The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller

BOOK: The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller
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The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller

iii

 

The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller

 

WildCat Press

 

www.wildcatpress.net

[email protected]

 

Cover graphics: Gilberto Rodriguez

Cover Layout: WildCat Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2012 Joe Augustyn

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced or distributed or copied or utilized in any form whatsoever without the express written permission of the author.

 

ISBN: 0615667562

ISBN-13: 978-0615667560

 

iii

 

The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller

 

for Squeaky

iii

 

The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

In no particular order, I would like to thank all those who gave me their unselfish support of one kind or another over the years:

My entire family, notably my late parents and my brothers Al, Ron, Mike and their wives; my cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, in-laws etc; my dearest friends James Penzi, Connie Jesiolowska, Joe McMenamin, John Matkowsky, Jude Jansen, Walter and Lisa Hart, Carson and Cindy Leistikow, Kris Augustyn, Zia Shields, Greg Gillespie and the gang at Port Richmond Books, Steve Johnson, Colin O’Herlihy, Paul Belanger, Kim “Cavedog” Thomas, Mike Lerman, Ed Parmelee, Leo Trombetta, John Huckert, Deen Kogan, Joe Mealey, Yves Goustard, Diane Carsia, Jeff & Diane, Rich, Buzz & Barbara, Allan & Mary, Eleanor & Joe, and Lisa; Dr. Corinne Majeska and the amazing staff at Companion Pet  Hospital; cat rescue angels Robin Buoncuore and Kathy Borbanton;  Stuart Malone and Rachel and Hanna and all the crew at Createspace and KDP; honorable Hollywood shakers Chris Lee, Scott Pearlman, Steve Golin, Joni Sighvatsson, Sara Lewis, Steve & Devon Purvis, Andy Emilio, Andrea Mia, John Marsh, Patrick Ewald and the late Wendy Walker; superstar attorneys Jonathan Handel and Stephen F. Breimer; writers Sarah Bird, Victoria Brownworth, Jonathan Maberry, Kelly Jameson, Tom Piccirilli, and all the good members of the HWA; all my faithful and much appreciated NOTD fans, especially Heather Rose Murphy, PHAT!., Chris MacGibbon, Alexandr Tzwetkov, and of course Gilberto the Prince of Sparkle; penultimately, all the women who shared my journey, even if just for one night… with a special nod to ABR, who almost saved me from myself.

And ultimately of course, the cats who kept me sane and kept my spark alive when all else threatened to fail: wild child Nikki who was the inspiration for this book, Baldur who so easily makes me laugh, Phoebus the magnificent, Toots the sweetest little kitty who ever lived, my good pal Theo, Egypt, Lena, Basil, Pinky… and most of all Squeaky.

iii

 

The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller

1

 

“Hey, cuddlebug.”

The rabbit perked up as Felicia Miller approached her cage.

“How’s mummy’s little girl today?” Felicia’s voice was as soft as the bunny’s fur. She poked a finger into the cage and gently stroked the rabbit’s back.

But before she could unlatch the cage, Mrs. Everson stepped into the open doorway behind her, about to turn off the lights and lock up the classroom. She paused as she noticed Felicia across the room.

“Felicia, what are you doing in here? The school show starts in half an hour. You should be getting ready.”

“No sweat, Mrs. E. It’s my turn to feed Mrs. Cuddles. I’m running a little late because I was rehearsing for the show. It won’t take but another minute.”

“Alright, but hurry it up, please. The county commissioners are here with the mayor and town council. This show has to be exceptional if we expect to keep our arts funding. Just turn out the lights and close the door behind you when you’re done. I’ll lock up after the show. And don’t dawdle. If we don’t wow the powers that be tonight, Mrs. Cuddles might lose her happy home forever. The entire school budget’s under review.”

Felicia pulled the plump white rabbit from her cage and cuddled her like a baby. She loved the feel of the rabbit’s silky fur and its grainy organic scent.

“Who’s my wittle pookie,” she squeaked in a kewpie doll voice. “I’ll bet you’d like a nice tasty carrot stick, wouldn’t ‘oo?”

“Oo hoo hoo. I’ll bet someone wants a nice tasty carrot stick.”

Felicia turned to see Wally Sutter lumbering towards her, followed by his pencil-necked flunky Sparrow Jeffers, shuffling behind him like a consumptive shadow.

“You boys shouldn’t be in here,” Felicia said starkly. “I have special permission from Mrs. Everson.”

“Special permission?” Wally laughed hoarsely, his throat rough as sandpaper from years of sneaking cigarettes.

Sparrow echoed his laughter with his own phlegmy smoker’s rattle, punctuated with high-pitched wheezes.

“Relax, sweetheart.” Wally tipped back the bill of his baseball cap, making his mullet curls twitch. “We’re here to help you feed Mrs. Cuddles. Ain’t that right, Sparrow?”

Sparrow nodded glumly. His eyes were like dull black buttons over badly pockmarked cheeks. But as creepy as Sparrow looked, he looked relatively harmless next to his beastly buddy.

Wally Sutter had been in and out of trouble since his start as a bully in kindergarten. The combination of his massive size and his father’s unchecked power as County Sheriff were the bedrock of the boy’s arrogance.

Although Sheriff Sutter afforded no leeway to those caught driving even a scant one mile over the speed limit on empty back roads, and was known to jerk shoulders out of sockets when man-handling handcuffed drunks, he dismissed his son’s unsavory antics as innocent boyhood hijinks.

From the time he first acted out in public, forcing little Patrick Coogan to eat a fingerload of gooey snot, Wally was routinely rescued from punishment by his badge-toting daddy.

And so the boy grew more rotten with each passing year. Whether he was dunking Danny Hoyer’s head in a dirty toilet, or shooting a neighbor’s pet with high-powered paintballs, Wally was always “just a misunderstood goofball” in his father’s eyes. And of course the Sheriff always promised the injured party.that Wally would be “punished severely” at home.

Any unfortunate citizen who pressed the issue or threatened to take it up with the mayor or town council found their insurance rates rising as traffic tickets piled up quickly on their driving record. Or found themselves in jail after leaving a holiday party and getting nailed for DUI by the Sheriff, who just happened to be lurking in the area.

Many of the townspeople were fed up with the Sheriff’s flagrant abuse of his authority, but Greensville was a tiny town in a large rural county. Most of the outlying residents weren’t affected by the Sutter family depredations, and were content to have such a tough law and order candidate running their county with an iron fist.

Felicia suspected that the closest thing to punishment Wally ever really received at home was a half-ration of ice cream and cookies, because he always came back meaner and undeterred after supposedly being disciplined. He’d busted windows, slashed tires and broken a nose or two in apparent retribution. Those who didn’t get the situation the first time around were smart enough not to complain after getting a second dose of his devilish aggression.

As his teenage hormones raged, his sadistic antics grew wilder and more criminal. Rumor had it that he’d made a sordid cell phone video of meek little Susie Calloway after luring her to a party at Sparrow’s house when the skinny creep’s parents left town for a family affair.

But Susie was too scared to seek justice or even discuss the incident with her friends, because Wally threatened to post the explicit video in an internet newsgroup. From whence, as he gleefully pointed out, it would spread viral around the globe and haunt her for the rest of her sorry life.

“Now what was that you were saying about a nice tasty carrot stick, Delicia? I think I can help you out, if you catch my drift.” Wally cupped his crotch suggestively and Sparrow snorted out something resembling a laugh.

“The name’s Felicia, not Delicia. And I suggest that both of you beat it before I report you to—”

“Jesus, calm the fuck down, Delicia. Report what? We just want to spend a little quality time with Mrs. Cuddles. We’re animal lovers too, you know. Here widdle bunny wunny come to Papa Wally.”

BOOK: The Nine Lives of Felicia Miller
3.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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