The Good Luck Cat
May 20, 2017
It had always been sitting there on the counter of one of the best Asian Food restaurants in the city. At first one might not take it into account because of how simple it’s design is. After all it’s just a small white statue with its left paw raised in the air as if it were calling to anyone who was looking at it. In its other paw it held a flat plate of fish with two small chopsticks on the side and smiling from ear to ear. It’s neck adorned with beautiful gold ornaments and what the restaurant keeper would call a “good luck charm”.
It was in the design of a white calico; fat as if it had gorged itself on a small plate topped with fish. Overall not at all special. There were many like it in this place. After all, this was Chinatown.
A rather large one at the barbershop, several small ones in the market and a very large pillar with a plastic one carved into its side. A visitor couldn’t step foot here without seeing at least fifty of them!
For some strange reason however, there was something that kept drawing the eye to this particular statue. It almost seemed like it was staring at you. Like there was more behind its eyes that just the generic, stoic face that were on the other ones. One just couldn’t put ones finger on it.
One night before closing, the old chef smiled a grin as large as the statue’s and whispered, “Just remember what curiosity did to the cat.” And then walked away after locking the doors tight until the following morning.
Of course to a curious mind, this warning was taken but ignored and it was decided that an answer must be found. What was it that the Chef didn’t want to be known? What was it about that statue that kept one coming back?
A couple of hours past and at the stroke of midnight, that’s when the most bizarre things started happening! The clock in the middle of the market, hung just above the fish merchant’s kiosk froze! Lights flickered and a soft rain began to fall from the fat clouds above.
What in the world was going on?!
That is when they began to appear. Shadows at first that just could not be made out against the rain that eventually solidified into the strangest creatures that a mere mortal could understand!
Floating lanterns with human faces; turtle-like creatures with the hair of a priest on their heads; cats walking on two legs?! The eyes just could not stop buzzing around trying to figure out what was happening!
Chinatown had become a place of what could only be described as Spirits!
The lights of the Chef’s restaurant lit back up but the building was so different! It looked as if it had been restored to an earlier time in history. Red lanterns blazed on an overhang that sported a red sunshade.
Candles lit tables that had come out of nowhere and the door swung open revealing a small white cat standing on its hind legs; it’s feet had wooden sandals on them.
It wore a chef’s hat and apron and glasses on closed eyes and soft fur that resembled facial hair.
It raised its left paw to beckon in visitors and the spirits were more than happy to oblige.
It was decided that in order to figure out what was going on, the cat had to be followed. Something so familiar about this cat.
Inside,the tables looked freshly cleaned and polished and spirits from all types talked in a language that could not be understood to a normal human. They laughed with each other just as humans do at brunch.
A band played in the corner on an old stage; soft Asian style music that seemed right at home to these strange creatures.
The cat stood on a step stool behind the counter taking orders and motioning to the other chefs, who were also cats, as to what types of food they were to prepare.
There was no statue on the counter this time. What had happened to it?!
The cat looked at its visitor through a single spectacled eye that had now opened into a slit. “Welcome to the NekoMata Cat’s Eye. Please have a seat and make yourself comfortable. Someone will be with you shortly.” It said in plain English which begs the curiosity as to why no one else in the restaurant seemed to notice their mortal visitor.
A table outside was chosen in order to hear the rain and watch the spirits wander the streets and doing the same that the people in the day do.
There were spirits, Kappa I think they were called from studies done on Asian culture during the days in college, who were buying fish from the market. The lanterns with faces were seen buying oil for what was believed to keep themselves from burning out. Foxes dressed in traditional kimono garb were selecting ingredients that appeared like they belonged in Asian Style soup; their kits running through the streets with pinwheels, getting wet in the rain.
All in all, this place was more relaxing during the night. Nothing out of the ordinary to the imagination of a writer at all.
Thoughts were interrupted by a small female cat pulling at a jacket sleeve.
“Pardon the intrusion, good human, but the Chef asked me to come and take your order.” She was very sweet and if one could guess, she was the new girl on staff.
The order was given of a traditional Dragon Roll and some Miso soup and the little cat ran back into the restaurant.
A few moments ran past and the food was delivered; only this time, it wasn’t the little girl cat but the Chef itself!
“A special meal for a special guest.” It sat it down on the table and on the house delivered some fresh Sake which it poured into a small white cup.
Across the table it sat down and poured itself a cup of Sake as well. “And how was your day?” it continued.
“It went well. Tell me, kind cat, how have I found myself here? This clearly is no mere physical place.” Was the reply.
The cat giggled. “No indeed, it is not. I invited you here, remember?”
Of course no memory of being invited here had some to mind no matter how hard the focus.
Looking back at the cat, his eyes were now opened and a smile raised from cheek to cheek. Wait!
“You! You’re that statue from the restaurant!” surprise filled the eyes as a finger was pointed at the cat.
“Hohoho! Yes! You had stared at me so hard for so long. I could see that you knew there was something different so I decided that after so many months, I would invite you here myself. Glad you could accept my invitation.” It reached out a paw which was received in a “hand”shake.
Stories were told between the cat and his visitor for what seemed like hours until the clock above the fish market began to move again.
The cat took out his own watch from its apron and let out a good stretch.
“Well my friend, our time is nearly at a close. Soon you will be returned from whence you came. I do hope you enjoyed your stay and come back again someday. Just remember one thing.” It held a single “finger” up to his lips. “This is our special secret. Please keep it yourself.”
A nod was given in reply and the cat shook hands with its visitor and went back into the restaurant and proceeded to close the doors.
The spirits slowly dwindled from the street and lanterns doused.
To a writer, this was a place of dreams and it would not be forgotten.
The Good Luck Cat was our first public short story that earned us a Daily Deviation on DeviantARt. We certainly hope you will enjoy it and give us any feedback on what you think!