Max: KATHMANDU – The Fire Down Below…

Hi everyone,

As promised Max is back to “read” to you an excerpt from his latest book Kathmandu, A Max & Tammy Mystery. For all published books check out their author page on Amazon US or Amazon US.

max_KATHMANDU (2)

KATHMANDU

-pt.2- (Click here for pt.1)

“The Fire Down Below…”

     My dream came to an end before it normally did. A loud noise brought me back to the park and now. There in front of me still kneeling on one knee was the Maintenance Man, who was reaching up towards the top of the deep freezer and Baby. He stood quickly as she hissed at him. He exclaimed loudly angrily and in an instant I was on my feet, er, paws—and leapt out to her aid. He almost touched her as she swatted at his hand. My scrambling made him turn his head so sharply he looked confused he took a step back. He moved quickly that he lost his balance and fell over backwards, one foot hooked in that black cord that was stuck out of the wall behind the deep freezer. There was no reason to be quiet now with a deep growl emanating from inside my throat; I jumped over him as he lay on the floor. With a crash, Baby descended from her perch and onto the floor. She ran headlong into the living room. In a flash, I ran around Maintenance Man and followed her inside.

All at once, the music stopped outside, and the crowd let out a loud noise of disapproval. There were cries of horror and people were getting very excited. I slipped around the corner of the sliding glass door and into the living room. Maintenance Man had regained his footing; he stood and picked up that black cord. He then bent over in-between the deep freezers. A second passed and then as if by magic the music came back on, much to the delight of the huge crowd on the grassy field. Who now shouted their approval and were very happy.

The song that The Sicko’s were playing resumed, Maintenance Man had come to the sliding glass door and shut it and snapped that thing called a lock on. But not before he announced to us, well…me. “I know it’s you…you beast. I’ll be back to get you.”

I knew he meant it and to make matters worse, we were trapped. But there were plenty of places to hide, and under the kitchen table were some left over scraps of mystery meat that Baby was chowing down. She was making fast work of it too. I walked over and found a scrawny morsel that I ate in two gulps.

Lucky for us the boys in the band had left the overhead fan on cause it was hot in here and it was bound to get a lot hotter as the afternoon wore on.

Baby found a spot on a kitchen chair to follow up on her catnap, but I thought I should explore the trailer and see if there was a way out.  These older units like Kathmandu have some odd construction. When we first moved into ours, my Dad found more than a few hidey-holes. They were all odd shapes, some just the right size for cats. He, being handy and home a lot (he was doing this thing called a job search,) found these holes he covered them up. He did leave a few for us to sleep in. Whata guy, he’s the best.

With my felines curiosity at full tilt, I wandered through the living room to see what I could see. Which I have seen before only not from the inside, I’d never been inside a Kathmandu before only in the backyard and the deck. I had on occasion scoped out the inside through the decks windows, but I guess that doesn’t count. As I said, with all the bands instruments gone even the bang-bang—it’s the one that one of the Sicko’s sits behind and plays with these sticks. There really wasn’t much in the room, and I have to say it was a mess. There was a mattress that sat on the floor, and a couch up against the living room widows. A few chairs, were scattered about and in one corner a big TV set like my parents have. I turned down the hallway as little creaks and groans sounded from the back room.

I was wondering if we were in fact alone. I dismissed the thought and padded softly down the hallway past a second room that had a bed in it and a bunch of band posters on the walls. It looked like one of the boy’s rooms cause it smelled like a teenager: stale and moist so I didn’t go in. From time to time, there was a roar that came from the grassy field as all those people yelled and screamed. The bands were loud too so I didn’t think Maintenance Man would come back anytime soon. I walked on.

At the rear bedroom door, I could feel the floorboards shake with a kind of rhythm and a creaking like what comes from my parents bedroom in the afternoon and always on those days called Saturday. There was a gap at the bottom of the door and as I got close I could hear voices, more like hushed whispers. But there was something else too, a scent— no, a smell one that I knew only too well but I didn’t want to believe it was here. Again my cat’s curiosity propelled me on.

When I got to the door, I crouched down and dropped flat onto the floor. Well, as flat as my tummy and fat sack would allow.

This is what I saw. At one end of the room was a bed. There under some very mismatched covers (my Mom would not like the décor at all)  was what looked like a body, a human body. I knew this caused the body’s legs and feet stuck out at the end of the bed. But this body had two heads. Now I was confused I admit. So I lay over on my side and pulled myself as close to the gap as possible. Then one of the heads rolled off to one side, and I saw another pair of legs and feet. It looked less like a creature and more like two peoples. They laughed together, and the boy (who I now recognized as the older Evans boy) started to tickle the girl. The covers flew around as she struggled to get away from him. It was at that point that I picked up on that smell again. And I knew for sure who it was.

At that moment the young girl said. “What’s your cat doing beside the door?”

“I don’t know; he gets weird sometimes.”

“Weird! I gotta tell ya; he creeps me out, and he is so big! I mean I don’t think I have ever seen a cat that big before.”

I sat up and watched as a shadow moved across the floor under the door. It was a leg a giant cat’s leg and paw that came under it and tried to swat at me. The color was a blue-grey and it was big.

As if I needed to have my suspicions confirmed the girl asked the older Evans boy. “Why did you name him Ivan?”

“That’s the name my father gave him cause he is so mean sometimes. He has actually drawn blood just playing with my Dad.”

I backed away. I knew that Ivan didn’t want to play with me, he wanted to kill me. I have had a few run-ins with him before and didn’t want anything more to do with him and his gang of Russian Blues. They have been terrorizing the park for a long time. I never knew this was where he lived.

The young girl asked, “Dose he live here all the time?”

Her reply was, “No, he comes and goes.” The older Evans boy laughed. “You’re not going to believe this but he has like a gang of cats that follow him around they’ve even caused trouble with other pets here in the park. Even the parks dogs shy away from him.”

With that, Ivan pulled his paw back from under the door and I heard a scrambling and a howl that was deafening, followed by scratching on the other side of the door, only halfway up as if Ivan were standing on his hind legs. Then the door started to shake and I backed up even more.

“You better do something about your cat. He is going crazy.” Said the girl.

I heard the bed creak and footsteps on the floor. The older Evans boy was going to open the it. I frantically looked around for an escape, but there was nothing.

“Don’t open that door!” She yelled.

“I ahhh.” Came the reply from the older Evans boy as the door knob moved a little. I held my breath and waited for disaster.

“Do not open that door what if its one of your younger brothers. If you open that door, I’ll leave right now!”

I thought she meant it. So did the older Evans boy cause the floor didn’t creak anymore. I did hear a door open and close from the room and I guessed that there was a back door off the bedroom. We were safe, if only for awhile. I still didn’t like the idea of me inside Ivan’s home and him outside and he knew it.

The room went quiet as more applause erupted from outside. I made my way back down the hallway and sat at the corner. I knew that the sliding glass door was just around the corner and I felt dread as I peered ever so slowly around it. There, sitting very still on the deck in front of the sliding glass door, was the enormous figure of Ivan and he wasn’t happy. He hadn’t seen me yet but he knew I was there.

What was I to do? I thought. Then everything changed in the blink of a cat’s eye. Baby walked into the room. She stopped and gazed at our host on the deck and hissed as loud as she could.

I needed help and help was on its way; I just didn’t know it. They were to come to me in the form of my Angels.

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“The Crossroads and the Angels….”

     Ivan gazed at me; his eyes seemed to blaze a kind of fire as if I could see into his soul. The animal was simply huge. He towered over me. Even from this distance, I knew if it hadn’t been for that closed and locked door he’d be on me in a fraction of a second and in another second he would tear me apart. His coat was slick and shiny. He’d been living the good life here in Kathmandu all the fish and meat you’d ever want. But I van was something of a throwback. Like nature played a trick on us normal felines and gave us this enormous beast to lord over us. Under his coat, I could see ripples of muscle as he stood there. I watched him intently, the way he parted his front paws on the floor the way he hung his head and glared at me. His ears didn’t twitch, not one little bit. He was that tuned into me. I got the feeling that if he stared at me long enough either the glass in the door would melt or I’d stroll over and open the door for him as if he were my master and me his obedient slave. As if any cat in his right mind would do such a silly thing, like open the door for him. What I did was taunt him, show him he didn’t scare me.

My mind made up; I gathered up as much courage as I could and inch by inch came around the corner. All thirty plus pounds of him his muscle and bone and claws and fangs could check out a real feline that needed to loose some weight.

That’s when I saw them, my buddies. Hovering in back of the biggest Russian Blue in the world, were my white and black angel’s, cat angels that is. Their wings lazily beat the air as White Angel stood off to one side, a look of trepidation on her face. While The Black Angel (he’s a trouble maker) crawled on his belly around the back of Ivan, staring up at him, sizing him up. By this time, I had made my way across the room to sit in front of him. We went nose to nose with eachother. The glass protected him from me, I guess.

Black Angel had walked up to the glass door and was leaning on it. He smiled at me and snapped his claws at Ivan. The noise startled my nemesis and he looked around but saw nothing. Only I can see my angels, at least, I think that’s how it works. Black Angel laughed and quickly covered his face making little smirking noises. I could see clearly that he was truly enjoying himself. All the while White Angel still hovering just out of reach “Schussing” the little beast and shaking her paw and one claw at him, she was clearly becoming agitated with the situation.

Outside, the afternoon sun was starting its journey in back of S Mountain soon it will be dark. All kinds of different things can happen in the dark. Escape routes can become filled with people (they always get in the way) shadows can hide other cats who would like nothing better than to take me down… to make points with Ivan. It seemed the wisest thing to do was to simply stay where we were. But I hadn’t reckoned on my Angels and the Maintenance Man.

Black Angel is forever showing off. He wound his wings up and as if he were a small furry helicopter he lifted off the deck to hover in front of Ivan’s mouth. By this time Ivan had become somewhat antsy. His lower jaw dropped and some fluid dripped off of one of his fangs. He leaned into the glass door and shoved it sideways on its track. He stood up taller and placed his paws on the door and pushed. The door seemed to move—it really shouldn’t have but it did. I leaned back and he saw me flinch. Black Angel was almost in his open mouth when he (Black Angel) snapped his claws just like my human Dad snaps his fingers. Again Ivan heard this but instead of looking around he snapped his jaws in the direction of the sound. He missed but his nose made contact with Black Angel and forced him through the glass as if it wasn’t there. Black Angel fell to the floor and landed on his black butt at my feet, er, paws.

That’s when he said to me. “Hey there Max, what you doin with this big lug?”

Yes, I can talk to them, and if you’re close enough anyone can hear them. White Angel, not wanting to be left out, fluttered down to the glass doors handle and sat on it, very lady-like… her hind legs crossed. She looked so sweet as she tucked her wings in back of her and then she stuck an ear through the door to listen.

Baby made some noise as she stretched on the kitchen chair and yawned. White Angel heard this too and looked up to see the top of Baby’s calico headbone.

“Oh! look its Baby.” She stood on the handle and then exclaimed. “I should go in and see if she needs me!” I didn’t think anything of it. After all, Black Angel had simply come through the glass as if it wasn’t there so why not her too. But she had another idea and stood on the little latch on the handle and it went down. The lock disengaged and then things happened, she said. “Oops” as the sliding glass door slid along its rails a few inches. Ivan reached over and slipped a big front paw into the doorway and with his huge claws he gripped the edge of the door. I looked up and he was smiling at me, I ran into the kitchen as fast as I could knocking over my Black Angel in the process. I hit the kitchen chair with Baby on it and she rolled over and fell to the floor. I then jumped up onto the kitchen counter and searched for an open window. All the while Ivan struggled to get in. He should have been in by now. I stopped and turned to see Ivan pull the door open only to be foiled by both my White and Black Angels as they together pushed back almost closing the door.

Ivan’s shoulder muscles rippled and his leg muscles stuck out as he vainly tried, again and again, to muscle his way in. My Angels seemed to be holding their own and my first thought was to get myself and Baby out of here as quickly as possible. That’s when all of us sniffed the first scent of smoke. If there is one thing above all other things that cats fear the most, its fire.

From between the two deep freezes where The Maintenance Man had plugged in that long black cord thing, there was a sliver of fine wispy smoke. At this point, even Baby took notice and turned to look in the direction of the deck and this new threat. She didn’t seem to care that Ivan was still trying to break in or that we were trapped. She got a good whiff of that smoke and dashed out of the kitchen and into the living room. I followed but she had disappeared.

Standing in the middle of the room I said to myself “Now what.”  To wit, Black Angel answered me.

“Don’t worry there Max old buddy we’re here to help you!”

“Geez, that’s all I need!” I thought.

Outside the next band was tuning up when I heard a voice that I knew only-too-well, my friend Tammy. Tammy and I go back a long time. As a matter of fact, she is my oldest and bestest human friend here in the park, well aside from Mom and Dad.

The smoke from the deck had penetrated the living room. It was grey at the top as the heavier black stuff dropped onto the floor. It moved as if it had no place to go, but it was filling the room up foot by foot. I knew that our time was limited so I made a quick run through the room but couldn’t find Baby. I glanced over to see that Ivan was gone as well. Where he had gone too, I didn’t know or care.

I started to howl at the top of my lungs; the kitchen was still fairly clear, so I backed myself up into a corner by the dishwasher. A lot of these older trailers have soft spots in the floor and some of the folks have patched them over the years. Some not to well almost to the point of merely draping carpet over the hole and hoping no one will step through it. I scooted along the edges of the kitchen and around the corner of the hallway that lead to the washing machine and clothes drier; the layout was just like my parents. Then I remembered that there was a vent to the outside for the clothes drier. I was just about to go to the side door and look for the vent when I heard Baby sneeze; she has allergies poor thing. I came around the corner at a run, just as I got into the kitchen I saw flames erupt in-between the deep freezers as the sliding glass door shook wildly back and forth on its tracks.

In a fraction of a second, I was in the kitchen but there was no Baby. I ran around in circles looking for her as the room started to get hot.

In a moment of frustration, I simply sat down and meowed my most pleading, my most mournful meow.

Then I looked up and saw a tail, a cat’s tail, Baby’s tail as it switched back and forth from the top of the refrigerator. She backed out of the cover of some snap, crackle and pop boxes and they then she jumped to the floor. The smoke was so dense we had to hurry. Then something on the deck rattled and we both heard something like a fizz then the deck rocked as something exploded and flew through the room and out onto the street. It was round and had bulged under some kind of force. The band stopped playing and from outside we heard cries of “Fire, fire.”

This we already knew ourselves. I grabbed Baby by the scruff of her neck and pulled her towards the hallway and the side door by the machines. There right beside the door a little in back of the drier was this very shiny tube that I knew led to the outside. It was the vent. I leapt on the tube and sunk my claws into it. I pulled with all my might and incredibly it fell off the wall and I then pulled it out of the way.

The noise coming from the deck was now a steady roar with a few sharp crackles. It sounded like a monster was upon us. The vent was just a hole in the wall and there was only a thin piece of screen on the other side. I pushed Baby up to the hole and she placed her headbone against the screen and we both pushed at once. There was a tearing sound and Baby fell from the inside to the outside; she was safe. I turned to see how close the fire was. Flames were licking around the corner and the carpet was alight just the way grass burns. My time was now. I turned back to the hole and came face to face with Ivan.

From over my shoulder I heard the flutter of small wings. I looked up and there to my surprise were both of my angels. White Angel swooped into the hole and ran right into Ivan, who reeled under the impact. Black Angel followed her and when I stuck my head out of the hole, both Angels were pummeling Ivan with blows from their tiny bunched up fists. It was all Ivan could do just to stand there. I slipped out of the hole and onto the ground and took off towards the street. Just as I came to the blacktop, the fire department pulled up. In back of me, a couple of the Evans kids had arrived with these big cans in their arms and went into the trailer. I could hear a hissing sound and white smoke poured out of the doorway. The firemen had other cans and a long garden hose (only much bigger) and were spraying down the deck and what was left of the Evans stuff inside it. Most of which were now all black and twisted.

My Angels appeared too. Both were hovering around Tammy, who held Baby in her arms a big smile across her Tammy’s face. Tammy walked from out of the crowd and over to me. I was exhausted and dizzy and simply fell over onto my side and shut my eyes.

This might have been the end of this story but it wasn’t. Because the Sheriffs drove up in their loud squad cars with the round things that have colored lights in them that go round and round.

Tammy was at my side and called out to one of the firemen. “Help, oh can’t you help me.” She stood up and went over to the closest one. It was then that a blackness swept over me and everything all sound was gone and my eyes went dark. I don’t know how long I lay there. But I heard a funny noise that echoed in my mind a kind of heavy breathing but unlike anything that I’ve ever experienced before. I thought maybe I’d be sick and felt like upchucking. That’s when I had the strangest sensation of fingers around my stomach and on my mouth and nose. With a blink of my eyes I saw the darkening sky and in front of it a big red hat (you do know red looks grey to me) I was in a sort of mask all enclosed like a womb, as a steady stream of air flowed into my nose.

The hands that clutched me where strong and I felt safe. I heard Tammy again and saw her gazing over the red hat, a big Tammy smile all across her Tammy’s face.

“Will he be okay, do ya think?” She asked the red hat.

“Yes he’ll be fine; we turned the oxygen down to a trickle for him.” Said the strong manly voice, it seemed to come from the red hat which made me perplexed. I didn’t understand who this was.

I tried to raise my head but bumped into this mask I was in. I could feel grass and dirt with my hind claws so I wasn’t in this thing totally.

“Can’t you let him out now?” Asked Tammy and immediately the grip on my body loosed and the mask was taken off of me. I looked around and meowed my gratitude. Then with a supreme effort, I struggled to my paws and stood. Sort of wobbly but I stood. A round of applause went up from the cluster of people that surrounded us. It was then that I got a good look at the man who was helping me. He was a fireman it said so on his big thick jacket. But he left before I could ask what a hook and ladder was.

Baby sat next to me as I lay on the grass. I looked up to see my angels hovering over the small crowd watching us intently. The crowd around us thinned out. A skinny boy all dressed in black knelt down next to myself and Tammy.

“Come on, that old stray cat will be okay. It was really something the way that fireman had scooped him up and tucked that oxygen mask around him. Must have saved his life.” Again he smiled at Tammy and even in my weakened state I felt a pang of emotion… almost an anger that this boy wanted something from my Tammy.

“Let’s get back to our set; people are waiting they want to hear you sing.”

“I am going to pass on that I am really too upset to sing anymore. This little guy is a friend of mine,” said Tammy as she stroked my headbone I let out a meur of the softest kind for her. The kind that makes her smile, I know love when I feel it and Tammy has a bunch of love for me.

“Well… you come and join us when you’re done. Lucky cat. He must have on ly eight lives left.” He then walked off.

“Probably fewer then that,” Tammy said softly, smiling at me.

It was then that Sergeant Jack walked up to us with The Maintenance Man beside him. Maintenance Man pointed at me and said excitedly. “It was him I saw him inside the trailer.”

Kathmandu flashed though my cats mind and I turned to look over at what was left of the trailer. It was only partially burned. It was mostly the deck and cover that was totally destroyed. There still was black smoke drifting out of the windows and open doors as the firemen went through it making sure the fire was out.

Maintenance Man stood over us and kicked me with his shoe Tammy smacked his leg and said. “Hey, you can’t kick him.” She looked angry for a second but it passed as she took me in her arms and cradled me.

“It was him that started the fire.” Yelled Maintenance Man. “I saw him do it.” He tried to kick at me again but I was safe in Tammy’s arms.

Sergeant Jack held him by his arm and admonished him. “Not so fast, let’s see what the Captain has to say about where the fire started.”

With that said Sergeant Jack turned and waved over to someone that was standing with another fireman and one of the older Evans boys. The Evans boy had a piece of that black cord in his hand. I could hear him say. “I told that old slob of a maintenance man not to put it in the twenty amp box.” He pointed out towards us on the grass and I noticed that Maintenance Man had stepped away from Tammy, Baby and myself. He had that look in his eyes like some animals do when they are in trouble. I smiled to myself cause Sergeant Jack knew me and was my friend.

At that exact moment, Tammy’s band had brought their music to a very loud and thunderous climax and the whole of the people on the grassy field stood up all at once and applauded and cheered. Tammy came up on one knee and then the other (it was difficult for her with a ton of Max in her arms) by that time the excitement was winding down. Sergeant Jack arrived with the others and asked Tammy. “Where did the Maintenance Man get off to?”

Tammy could only shake her head from side to side, a sure sign of indecision from humans. Cats will just tell you outright never wanting to be impolite. We all looked around as the crowd sat back down but none of us could see where Maintenance Man had gone to. After a few moments, Sergeant Jack suggested that he and Tammy take me and Baby in his squad car back home to #248 where we live with our parents.

I felt bad that Kathmandu had been damaged but I was so thankful that both Baby and myself had escaped unhurt. Then it dawned on me all at once. I should have thought about it earlier…where was Ivan? Though I didn’t care where he was as long as he stayed away from me. But where were my angels? Had they followed Maintenance Man?

Tails from the Park is available from Amazon here. Join my Max Gang here for updates on my work.

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Head bumps!

Max

Tails From The Park

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Marc

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