Cat To The Dogs: A Joe Grey Mystery, by Murphy Shirley
- ISBN: 9780061059889 | 0061059889
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 2/15/2019
A Joe Grey Mystery
Fog lay so thick in Hellhag Canyon that Joe Grey couldn't see his paws, could barely see the dead wood rat he carried dangling from his sharp teeth. Moving steeply down the wall of the ravine, the tomcat was aware of a boulder or willow scrub only when his whiskers touched something foreign, sending an electrifying jolt through his sleek gray body. The predawn fog was so dense that a human would have barged straight into those obstacles--one more example, Joe Grey thought smugly, of feline senses far keener than human, of the superiority of cat over man.
The fog-shrouded canyon was silent, too, save for the muted hushing of the sea farther down and the occasional whisper from high above of wet tires along the twisting two-lane, where some early-morning driver crept blindly. Joe had no idea why humans drove in this stuff; swift cars and fog were bad news. As he searched for a soft bit of ground on which to enjoy his breakfast, another car approached, moving way too fast toward the wickeddouble curve, sending a jolt of alarm stabbing through Joe.
The scream of tires filled the canyon.
The skidding car hit the cliff so hard, Joe felt the earth shake. He dropped the wood rat and leaped clear as the car rolled thundering over the edge, its lights exploding against the fog, its bulk falling straight at him, as big as a hunk of the cliff, a mass of hurtling metal that sent him streaking up the canyon wall. It hurtled past, dropping into the ravine exactly where he'd been crouching.
The car lay upside down beneath a dozen young oak trees broken off and fallen across its spinning wheels. The roof and those tons of metal had likely flattened his wood rat into a bloody pancake--so much for his nice warm breakfast.
Where the careening car had disturbed the fog, and the rising wind swirled the mist, he could make out the gigantic form easing deeper into the detritus of the canyon, the car's metal parts groaning like a dying beast, its death-stink not of escaping body fluids, but the reek of leaking gasoline.
This baby's going to explode, he thought as he prepared to run. Going to blow sky-high, roast me among these boulders like a rabbit in a stone oven.
But when, after a long wait, no explosion occurred, when the vehicle continued only to creak and moan, he crept warily down the cliff again to have a look.
Hunched beneath the wreck's vast, dark body--its ticking, grease-stinking, hot-breathed body--he looked up at the huge black wheels spinning above him and listened to the bits of glass raining down from the broken windows that were half-hidden among the dry ferns, listened to the big metal carcass settle into its last sleep. He could hear, from within, no human utterance. No groan, no scream of pain or of terror, only the voice of the sea pounding against the cliffs to an accident victim.
Was no one alive in there? He studied the overturned car, listening for a desperate and anguished cry--and wondering what he was going to do about it. Wondering how a poor simple tomcat was going to render any kind of useful assistance.
He had been hunting Hellhag Canyon since midnight, first at the shore, dodging the rolling breakers, and then, when the fog thickened, moving on up the ravine. He had tracked the wood rat blindly, following only the sound of its scrabbling, had struck and killed it before the creature was ever aware of him. But all night he'd been edgy, too, still nervous from the quakes of the last week; the first instant the skidding car hit the hill and shook the earth he'd shivered as if another jolt were rocking the cliffs, rattling the central California coast.
The original temblor, two days earlier, at 5.2 on the Richter scale, had sent the more timid human residents of Molena Point fleeing from their cottages, to creep back hours later hauling out mattresses and camp stoves and setting up housekeeping in their gardens. All week, as the village of Molena Point experienced aftershocks, people were tense and excited, waiting for the big one, for the earth to crack open, for their homes to topple and giant seas to flood the land.
Well, it was only an earthquake, a natural, God-given part of life--a cat might be wary, but a cat didn't lose perspective. Humans, on the other hand, were hopelessly amusing. Facing a natural phenomenon, the poor, gullible bipeds invariably overreacted.
The earthquake had brought two reporters down from San Francisco, searching for anything sensational, seeking out the displaced and injured, running their cameras in a feeding frenzy, their hunger for alarming news as voracious as the hunger of seagulls attacking a handful of fish innards tossed from the Molena Point pier.
But the quake had disturbed the burrowing wild creatures, the mice and wood rats and moles, driving them from their holes, disorienting the little beasts so they were incredibly easy prey. All week, Joe Grey and Dulcie had gorged themselves.
Though Dulcie refused to hunt down Hellhag Canyon. She had lectured him on the dangers of high, rogue waves after an earthquake, and, when he laughed at her fears, she had turned away disgusted, growling and lashing her tabby-stripped tail at what she called tomcat stupidity.Cat to the Dogs
A Joe Grey Mystery. Copyright © by Shirley Murphy. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from Cat to the Dogs by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
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