door and, Jeff following closely behind, into the neighbour’s garden where there slept a large ferocious dog.
Jeff was standing in the garden being careful not to wake the massive animal. He was terrified of dogs and, with a cat’s natural instincts, so Bruno should’ve been too. But the daring cat just poked the dog’s paw with one of its sharp, lethal claws. The huge guard dog yowled and stood up to its full height.
Jeff made a run for it, back to his own garden; closing his neighbour’s gate behind him and cutting off any dog that wanted to pass through. But it didn’t only stop the dog. Bruno, now scared, ran towards the gate. It was closed! As the dog neared, Bruno backed up against the fence. Moving along it, he found a small hole. He went through it without time to turn around. Half way through the hole he was stuck. Only his bottom and his tail got through, then he stopped at his chubby belly. He desperately wriggled and wriggled, the dog coming closer and closer, but couldn’t get through. But hope was not lost. Bruno whined. Hearing him, Jeff turned around and realised what had happened. He heroically sprinted over and pulled hard on his rainbow tail, Bruno narrowly missing a snap from the dog.
Suddenly there was a dazzling flash. This blinded Jeff for about 5 seconds, “What the-what was that?” Jeff said out loud. “That was magic!” said Bruno. “Who said that? What?” Jeff looked around, confused. “It was me,” said Bruno, starting to get frustrated. He jumped out of Jeff’s hands and looked at him. “What, you? Don’t be silly!”
“I’m not being silly”
“It really is you! Since when could you talk?”
“Since now!” Bruno explained to Jeff that when somebody makes a wish – like Jeff did about Bruno being able to talk – and then pulls his tail really hard, then he becomes a genie cat and grants their last wish. “And so your last wish was for me to be able to talk. Ab-ra-CAT-abra!”
“So,” said Bruno, “what’s your next wish?”
“Hmmm…” Jeff thought for a while. He remembered earlier that day when he thought how great it would be for Bruno and Jeff to be able to hang out like human friends. “I’ve got it! I wish for you to be a boy my age…” Jeff pulled Bruno’s tail. There was another blinding flash.
After five seconds of seeing spots, Jeff could see a thirteen-year-old boy, on all fours, in front of him. The boy had black hair and clothes, the colour of Bruno’s fur, yellowy eyes and a plump stomach. “Cool! It really worked!”
Jeff looked the boy all over. He looked like any other boy in his class, except for the yellow eyes… and a rainbow tail. “Stand up then!” Jeff said. Bruno stood up, a bit wobbly. “Why don’t you humans walk on all fours? You’d have much more balance that way. And what’s wrong with my nose, my eyes, and my ears? I can’t smell that rotting mouse in the woods any more. Your chimney’s so blurry. And I can’t hear the birds’ feathers moving.”
“OK, OK, you’ve made your point. The human senses are rubbish. But there are some things we can do that you cats can’t. Listen up…”
Later on, in the neighbour’s garden, the two friends were in position. As predicted, the dog was guarding a bone. Jeff, without waking the dog, quickly tied a string around the bone and went back to his position. Bruno the ‘human’ walked up to the dog on all fours and pulled his tail, ferociously. The dog awoke with a yelp! It immediately started scanning the garden for possible culprits. But Bruno was already safely back in Jeff’s garden.
Now for the main show. Jeff pulled the string connected to the bone and took the dog on a wild goose chase around the garden. Jeff kept up this mischievous act for several minutes, whilst Bruno was dying with laughter. It served the dog right for leaving Bruno the cat with only eight lives. Eventually, Jeff lured the dog into his kennel, and Bruno shut and locked the door. Still cracking up, they retreated back to their own garden.
Jeff looked at his watch. His parents would be back soon, and that made him think; what would he tell them when they saw Bruno? Jeff shared his thoughts with Bruno, who replied, “True, maybe it’s best that I stay as a cat.” They both looked at each other, sad. It had been fun whilst Bruno was a human… Reluctantly, Jeff declared, “I wish that Bruno was a cat again.” Jeff pulled Bruno’s tail for the third time that day, there was a flash, and the cat was back to normal! Well, as normal as a talking cat can be.
“You don’t need to be a human for us to have a good time,” Jeff admitted to Bruno. “Especially now you can talk.”
“Oi! I could always talk, it’s just that you dumb humans didn’t understand our cat language. All cats can understand your language.”
“Eureka! Instead of being mischievous, we could help people who find it hard bonding with their cats and translate for them.”
Ding-dong! “Hello! I’m Jeff from across the street. I understand that you have a cat. I have one too, but I can talk to mine! Bruno, do your thing!” Bruno strolled over to a skinny ginger cat lounging on an antique armchair. All Jeff and his neighbour could hear was purring and meowing. Bruno walked confidently up to Jeff and whispered in his ear. Jeff said to his neighbour, “Your cat thinks the smell in your house is awful; you need to get rid of the dead mouse behind the skirting board. He also said that he’s tired of eating fish and would prefer chicken, if you please. He gets offended when you throw away the meals that he thoughtfully kills for you, but he loves all the toys you’ve given him and when you scratch him behind the ears.”
The old lady gasped, and looked with surprise at her cat. “I do try, but it all makes sense now: why you don’t eat all your fish but you just stare at my roast chicken on Sundays. I appreciate how thoughtful you are being by bringing me food, but I don’t eat dead birds, unless they’re cooked.” Bending down to scratch him behind the ears, she said to Jeff, “Thank you, you’ve really helped us get to understand each other better. Please come again sometime. Maybe our cats could make friends.”
The next Saturday, as his parents drove off to do the weekly shop, Jeff asked, “So Bruno: what do you want to do today?”
1281 words, total to date 3358
This story is dedicated to Bruno the cat, who doesn't have a tail.
I would like to thank Margaret, Bruno’s owner, who gave the idea of “a story about a cat with a magic tail”.