Monday, May 2, 2016

Author Extra: The Clawed Monet by A.M. Bostwick

Author Extra: from The Great Cat Nap:

Her striking beauty stared up at me from the front page of the Monday edition of The Daily Reporter. Even from the black-and-white mug shot published on recycled newsprint, it was evident pain-soaked tears were streaming from her bloodshot, baby blue eyes. 
Yeah, being accused of first-degree, cold-blooded murder could do that to a pretty girl’s face.
            Name’s Ace, and I’m a reporter.
            I’m also a cat.
            I didn’t have time to think about the newspaper hitting stands and driveways tomorrow morning shattering the community’s view of lovely socialite Miss Claire Emerson. Nor did I have time to crash for a Sunday evening nap after a hectic deadline; someone was tapping on the front door. 
            Padding a few steps, I peered through the extra large mail slot, bringing in a waft of steaming July humidity. I did a double-take. A stunning white Persian wearing nothing but an anxious expression was trying to get my attention. 
            She got it.
            Straightening my whiskers, I held open the door to let her in. She gracefully leapt through and landed at my side in a huff. We were the only ones in the dark office.
“Is this how you welcome guests? Like newspapers being tossed onto dirty driveways?” she demanded. Her big, round eyes were blue, just like Claire Emerson’s. I could smell the hot summer on her fur. 
            “Only if they’re interrupting my nap. Name’s Ace. What can I help you with?” 
“I know who you are, Ace,” she said haughtily. Her flawless profile stood out starkly against the outdated, paneled, ugly walls of the newspaper office. “Why do you think I came all the way downtown in this filth? This traffic? This heat?” She paused to shake her paws free of imaginary grime. The Persian eyed me up and down. “I need you to take a case.”
            “Detective work?” I questioned, half laughing. 
            “Yes, sir.”
            “Ma’am, I’m a reporter. I don’t handle detective cases,” I said, yawning. While I was intrigued by the stunning feline, it was obvious this was going the same place as when dogs chase their tails. Nowhere. 
            “But you must help me in my plight!” she demanded, pursing her mouth and scrunching her all too-pink nose. 
I didn’t flinch a whisker. “I can’t get my paws dirty becoming a slanted reporter on the biggest story of the year. I’d be a cat marked for trouble.”
“You must!” she squealed. I suddenly wished I had gone home with Max that night, my human companion and the newspaper’s city editor. “Pleeeease!
            I sighed. Of all the rundown newspapers in all the cities, she had to walk into mine. “I won’t do it,” I replied. 
            The Persian opened her mouth to protest, but didn’t utter a word. Her dainty, furry face was suddenly overcome by soft horror. She stared at the front page of tomorrow’s paper. The headline blared “EMERSON ARRESTED, CHARGED WITH MURDER.”
            “Oh, you can’t. You just can’t!” she cried. “Are you actually going to print this rubbish?”
            I stood on the stack of Monday editions, examining her. She looked ready to crumple into kitty litter dust. “Sorry, I didn’t get your name?” 
            “My name is Angel,” she said slowly, still staring at the article. “Claire is my human companion. We live together at The Heights. And you have to help me.” 
            I took a step back. Or rather, four steps. Whoa, this was a high-class cat. One who was in a lot of trouble, if you asked me.
            It’d be a great story. 
            But she wasn’t here for an interview. 
            Angel looked into my eyes. “Oh, Ace, you just have to help us.”
            Holy cats. With a pile of evidence ripe to convict and nothing to go on to prove Claire’s innocence, I wasn’t able to promise anything. I exhaled; I’d always been a sucker for a pretty face.
            “You can pay in tuna fish?” 
            “That’s kind of steep,” she hedged, sniffling.
            “Well, a cat’s gotta eat. And I’m on a reporter’s salary.” I flicked my tail toward a bag of dry cat food by the entryway. Kuddly Kitty Krunchies. Awful stuff.
            “Okay, we have an agreement,” Angel said, extending a paw.

            I took it.

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