Bastet by Tony Single & Tetiana Aleksina

“Tell me all about yourself.”

I sniff the air. Cinnamon and anise do play well together, and the smell of coffee is an expected though welcome accompaniment. The taste however is less welcome. Downright crappy you could say. I’ve imbibed once or twice but I don’t seem to have been able to develop a taste for that lurid bean. I prefer a good smoked tea with milk.

Sigh. Another evening. Another stranger. And probably the same outcome.

“Do you really want to know all about me?” Her voice is playful. That’s a change. Usually she won’t make an effort to hide her boredom. She must be in a good mood.

“Of course!”

Her legs shift beneath me. She leans forward. I have no intention of moving so I gently dig in. She doesn’t notice. Something about this stranger intrigues her. That’s fine. I’m sleepy and this lap is my soft, warm throne. I purr more insistently, just to remind her that royalty is still present.

“Hmmm. You do realise then that I’d have to dispose of you. I can’t have witnesses.” I nestle against her and prepare to listen.

“Perhaps I could flee and join the Witness Protection Program.”

“It depends on how valuable your testimony is.” Yes, she’s in a very good mood. I don’t remember ever hearing her make such a sportive response.

“Well, first I need assurances. Is your pussy willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement?” He snickers and looks right at me. Seriously?! I snort with scorn. This vulgar idiot cannot be trying to joke with my mistress can he? Poor, clueless bastard.

She smiles. Actually, I can’t understand her equanimity in the face of his clumsy and brazen attempts at seduction. It’s got me nettled. I extend my claw and make a tiny pinhole on her stocking. It’s petty I know, but at least it makes me feel a little better.

A waiter appears from nowhere and places big cups of coffee between us and the stranger. Under cover of steam I cautiously peep over the table top. An ordinary man. An ordinary face, hair, eyes… nothing interesting. I almost get back to my cosy hollow in her lap when suddenly I notice it. Okay, now I understand. (Though I refuse to feel remorse over her stocking.)

It’s the tattoo. His tattoo. A black panther. It’s why she’s purring with him just as well as I purr near her pillow when she’s drifting off at night. However, I wonder if my mistress would ever sleep again if she heard the real thing’s cries. Truly, panthers sound like a woman screaming. That’s not the kind of sound you want worming out of the darkness to claw at your soul.

Still, the depiction on his forearm is visually impressive. Intricate, some might say. I muse upon the fangs and feathers – yes, feathers – the flashing “come at me” eyes and bared tongue. This beastly Zentangle looks stunning. It’s a worthwhile showpiece for an unworthy stranger. Instead of on his skin, I try to imagine it in a frame. It isn’t easy. I finally decide that torn, bare edges will work best…

…I licked red drops from the doorstep. Screams didn’t bother me anymore. There was something propitiatory and soothing behind these yells, cries, moans. I sniffed the air. The thick, sweet odour of blood…

I shake my head. What the hell? The strange picture fades. The aroma of cinnamon and anise suddenly becomes sickening. Stifling. My mistress smiles at him. Her fingers caress the cup’s rim, heavily marked with her lipstick. His smile is cocky. The panther grins at me from his bicep. I feel uncomfortable.

“Let’s get out of here?”

 I licked red drops from the doorstep. To hell with milk! A good smoked tea with blood… what could be better?


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