Gus sprawled on a stroof joint over an ale shop, fur fluffed to absorb the only stray sunbeam he had found in this town. His tail twitched very occasionally.
Below, a line of old men squatted against the alehouse wall and talked about how the entire world had gone to rack and ruin. Gus wasn't surprised. Old men did that sort of thing.
"I give it two more years," one of them said. "Everyone thinks they're so clever with their merchant calculations. Short sighted."
The others nodded or grunted. They were taking advantage of the sun, too. But they had no lovely black fur to aid them.
Gus flicked a satisfied tail tip. He would not have fluffed out in strong sun if he hadn't been up out of sight. When strong sun lit his fluffed fur, even a human could see that the underfur on his belly was pale and that he had stripes. Gus didn't think of himself as a tabby. Tabbies were common. He thought of himself as liquid obsidian and did not fluff in strong light where there might be an audience. He especially didn't fluff and sun in windows. He didn't know what it was about windows, but he could remember few times that he had fully relaxed in one without someone blurting, "He has stripes! Look!"
"Competition is good for everyone," the same voice sneered. He hawked and spat. "People doing their manly duty are laughed at.
It wasn’t a nice town. Something about it kept the smoke from fire pits and chimneys low. In some areas the raspy fug only reached the upper stories or roofs of buildings, in others the haze reached the ground.