The kitty kat was working extra hours that night at the mango and shoe stand. Mango slices were all the buzz, and no one needed new shoes more than the citizens of Pluckettown. "Meow," said the kitty kat when I gave him a new mango to slice.
"Now get to it," I said.
The kitty kat wasn't always such a good worker. There were nights when the two of us would sit on banana crates and talk about where we'd rather be. "Meow," the kitty kat would say.
"I know it," I'd say, "but you got to work your way up."
When the man in the red hat came up to our stand, I knew something was up. We had seen this fellow walk by every night, the same time, and never look twice at me or the cat. But this night, he walked right up to us and pet kitty kat on the head. "He ain't for pettin'," I said. "He's my damn employee. Now do you want a mango or what?"
"Look here," the man in the red hat said, and held up his feet so we could see the broken shoe he had on. "I need new shoes, and I need them bad."
"Meow," said kitty cat. We knew a good client when we saw one.
"What did you have in mind?" I asked the man. "Do you want something to match your hat?"
"No, that would be retarded," said the man. "I ain't no retard. I just need new shoes."
"Meow meow," kitty kat added.
We eventually all settled on a pretty pair of Nikes that had a pump in the tongue, old school style.
"Thank you," said the man in the red hat. "But now I need to ask for one more thing."
Uh oh, I thought, but I smiled and nodded.
"I've been hankering for a mango for about two months. But I don't have enough cash on me right now. I just bought these shoes, so can you spare a brother a fruit?"
"Meow…" said kitty kat. He wasn't up for favors. He'd worked long and hard in his life to get where he was, and he didn't believe in handouts for free.
"I don't know," I said. "We got a tight money wad, too."
"Let me propose an interesting deal," the man in the red hat said. "You give me a mango, and I'll give that cat there a bath. For free."
"MEOEEEOWOW," said kitty kat. Everybody knows that cats hate baths. But I did like the idea. I'd noticed that kitty kat was starting to smell bad. He always smelled like kitty litter, and if not that, then fancy feast. Nothing smells worse than fancy feast.
"Deal," I said. And the man and I shook hands. He scooped kitty kat up into his arms and the two walked down the dark city street.
The next morning, the man showed up at the booth with kitty kat wrapped in a towel. Kitty kat looked so sweet and cute and fluffy. I'd never thought of him that way before, but suddenly, all I wanted to do was pet the shit out of him. But no, I had to stay professional. I was running a shoe and mango front, and I needed to keep my boss-like looks. "Kitty," I said, "welcome back, you clean cat, you. Now slice this mango before it slices you."
The man set kitty kat down on the table and waved as he walked away.
"What a strange man," I said. And do you know what kitty kat said?
BIO: Lucky Smith is an American writer living today. This is Lucky's first publication.