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Magic Cat and the Girl in the Shadows

by Jack Bates

About the Author: Jack Bates writes from the back room of an old house. He is a three time finalist for a Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society. He's also optioned a screenplay which won an award for writing.


Gia Marie Carroll had two college degrees though she didn’t use either in her current job as The Magic Cat. Nope. A Bachelor’s of Arts in English and a Master’s in Post Mayan Studies had very little value when she was materializing Doily, her pet Singapura, inside an empty cage at kiddie birthday parties. She wore a black cat costume with an attached hood that came down over her eyes and had little cat ears. Often times the dads came out of their caves or abandoned the barbecue to watch her act much to the chagrin of the moms.

Sometimes the tips were big. Sometimes they weren’t.  Gia had a feeling this job was going to be one of those where they weren’t. The mom, a woman named Stacie Maher who struggled with being the mom of a six year old girl at the age of thirty-two, had been okay at the booking. Things changed the minute Gia came out of the half-bath in her costume. Stacie’s demeanor cooled. Midway through the show, Stacie and a couple of the other moms slipped out the patio door for cigarettes and cocktails in red plastic cups.

One woman remained inside. She hovered over the tray of cut vegetables set out on the kitchen island. A moment later the birthday girl’s father wandered into the room. Gia had only met him that morning. There was a Prince Charming smile on his rugged face. He was the kind of guy who would roll around in the grass with a pack of puppies. All giggles and yips.

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