The Cat Dragged Innn Chapter 2

The Cat Dragged Innn Chapter 2

A Chapter by Montilee Stormer

Chapter II


No good deed goes unpunished.


This is the story about a woman who tried to help a man  but who lacked understanding of a serious situation. This could be anybody’s story, but not everybody has one hundred years to come that kind of understanding. Not everyone is cursed with that luxury.


At the corner of Brush and Erskine, far enough away from the business of the Medical Center to forget that Life and Death still march unrelenting towards each other, yet close enough to hear the scream of sirens as one side attempts to claim a victory, an inn marks time with the deliberate forgetfulness of an invalid praying that its next breath will be its last.


The Cat Dragged Inn was not the newest kid on the block, but it is the last, an ill-mannered child forced to take a time-out and then promptly forgotten about. It had neighbors with reputations, (Club Three Sixes, Pendennies, the Congo Lounge), neighbors with better manners (The Twelve Horsemen), and neighbors with the highest aspirations (The Gotham Hotel). They‘re all gone, and now there is no one to look up to. It exists because it doesn’t know how to do anything else, and in a sense, it is the kind of repentance that is a bane and a balm.


Why won’t it die like so many betters that came before it? Simply put, it can’t, or rather its current proprietress can’t. Tending the bar, wiping the counter, sweeping the floors, unlocking the doors, is a woman that has done nothing but for the last 70 years. While her name is rumor and her longevity is legend, she’d really rather not talk about it. If you bring it up, she’ll put you out, simple as that. She won’t cotton to nosy busybodies, and if you think you can sneak in on a night when she’s not working, you’ll go thirsty for a long, long time. She hasn’t taken a day off in 45 years, and doesn’t see the need for the foreseeable future.


So you’ve heard of The Cat Dragged Inn, maybe in a school project on Paradise Valley, maybe heard the mutterings of an inebriated transient. You found it after sifting through contacts and talking to people who barely remember the last time they attended the restroom unaccompanied but can vividly recall the decor as if they’d popped in just this morning. More than likely, though, it found you, as it finds most of its regulars. It is an ideal escape from Life and the incessant ringing of cell phones, PDAs, and meetings. It radiates “Safe”, “Welcome”, and “Refuge”.


You know this, feel it in your body, even though you’re still standing outside its door. Despite the fact that it’s old-is-new-again, retro-chic, neon sign reads “You may be what The Cat Dragged Inn - Welcome!” you feel like knocking. You take stock of your surroundings - empty weed-chocked lots strewn with broken glass, homes begging for the wrecking ball yet you can hear people living inside those homes, and cars that probably haven’t run since leaded gasoline went the way of 8-track cassettes.


There are other signs on the door, handwritten in nice neat penmanship,  and reading them is a nice stall.


“Solicitors - unless you wish to risk birdshot, you will keep your business on this side of the door. No warning shot will be fired.”


“These premises are protected by a 30.06 and a b***h with an attitude. There is a 50-50 chance you will be killed. Method to be determined by a coin flip.”


Over the din of everyday noise in the streets, you hear music - specifically jazz - straining through the heavy wooden door. It belies the warnings and you reach out to place your hand on the worn wood, feeling as if the grain pattern is less a measure of time than a measure of distance, between the noisy deterioration out here and the enveloping warmth in there.


“Doan you go in there, bo-ah. Tha’ hoodoo woman in therah goan eat you up alive.” This is shouted from across the street by a woman you originally mistook as kindly and frail, but who apparently has the lungs of an elephant, and she has nearly made you wet your pants. She sits in an aluminum rocking chair, and she shakes a finger at you, before resuming her rocking and cackling at the sky. There is an admonition from inside, and she turns her attention to that person or persons, and while you feel like you’ve just been caught with you hand down your pants, you feel even more sorry for whomever is inside that house, as she gets up from her chair, cane in hand and stalks inside. You do not want to be out here when she returns, and you enter The Cat Dragged Inn.


The door opens a lot easier than you anticipate, and it nearly goes crashing into the opposite wall. It squeals as if it’s crushing the bodies of hundreds of tiny mice, and your hopes for a silent entry are crushed. You catch it and close it just as a barfly asks no one in particular if you were brought up in a barn. Your eyes take a moment to get used to the softer inside light, and while that takes just a moment; your brain takes much longer to process the information your eyes insist on sending. Whatever you were expecting, this certainly isn’t it. Well, you expected the grizzled men sitting at the bar drinking beer or whiskey, yes, it is after all 2:30 in the afternoon in the City of Detroit, and someone has to be the raging alcoholic, and you expected the lights to be turned low, because said alcoholics have an extremely low tolerance for anything resembling natural light, but you didn’t expect it to not smell like pee. You didn’t expect to be charmed to death by the maroon-dominated decor that reminds you of Rick’s Casablanca. You didn’t expect that you’d never want to leave.


“Oh Jesus, look what Genevivie chased in,” says a woman behind the counter. Correction - a girl. She can’t be much out of high school, and she definitely carries the overblown imagined angst of her generation. She must know the owner to be slinging booze at her age. You dismiss her to take in more of the bar, but she won’t be ignored.


“Look, mister, drink or walk. You can’t gather wool in here for free.” She must be the owner’s granddaughter to have such an attitude with customers. You wonder idly where the 30.06 is hiding. “Scotch, right? You look like a scotch drinker. Have a seat and I’ll start you a tab.” You weren’t planning on drinking, but her tone says you’ll have at least one, maybe two, and then you’ll get out.


You sit at a small horseshoe booth, and your hand brushes velvet and satin and you settle into the booth as if you’ve been coming here for years and it’s your regular spot, your table. Your table has a small lamp with a tasseled cover the same color as the tablecloth, which isn’t stained or marred with cigarette burns. In fact nothing in this place suggests age or neglect. It has the atmosphere newer martini bars can never attain, because while those places use expensive consultants and imported fabrics, this places uses experience and age and secrets that only old buildings and long established hangouts know.


She comes to your table (yes, it is your table now) with a glass of deep-brownish liquid, and sets it down on a coaster - a coaster. You expect swill, something with fumes that can take the paint off walls, maybe eat a section of your esophagus as it passes through your system, but again you are pleasantly surprised - it’s wonderfully warm and smooth, oaky. All you need now is a dog at your feet and a roaring fire.


This is your first chance to see her up close. She is Black but fair - fair like mixed, if that term is even used anymore. Wide almond eyes, strong slender nose, and a mouth with lips so full, if they were pillows, you’d sleep like a baby. She doesn’t wait for you to taste it, or even acknowledge that she’s brought you anything, and she heads back to the bar. Conversation won’t be easy and you have a million questions and they all need to be answered.


Fats Waller claims he ain’t misbehavin, and you know this not because you’re some savant when it comes to jazz, but because it’s one of those recordings where the artist announces his intentions before assaulting the listener with music. This place plays the good stuff, not the canned jazz you hear on subscription radio, or public stations. It adds to the atmosphere of being in another when, and you might just have that second drink.


“Penda, honey, I gots to get, ” says the lone man at the bar. Penda? You know that name and you go through your pockets for your notes. Buttons fall silently from your pockets and onto the seat, and you’ll need those later, but right now, you can barely breathe.


“Vivie already thinks you’re the devil’s spawn, and here you are filling me up with demon nectar.”


“Bye Earl,” she says.


“Stay beautiful,” says Earl. “I don’t have a choice,” she counters. She sounds tired, exhausted, even. You would be too, if you were she.


You finally find the piece of paper in your pocket and attached to it is a xeroxed photograph. Your mouth drops open as you read the caption and see the face staring timelessly back at you. Before you can utter another word, your part in this story becomes as important as the lint under the booth. You’ll take center stage again later, but for now, you are nothing more than an extra.


Copyright © 2005 MontiLee Stormer

© 2008 Montilee Stormer

My Review

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This is f*****g near perfect. No offense, but you are given to waxing words. I don't write like you, but this is very well done. And worth a read by anyone that has joined this cafe.

Posted 10 Months Ago

duh I read it again out of context, im a dumb a*s:) cross that line, its fine

Posted 12 Years Ago

Yeeah, damn thats the montilee stylie Im talkin about:)
theres like this wry wickedness in your bluntness, its so cool , reminissss of others of yours I favor. haha yeah I cant spell that word right now, you know what im saying:) the one where the dog is below the floor boards rabid, name escapes me but yeah, this is as potent.

I like the first installment for what it is it stands as strong in its own way but this Is whats going to set you apart, books with Stormer on the spine in different colors in the S aisle:)

one thing stood out to me, it might be style, I might be a dumb a*s but I read it like 3 times and it still stuck out so ill just show you:
"She must know the owner to be slinging booze at her age" like I said , maybe just me.
otherwise, especially the end, this is pretty much great to me the way it is.

I like how you pin point the character in the end, good intriguing characters and hotel too great setting "for stuff to happen"
awesome awesome original voice.

Mix this- with your quick simplicity of 3 dimensional description from your second ( and first actually) zombie love piece and oh s**t girl. I swear thats the magic potion.

Posted 12 Years Ago

I don't normally quote whole paragraphs in a review, but...

"The Cat Dragged Inn was not the newest kid on the block, but it is the last, an ill-mannered child forced to take a time-out and then promptly forgotten about. It had neighbors with reputations, (Club Three Sixes, Pendennies, the Congo Lounge), neighbors with better manners (The Twelve Horsemen), and neighbors with the highest aspirations (The Gotham Hotel). They�re all gone, and now there is no one to look up to. It exists because it doesn�t know how to do anything else, and in a sense, it is the kind of repentance that is a bane and a balm." -- Can I just give you a standing ovation for this incredible metaphor? Wow, wow, and wow again!

I can't decide if I kept reading because the story is so engaging (it really is) or just because it seemed like every paragraph was better than the one before it. I thought the first installment was pretty tasty (despite, as I recall, some grammatical complaints). But this one, well! It seems like you were channeling a completely different person. The voice is still there, but its power has grown ten-fold between the first and this installment.

I'm literally floored by this.

Posted 12 Years Ago

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4 Reviews
Added on April 25, 2008


Montilee Stormer
Montilee Stormer

Royal Oak, MI

Short Version: MontiLee Stormer is a troublemaker, writing acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. Her interests wander from abnormal psychology and serial killers, to lost loves and.. more..


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