Chapter 1: Fate
Jake stopped and eyed the leaden sky as he made his way from the building.
Frozen rain pellets bounced off the peak of his battered cap as he tugged
the collar of his jacket higher. He stepped into the parking lot,
turned and scowled up at the marque overhead. "Friendly Finance",
he growled, " friendly as long as they get their rotten payment."
"Never mind that I'll be living on sandwiches for the next while."
He spat as he turned and started making his way against the bitter wind.
Life was sure not being kind to a trucker these days he thought wearily.
Suddenly a sobbing cry pierced the wind. Jake froze in mid-step,
the short hairs on the back of his neck shivered. Again the scream,
seeming to come from behind the building. Before he could think about
it Jake was in full run towards the sound. "DOGGONE FOOL...Get yourself
killed" ran through his mind. But Jake ran all the harder.
As he skidded around the corner, he spotted several vicious looking
dogs scrambling to get at..something. Jake grabbed up a length of
2x4 lying by a dumpster and waded into the pack. Kicking and smashing he
sent the pack running. Jake stood there panting for a few seconds
as the adrenaline coursed thru his veins. A soft cry spun Jake around.
There, lying gasping amongst the garbage was...a cat. Jake stared,
then knelt to touch the animal. "You poor little dickens, they almost
got you that time", he rasped. A pink, raspy tongue touched
his hand. Jake shook his head and began exploring the soft little body
gently. The cat was obviously a tom, grey with a white muzzle and
belly. The fur was matted with garbage and wet with rain, but amazingly
there didn't seem to be a wound anypace that wasn't old battle scars.
" Ahuh", muttered Jake, "an old fighter eh? I bet you got your licks
in with those mangy mutts, but they ganged up on you. I'll be blessed
if I don't know exactly how that feels. Well pard, you better come along
with me for awhile. The cowardly curs might just sneak back on ya."
Jake carefully started to lift the cat, but it struggled from his hands
and limped to a cardboard box laying half buried nearby. He started frantically
pawing at it meowing sofly; looking back at jake and crying again. Curious
now, Jake lifted the box and looked inside. "Well I'll be..", inside the
box cowered a half-grown white kitten. Jake gently lifted the ball
of fluff out in his hands as the tom anxiously tried to see. Jake
knelt and held the kitten out. The grey nuzzled and licked the kitten,crooning
in his throat. Two little blue eyes opened and the kitten started
to purr. Jake's eyes misted as he looked the kitten over and he tucked
her safely in his inner jacket pocket. "You old scrapper", he choked,
"you was fighting to save HER wasn't you." The tom crept up on Jake's
knee and butted his head on Jake's whiskery chin, then peered anxiously
at the kitten in Jake's pocket. "Mow!!" he said. Jake stroked
the big grey head, but couldn't speak past the big lump in his throat.
Then he wiped away the tears running down his cheeks and husked; "Old Man,
you two better come along with me, this is no place for a lady and her
Knight Errant. Then he scooped up the grey and headed back to his old Kenworth.
Chapter 2: Homecoming
Jake's boots squelched with water as he made his way to the old Red
Kenworth parked at the back corner of the lot. Strangely enough the
wind and water didn't seem so cold and miserable as they did just short
minutes before. Jake hugged the two purring bundles beneath his jacket
a little tighter and a slow smile crept across his weary face. He
reached up and unlocked the door and as he swung it open a grey head popped
out from under his coat. "Mow", the head said and Jake chuckled.
"Don't worry old man," he said softly, "this old rig may look mean,
but she ain't eaten anyone yet." As he stepped up on the step the
grey leaped into the cab and hopped up on the passenger seat. Jake
grinned, "Makin' yourself right at home huh? Well lets get
this little lady settled and then we'll figure out what to do."
Jake slid across the worn driver's seat which was his home and entered
the bunk behind. Gently he plucked the white kitten from his pocket
and placed her gently on the rumpled blankets. The little kitten
sleepily looked around, yawned and curled down into a purring ball.
The grey hopped up onto the bunk and gave the kitten a reassuring lick,
then scurried back to his seat on the passenger side.
Jake slid behind the wheel, gave a big sigh and keyed the big diesel
to life. He quickly scanned the guages to make sure everything was
working and glanced across at the grey. The tom was standing up with
a paw resting on the window ledge looking calmly about. "You'll be
glad to know I got a Cat engine," Jake said with a smile, "but you
and your lady ain't gonna do anything in here I gotta clean up now are
you?" The tom gave him a disgusted look and went back to watching.
"Ok, ok, no offence meant," Jake chuckled, "now let's get this show on
the road." He thumbed in the airbrake release and dropped the
big stick into gear with a practiced click. He steered the big rig
out of the lot and made his way to the busy highway. As he cruised
along he watched the grey from the corner of an eye. The big tom
was busily watching the passing traffic from the window, the dash and finally
the small window in the bottom of the door. Apparently satisfied
he hopped back up and began grooming. Jake's grin spread a little
As the tires sang their familiar song Jake found himself talking to
the grey. "Well bud, now I gotta figure out a place for you two.
You've had it rough for quite awhile by the look of it and I think it's
time you had a safe home." "MOW!", replied the cat. "Glad
you agree," Jake said, "I guess we'll go visit my wife. I guess she
might need some company what with me being on the road so much."
Jakes voice took on a sad tone and the grey lifted his head and stared
intently at him. "Y'see, we used to have a good life, a family. We
had the sweetest little daughter you ever saw, all sunny smiles and curls.
She was the light of my life and when I came home she used to come running
to her Daddy. "I just...." Jakes voice trailed off and he had
to swallow a couple of times. His hand shook as he wiped it across
his eyes, but the steering wheel never wavered because Jake was a pro.
Finally he got his voice back and resumed his tale. The grey was paying
rapt attention to the big man. "I know you're wondering how a homely
old coot like me could have a beautiful daughter", he said softly.
The cat looked him up and down, a tall rangy sort of a man with big hands
and a face that reflected every hard mile he'd travelled. "Mow",
the grey said softly. "Well it's true", Jake went on, "but
a year ago she got real sick. The doctors tried but...she slipped
away." He sighed, "After that the wife and me just didn't talk much
and the work started keeping me out here. Just didn't seem much point
in going home and making her life more miserable. So I just pound
the pavement and send her what money I can. Maybe she'll have room
for you two. I don't expect she'll care much to see me." Jakes
voice trailed away again. The grey hopped down and gently climbed
up on Jake's lap. He stretched up and rubbed his furry cheek against
Jake's, then settled himself on Jake's lap. "Mow", he said softly.
Jake dropped a hand and stroked the grey head. "A man of few words
huh", he smiled, "well don't worry, Barb's a good woman and she'll take
care of you." Nothing more was said as the big KW ate up the miles.
Then the rig came to a stop on a rural road and sat there with the diesel
"There it is buddy", Jake said quietly. He gazed at a little white
house sitting amongst a bunch of tall maples. "Looks like she's keeping
up pretty well since I was last here, been quite awhile now. Well,
I guess we better take you home and see what's what". The brake sighed
off and the big KW drifted slowly into the driveway. Jake set the
parkbrake and shut the big diesel down. He sat the grey on the floor and
opened the door. As he stepped down he turned and reached for the white
kitten which had wandered it's way out of the bunk. Behind him he
heard a door open.
Chapter 3: A New Start
"Hi Jake, it's been a long time", said a soft voice. Jake slowly
turned his head and looked back over his shoulder. He saw her standing
there in the doorway; looking a bit tired and a little older than when
he'd seen her last. His eyes swept her face, noting the sadness in
her eyes and the wistful little smile on her lips. His heart leaped and
the lonliness swept over him. "Hello Barb", he stammered, "yeah,
it's sure been awhile. I...I...just brought a couple of friends by
that I wanted you to meet." "Oh, well sure...I guess...", her
voice quivered a little as she stepped into the yard.
Jake turned with the white kitten in his hands but the ball of fluff
leaped free. She gathered herself up and ran crying "Mew, Mew, Mew"
to Barb's feet. The grey tom threw himself from the cab and ran to
the lady too. Barb dropped to her knees in the gravel and swept the
kitten up in her arms. "Oh you precious things!", she cried as she
was buried under purrs and kitty kisses. She looked up with tears streaming
down her face. "Oh Jake, wherever did you find them. Oh they're
soo wonderful, oh such precious babies...how??" She was laughing
and crying all at once as the kitten snuggled and licked at her chin.
The grey wound round and round her, purring like a chainsaw.
Jake thumbed the mist from his eyes and gently said, "I guess you could
say we found each other. I knew these two wanderers needed a safe
home and I thought the best place they could have would be here with you,
if you don't mind". "Of course they're welcome", said Barb, "there's
a lot of love waiting here".
"Well I remembered how much you and Jennie used to talk about getting
her a kitten when she came home and...", Jake's voice broke off when
he saw the flash of sadness in Barb's eyes. "Uhh, I mean...well I
guess they'll be happier here with you. No future in a worthless
old bum like me. I guess I'd better be on my way now." With
a sinking heart he turned and reached for the Kenworth's door, but Barb's
hand touched him on his arm. Her voice was low and soft. "Jake,
you aren't staying?" Jake bowed his head and his shoulders began
to shake, then the sobs that had been buried for so long couldn't be held
back any longer. "Oh God Barb", he choked through the tears, "I've
wanted to come back so many times. But I kept seeing Jennie and you
in her hospital room and at her funeral and how bad I wanted to make it
all right. But I couldn't do a thing. Just a useless old truckdriver
who was never there when I was needed. I kept thinking of all her
birtdays I missed, all the times I wasn't there for her and for you.
I...I...just figured you were better off without me reminding you all the
time how I'd failed you. Then when I saw the cats I.....I....thought
about Jennie wanting a kitty so bad and I thought maybe I could give part
of Jennie back to you again."
Barb wrapped her arms tightly around Jake and smiled up into his face.
"Oh my wonderful man, my foolish man. You never failed us.
I married a trucker knowing what you did and Jennie was always so proud
of her Daddy and his big red truck. Our holidays were every time
you walked in the door. Oh Jake, I've prayed and prayed that you
would come back or just call, so I could tell you that I will always love
you and need you here with me. Please Jake, let's go home."
Hand in hand they walked back to the little white house. The two
cats, who had been watching, scampering between their feet.
The next morning Jake walked out the door a much changed man.
Gone was the haunted look and a smile played over his face. He stood
on the steps and looked down at the grey form at his feet. "Well
old son, I gotta go pick up my empty trailer and drop her back to the yard.
Then I'm taking two weeks off to catch up to my family again." It
seems Barb had a job and had been putting the money Jake sent home into
the bank, more than enough to make the final payments on his truck
and plenty left. When he opened the cab door however, the grey shot
into the cab and onto his place in the passenger seat. "Well now",
laughed Jake, "looks like I got me a co-driver. A real traveller ain't
ya." A smile crept across Jake's face, "Traveller, that's what you
are and I guess from now on that's gonna be your name, alright?"
Traveller looked over at him, yawned hugely and said with authority,
"MOW!!" Jake chuckled and brought the big diesel to life. He
looked over towards the house and started. "Well would you look at that!"
he mused. The house as bathed in colour; it was sitting at the base
of the biggest rainbow Jake had ever seen. In the doorway stood Barb
with the white kitten in her arms. "Hurry back home you two", she
called with a wave and a smile, '"hurry back to me and Angel." Jake
looked over to Traveller as he dropped the Kenworth into gear. "I guess
old man, we both got a home out of this deal and a lady to come back to".
He was whistling and Traveller was purring along as they rolled down the
road towards the city. Would you believe the old Kenworth sounded