Other Voices #4 – “Stepping Away” by the Fat One

Ed. Note: “Other Voices” are stories written for my monthly Patreon patrons from the viewpoint of other characters. They are published to the general public on a four-month delay. This story was written before Momma Nancy became ill.

The source code compiled cleanly with no messages. I ran the executable with bated breath. The opening window of my application flashed on the screen for a sec and then core dumped.


”Dammit!” I swore. I’d been staring at this code block for what seemed like hours. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why it was failing! All the code did was read a field from a record in a database. I’ve done this literally thousands of times before! But for some reason, my program was crashing.

Disgusted, I started my trusty symbolic debugger and loaded my program into it. I turned tracing on and clicked “Run”. My program flashed its opening screen and crashed. To add insult to injury, the symbolic debugger crashed, too.

I let loose a volley of swearing. Tiddles and Nancy glanced at me from where they were lying in the sun in front of the French doors to the deck, then went back to sunning. Frustrated, I pushed my chair back and stood up. I needed to step away from this mess for a minute. I needed to spend some quality time with the kitties to take my mind off of this disaster.

Walking over to the two, I sat down between them as they lay on their backs in the sun’s warm rays. Nancy had her front paws pulled up below her chin. Her back legs were pulled to her belly. Tiddles, on the other hand, lay sprawled with his front and back legs stretched out as far as they could go. A true prince of the realm. “What little babies I have!” I cooed as I softly rubbed their bellies, “You just love your sunny spot, don’t you?”.

Nancy purred louder. She is, without a doubt, the happiest cat I’ve ever seen. And she’s a calming influence on Tiddles. She takes the edge off of his rambunctious ways. Tiddles stretched his legs out as far as they would go and purred contentedly.

“Ahh, to be a cat!” I said wishfully, “No coding problems for the both of you!”. They both meowed in agreement. Then they started talking to each other. I assume they did, anyway. They talk to each other constantly with a series of mews and vocalizations. And not just to each other. They talk to Sam and Fred the same way. I swear Fred is the town crier. He pops up every few days, sits on the ground in front of the porch, and seems to relay vital news.

I’m sure I’m reading more into it than is there. People tend to anthropomorphize their pets. But it sure seems like they have conversations. I wish I could read their little minds and know what they are really thinking! Even if they are just simple thoughts like “Feed me!” or “More pets, please!”.

I’m more of an introvert these days. Tiddles and Nancy are the closest thing to having children I’m going to get at this point in life.

Scratch that.

Dogs are like children. Cats are like roommates.

“Tiddles likes his underarms scratched, doesn’t he?!” I happily murmured while rubbing them. He let out a meow of pure pleasure. “Nancy does, too!” I said, as I happily rubbed hers. Nancy stretched her front legs out above her head and lay there in total bliss.

But duty called. Time to get back to fixing that stupid code. Sighing, I stood up. Nancy and Tiddles opened their eyes and looked up at me. Tiddles let out a disapproving meow. Apparently, he didn’t think I was done yet.

“I’ll be back in a bit, but now I have to get back to work.” I told him. He meowed in complaint, again.

Sitting back at my desk, I stared at that code block again. I immediately saw the problem. “You moron!” I muttered, “You’re accessing the wrong field in the record. And it’s uninitialized to boot!”. One compile and ten seconds later, my program was running perfectly.

Sometimes you just have to step away from a problem to clear your head.

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