April 24, 2018

U is for Uber

        “I’m going to get us in trouble?” Chen sputtered, “I’m going to get us in trouble?  It’s your cat!  You’re the one who brought your cat into an art museum, which, by the way, you still haven’t explained!”
        Polly just gave Chen a disappointed look and whispered loudly, “Uber!  Here, Uber!”
        “Mommy,” came a piercing voice from beyond the next archway, “Mommy, look at the pretty kitty!”
        Polly strode to the side of the wide opening into the next room, flattened herself against the wall, and peeked cautiously around the left edge.  Following her lead, Chen leapt to the right side and peered around, too.  The gallery was full of Gothic sculptures: madonnas on pedestals, two large stone griffins on either side of an archway, and, beyond the archway, sitting primly on the platform in front of a carved marble panel, a calico cat.  Coming toward them was a small boy staring back over his shoulder at Uber.  His mother, pulling him by the hand, was looking at a text on her cell phone.
        “Inside voice, Mikey,” said the mother automatically, “Come on, sweetie, we have to get going.”
        “But I wanna pet the kitty!”
        “Mikey, you can’t pet the sculptures!  Remember, we have to look with our eyes not our
hands, right, sweetie?”
        Chen, staring horrified at Uber sitting in plain sight, murmured urgently, “Don’t look back, lady.  Don’t look back…” 
        “But Mommy, it’s a real kitty!  I can pet a real kitty,” insisted young Mikey, still staring at Uber.  Uber gazed back at him steadily, and flicked the black tip of her tail.  “See, Mommy, it moved!”
        “Don’t look back,” muttered Chen, “Please, please, please don’t look back!”
        The mother, just about to pull her son through the doorway, finally turned and looked back at the boy.  He pointed triumphantly at Uber.
        Chen held his breath.  He heard Polly breathe, “Uh oh…”
        Uber remained motionless.  Not even a whisker twitched.
        “That is a pretty sculpture, sweetie, but we’ll have to come back and look at it another time.”  And they were through the doorway, and the woman nearly jumped as she saw Polly and Chen lurking on either side.  She glared at them disapprovingly, dragged Mikey firmly past them, and headed out.  Mikey’s whining voice trailed behind them, still insisting that he wanted to pet the kitty.
        “Whew,” Polly whispered.  “That woman’s almost as oblivious as my mom.  Not that my mom would ever make a mistake like that about art.  Now let’s get Uber before we have any more close calls.”
        They turned back to the carved stone… but the platform in front of it was bare.  In the silence they heard the faint tip-tapping of claws on the hardwood floor somewhere beyond the next room division.

        Uber (short for Überkatze) from The Extraordinary Book of Doors, an upper middle grade fantasy (excerpt from Chapter 4: The Cat in the Museum).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: sketch of Uber, AEGN, 2018.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter U.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Uber looks like a cat we had years ago named Taffy.