Cookie was sniffing around the street, looking for food. He was a street cat and was always – and I mean always – hungry. Life isn’t easy for any street cat, and it was especially hard for Cookie as the bigger cats used to bully him. He was usually fed by a little girl who left bowls of food by her doorstep, but today there had been nothing at all. He finally managed to sniff out some bones that still had a few scraps of meat on them. Cookie licked his whiskers and was just about to devour them when a cat jumped off a wall and landed right in front of him.
“Hello Cookie,” snarled Pirate menacingly. Pirate was the biggest cat in town, and the meanest too. He was dirty, scruffy, and had more fleas than any other cat living. (But I don’t think that dead cats can have fleas. So he had more fleas than any other cat in the world.) He only had one eye, and he had loads of scratches – both results of continuous fighting.
“What do you want?” said Cookie, quivering all over.
“What do I want? What do I want? Well, I’ll tell you as you obviously can’t figure out yourself. I want those bones you’ve got.”
“Can’t you find your own food? You’re always taking it off other people.” complained Cookie.
“Every bone in this place belongs to me, you know that. Go find your own food yourself. Can’t you go and beg some off that human like you always do?”
“I’ve found my own food. And I do not beg. The human girl puts food out for me because she wants to.”
“Yes, she must feel sorry for you as you’re too weak, and much too much of a coward to try and find your own food.”
Cookie’s eyes blazed. If there was one thing Cookie hated to be called, it was to be called a coward.
“Oh yeah? Is that so? ‘Cause everyone knows you’re the one who’s too lazy to get your own meal. Otherwise you wouldn’t keep taking it from other people.”
By now, his fur was standing up on end and so was Pirate’s. Pirate was slowly creeping towards Cookie, his ears laid flat on his head, his tail waving dangerously in the air.
“How dare you,” he said. “How dare you say something like that to me?!”
“Lazybones!” shouted Cookie defiantly.
Pirate sprang at him. Cookie screamed and gave Pirate a good scratch on his belly. Pirate shrieked with fury and bit Cookie on his ear. Then he gave him an enormous scratch on the shoulder. Cookie yowled with pain and fled. He did not want to hurt himself even more. “Cowardy cowardy custard!” yelled Pirate after him.
Cookie lay down to lick himself clean. Then he decided to get up to look for something else to eat. If I don’t have a decent meal soon, he thought, I think my stomach’s going to explode! Of course, that was ridiculous as stomachs usually explode when they are full of food, not when they are completely empty. But Cookie didn’t stop to think about that, he just leapt onto his feet and started to search.
After ten minutes he hadn’t found any food, but he did find his friend, Snowdrop. She was a beautiful, pure white cat with eyes as blue as the sky. She had once belonged to some people, like Cookie, but her owners had left her behind when they moved house. That wasn’t very nice of them. But then, it takes all kind of people to make a world. (If you want to know what happened to Cookie, he got thrown out when he kept upsetting the fishbowl with his repeated attempts at fishing. And he killed two goldfish as well.)
“Oh, hello Snowy.” said Cookie.
“What happened to you?” gasped Snowdrop staring at his bitten ear and torn shoulder.
“Oh, that. Pirate wanted me to give him some lamb bones that I had and I didn’t want to.”
“You should have just given them to him! It would have been better than getting bitten and scratched.”
“I don’t have to give whatever I find to him! He made me so furious! He called me a coward and said that I was too weak to find my own food. What was I doing if I wasn’t finding my own food I’d like to know?!” Cookie’s tail swelled up and his eyes flashed as he remembered.
“Well,” Snowdrop went on, “Pirate’s like that. He’s always been. He’s been taking food off cats and bullying them for as long as anyone can remember. If you had just handed him the bones, you wouldn’t have gotten that nasty looking scratch over there!”
“Yes I suppose so.” said Cookie grumpily. People – and cats – are usually grumpy when they haven’t eaten anything.
“Cheer up!” said Snowdrop walking beside him. “It’ll heal.” She said.
“The worst of it is that I haven’t even eaten anything yet.” grumbled Cookie.
“Didn’t you have any breakfast?” asked Snowdrop. “I had a little bit of milk from one of the human children going to school. But only a very little bit.” “I hid a bit of fish in somebody’s garden but someone’s pinched it.”
Suddenly, Cookie thought of something. There was a Fish and Chips shop only a few streets away! Perhaps he could go there!
“Sorry Snowdrop, I’d love to stay, but there’s somewhere I’ve got to go to.
“Okay, bye then.”
“Goodbye!” and Cookie went on to the shop. He quickly arrived. There was a huge sign saying “Fred’s Fish and Chips! Best Fish and Chips you’ll ever eat!” It was a small shop but very pleasant. There was a wooden floor and lamps hanging on the ceiling inflicting a warm glow. The ceiling was painted white, and so were the walls that had a few pictures of colourful fish hanging on them. A few people were seated on wooden chairs at wooden tables, painted a light brown. Neatly dressed waitresses were taking orders, and serving out platefuls of food. There was a nice smell of fish cooking about the place, and there was a sense of peace and quiet too. It was quite a cozy atmosphere! Cookie stopped at the door to inhale. “Fish, here I come!” he said and bounded in.
“What do we have here?” said a posh looking waitress with a stern eye.
“I’d like some fish please,” mewed Cookie. He could have just nicked some and ran off but he didn’t want to do that unless he had to. “But I’d like it without the chips.” he said.
“Out.” said the waitress. No animals allowed in here.”
Cookie blinked his big brown eyes at her. “Can’t I have some fish first?” he asked.
“Out, out, out!” said the waitress and she shooed him out.
Cookie sat down. He would have to try a different tack. He creeped under the long skirt of a woman coming in. He waited until she was seated at one of the tables. His tail brushed against her leg. “Gosh what’s that?” she said. “What is it?” asked her friend. “I just felt something fluffy against my leg!” But no more was said about it right then because a waitress came to take their order. Their food soon came, and while they were eating, Cookie’s tail brushed against the lady’s leg again. “There it is again!” the lady suddenly said in mid-chew
“What?” asked her friend, bewildered.
“That fluffy thing!” She felt Cookie’s tail again and bent down to investigate. Cookie jumped on top of the table. The lady’s friend squealed. It wasn’t because she was frightened of cats or didn’t like them or something, it was just that she wasn’t used to cats appearing out of thin air and jumping onto tables. “What’s the matter?” asked the lady, emerging from under the table. “It’s a cat!” said her friend. The posh waitress with the stern eye was running towards them. “Oh, is that cat in here again? Oh, I am so sorry! It must have sneaked in.” And gabbling about ten hundred more apologies, she grabbed a broom and chased him out.
Cookie paced around and tried to think what to do next. Ah, here was someone coming out, that the chance to sneak in again. A lady with two twin girls stepped out. Cookie sprang in and shot under a table, deep in thought. Maybe he should create a diversion, and while the person was distracted, he could grab the fish and go! Cookie was so deep in thought, he didn’t notice people sitting on the chairs around him or the voices chattering across the table. Just at that moment, somebody accidentally put their foot on his tail. Cookie yowled and shrieked. He was thinking: I already have a bitten ear and scratched shoulder, do I have to have my tail torn off as well? His tail was quite all right, it had only been briefly stepped on, but Cookie was rather annoyed at having his careful plans interrupted.
“What on Earth is that?” said a man’s voice.
“Not the baby is it?” said the voice of a tired woman.
“No, it seems to be coming from under the table.” a girl’s voice said.
“Oh let see! Maybe it’s a monster!” said the excited voice of a little boy.
To be called a monster infuriated Cookie even more. The table cloth was lifted and Cookie found a family all staring at him in surprise (except the baby of course.). Cookie sprang out and hissed at the startled family. Unfortunately for him, the posh waitress spotted him again. He was ushered out and the door was slammed shut in his face.
“Why do cats have whiskers?” the little boy said as the door banged shut. “I think it’s because when ginormous mammoths with gigantic feet attack them and try to crush them to bits, the cats can just tickle their trunks with their whiskers, and the mammoths will be so busy sneezing the jungle away that they won’t notice the cats running away. It’s like that book, One day in the Jungle, remember when the elephant sneezes the jungle away? ‘Cept there was no cats running away then.”
Cookie would have thoroughly disagreed with this long speech – what did mammoths have to do with jungles? And they became extinct millions of years ago! – but he didn’t get to hear it. He lay down and pondered. He would have to get back inside – that shouldn’t be too hard, people were always coming and going. Now, what sort of a distraction should he make? Cookie thought for a while until he saw somebody coming in, a couple and their baby. The baby was sleeping blissfully in a pram. The door opened. The lady and her friend, whom we related before, came out, laughing and chattering. What a wonderful opportunity to slip in! He felt sure nobody would notice him. Cookie sneaked under the baby’s pram and followed the couple to their table.
“Let’s look at the menu then,” said the man’s voice.
“Okay, let’s see… I’d like the fishburger, what about you?”
“I think I’ll have the fried mackerel. Allright, are we settled then? Waitress!”
A young waitress with a lot of make-up on came to take their order.
“That’s a pretty baby,” said the waitress as she scribbled in her notepad.
“Thank you,” said the woman smiling.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” asked the waitress.
“It’s a girl.” said the woman, still smiling.
“Okey dokey, what would you like for drinks then?” asked the waitress.
“I’ll have some Coke.” said the man.
“I’ll just have a glass of water thanks.” said the woman.
“Right sir and madam, you’ll have your food delivered to you in about ten minutes.”
I wonder if I can wait that long thought Cookie. His stomach suddenly let out an extra loud rumble. “What was that?” exclaimed the woman. “Probably just the baby my dear.” her husband reassured her. “She made me jump! It’s surprising that a two month old baby can make a sound like that!” They both laughed. “I’m sure she must make a lot more noise than you think she can.” replied the man. They chattered on, while Cookie waited patiently under the table for the food to come. Ten minutes passed. Then fifteen. Then twenty. Still no food had come.
“That food is taking a long time.” said the woman looking at her watch.
“I’ll go and see why it hasn’t come,” said the man. “Don’t you worry!” And he got up to talk to the waitress who had taken their order. It took him a long time to find her and while they were talking, their food was brought to them by a different waitress. “Oh thank you,” said the woman getting up to take the food. She looked around for her husband so that she could tell him that the food arrived, but she couldn’t spot him anywhere. At last, she just sat back down again. He had to turn up. Cookie was tingling with excitement. Here was the moment for his diversion! His stomach gurgled again. “Oh dear, what is the matter with that baby?” the woman murmured to herself. The baby! Jumping onto the baby’s pram, Cookie waved his tail back and forth across the baby’s face. The baby squirmed and began to cry. The woman dashed to see what the matter was. Cookie sprinted onto the table, grabbed a large piece of the mackerel and dashed for the door.
“Look! A cat!” Everyone was staring at him. “What’s that cat doing in here?” bellowed a waitress.
“It’s in here again!” screeched the posh one running at him with the broom she used before. “What–” said the woman, turning from the wailing baby’s pram. Her husband was striding towards their table, the young waitress hurrying after him. Cookie ran on. A bit more, and he was home and dry. “I’ll show you, you beastly cat!” roared the posh waitress who had sent him out the first time he came in. Cookie leapt out – just in time – as the broom came down with a – crash! – just behind him.
He ran on for a few more metres then sat down under a tree to enjoy his meal. He felt wonderfully happy and very pleased with himself. Today he had had a hard time getting his food. But it had been quite an adventure!