Mister Tibbs smoothed down his grey fur before walking through the back gate into the alleyway.  There, amongst the garbage bins, rusty bike wheels and broken house bricks, sat more than a dozen cats in a small group.   An old apple crate stood in front of the group, and perched on the top of the crate was a black and white female.


The grey tom saw an empty spot near the front of the group, walked over and sat next to a ginger cat.  Almost all of the other cats were quietly meowing amongst themselves, except for the ginger tom.   He and Mister Tibbs seemed to be the only ones in the group who were looking at the black and white queen on the apple box. 


From his position next to the ginger, Mister Tibbs could almost make out some lettering that had been written on the fence behind the black and white speaker.   He leaned over a little until he could see what looked to be chalk markings. It was written in an untidy scrawl, but Mister Tibbs could read the few letters of the sign ‘M.A.C.K. Club’.


“Order!  Order!” the black and white cat addressed the group in general, shaking her head and causing the bells on her collar to tinkle.  The cats all turned towards the speaker and listened.  “And the last item on the agenda is the garbage from the fish shop in Brunker Street.”  She paused for a moment before looking at a white cat who was sitting next to the apple crate “Ralph, do you have something for us?”


The one-eyed cat stood and gave his report: “There are new owners in the shop and they leave out the bad fish for us cats.  Tommy was sick from eating it the other day,” he stated before scrunching up his nose and adding, “and besides that, it smells awful.”


“How is Tommy?” the spokes-cat asked compassionately.


“He’s fine now, but he had an upset stomach for a day or so,” the white cat nodded for emphasis as he spoke.


“And what is your recommendation, Ralph?” the queen on the apple box asked the white cat.


“That everyone avoids the Brunker Street fish shop for the time being,” Ralph stated.


“Does everyone agree?”  There were assenting meows from the assembly of cats.    “Okay, good,” the black and white spokes-cat said, before quickly dismissing the meeting for a few words.  “Thank you everyone for coming to M.A.C.K. club today.  We will meet again at the same time next week,” she added before jumping down from the box and turning to run down the alley with the bells on her collar ringing and her tail in the air.  


The ginger cat turned to Mister Tibbs.  “She has to go home and feed her litter,” he explained, as though he was continuing a conversation.  


“Oh,” was the only thing that the grey cat could think of saying.  That information seemed a bit personal to be given to a complete stranger.  Mister Tibbs didn’t know anyone in the area as he had only moved in a week ago, and had been kept inside the house for that length of time.   He decided to introduce himself properly to this forward stranger.  After all, he figured, he could do with a friend.


“How do you do?” said Mister Tibbs lifting a paw in greeting.  


“Do what?” the ginger replied and furrowed his forehead.


Mister Tibbs didn’t know whether the ginger was teasing him or not.  He decided to play it safe and introduce himself properly.  “Never mind,” he started. “My name is Lancelot Maurice Sheffield Tiberius, the third.  But you may call be Mister Tibbs,” said the grey cat haughtily.


“My name is Huey, but you can call me…” he waited a beat before continuing  “Huey.”  The ginger cat burst out in guffawing laughter.


Mister Tibbs smiled at Huey.  He wasn’t sure if they were going to be friends or not, but he liked the ginger cat already.


“That was an interesting meeting,” said the grey as he tipped his head toward the apple crate.  “How often do they happen?” 


“About once a week,” replied Huey. “It’s how we find out what’s happening in the alley.” The ginger spoke as if it was a normal part of cathood to get together and hold meetings.


“It’s a new idea for me…but I like it,” Mister Tibbs spoke fervently.


“Didn’t you have meetings, back where you’re from?” Huey asked.


“No.  No one was friendly to anyone at Medford Street,” Mister Tibbs looked sad.  “In fact, the closest anyone was to getting together was when they gathered to bully one of the younger cats in the street.” 


“Oh,” Huey looked a little sad as he thought for a moment, and then smiled brightly.  “But we are a friendly bunch around here, and I’ll help you get to know everyone if you like.”


“That would be nice,” Mister Tibbs grinned at the ginger.  “Thank you Huey.”   


“No problemo,” was the reply as the other cat shrugged his shoulders.


Both cats stood and with their tails in the air walked a little before the grey decided to ask a question.


“Huey,” he started, “what does M.A.C.K. stand for?”


“Oh, that’s easy,” replied Huey.  “Maisy Alley Cats and Kittens”


“Good thing that we aren’t meeting under Franklins Underpass,” said the grey long haired, quite matter-of-factly. 


“Yeah,” the ginger tabby agreed.


“Nice area you have here,” the grey cat looked around.


“Yeah,” said the ginger and, without warning, he burst into giggles.


“Are you all right?”


The ginger struggled to catch a breath between giggling.  He cat fell to the ground and started rolling on his back as he was overtaken by laughter.  “Franklins Underpass Cat and Kittens.  Hehehehe.”  His orange eyes started to glisten, as if tears were forming in them.  “If you put their first letters together you would get a rude word! Hehehehe!” 


“My my,” the grey cat looked at the ginger.  “A little slow today?” he asked, referring to the length of time for Huey to understand his comment about the name of the group.


Without warning, the ginger jumped onto his feet and with his tail high in the air, ran to the end of the alley and returned before stopping and sitting in front of the larger cat.  “Nope.  As fast as usual,” he declared as he sat tall.  Mister Tibbs could see that the edge of Huey’s mouth was pulling a little as he tried to keep a straight face.


Mister Tibbs rolled his eyes at the joke and after a second or two, Huey stood again and the two cats walked along until they came to a broken fence paling.  There, behind the fence, was an old garden shed where an elegant Siamese female and several younger cats of all different colours and breeds were sitting in a class.


Huey accidentally stepped onto a discarded crisp packet, causing it to crinkle loudly. The Siamese looked over and twitched her tail in annoyance at the disturbance.  Mister Tibbs’ eyes went wide before he bit his lip in repentance.  Both cats sat quietly as neither of them wanted to make any further noise.


“Children,” the Siamese started, “you have all done very well in practising your hunting and catching skills,” she purred at her students as they sat a little straighter after hearing their teachers praise.  “Now you will need to know how to use them to make your humans happy.”


Mister Tibbs and Huey were listening as well.  Maybe they could learn a thing or two from the teacher about keeping their own humans happy.  They both leaned a little closer, as if they were about to hear a secret.


“All humans love gifts.  Do you agree?” the Siamese paused for a moment and waited until the young cats had all nodded their heads.  “And your humans will be more than proud of you, when you bring those gifts.”


Mister Tibbs could see how the young cats’ eyes opened wider as they took in the lesson.


“When you bring gifts home to your humans, you will make them overjoyed at your hunting and catching abilities.  And all humans love to eat little brown mice and big brown rats and all sorts of colourful birds,” the Siamese smiled and twitched her whiskers as she continued.  “Your humans will jump and squeal in delight at your gift.  And when they jump and squeal, you will know they are happy.”


The young cats twitched their whiskers to emulate their teacher’s joy as she obviously remembered delighting her own humans in such a manner.


“Children!” the teacher spoke sharply, causing the young cats to sit quietly again.  “You need to remember one thing about your gifts for your humans,” she paused again, waiting until she had the attention of the entire class.  “The larger and more blooded the gift, the louder your human squeals.  And the louder your human squeals, the happier they are with their gift.”


The Siamese twitched her whiskers again more, and then stood before saying her final words to her students. “Now, children, I will see you all next week.  Please be prepared to give a report on the differences between brown and white mice.  But for now, your class is dismissed!”  The young cats meowed excitedly, as school was out for another day. 


Huey grinned as he looked over at two kittens that were batting a yellow weed that was growing through a crack between the wall and the cement floor of the garden shed.   “I remember the last time I took home a mouse for my human.  The mouse was still alive when I took it into the house and as soon as I let it go, the little brown thing started running around in circles,” Huey laughed as he remembered his human’s reaction.  “My human had so much fun.  She was jumping from the chair to the table and back again.  And screaming…you have never heard anything like it!”


“Your human liked the mouse then?”  Mister Tibbs asked the question, although he already knew what the answer was going to be.


“She had such a good time.”  But then he frowned.  “But later on, when I sat on her lap for warm her up, her breath didn’t smell like mouse.  It smelt like peanut butter.”


“Humans are strange creatures,” Mister Tibbs pointed out to Huey.  “They put the most revolting things together when they eat them.   Maybe she made a sandwich with your mouse and peanut butter,” he suggested, turning his lip at the thought of ruining the taste of a perfectly good mouse with something so unpalatable.  The grey cat was about to make another comment when all of a sudden, a human voice rang out throughout the alley way.


“Here puss puss puss,” the human called loudly.  “Tibbsie…where are you?”


“Tibbsie?” Huey grinned at Mister Tibbs.


The grey cat closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable teasing.


“Can I call you Tibbsie, Mr Tibbs?” Huey asked genuinely.


The grey opened his eyes at his new friend.  “Yes Huey.  You can call me Tibbsie, Mr Tibbs, if you wish.”


Huey burst out in laughter at the joke. “Tibbsie, Mister Tibbs…we are gonna be bestest friends forever,” he smiled.


“Yes I believe we are,” Mister Tibbs agreed and then turned, with his tail in the air, and started to bound away.  Without warning he turned back again and rushed up to Huey and bumped his forehead.   “See you tomorrow,” he said before turning back again and running home for dinner.  Mister Tibbs had never had a best friend before and he knew that from that moment on, he and Huey would truly be bestest friends forever.



I hope you enjoyed this story.

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