Disclaimer: Magnificent Seven and the characters etc. included aren't mine. I am making no profit with this here tale.
Characters: Vin, OMC
Discription: Answer to September '03 challenge. Or at least my attempt. Enjoy.
ATF Little Britches (or a form thereof)
Mangy hair. Tarnished and burnt on the ends. The two front paws were falling off. One eye was missing, the other almost all gone. The left ear had stuffing billowing out of it like a cloud of smoke from a locomotive. The long tail was stringy, barely a tail at all. The only thing new about it was the garbage bag carrying it and the twinkle in the eye of the man carrying the bag. He took it home.
By candlelight the man laboriously threaded the needle. The thread as exact a match as he could make with his aging eyes. He sewed the ear back to the head. Shoved cotton balls into the sagging parts of the body. Cut off the singed fur carefully. Replaced the eyes with painted buttons. He looked sadly at the tail in contemplation. Oh how to fix that. With a small sigh and nod of finality he cut the tail down to the body and went in search of the mop.
Finally it was finished. A mean, growling mangy lion with button eyes and a cute smile. Just like the little boy it would soon belong to. The little boy who always had troubles. The one who spent hours after school working with his teacher. The one who had five men watching out for him. Well he had six now.
Cam smiled. The aging, deaf janitor wrapped the cat in the trash bag once again and went down the quiet hallway. His shoes echoing along chamber like walls but he never heard the sound of it. He didnt hear the groan and clank of the locker door opening. Or the soft thud of the bag hitting the locker floor. He didnt hear the locker door slam shut. He didnt expect it.
That next morning he didnt hear the teachers arrive. He didnt hear the children filing into the school building, he didnt cringe at their laughter, or high pitched squeals of happiness. All he knew was that little boy who trooped to his locker and squared his shoulders. Struggling to recall how to open his locker. Which way that knob was supposed to turn. And which numbers were which. He smiled inwardly when the boy successfully opened it.
Then the wide open eyes fell on the bag and automatically his head came up and those eyes, that sparkled with amazing clarity, settled on the aging janitor. There was a heart-wrenching grin and the boy mouthed something quietly. Cam blushed and grinned like a fool before he turned and plodded down the emptying elementary hallway.
"Happy Birthday, Vin Tanner," read the sign on the bag and Vin grinned reminding himself to visit his friend after school. And exchange his present as well.
In Loving Memory of Cam Mordicai. The best janitor and mentor a high school student could have.