American Curls by Nancy Springer

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When Cindy stops by the local cat shelter where she volunteers, she discovers her coworker Samantha unconscious on the floor. Even more horrifying, to Cindy, is that a mother cat and her kittens have mysteriously disappeared out into the snow. While Cindy leaves the attack to the police to investigate while she seeks out the missing cats, a second assault finishes Samantha off. Soon, Cindy's mixed up in a litter of death, missing cats and the police casting an eye in her direction as a possible suspect. Can Cindy find the missing cats and help pinpoint the murderer, or is she going to end up a victim of her own cat-astrophe? A short story.


Much later, Cindy got home—her home for the time being, anyway. A rather impressive Tudor in the best old neighborhood. Mrs. Heckmaster was sitting in the front room working on one of those memory books with the fancy pages and the stickers and lettering from the craft store. “My goodness,” she said, glancing up as Cindy stamped snow off her feet in the entryway, “what’s the matter, dear? You look like you need a cookie.”

Mrs. Heckmaster was a little old lady with blue poodle curls, and Cindy did not like her. But she didn’t need to like her, just keep an eye on her and run errands for her. Living with Mrs. Heckmaster earned Cindy her room and board while freeing Mrs. Heckmaster’s family, which happened to consist of Devon, the fair-weather volunteer from the shelter. Devon Heckmaster, back to her maiden name and getting richer by the day off alimony; whereas, Cindy felt herself getting poorer. When Mrs. Heckmaster graduated to a nursing home or croaked, Cindy would have to find some other person to live with as a nanny or a pet sitter or a caregiver.

Forty-six years old and homeless. But in Cindy’s experience, it was people like her, the ones with the least, who did the most for animals. Well, with the exception of Devon…but Cindy volunteered for the SPCA, the horse sanctuary, the Dalmatian rescue and the Humane Action League, and she knew Devon was an anomaly. She knew of no other rich country clubbers who tried to help animals. Just ordinary folks. Like Samantha.

“It’s Sam,” Cindy told Mrs. Heckmaster. “Somebody hit her and let all the cats out.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Mrs. Heckmaster leaned forward, predatory, an old vulture feeding on other people’s excitement. But Cindy so badly needed to talk that she stuffed her butt into one of Mrs. Heckmaster’s armchairs and told her all about it.

“We got most of the cats back inside by the time I left,” she concluded, “but there’s a few ferals still missing. And the one with kittens.”

“I thought they spaded all those useless cats.”

Spayed, Cindy thought. Or neutered. “They do. But Queenie was knocked up when she came.” Yet another dumped pet. People like Mrs. Heckmaster thought they should be killed. They didn’t understand.

“And the doctors think that sentimental fool Samantha is going to be all right?”

“That’s what I heard.” According to one of the volunteers, the doctors were keeping Samantha in a coma until her brain swelling went down.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads

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