The Spotted Tail Book 1
Fiction, Teen and Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action and Adventure
March 1, 2012
On her twelfth birthday, her grandma gives her an exotic spotted cat named Tache. As soon as their eyes meet, Paxine finds she can see and hear through Tache’s eyes and ears. She thinks Tache is special, but her grandma says it’s the other way around. Paxine is the one who is special. She can talk to cats and cats can talk to her. However, Paxine thinks her grandma is a little special, too. How many grandmas teach you how to read lips in order to eavesdrop?
Her dad thinks Tache is trouble and isn’t happy about a curious cat compromising his security. But how do you blame a kitten for intruders in the house? Or Explosives? And poison?
Paxine is discovering everyone seems to have a secret; secrets that need to stay secret. There is her great Uncle Garon who is a master gadget maker, who seems to think it’s best to have a weapon that isn’t a weapon. Her grandma is the director of an organization within which cats are Tail Guards, who protect the special people who can understand them.
Paxine finds herself relying more and more on Tache as the security of her parents crumbles around her. Even her grandma seems to be having security issues. And why is everyone worried about the approaching Charity Gala Ball? Aren’t parties supposed to be fun? What is this Child Protection Act that is upsetting her grandma? Is it coincidence that Paxine’s dad can’t seem to protect his own daughter? Or is someone making it appear that way?
Can Tache, her Tail, keep protecting her in the adult world of politics and murder? He is just a kitten after all. Isn’t he?
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Paxine brushed hair out of her eyes, focusing her binoculars. She felt like a spy on a stake out.
“What are they saying?” her grandma said, sitting next to her on the park bench. Her grandma spoke in a soft voice, covering her mouth with her hand.
“Something about not spoiling Timmy. ‘You spent $300 on a coat?’ Boy, he’s really mad about it,” Paxine said, speaking into the binoculars.
“What’s she saying?”.
“She’s turned away from me, but I can tell she’s trying to defend herself. Now he’s saying ‘you have to be cautious about your spending. Our expenses are getting too high. How can you spend that much on a…’ Oh.”
“What?” her grandma said, covering her mouth with both hands as if to hold in her laughter.
“Timmy’s a dog.”
Paxine lowered her binoculars and rolling her eyes.
A huge Great Dane, wearing a lime green coat, trotted up to the couple. The couple stood on the other side of the park where her grandma was teaching her how to read lips while they pretended to bird watch.
Her grandma laughed.
“Grandma, you knew it was a dog.”
“Cover your mouth,” her grandma said behind her hand.
Paxine put her hand to her mouth.
“Sorry, keep forgetting.”
“Yes, I see them here with their dog all the time. Who else can we eavesdrop on?”
Her grandma scanned the park with her own binoculars.
The park was small, circled by two and three story older brick buildings. The trees, wide and tall, told the age of the park and the area. Their branches above provided abundant shade. In the middle of the park was a small fountain where water bubbled out of the head of a statue that looked like a winged child. Paved walks meander around the trees with benches under the biggest trees providing the most shade.
Paxine felt like she owned the park, having met her grandma here so often. She thought her grandma was the best and she loved spending time with her. Even her friends thought her grandma was cool. Who else would teach her to read lips? Not her parents, for sure.
“Such a beautiful day and no one else in the park,” her grandma said with a sigh, turning her binoculars up into the trees.
Her grandma wasn’t like any other grandma Paxine knew of. No frumpy dress or sweater. No knitting bag. There wasn’t even a single quilt in her house.
Today, her grandma was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, just like herself, and wearing the latest high tech walking shoes. Paxine would bet that anyone watching them would think they were mother and daughter rather than grandma and granddaughter. There was just a hint of gray in her grandmother’s hair.
Paxine smiled to herself, thinking about whenever she went out with her mom. Everyone said she looked just like her. She thought about it logically, like she learned in her Logistic class at school. If she looked like her mom and her mom looked like her grandma, then she looked like her grandma. At least a younger version of her grandma. Paxine was almost twelve with brilliant blue eyes and blond hair and was the tallest girl in her class.
A black and gray stripped cat strolled by them, staring at her grandma.
“Spider?” Paxine said. “Did that cat just say…”
“You don’t say.”
Her grandma swung her binoculars toward the fountain. “What the…”
She almost dropped her binoculars.
A two-foot tall metallic spider stood by the water fountain. One of its six legs dipped a pink watering can into the water before tiptoeing over to a tree and watered it.
“What’s that? It looks like a six legged stool?” Paxine said behind her binoculars.
“A rogue spider.”
Her grandma pulledout her cell phone.
“Greta? I found the Waterer. Look out the window toward the fountain.”
Greta was her grandma’s assistant. Paxine heard Greta’s name a lot, but had never met her even though she knew her grandma’s office was nearby. She had never been to her grandma’s office, always meeting her in the park.
“Yes, you tell him this can’t happen,” her grandma said in an irritated voice. “If it’s smart enough to find the fountain to water the trees it’s smart enough to stay within the boundaries of the office. Yes, you tell him that.” Her grandma hung up, shoving the phone back into a pocket.
“Is that’s yours?”
“No wonder my begonias were so droopy. Yes, that’s mine. Keep it under your hat.” Her grandma pulled out a small box from her handbag. “Oh, no.”
Paxine picked up her binoculars.
“Police. They’re asking that couple about some robot in the park. Ah, there’s a lady with three kids in the stroller. Looks like she reported it.”
Her grandma pointed the box at the Waterer, which veered away from the fountain, where it was intending to refill the watering can, going into a bush.
“Okay, where were we,” her grandma said, hiding the box behind her binoculars.
Paxine watched a car circle the park. It was familiar looking.
“Not that…” her grandma said as if prompting her.
She had to remember they were pretending to birdwatch.
“Actually, I think that was a pigeon.”
“Good afternoon ladies.” Two police officers stopped in front of them. “Whatcha seeing?”
“Robins and pigeons.” Paxine said, wondering if all policemen had to look the same. These two had identical hair and eye color. They smiled at her grandma and ignored her.
“And one nuthatch,” her grandma said.
“No robots or anything?”
Her grandma moved the box, pretending to adjust her binoculars in her lap. “I don’t think so. Are we supposed to have?” She gave the policemen a wide smile that seemed to hold their gaze. The Waterer tiptoed out of the bush toward the street.
“No remote controlled cars or airplanes?” one officer said, shifting to look about, but her grandma almost dropped her binoculars, bumping into him.
“Oops, so sorry,” her grandma said with a big smile. “No, I haven’t seen any remote airplanes.” Her grandma looked up into the trees as if to see one. Both officers copied her. The Waterer was almost to the street.
“Been here long?”
Both officers were now scanning the treetops.
“The last hour.”
Paxine noted that her grandma looked away from the Waterer while it crossed the street.
“Oh, look, another robin,” Paxine said, pointing to help with the ruse.
“Okay,” the one officer said, his gaze following a robin fly up into a tree, “Thanks, if you do....”
“Officer. Officer,” the woman with the stroller said, hurrying over. Her tennis shoes slapped the pavement with every step. Her dark blue sweatpants hugged her tight, making Paxine think of a duck waddling along. A clean diaper hung over one shoulder and a pacifier hung on a finger like a ring with a large bulbous gemstone. The woman kept looking over her sh