It rained almost all day and the alley stunk.
Ralph picked his way around the trash, doing his best to avoid the puddles even though his jeans and leather boots were old and stained all ready. He didn’t figure it was worth getting all sloppy before meeting up with his friends. The moon ducked behind thick clouds as they passed by in the cool breeze. It had gotten dark early with the thunder storms, but now night had fallen and it was tough to see anything.
Well almost anything.
Ralph could make out the cat just ahead crouched outside the entrance to the bar.
“Crap,” Ralph thought to himself. “This guy’s huge.”
Ralph moved a little closer and pressed tightly against the far wall. Even from this distance he was looking up at the massive hind quarters. Being a mouse meant that all cats were bigger than him, but this one was really big. Really fat. And really twitchy. The thing kept trembling and shifting its weight on it’s hind legs.
“Fat, stupid, and probably slow,” Ralph smiled then started scanning the garbage around him.
Cups, food, all sorts of stuff randomly strewn and soaked from the rain. There had to be . . . and there it was. A straw laying loose on the ground.
Ralph gently skirted his way around a shredded cardboard box, never letting his eyes leave the cat. He zipped up his bomber jacket over his t-shirt and lifted one end of the straw, then slowly raised it until he had it straight up in the air. He turned towards the cat and paused.
“If you’re gonna go . . .” he mumbled as he trotted then accelerated towards the fat feline, “go . . .” out loud now as he hit full speed, “BIG!!” Ralph shouted just as he planted the tip of the straw against the pavement in time to slam into the fat ass of the cat. Leaping towards the back of the beast the straw bent and propelled Ralph straight up. He tucked his knees to his chest and pulled with all his might as the cat sprang forward and shrieked.
Ralph knew without looking the cat would jump straight ahead. He had to out of reflex. And Ralph was on his way diagonally across the cat’s back towards the far wall, releasing the straw and twisting himself so he would land back first in whatever garbage was piled there. But this wasn’t just any cat. He was a mean, quick behemoth that had caught and shredded many a mouse and in the instant he sprang forward, he jerked his head to the side and back to see just what had prodded him in the butt.
And there was this straw! Just sort of standing there quivering in slow motion as the cat’s backside spun around in a 180. That’s when he caught the movement of a bomber jacketed mouse in blue jeans rotating through the air and their eyes locked.
Ralph thought, “This could get ugly.”
He saw the glint in the cat’s eyes as he tucked into a ball to take the impact just as he slammed through loose paper and rotting food.
Ralph twisted and wriggled to go as deep as he could knowing the cat would be on him any second. He almost got through to the pavement when he felt the crush of weight just to his left as the cat pressed down hard where Ralph had landed. He was pinned by the side of a coffee cup and couldn’t move if he wanted, but Ralph wasn’t about to move. That would just let the cat know where he was. Instead he fought the urge to panic and glanced down and saw wet pavement, gravel, and then something he could use. A couple of shards of glass.
The cat pulled up and pounced back down a little further away, then paused trying to feel for a squirming snack. But Ralph held still barely turning his head to look at the broken glass again. One was huge, easily half his size and cracked in the middle but the other was perfect. A little flat on one edge then tapering to a nice sliver on the other. But it was too far away. He couldn’t get to it without blowing his cover. The cat shifted and uttered a throaty growl. He was going to start digging and Ralph would be done.
“Here we go,” he sighed and thrust himself towards his only hope.
Snatching it in both paws he pulled it towards his chest and torqued himself around feeling the garbage sort of lift as the cat pulled back to tear Ralph out of the pile. The moment the trash began to crush back down Ralph thrust the glass up.
“MEOOOWAAARRRRR!!!” the cat howled as the glass shard sliced through a black banana peel and deep into the pad of his foot. Ralph just about had the air knocked out of him as the flat side of the glass slammed against his chest but tragedy was avoided as the cat recoiled and fell away from the pile.
Ralph scampered to his left, up and out of the goop and glop and hit full speed in four strides. He leapt through the crack in the bricks and flew along the side wall to make the turn; leaving bits of paper and debris behind him. Even though he knew he was safe Ralph wanted to make an entrance so he kept up his sprint as he burst into the light, threw his arms wide and hit his knees in time to slide across the dance floor of the bar!
The crowd erupted.
A couple of vermin had been calling out the play by play from their viewpoint through a dirty alley window just above where the cat had been hiding hoping to catch a drunk rodent on his way home. A rotund, brown rat waddled up to Ralph with a shot glass of tequila outstretched and said, “you’re one crazy son of a bitch, Ralphie boy.”
“I wasn’t aware you knew my mother Bobby boy,” Ralph grinned as he stood up and wiped smeared banana and coffee grounds off his face.
“You’ve got blood on your jacket,” Bob pointed out.
“Fortunately,” Ralph mused as he flicked some off his sleeve, “it isn’t mine.”
“I’ll drink to that,” and together they raised their glasses as the juke box was Raining Men.