Furrball found a few relatively clean newspapers and made his bed in an empty crate, thanking the heavens that the rain that had threatened to arrive earlier got cold feet at the last moment. He fell asleep with the scrap in his hand, sleeping next to the hospital.
A loud crack of lightening completely lit up the sky causing the feline to jump up even before he was awake. Furrball jumped so high, the entire scene almost seemed rehearsed. Instinctively, the blue cat sped towards shelter under a building, nearly running into a nurse taking a drag of a cigarette. Furrball was disoriented as his eyes struggled to adjust to his surroundings and the presence of a human confused him even more. It was still pitch black outside but even darker now that the rain had come.
Furrball sheepishly glanced at the nurse's watch. 4:20 in the morning. He smiled weakly at the lady; half expecting her to smack him across the back of his head and run back into the building, screaming. She did quite the opposite, though.
"Furrball? Is that you?!" It wasn't the sound of an adoring fan form afar. Furrball raised an eyebrow looking at the nurse once more, his eyes now fully adjusted as the lightning struck once more. Her badge read, "M. Shannon". Furrball let out an excited mew and sat in front of the nurse, relaxed.
"It is you! You're not going to believe this, but I've been expecting you!" Margaret explained, taking a last puff of her cigarette. She opened the door and motioned inside. "Won't you please come in out of the rain?"
Furrball started to protest indicating he was okay, but succumbed to the curiosity inside of him.
In the lobby of the ICU Furrball sat upright on a chair, quite out of his element. A few nurses passed him by, whispering things or staring for a bit as they did. Margaret was administering medication and had indicated that she'd come back shortly. It was a most uncomfortable feeling and Furrball prayed for her swift return as he stared at his footpaws awaiting her return. Ten minutes passed before Furrball saw her again. "What're you doing in the most uncomfortable chair in the lobby?!" Margaret exclaimed. Not waiting for answer, the nurse ushered Furrball onto a soft, sagging couch that had probably seen more summers than Furrball. It was very comfortable, nonetheless. Watching the anxiety on his face melt somewhat, the nurse knelt in front of the cat.
"I'd like to tell you about something, but I think it would be best to wait until after my night shift. I get off in about an hour and a half. Would you mind taking a catnap here until my shift ends? We'll grab some breakfast at the diner across the street." She winked as she said "catnap", causing Furrball to blush and smile slightly.
Reluctantly, Furrball nodded.
"Great!" Margaret smiled, showing her teeth. "Please get some sleep. Don't mind the others… it's just not everyday we see a TV star so close." She winked again as she hurried off to complete her duties. With anyone else that comment and would wink have merited evil thoughts from the cat. Something about this one was different. Satisfied, Furrball crawled into a ball on a single cushion.
The aroma in the diner made it nearly impossible for Furrball to keep from drooling even moreso than dinner last night at Yamada's. Furrball rarely had breakfast and it had never been cooked before. He stared at the menu intently reading all the choices, spending nearly five minutes just looking at the variety of drinks available.
"Ever since I saw Benicio last week, I started taking my breaks outside, hoping to find you waiting for me, Furrball."
Furrball lowered his menu to see Margaret. She smiled and pointed to the sampler.
"It's killer." She said.
The feline nodded and pointed to it and grape juice when the waitress came to take their orders.
"You've grown up so handsome."
Furrball's ears perked as he shot a perplexed look at the nurse. She was smiling politely.
"You wouldn't remember me. I worked at the prison hospital where you were born."
The feline snapped to attention.
"A friend of mine worked there as well. Angela Daugherty."
A faint glimmer of recognition sped through Furrball's brain but escaped before he knew it had even come for a visit.
"Angela was a real rebel, for all intents and purposes. If she didn't agree with something, she didn't do it. Or she found a way to do what she wanted. Really headstrong."
Furrball cocked his head, as if waiting for the punch line.
"Well she was the attending with your mother. I assume Benicio told you a bit about the policy. Abortion."
The cat nodded, wondering where she was going with this.
"Angela disagreed with the policy, obviously, and intervened at the last second. She figured aborting so far into pregnancy was definitely murder. She was able to deliver a single kitten before anyone knew what was happening. Wardens and superiors suspected something was up with the amount of blood they found, so Angela had to hide you in a locked up carrier in the alley. She'd have taken you home, but there were spies for some reason. They didn't want to have any protests or anything, especially if the public was to find out they had such a policy which conflicted with national policy."
Furrball rubbed his eyes, his expression revealing nothing. As the waitress set their plates on the table, Furrball took no notice of the food looking directly at Maragaret, waiting for her to continue. The nurse picked up her glass and started to drink, but saw Furrball's expression and hesitated.
"She kept you in the carrier in the alley for the first two years. I went with her to feed you a few times in the alley. She really loved you. Called you her little fur ball when she'd cuddle you. When you turned three, she put that bandage on your tail for your birthday present."
Furrball grabbed his tail looking at the bandage. He knew he'd had it since before he could remember and always wondered who'd have given him such a simple gesture that always meant so much to him.
"A couple of weeks later, administrators for the warden got suspicious. They started following her after hours. It took a while, but she was able to let you out of your cage. Even though you'd never been out in the world before, you basically figure out what to do on your own."
So the clumsiness and awkward movements weren't really his nature. Furrball took a sip of his grape juice and went to work on his hash browns.
"A few days later, Angela was killed in a car "accident"" Margaret made little quotations with her fingers. Furrball looked puzzled.
"Kinda difficult to call it an accident when a car jumps the median and crosses of four lanes of traffic to hit directly on the driver's side." Margaret stopped, swallowing hard. Furrball's eyes revealed concern and he put his paw on the table. Next to her hand. Margaret took it and squeezed gently.
"Here I am telling you about this and you're the one who's being strong." She let go and wiped a tear away, regaining her composure a bit. "You know a waited a week for the heat to cool off a bit then I went looking for you. Spent a year trying to find you. I came close a few times, I thought, but I never found you. Can't believe we both ended up in LA, though."
Furrball smiled and started to eat more of his breakfast. Margaret watched him, fascinated.
"Won't you come home with me, Furrball?" Her tone was bordering desperation.
Furrball took her hand once more and stroked it softly, calming her nerves. He gently shook his head, "no". The two finished their meals in silence.
Waving goodbye to Margaret, Furrball began his walk to the Looniversity with a hint of a smile on his face. As he passed alleys and streets, he passed Yamada's and stopped for a moment, wondering if he'd ever see his father again. The blue feline resolved to keep his head up and stared at all the tall buildings he might one day frequent when he became an adult. As he was gazing at the skyscrapers, he walked over six outlines of police chalk, stopping over the outline of a panther to read a billboard about real estate. Moving on, he hadn't noticed the crime scene he passed by or the chalk from the outline that now was stuck to his footpaws. Rounding the next corner, Furrball walked through a puddle washing away the chalk forever.