Mrs. Minerva Maye Miller--Minnie, to her few friends and many lovers--was a woman with a beautiful body and a calculating mind. During her relatively short stay on this earth she lived life to the fullest, enjoying what she often referred to as the pleasures of sin for a season. When a bullet fired at close range, from the gun of her current lover's enraged wife, sent her to her dubious reward, she left behind three daughters, a host of grieving lovers, a rambling old Victorian mansion, a cache of expensive jewelry, and a feisty little lilac-colored cat named Fifi.
Minnie's three daughters were a study in contrasts. Amber, the eldest, was breathtakingly beautiful, scintillating, sensuous, and deviously deceitful. Bernice, the second daughter, was pleasingly plump, unashamedly unattractive, and prudently parsimonious. Caitlin, the youngest, was careful to hide her beauty beneath loose-fitting clothing. She was also generous to a fault and too trusting for her own good. It was not difficult to predict how things would go when Minnie's estate was divided among these three.
Amber quickly latched onto the old Victorian mansion. "I shall turn this into a bed and breakfast and forget my ambition to become a famous porn star," she said.
Bernice settled for the cache of jewelry. "This should sell for enough to increase my nest egg considerably."
That left Caitlin with nothing but the pretty little lilac cat. "I guess I get Fifi. Gosh, I hope she doesn't need a dye job often."
The three sisters parted company, Amber stayed at the old mansion, Beatrice caught a bus to her downtown apartment, and Caitlin put Fifi in a shopping bag and walked the few miles distance from the mansion to her little cottage located just outside the city limits.
Once inside her comfortable little domicile, she let the cat out of the bag and sat down before saying to no one in particular, "It's not that I'm averse to cats, quite the contrary, I like all furry little creatures, but I don't want anything around that I might become attached to, not even a lilac pussy."
Fifi stretched and yawned before hopping onto the couch and curling into a furry ball.
Caitlin watched the cat's graceful movements. "You are really quite attractive. I suppose I could sell you. I wonder if there's a demand for lilac kittens."
Fifi sat up and bared her claws, both literally and figuratively. "Sugah, you don't know much, do you?"
Caitlin's eyes opened wide in surprise. "You're a kitten and you're talking, and with a southern accent, no less."
Fifi's temper flared. "We'd better get a few things straight right here and right now. First, I am not a kitten, I'm a cat. And second, I speak with a southern drawl because I am a southern pussy. And one other thing." Fifi held up one dainty paw. "My coat is naturally lilac. I don't need now, nor will I ever require, a bleach job."
Caitlin apologized, "I'm sorry, I didn't know." On a more assertive note, she asked, "Are you sure you're not French? I mean, your name is Fifi and--"
Fifi interrupted, "That silly name was your mamma's idea. You know how she loved all things French, especially French fries and French men."
Caitlin took a deep breath. "Fifi, my dear, I am not a pet person. I don't want a cat. Besides that, you'd be quite an expense. I'd have to buy food and cat litter and flea collars, and you'd need to see a vet every so often." She smiled reassuringly. "But don't fret, I will find a good home for you."
Fifi would have welcomed living in a place where she would be cared for and catered to, but her sense of obligation forbade that she go away and leave dear ole departed Minnie's na´ve youngest daughter to the mercies of a cruel world. Hopping from the couch she jumped into Caitlin's lap. "If you will listen to me, you will have money to spare, plus all the amenities that go with wealth." She rubbed against Caitlin's arm. "You will get some of the other things you deserve too."
Caitlin stroked Fifi's soft fur. "If I sold you, I'd be instantly rich. A talking pussy should bring a handsome sum of money."
"Forget that one, sugah," Fifi replied. "I'd never speak a word and eventually you'd get sued for selling a pussy that didn't perform." She dug her claws into her new mistress's leg.
Caitlin cried out in pain. "Ouch, that hurt." She pushed Fifi from her lap. "You are a naughty kitty. I should throw you out on your ear."
Fifi landed on her feet. When was Caitlin going to stop with this kitten stuff? She hopped back onto the couch. "Then I'd have to report you to the Humane Society. They would fine you and maybe throw you in jail." She was exaggerating, but so what? "It's cheaper to keep me." She hissed before adding most emphatically, "And don't keep calling me a kitten."
A chagrined Caitlin apologized. "I forgot. It won't happen again." She scratched the side of her head. "I suppose I will be forced to keep you, but you have to promise to behave."
Behaving was not one of Fifi's strong points. "Don't be such a twit. Listen to what I have to say to you, it's important."
"I don't have much time." Caitlin glanced at her watch. "I should be at my sewing shop now. I have several alterations to do."
Minnie had been right. This was the dumb one. "Your problem, sugah, is you think too small. Forget those alterations; get me a Gucci Handbag and a pair of Ann Klein ankle-high leather boots with six inch stiletto heels. I will bring more business to your sewing shop than you can handle."
Caitlin's puzzled expression said she wasn't at all convinced. "I can't do that and I'm a human." Indignation overtook her uncertainty. "You're just a cat and a lazy cat at that. Mamma told me many times that you won't even catch mice. Maybe you'd better stick to climbing curtains and sharpening your claws on the furniture and let me take care of my business." As an afterthought, she added, "And don't call me a twit again."
Fifi stretched out on the couch and purred low in her throat.
After several minutes of silence, Caitlin asked, "Did you hear what I said?"
Oh, yes, Fifi had heard and it was all she could do to keep from telling this little twit--for that's what she was--where she could stick her caustic comments and her overbearing manner.
After a spate of sobering silence, Caitlin leaned forward and asked, "What kind of business?" When Fifi still didn't reply, she added, "A Gucci Bag and a pair of Ann Klein boots would cost a bundle."
Fifi opened one eye. "It would be money well spent."
"I guess I could manage ... still..."
Fifi kept her mouth shut and her temper under control.
Several more seconds ticked before Caitlin threw both hands in the air and relented. "Oh, all right, I'll spring for the boots and the bag. I'll use my credit card, but this is against my better judgment."
A week later when the boots and bag arrived, Fifi put the boots on, hung the bag around her neck and set out for the alley behind The Stylish Silhouette, a fashionable and very expensive store catering exclusively to women. It was owned by Leo Legrand, entrepreneur and dashing man-about-town, and frequented by the elite female population of the city. Once there, she hid behind a trash can and watched for a delivery truck to back to the loading dock near the rear door.
She didn't have long to wait. When the drivers got out of the truck and went in to the store, Fifi crept inside and hid behind an empty crate. There she stayed until the truck was loaded and speeding down the busy streets of the city to keep its appointed delivery rounds. Then she crept from her hiding place, opened her Gucci Bag, and took from it a large stack of business cards. Purring softly, she went about the task of slipping one card into each bundle, package and bag inside the truck.
As she worked, Fifi congratulated herself for being so clever. The card was her own brilliant creation. On the front of each little three-by-five was Caitlin's name and the address of Nips and Tucks, her sewing and alteration shop. Beneath that was the slogan: From off-the-rack to on-your-back is not a fashion statement. The flip side read: Caitlin offers custom sewing and alterations for all clothing at all sizes. She specializes in creating evening wear and wedding dresses from sketches. All work guaranteed.
Three hours later Fifi escaped unnoticed from the delivery truck and made her weary way home. She was tired and hungry and her feet were killing her.
After a good night's rest, she felt her old self again. The next day she once more put on her boots, hung her bag around her neck, and set out to retrace the journey she'd made yesterday. And so it went for the rest of the week.
By the time the next Monday rolled around, Caitlin was swamped with work. The majority of her new orders were for dresses made from sketches. To celebrate, on the way home from work she bought a bottle of cheap champagne for herself and a half pint of cream for Fifi.
The two partied that night, toasting their good fortune and making merry until almost ten o'clock. After that, Caitlin retired to her little bedroom and Fifi went to sit on the back fence. Success made her daring. She began to plot how she could get into Stylish Silhouette. Once inside, she could distribute Caitlin's business cards to customers who didn't have packages delivered. That should increase business even more.
Fifi was so lost in thought that she failed to note that a big black tom cat approached until he arched his back and said, "Halloo, little lilac pussy. You must be new to the neighborhood."
I am," Fifi admitted with a toss of her head. She narrowed her gaze. "And who might you be?"
The handsome hunk smiled a killer-cat smile. "I am Damon. I live just down the block." He extended one big black paw. "I'm very pleased to meet you. My, you're a pretty little thing. You must have a pedigree a foot long."
Their paws touched and Fifi's tail twitched. She temporarily forgot about the further plotting of some get-rich quick-scheme. "I am a purebred Chantilly/Tiffany. Now, tell me about you."
Damon's amber eyes glittered. "I am sad to be forced to admit, but I am a lowly alley cat. I have no pedigree at all. May I add that I feel much honored to be in your presence?" He moved a little closer. "Would you like to take a stroll down the alley?"
Fifi purred her delight. "That would be lovely."