Maxwell Street lay in the belly of discomfort, and its ugliness was there for all eyes to see. The streetlights were dim; they had seen better days. The buildings, too, were swimming in the pool of old age and begging for renovation. Parts of the old street were overrun with rats and mice—meals that poor Dag and friends would normally have found promising but tonight lay beyond their reach and strength.
The cats were tired from their long walk, so they rested a short distance from a shopping mall, which housed the finest buildings on the old street. But just as they settled down, Flinz emerged from behind a cracked old fence and stole past Dag and the others. He dashed into the mall, almost unnoticed, to commit what had earned him the nickname ‘the notorious cat’. After a few minutes inside the mall, Flinz found some groceries on a shelf and lost his balance trying to reach the food. Blaize was the first to be alerted. “What’s that?” he asked with a grimace.
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Dag raised his head and glanced about. “I don’t know.” His voice revealed his caution.
Fred cleared his throat and said, “It could be a thief!” He exchange glances with the others.
“You may be right,” said Blaize. “Let’s go see who the criminal is,” he suggested, and faced the mall with a good speed. The other cats followed, flinging glances in every direction to make sure that no one was on their trail. As soon as they got to the mall, Blaize signaled his friends to stop. Before they could blink, Blaize climbed up to one of the half-open windows and peered inside. There was Flinz, feasting on the groceries! A ray of anger flushed over Blaize’s face. Returning to his friends, he reported, “We have an enemy in there!”
“Who?” Dag probed, simpering.
“It’s Flinz!” Blaize replied.
“Who is Flinz?” asked Pork.
“Flinz lives on the street that leads to the train station. It is said that he once ate an animal that had been sacrificed by humans, and is now immersed in a pool of misfortune. After losing his fine attributes, he withdrew from public life and became a terror to the people.”
“What a pity. Life is no bed of roses!” Dag said, and turned to go.
“No! We must fight him!” Blaize proclaimed. “The wicked soul killed my brother after they had a heated argument over a piece of meat in the market square. And I have vowed to avenge my brother’s death. There is no better time to do so than this beautiful night. Then my brother’s death will have had a purpose!”
Dag now recalled the sad story. “Yes, I remember. Wasn’t it the cat you told me about that lived in the train station?”
“Yes!” Blaize responded. “And that was four days ago.”
Then Pork offered a jewel of advice: “You’d best forget about Flinz and mind your business. I don’t think vengeance is the way to handle this issue.”
Blaize reacted, “Check my face and read my lips, and you will see that nothing can stop me tonight, Pork. My brother cannot have died for nothing!”
“Pork is right,” Dag interjected. “We came here to find a befitting meal for the night, not to battle. Don’t allow this issue into your head, my friend.” The elderly cat pulled Blaize to his side.
Blaize shoved him off. “You don’t know how it hurts to lose a brother. My brother was my best friend and was everything to me.” Tears gathered in his eyes as Blaize moved away. Before Dag and the other cats could make a move, Blaize had disappeared through the window and was received by the treachery inside the mall.
There was a momentary silence as Blaize advanced to the corner where Flinz was having a one-cat party. Red with rage, Blaize shouted, “You are a wicked soul, and your madness ends today!”
Raising his head, Flinz cleared his throat as a queer look paraded over his face, “Why call me such a name on a cold night, my poor friend?”
“I see that you have forgotten that you killed my brother!”
Flinz pushed his meal to one side, and tried to recall who the fellow was, but he could not remember. So he fixed his gaze on Blaize: “I have no memory for an ugly past. Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me. Who exactly is your brother?”
“Don’t tell me that you have forgotten the fellow you slew at the market square some months ago!”
“Oh, yes… Now I remember. But it is one of those things. Brother killing brother and so forth,” Flinz replied unrepentantly and went back to his meal.
“I have vowed to avenge my brother’s death.”
After swallowing a lump, Flinz replied, “You don’t have to announce it. Let your actions speak for you. But I will advise you to refrain from vengeance, because it is not in our power to take life.”
“But you killed my brother!”
“Yes. But I never wanted to. He refused to let me have my way. And that was why I sent him to the silent world. Now, please go away. Sometimes I lose my temper and find myself going against my nature in circumstance such as this one.”
“No! I refuse to leave!” The arched back and bristling fur demonstrated Blaize’s aggression; his tail was confidently upright and his rear stood firm, while the front of his body retreated and his fur stood straight up to make him look bigger than he actually was. He was certainly ready to give Flinz a good fight.
Flinz chuckled. “So you want to fight me? Do not add your death to this tragedy, my friend. Leave here!” Flinz ordered. He crouched low, not ready to submit, with chin tucked in, ears turned to show their backs and whiskers forwarded and ready to face the threat.
Blaize started the fight with a fierce blow that caught Flinz on the neck. But just as he pressed his advantage, and no eye was watching, he made a slash across the cat’s right cheek and some whiskers were lost. Blaize let out with an agonized cry as they shared blows from one end of the store to the other. However, it was only a matter of time before the advantage shifted to Flinz, and Blaize tasted frustration that night. Flinz had left Blaize devastated, then dashed out of the mall and raced towards the train station for all he was worth. Before Blaize could even blink, his enemy was gone.
Not long after, Dag, Pork and Fred rushed to the scene where Blaize had received the beating of his life. Dag was the first to speak. “Where is Flinz?”
Blaize pointed towards the train station and managed to croak, “There!” There was no strength left in him.
Pork and Fred tried to give chase, but before they could get out of the mall, Flinz had disappeared into thin air. With darkness hanging around the corner, and disappointment taking its toll, they shook their heads in disbelief and returned to the store. As a matter of fact, Blaize had yet to shrug off the injury he’d suffered at the hands of Flinz. “You were not prepared for the fight, Blaize.” Pork said.
That much was true. Later, they could discuss how to cut the bully down to size, but for now Dag helped the injured Blaize to his feet. “We must leave now,” said Dag. But just as they made for the window that was halfway open, they were alarmed by a strange sound from the street. “What’s that?” Pork took cover behind one of the shelves.
“Sssh! Keep your voice low,” Dag warned as, one after another, they scaled the window only to witness a bizarre occurrence that was taking place under the gloomy eyes of the silent night. On the street was a man being mobbed by a crowd of people. One after another they rained down their clubs upon the man until at last he lay gasping and choking. His head rolled to one side as life itself faded from his lips. After the assault was over, and after all the belongings of the dead man had been placed in the pockets of his assailants, the mob disappeared into the night.
“What have they done?” Pork inquired incredulously.
“Can’t you see that they just beat a man dead?” Blaize replied.
Dag shook his head in dismay. “What a wicked world! Humans do not value life as we do. No cat I know could be that brutal!”
But Blaize had something different to say: “What about Flinz? Is there any difference between that scoundrel and the mob?”
“Flinz is a bad example, and his days are numbered,” Dag replied with a frown.
“I hope so,” Blaize mumbled.
Fred sighed. “I’m not so sure that the man is dead…”
“Nor am I,” Pork said. “We are too far away to assume that he has gone to meet his ancestors.”
“Let’s go and see if he is still alive,” Dag said, and led the cats to the street where the man lay in a pool of his own blood. Once they reached the scene, they were sad to see that the man had indeed walked into silence. Dag said, “This is not good. I know this man. He lives at the end of this street. I wonder why he’s come home so late today.”
“That is not the issue, Dag. No one has the right to take his life. Like every citizen of this land, each man has the right to freedom of movement,” Fred stated.
“Whatever kept him out late must have been important,” Blaize said.
“Only God knows. If humans would take security seriously, this man would have returned unharmed to his house,” Pork said. He sighed a long sigh.
A momentary silence hung in the air as the cats stared at the poor soul. Not long after, thunder crashed in the sky and it began to rain. “I’ve heard enough for today,” Dag announced and walked away. The elderly cat climbed the roof of one of the buildings and disappeared. The other cats knew that venturing further into the treacherous night was not the best idea, so they followed the path of their old friend.