A Second Chance
written by Xyanth
My name is Xyanth Cat. My current attire could be Hilfigher and Fila if I wanted, but I just enjoy wearing what’s comfortable. Not what’s expensive. To describe my appearance when I first arrived, I was wearing a fair set of clothes I had acquired from a rather kind clothing tailor-a white t-shirt and baggy blue jean pants. My fur was, and still is tan, and I have an oval shaped patch of sand-colored fur around my left eye. My eyes are a dark blue which actually stand out from the color of my fur.
I felt that for no reason in particular, I should tell you about my journey as a teenager from being no one to being someone with friends. You could call me a hero, but the rules of a hero are that he must leave home, he must go through a personal change, and then he must return home. I guess I can cover the first two, but not the returning home part, since I never knew my home to go to it.
I have been an orphan from sometime shortly after my birth, where I was brought up in Southside New Jersey, as it was called, a fairly run down, but still manageable orphanage at the time. At age ten I left the orphanage and went west from Jersey, through the different states, overcoming many obstacles, and learning about other people, as well as myself. Luckily I was still in my early age of developing my maturity by the time I arrived here in Hollywood. I was fifteen when I arrived. With just enough time left to learn that I had missed out on a lot, as well as about the many philosophies I had made before. Most of my ideas of people and life were mistaken, and I now only had a few years left to correct it all.
But for the moment, you will hear the beginning…my arrival. The first day of my new life, and what caused such a change.
I had just arrived here in Hollywood this morning, and I was already getting myself in trouble. At 2 a.m. it’s still dark, of course, and in such a large city you can only expect criminals to be out and about, searching down their nightly victims. Of course I wasn’t worried about it that much, at the time…I was half asleep, and fairly exhausted from the uncomfortable ride on the bus. But at least I had enough money on me for it, instead of walking.
On my way to find a hotel, or any place with a map, that was open, I came across the graveyard-shift welcome wagon. Oh…lucky me. Perhaps I just stood out in the crowd of thin air or something. Either way, the guy made sure he had my attention. If it wasn’t the abrupt snatch of my shirt from the darkness of the ally, then the slam against the wall did the trick.
Understand me when I say I have no prejudice against humans, but I’d think they would have something better to do than attack some kid with a suitcase. But he and his four buddies just had an itch they needed scratched, I guess. And what better way to do it than ask a cat with claws for help? Well, I didn’t want to disappoint them.
Off to my left was another cat. He looked like a rather nice type. His orange fur let me know of his species, and his naturally set patches helped too. He wore a sort of straw fedora, green vest over a white button-up long-sleeve, and dark-brown khaki pants. Isn’t it sweet? They found another to help scratch their backs as well.
Regularly I try to reason with the destructive types, but the bike chains and baseball bats canceled the idea of ‘Oh, what could have possibly come over us?’ part out. Fortunately, by heart, I have to give a fair warning.
“I give you the chance to walk away from your mistake. You can leave if you want to avoid pain.” I explained.
They just laughed at me, and of course the orange guy stared at me like I’d lost my mind.
“There’s five of us, runt...you’d better shut up, and just pray we leave something to go into intensive care.” One of the humans chuckled.
“Sure thing…” I grinned a bit, as I do tend to get a bit cocky when it comes to stuff like this.
These guys either thought they were the Super friends and just planned to blow us away with eye-lasers, or were in actuality the Stupor friends.
Usually I wouldn’t explain the fighting and details, but I enjoyed this one, due to the reason behind it, so bare with me.
After we exchanged our warnings, I decided to just take a ready stance, or risk getting surprised by not paying attention. After I pinned all five of their positions down, I watched them closely…insert a long moment of suspense, and then the fun began. As I often do, I waited for the first swing. Number five’s chain soared through the air as he raced toward me, screaming like an idiot.
Oh, brilliant! Let us give away our attack in a moronic cry of honor? Well, the honor part is already pretty stupid.
I waited for him to get close enough to actually make the swing, then followed the lazy swing, gripping his wrist and throwing his body off balance and letting his momentum toss him into the side of a rusted dumpster.
“Ouch! Even I felt that one.” I said.
My buddy was busy watching the others…at least he had some sense. As it was, I only had that one glance back to him before more fighting came my way.
Batboy and another Chain Chunkin’ Charlie, on the scene! They both came at an angle, almost perfectly together. At the last second, I ducked, dove between them, and chain wraps around bat. Well, So much for Rock Paper Scissors.
“You have a problem there?” I asked, then grabbed the bat and tugged hard on it away from Charlie…and toward Batboy. Chain fell, and BAP! Batboy flopped out on the ground holding his head, “See? I got it loose!”
Perhaps a light bulb went off in Charlie’s head, but I know he realized that he was supposed to be fighting me. He lifted his chain and went straight for me, but I guess he also forgot who had the bat. With the long swing of the chain, it didn’t take any time at all for me to knock the guy’s knee out of lock, and send the chain sailing up in the air while his arms flailed to find the ground before he hit.
“Quoth the Raven, “CAW!”” I said, pointing the bat at the downed Charlie. Of course you can’t always win, which I occasionally tend to learn, again and again.
It’s rather odd how when you’re hit with something, you sort of blank out until a moment later. Maybe it’s just the shock.
Either way, Batboy had found Charlie’s chain, and made a fairly good impression on my side, and down I went, my bat and suitcase flying off in separate directions.
Forgot I had the suitcase, didn’t you?
Batboy hovered over me while Charlie got back up and went to find the bat, returning shortly after, “That’s what you get for messin’ with us!” I groaned and rolled slightly, then kicked my feet up and ran up Batboy’s knee, hip, and chest, throwing myself to a handstand while he lost his balance and fell. I spun down into a spin on my back, then turned and kicked Charlie’s legs out from under him, bringing myself up to a sort of a stand. Heck! That stuff hurts! Luckily we cats can take a fair enough amount of pain when our lives are at stake. I was slightly hunched over, but kept my eyes on both of them a moment before being tired of it. I chased Charlie off simply by intimidation…Batboy still wanted a swing at me, though. He raced at me with his chain flailing, and…hadn’t I seen that before? Well, they have to learn some time. It was pretty much a reenactment of what I did to the Dumpster Dude, with an acceptation. He came, I launched, and then he slammed into his two buddies who were fiddling with the Tabby cat. When I looked down the ally, Dumpster Dude and Chain Chunkin’ Charlie were already headed out the other end, so these three decided to hobble their way out too.
“That’s it! Run you chickens! Ha Ha!” I yelled after them. Then made sure they were a ways down the ally before I looked to the tabby, “You alright?” I asked him.
“I’m fine.” He said, “Just a few scrapes and bruises.” He then dusted off a bit and walked over, extending a paw, “I’m Danny Cat.”
I hesitated a moment, then just turned to leave, “I’m gone...see ya.”
He started to say something, but I believe he saw the figure of my Katana pressing out of the back of my shirt from where it was strapped to my back, and so he let me leave.
I kept walking from where I had left off, as if nothing happened. Then the sun came up, and the beginning of the daily folks came out, “Crud…so much for sleep.” I said, sighing to myself. But at least I still had time to find a hotel to stay at. The best place to find information on things like that would be at a bar, or a coffee shop.
Pinky’s Diner actually caught me by surprise. I came across this fairly nice diner while wandering through a not-so-nice side of the city. I had enough money for at least a cup of coffee anyway, and thought I’d be able to get some information out of one of the workers there.
As I stepped in the door, I remembered my suitcase. And the few people in the diner stared as I fussed at myself for forgetting it, but I didn’t start back for it. It’s probably one of the funniest things to see…someone asking them self a question, and ranting about their forgetfulness.
I just calmed down and went to the counter, “How much is a cup of coffee?” I asked in a bit of a complaining sounding tone. You’d probably complain too if your only other set of clothes was gone.
“Small is a quarter, medium is seventy-five, and large is one twenty-five.” He explained.
“Small, then.” I dug through my pocket and found enough for it, handing it to him, then found a nearby booth to sit in, but somewhere to just stay out of view a little.
The man brought me my coffee not too long after, along with a couple of doughnuts, “Here ya go, kid.”
“Than-…wait, I didn’t order the doughnuts.” I started to say.
“It’s on me, kid. You sounded like you could use it when you came in the door.” He smiled and went back over to the counter.
I don’t really mind charity, especially when I know I could use it, but I at least like to return the favor. But I also wasn’t in the mood for an awkward emotional moment with a stranger. I just remembered to do something for him later on, when I could. For the meantime, I sulked over my lost suitcase, not like it was going to help me any, but it made me feel a little better.
After I finished my coffee and the doughnuts, I set my head on folded arms and closed my eyes to plan out my day. I listened to the door jingle bells as different people came in and left, counting in my head how many there were when I came and how many are left after exits and entrances.
After a while I got bored with it and went on thinking again about my day, when the next jingle of the door caught my attention for one reason or another, though not enough to make me look…just enough to know it happened. And of course, the orange tabby from the ally sat across from me. I almost knew who it was before he said anything...just that sort of sense you get about some people, almost like an odor they give off, or something.
“What brings you here…Gone?” he asked with a grin.
“You’re a true riot…ever tried Stand-up?” I snorted, and opened my eyes.
“Not a very friendly guy, are you?” he tipped his head slightly.
“Not in the least.” I grunted, “What made you think I would be? I only fought to save my own tail. Just be glad that I’m not one to leave others to fend for them selves.”
He stared at me a moment, “Aren’t your parents worried about you?”
I glared and was a half second from screaming at him to go away, but I realized what he said, and my ears folded back. I just sat there, staring at my empty cup.
He watched me again, “Did I say somethi-“
“Please go away.” I mumbled at him. This guy just couldn’t get good ground with me.
“…I didn’t mean to…“ He started again, but I simply stood up and walked out, leaving him at the table. I can only take so much at a time, apologies, free stuff, and problems...
After I left, I went straight to finding something to take my mind off of the problems. And being too young to get a job at the time, I decided to do some of my own work. Hollywood is a busy place, with lots of busy people, and lots of fat wallets. I figured the movie studios would be best to find large groups for pick pocketing, and so I ran my happy little tail off to a back dumpster, behind the large tan wall of one of the studios around Hollywood, then hopped onto the dumpster and over the wall. A kid has to make cash somehow.
Inside the wall wasn’t much from where I could see, at the time. I was behind one of the stage warehouses, I believe. The movie places have too many of them inside where they do their movies and the like. There were many unattended props just lying around back there, and I figured what better way to seem inconspicuous than to look like I work here. It may not have been the smartest move.
I grabbed one of the smaller props and walked out from behind the warehouse, then began walking to look for something to get into, purse, wallet, jacket, someone leaving money bags laying around…all I could find at the time, though, was a movie getting set up for shooting.
I was too curious not to go. I still need to get a leash on my curiosity even today, it seems. But it’s not very likely that I’ll actually get it fixed. It’s not really a bad thing most of the time. My curiosity has just never done me any good but once in my life…but you’ll hear about that later on.
So I went. I might’ve been able to find something worth snatching and pawning there, I thought. But instead…
“Hey, Kid!” a man yelled over the crowd at me. I was thinking he knew I wasn’t supposed to be there, but I didn’t run just yet.
“Yeah?” I asked.
He nodded to make a sort of second note to himself he had my attention, “Find the snack cart guy and get me a drink.”
Being the good heart that I am, I’m willing to do another a favor, especially if I don’t want to get caught, so I trotted off to find someone with a mobile snack machine. It didn’t take me long at all. I almost ran right into the guy pushing it along.
“I need to get someone a drink.” I said, suddenly realizing I didn’t know what kind to get, “What kinds do you have?”
“You must be the new PA.” He said to me, then shook my hand, “I’m Dustin. I do this when I’m not the pyromaniac. In the movie sets it’s not what drinks I have, but who asked for the drink.” He explained, “So who asked for the drink?”
Whoops…I looked around a moment, and luckily could see the guy who asked, then pointed him out, “That guy right there…” I felt a bit dumb. I was somewhere I didn’t know with people I didn’t know who had some kind of odd invisible hierarchy.
“Ooh…” He said, “That’s Mr. Bryan. He takes a Coke.” He handed it over to me, “Hurry it over to ‘em. They like it when they get their food and drinks fast, even though they may not show it.”
I rushed the drink back over to him, then made my way back to Dustin, “Why would they hire a pyromaniac?” I asked.
He laughed a bit, “Pyrotechnic. It’s just a nickname for humor.” He tipped his head a bit, “Why would they hire a kid for the PA job?” he asked, though I was busy eying the snack cart. I only had a cup of coffee for breakfast. He noticed, “Help yourself! That’s what it’s there for.” He smiled some.
And I certainly did. For such a small cart, it had every snack you could dream of. Candy bars, drinks, cakes, pies, cookies, doughnuts, and bunches of other things. I mostly ate the cocoanut cake, and a soda. Dustin was one of those warm types who enjoyed saying what he thought and helping others when they needed it. He was a middle-aged canine, I couldn’t tell what kind though, really. I guessed he was a mutt. He had brown fur, wearing tan khaki pants and a yellow shirt under a brown leather jacket. He had just begun to develop white fur around his face like most dogs do, which can tell their age.
“So, why’d they hire you?” he asked me again.
Whoops again, “I’m good at doing what I’m told, I guess.” I tried my best not to sound too dimwitted, and especially not wanting to sound suspicious.
Dustin laughed, “That’s all they really want here anyway.” He grabbed his own drink off of the bottom shelf of the cart, “What’s your name?”
I hesitated a moment, considering whether I should give my real name or not, but I did, “Xyanth Cat.” I wasn’t all that interested in making new friends, but he didn’t seem like the type to prod me about how I feel or what I’m thinking, or why I’m here, blah blah blah…I just don’t like spilling myself out to people I don’t even know. And I usually lose my interest in those who do prod even when we’ve first met.
“Interesting name. How old are ya?” he asked.
Okay…he started to prod, “Sixteen.” I knew it was a lie, but I’m not going to give myself away, especially not here and now.
He grinned a little, “Just old enough to get a job…poor kid. My parents took care of me until I was eighteen, but then I was a bit out of luck as far as experience with getting jobs was concerned. Do your parents work here or something? Usually kids don’t get jobs here unless they’re an actor or has family or good friends in higher places.”
The parent thing again…this guy was starting to get at me without realizing it. I covered it up and went for a long shot, “My dad works as the fifth from the top of the board.
“Really? Wow.” He grinned again, “Perhaps I should call you sir, then. Why don’t you have a better job than this with a dad that high on the scale?”
“He just…Well, I told him that I didn’t want to always have it easy. I wanted to do things on my own, from scrap. Just because I was in a fairly wealthy family doesn’t mean I should be allowed to have a job any better than a common person due to luck. I think luck in that sense is sort of like cheating. You’re cheating yourself out of experience, as well as cheating others out of the same things you get just from being lucky and having a nice life.” I paused, “Sorry...I’m rambling.”
“Hmm…” he said, “No, you’re right. That’s a cool way to put it. You’ll get far that way, I’d wager.”
I smiled a little, “Thanks.” Sometimes it just feels good to know that your thoughts mean something to others. It’s a sort of reassurance that there is still some worth in you. No, maybe you can’t always make statements that everyone will agree with, but at least they agree with one of them.
“Well, it looks as though the day’s work is about over. If you hadn’t been here long, the work started last night and on into the morning. I think they’re finally happy for once and gave us a break. Want to head on over to someplace for a quick bite to eat?” he asked, then grinned, “Or are you stuffed on the junk food here?”
“Nah. I have some things I need to do today.” I said, “Maybe I’ll see you later, Dustin. Was nice meeting you.”
“What do you mean maybe?” he chuckled, “We both work here.”
“Yeah…” I trailed off as I started to head off into a crowd of people getting ready to leave. Usually I wouldn’t care about who I say what to, or what I say to whoever, but there are just some people I feel terrible for manipulating just for personal gain. Especially the nice, friendly, warm-hearted people like Dustin.
I looked around the large set, now, taking it in since I knew I wouldn’t get called for something. This place was huge. It was like the old abandoned warehouses in Jersey only larger and with lots of gadgets to play with. But I’m not touching it. There were props of any kind sitting around, large walls of glitter for who knows what, all the way to a giant foam banana. And for some odd reason, in the middle of all of the bustle and the different things going on, I felt as though I had fun here. Just this one day here, just a short time to actually get a small feeling of how it was. Unfortunately, I knew it wouldn’t last, and I’d eventually get caught, so I left.
The wall was too tall to get back over, so I had to go out through the gate. I took a shot at just walking out, and it worked well enough. With everyone leaving, it just seemed like another worker going home.
So the experience was over completely. I couldn’t go back. But it was a great experience for some odd reason. I can’t go back now, though.
My first idea failed. I spent too much time chatting to stay on task. But I did get a good meal, compared to my usual. So I decided to go on to something else. I could try and find a place to take a nap, perhaps. Or, I could try to find another place to pick up cash. I wandered down the street until I came to a bench, and decided to sit and plan out the rest of my day, since it was just morning.
Cars drove by, I looked. People walked by, I ignored stares. Music played…I paused. It was really interesting music. Something I’d not heard before, and amazing, compared to the usual. It had a fast tempo, but hadn’t heard the instruments before. I had to find the source.
I followed the sounds across the long street and into an alleyway. Through the other end was a sort of open, graveled area behind all of the buildings, and one doorway to the back of a building was open. That’s where the music was coming from. I quietly walked over to the door and looked in, but could only see a short hallway that turned off to the right.
A sudden electric guitar solo called me in. And off I went down the hall, quietly and cautiously, peeking around the corner. No one was there, so I continued around the corner toward the sounds. I walked into an open room of junk. Weird rusted old cans, bits and pieces of things, car parts, stereo equipment, and many other things were just lying around, few in boxes.
The music was very loud in here. Speakers were tucked in every corner of the room, and it seemed like the music was in my mind, rather than from a stage or stereo. There was one area that had a massive control panel. Keyboards, synthesizers, computers, and other sound machines were stacked and set up in a perfect order, racking their way at the amazing sounds. The keyboards were programmed to play on their own, the keys lighting up when they’re supposed to be played, and lights…there were lights on everything in the section of the room. Blinking in beat to the music.
I couldn’t help myself. I had to at least tap my foot to the beat…then I had to at least bounce my head. After that, I fell into it. There are some things you just can’t resist. Like a cat wanting to be petted-just got to do it!
With no one around, I didn’t mind if I made a fool of myself. I knew I enjoyed it, and that’s all that mattered. I was in my own world. I danced, twisted, hopped, bounced, jived, grunged, got down, boogied, whatever you want to call it. I was part of the music. I didn’t even know what I was doing. I just knew I was doing it. I didn’t worry about anyone’s opinion of what I was doing, or if anyone cared that I was there. It felt like an infinite relaxation. For once I could let go and feel freedom from any judgments.
I was the music. And with it, my freedom faded and ended. And of course, I wasn’t as observant as I should have been. Someone started applauding from a partially hidden doorway. My ears folded back. I thought whoever it was liked mocking me.
“Bravo!” he partially laughed out as he came into the light for a good look, “I’m Dominique. I noticed you found my music, and didn’t want to disturb.” He was very British, at least his accent was, and he was a very lanky, pale human. He wore a black leather jacket over a tie-dye shirt, and a pair of faded blue jeans. His dark-brown hair was spiked up to make it interesting.
I was blushing…embarrassed, as anyone would be in that situation, “Sorry…I’d just never heard it before. I’ll leave.” I started to walk out.
“Wait, I don’t want you to go. I think it’s great how you just opened up and let yourself go like that. It’s hard to find anyone who enjoys doing that anymore without worrying with what others think.” He explained.
“I just…didn’t think anyone was around. I shouldn’t have come in without asking.” I hate it when someone ‘catches me with my pants down’, you might say.
“No, it’s fine. No harm done. It’s not like you stole anything. Like I said, my name’s Dominique, but most call me Dom…and you are?” he asked.
“Xyanth…Cat. What did you do to make the music?” I had to know. It just sounded so different and knew to me.
“Cars, people, the junk you see in here. I record the sounds they make, then set them up to the beat and place them together in the song.” He walked around and fiddled with one of the computers, “Let me show you my vocal work. It’s manipulated with a lot of computer software. Really cool stuff.”
“With this stuff?” I asked, sort of to myself.
Dominique began a new song, which was all vocal. The beat was from a chorus singing, cut up bits from one person’s words, and the sound of someone being cut off from what they were singing. The music of the song was of different songs, people singing, but their voices manipulated to fit the music perfectly.
It was fantastic, an entirely new wave of art that I’d ever seen, working its way into my life at the speed of light.
“It’s so simple, anyone could do it.” Dominique explained while he kept the music low, so I could hear, “It’s really just finding a good beat and applying different sounds to it. Half the time I just come across good beats by accident.”
“You do this for a living?” I didn’t even know there was such a style of music, much less a line of work.
“Yup. I do this and splice together remixes that groups ask me to make for them. Sometimes I get hired to do the synthesizer editing for groups.”
“Must be fun to do…” I wasn’t really there. I was off listening to the music, but hopping back to gather what was said before my mind wandered again.
“Well, I say you only search out a profession that you enjoy doing.” He kept finding different music to play and fade between for me to listen to, “That way, you never get tired of it, and always put on your best work each time.”
“I agree with you, there.” I looked at my watch, took in the time, repeated to myself, “Eight thirty…” I stretched a little, “I need to head out. Got some things I need to do.”
“Come back any time, then. I’d be glad to see you, Xyanth.” He smiled.
“Sure thing!” I waved my paw, and wandered back the way I came.
TO BE CONTINUED................
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