A loud buzzer sounded through the building. Sonar dropped the wrench he had been holding back into the tray of tools and ducked under the bumper of the bus. He was in a maintenance pit underneath the engine, trying to find the source of a rattle the driver kept complaining about. He climbed the ladder at the end and emerged in a garage full of broken down cars and large Slavic-looking men. Sonar’s fair skin and red hair stood out, but his cover story claimed that his Eastern European father had been swept away by an Irish maiden back in his youth. Sonar didn’t really care. The recommendation from his “father” had gotten him the job. Other than learning how to change the oil in a variety of different types of vehicles, he was gathering information about a possible terrorist attack the owners of the garage were planning for later that week.
Wiping his hands on a greasy rag, Sonar glanced around for the foreman. The man had left earlier with a few of the others. He was normally the first in the lunchroom after the buzzer sounded, so Sonar knew the group hadn’t returned yet. He wondered idly where they had gone to, but that was Glitch’s job to figure out. Grabbing his lunch box, he headed out back. He never ate with the others, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there wasn’t room for even one more person in the tiny lunch room, and they always spoke in their native language, which he didn’t understand. Not to mention the pungent smell of salami that permeated the room.
A stack of old, broken pallets was his usual perch, leaning against the panel fence. He would have preferred it if weren’t so close to the garbage dumpster, but it beat sitting on the oil stained pavement. He scrambled up and opened his lunch box. After wolfing down his sandwich in five bites, he stretched out, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, his legs dangling over the edge of the top pallet.
The warm sun beat down, lulling Sonar to sleep, and soon rather loud snores could be heard from the pile of pallets. He was abruptly awakened, however, by a small gray cat landing on his stomach. He sat up in a hurry and stared into the round eyes that regarded him curiously. Sonar’s sudden movement was to his detriment, unfortunately. The perilously constructed stack of pallets began swaying threateningly before tumbling apart. Sonar and the cat were deposited unceremoniously on the ground. Cries of surprise emitted from both cat and man, with an additional note of pain from Sonar as the cat dug its claws into Sonar’s stomach.
“Walley! Where are you, kitteh?” An anxious sounding voice called from the other side of the wooden fence. “Walley! You aren’t hurt, are you?”
Sonar made a grab for the cat to return him to the voice that seemed to belong to its owner. The cat, however, wasn’t interested in being caught and took off down the driveway. Sonar sighed.
“He’s not hurt. I’ll get him for you.” He called as he ran after Walley. He reached the road in time to see the cat disappear down an alley half way down the block. Sonar followed as quickly as he could. Walley had decided to wait for Sonar on top of a plastic dumpster at the far end of the alley. He sat and licked his paw as Sonar approached. Sonar slowed as he got nearer.
“Here, kitteh. Nice, kitteh.” He said, hoping the cat would respond before anyone heard him sounding so ridiculous. Walley edged away, and Sonar jumped, hoping to grab him before he took off again. No such luck. Walley jumped lightly to the ground on the other side of the dumpster as Sonar smacked into it. The wheels of the dumpster weren’t locked and it began to roll from the force of Sonar’s attack. Scrambling, Sonar trying to grasp it and stop its motion, but there was nothing for him to hold on to. The slight decline of the alley propelled it faster and faster toward the road. Forgetting the cat, Sonar ran to catch the dumpster before it could roll into traffic.
Too late. Sonar cringed as a car smacked into the bright green bin that flipped over onto its side and slid into the next lane. People got out of their cars and horns began honking as the damage was evaluated. The owner of the restaurant to which the bin belonged ran out of his eatery, shouting in Italian. Walley the cat was perched quite contentedly on a wrought iron fence on the other side of the road.
Deciding that everyone else was preoccupied with the bin, Sonar returned to his quest to capture the cat. Walley wasn’t about to give in that easily, and as soon as he saw Sonar coming his direction, he hopped off the fence and trotted off down the sidewalk, his tail arched regally.
Sonar jogged after Walley, trying not to startle the cat into sprinting away. Walley kept trotting along merrily, putting on little bursts of speed to stay just ahead of Sonar anytime he got close. There were street lights just ahead and Sonar hoped that Walley had enough sense not to run out in front of cars.
Apparently, he did not. Sonar watched the light change to red ahead of him, and Walley stepped out into traffic, frightened by a large truck that went roaring past. Thankfully, the drivers of the cars in the lanes in front of him had noticed the kitteh and hadn’t moved forward. Sonar ran to catch up to Walley, bending to pick him up. The poor cat looked terrified, his eyes wide and tail twice its normal size. Just then, an engine revved loudly, making Walley turn and dart between his legs back the other way. Narrowly avoiding falling on his seat, Sonar followed.
Just before reaching the curb, Walley spun around, once more frightened by the cars, and ran back the other way. Again, Sonar darted after him. Walley proceeded to do this several times. Drivers were starting to get annoyed, honking their horns at Sonar, who was already losing his patience.
Finally, Walley hopped up onto the curb and the front cars started forward as the light turned yellow. Seemingly intent on causing the most confusion possible, Walley jumped onto the hood of a car in the other road. The driver panicked and hit the gas instead of the brake. Hissing angrily, Walley leaped off just before the car collided with another. Standing in confusion on the corner, Sonar watched in horror at the slow motion dominoes that quickly blocked the entire intersection.
Still spitting and hissing, Walley raced down the sidewalk. Growling to himself, Sonar turned and followed. Best to get out of the area before all those angry drivers decided that the maniacal cat belonged to him and lynched them both.