Why Are You Even Here?

The empty chip bags, crumpled food wrappers, and crushed soda cans surrounding the couch were a telltale sign that his father had been there and that more food would need to be bought—and of course his father would not be the one buying it. He would also need to check the no-longer ‘secret’ money stashes knowing that if there were any money missing, the chances of his father paying him back were practically nil.

Cookie locked the door behind him and stepped into the living room. There was no indication that his father was still in the house, even with the TV blaring away. The channel was turned to one of those afternoon shows where nothing but toms and mollies screech at each other about who cheated, while the host sat in his chair with a small, but all-knowing grin as he fiddled with the papers of scripted truth in his hands.

Cookie closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath, gripping the keys in his palm before letting them fall onto the cluttered wooden coffee table. He didn’t have the energy to search for the remote amongst all the trash so, with a huff, he trailed his fingers underneath the TV screen for the indent of the power button, instantly silencing the angry yowling from the speakers. His ears swiveled around for any other sound. All was quiet.

He walked into the kitchen and his fur prickled and raised as he observed the scene. The cabinets were open, boxes and cans were scattered on the counter—a couple had tumbled onto the floor. His father had dug out the snacks that were behind them. A pasta spoon was set out for some reason, among all the utensils of the open silverware drawer. The faucet was dripping. There was a puddle in front of the fridge. Cookie let out a long drawn out sigh then a frustrated groan and turned on his heels and stormed down the hall.

Dominic was a messy and lazy entity with no regard for how inconvenient he frequently was, regardless of who you were to him. This behavior was not new, it was expected, and yet it still offended Cookie all the same. He wasn’t even sure how his father got into the house, as he took back the spare key and hid it from him last month. Cookie wasn’t in the mood for his abracadabra bullshit.

The bedroom and bathroom doors were wide open. He turned left into his room to see his father fast asleep, faced away from him. In his bed? Absolutely not.

Cookie stood over him. There were many old and new scratches branded across his father’s body, interrupting the sea of short white fur. Dominic’s red head was sunken deep into his pillow, mouth agape, snoring, and drooling. Gross. After a few heartbeats of staring, Cookie shook Dominic’s scarred shoulder, “Daddy.” The man did not stir at all. His father’s fur felt bristly under his palm. He fought the urge to wipe his hand. Ew.

He tried again, this time louder and with more force. “Daddy! Get your bum ass up,” he growled.

A voice mumbled back, “…The fuck you talkin’ to?”

“You, bitch. Get the fuck out my bed!” Dominic lifted his head and side-eyed him, scowling. Cookie’s ears pinned back in irritation. He had the audacity to be annoyed with him!?

“I don’t think I like your fuckin’ tone.”

Cookie let go of the older man’s shoulder as his father turned to fully look at him. Dominic’s emerald eyes challenged his sapphire ones. Cookie started to flex his fingers, his patience was worn thin. He wasn’t afraid to add his own scores to his dad’s body. The bastard had it coming any day now.

“I don’t think I like your musty ass in my bed,” Cookie retorted, standing back and holding the stare. He pointed a finger at his dad then towards the crime scene that was the living room and kitchen, “I don’t think I like you trashing my house either!”

Dominic backed down from the staring contest with a smirk. He scratched at the back of his head, his bright red tabby hair unkempt. Cookie felt as if his fur was about to fall out from how pissed off he was, watching Dominic take his sweet time to stretch, still in his bed.

“Your house,” Dominic said, pausing mid stretch and glancing back at him. “You pay rent.”

“And you don’t,” Cookie fired back, standing up straighter. “Get out.”

“Damn, what happened to the hospitality? Fine.”

Cookie moved out of the way, watching the heavily scarred man intensely as he rose. Dominic’s face had an unreadable expression as he walked past him, out of the bedroom, and down the hall.

“I guess I’ll leave.” Then it hit him. Cookie didn’t see his smirk, but he heard it. He felt it.

“You know damn well that’s not what I meant! I’m telling Vivacious you won’t clean up your fucking mess!” He activated the ‘auntie card’. It has never failed him. Yet.

The older man stopped dead in his tracks and whipped around to face his son, his red eyebrows raised. “Woah! No need for that. You know I’m just playin’.” As predicted, his demeanor changed to meekness in record time.

“Uh huh. Fix it.” Cookie watched his father roll his eyes and nod, with that stupid smirk of his. He waited in the bedroom’s door frame until he heard the sounds of plastic crumpling.

Cookie let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and went to investigate his room. From just a glance, everything else seemed untouched. He approached the bed and lifted up the defiled pillow.


***

It had been an hour since he had arrived home. Everything had returned to the way it was before he left early this morning. Almost.

Cookie sank deep into the couch, finally feeling the fatigue seep into his being.

Business had been a little slow at Big Daddy’s, which was untypical for a Friday. Those early hours before the sun peeked over the horizon were usually the most busy. But today, only older mollies and toms came in to buy the lottery or stare at the various candles and incense on the shelves before striking up an awkward one-sided conversation. Cookie didn’t start the day at the counter, but rather in the basement tending to the illicit catnip plants and preparing and packaging the leaves. Big Daddy himself asked Cookie to be up front before he stepped out. The little shop took priority over the catnip, it was the older man’s precious baby, which is why he took a huge cut from Cookie’s high risk side hustle.

It was such a shame that Cookie’s favorite customer didn’t come around like he usually did on Fridays, which would’ve livened up the shift. Among the dropouts and the druggies, there were the curious. And among the curious, there was—who he had come to dub—”The Nervous Man”, who always looked frightened by the quaint shop’s door bell. The older tom loved buying cookies and Cookie loved being devoured.

Cookie sighed and closed his eyes. There was no desire to think about anything for the next fifteen minutes. The stillness of the house was relaxing, he stretched out his legs, unmet by clutter, and let his paws rest on the soft carpet beneath the coffee table. Slowly, his mind drifted into dark, bleak nothingness and the gentle hands of sleep reached out to cradle him for a short nap. His consciousness was about to melt away until a soft, familiar scrunching met his ears. His eyes peeled open to his father, who stood on the other side of the table. Right. Dominic was still here and he was rubbing a bag of catnip that Cookie had stowed away.

Almost as if he could feel his son’s piercing gaze, Dominic looked up to lock eyes with him. With a sheepish grin he asked, “Mind if I have some of this, hmm?” Then in typical Dominic fashion, he did not wait for an answer and opened the plastic bag to shove his face inside, deeply inhaling the scent. Cookie could feel his eye twitch as the stress latched back onto his fur.

“Really? You’re just gonna help yourself to my shi—” Cookie instantly silenced himself by bringing his palm to his face, feeling stupid for forgetting who he was talking to in the first place. Cookie slowly dragged his hand down to see Dominic lean his head back, eyes screwed shut before opening them. His pupils were wide.

“Want some?” Dominic’s tone was lighter than before.

Cookie replied with a blank stare and started to devise plans on how to get rid of Dominic. Surely he could hire a priest for an exorcism. Or better yet, strangle him with his bare hands.

He had realized that his father, who had already become unable to parse social cues, was looking back at him with those big, green, round eyes, waiting for a response. Cookie gave up trying to be mad anymore. He broke eye contact, a feeling he couldn’t place washed over him.

“It doesn’t affect me.”

Dominic tilted his head in confusion before he nodded quickly in understanding. “Right, right. I forgot. You get that from your mama,” he mumbled, pinching catnip out of the bag to place on his tongue.

His mother was a topic that rarely came up in conversations between them. He wondered what would happen if she were there, would she scold his father for his childish ass behavior? Or would she be just as inconvenient as Dominic was?

“Do you wish you were still with her?” It left his mouth before he had the chance to think about it.

Dominic was in the middle of another deep inhale before his eyebrows shot up in surprise. Cookie found himself leaning forward slightly in interest as the other man pulled his face away from the bag and opened his mouth.

“Your mama’s in rehab!” he said, turning to his son with a look of realization, as if he had just remembered.

Cookie reclined back into the couch. Of course. The response he got didn’t surprise him at all. Even while wrapped up in the warm embrace of Nepeta, Dominic still held his tongue. Cookie knew better than to chase after his father for a straight answer to any of his questions, else the older tom would speed up miles ahead of him and swerve in a completely different direction. “I didn’t know that.”

The tabby that was his mother hadn’t been in his life since he was younger, and even then he barely knew her. Nor did he know how his dad sometimes had info about her going-ons. Cookie almost felt bad that he wasn’t putting in any effort to find out on his own. All he knew was that she was a junkie, abusing drugs that catnip couldn’t even compare to. An uncomfortable feeling stirred in his stomach. To know she was getting help was great, but that didn’t mean she would reenter his life. Not that she was really in it in the first place. The thought made him feel more alone.

Cookie’s mind drifted back to Dominic. One night, his father popped up on his doorstep, looking like a drowned rat out in the pouring rain. What an awful night to remember, Cookie grimaced at the memory. His father was too impatient to get dried and ended up soaking the carpet and couch. Ever since then his father’s presence has frequently occupied his space. Cookie just wished Dominic would stop sidestepping around having real conversations. He was there, but not there.

Weight sinking into the cushion next to Cookie dragged him out of his thoughts. Dominic was rubbing catnip along his chest, then took a handful into his palms and nuzzled his face into them. The scent flowed up Cookie’s nose and up into his brain, where it only registered as a faint weird smell. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to feel whatever the hell his father was going through right now. But what he did know was you either got hyper, spaced out, or horny.

Luckily, considering who he was, Dominic seemed like the spaced out type. Dominic’s posture grew more slack by the second as he leaned into the back of the couch, eyelids heavy with a distant gaze. Bits of the dried crushed up catnip framed his soft lips. A small feeling buzzed in the back of Cookie’s mind as he stared at Dominic’s mouth then at his other facial features. His father wasn’t unattractive, even with the harsh scratches slashed across his face. The story behind them was a mystery and they had been there Cookie’s whole life. Without thinking, Cookie outreached his hand towards his father’s face, he wanted to feel them.

Suddenly, his wrist was grabbed and something warm and wet swept across his palm. Cookie yanked his hand back and gripped it as if he got burned. It was covered in saliva. He looked up from his hand at Dominic with wide eyes, who gave him a lazy smile in return. It took a moment to register what happened and the skin under Cookie’s fur grew hot. Maybe the catnip was getting to him.

Cookie wasn’t tired anymore and before he knew it, he was on his feet, scrubbing his assaulted hand on his pants. To occupy the same space as Dominic was a mistake, especially right now. He needed fresh air.

Dominic said nothing and made no other moves, watching his son dart away from him and open the front door.

“Don’t touch anything else!” Cookie yelled without giving his father a second glance and slammed the door behind him.


Woo, baby's first serious piece of writing.

This didn't turn out exactly how I wanted, but it's short and I don't wanna keep fussing over it. Sorry for any mistakes or clunky sentences. I'm proud of it anyway! 😹