Tale #51: The Cat In The Graveyard

“I saw a cat here once.

“It was walking along the path from gate to gate, from grave to grave. I was sat on the steps of that old tomb there, just waiting around like today. Loitering, lingering. And I watched it walking around for a while. It hadn’t seen me, or if it had it hadn’t cared enough to show it, and I felt as if I was witness to some great secret, or some intimate privacy. Something, anyway, that I wasn’t supposed to see.

“And so, really, I shouldn’t have made myself known. It’s always a cruelty to do that, to someone who believed themselves alone. I should have left, and let it be. But I could not. It was a cat. A cat! How could I resist? So I called it to me on its next circuit past, made that old noise my mother used to use to call our cats in at night when I was a child, that horrible old sound they couldn’t ever resist, their ears and then their bodies turning inexorably towards the noise, towards my mother as she called. Vvvvvvvvvvrm! Vvvvvvvvvrm!

“The cat stopped in its stride and looked at me, and then came, slowly, towards me, head cocked to the side, meowing in return, imitating my sound as best it could. And then when it reached me it pushed itself heavily against my leg as if in greeting.

“As I leant down to stroke it, a shadow cast itself over everything, somehow, looming over me from behind. I felt a hand upon my shoulder, and the cat slipped past my legs and hurried up the steps on which I was sat.

“Yet when I turned to look there was nothing behind me but the sealed doors of the tomb.”

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Notes:

1. Written on 26th July, 2015
2. Although this pared down version is from July 2018

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A dream of cats

I had a dream about cats
and going to the special cat park
where all the stray cats live
in nice little brick cottages
which look like human houses
except they’re only six foot high

Non-stray cats are allowed in the park too
as long as they’re on leads

And people are only allowed in if they’re walking their cat
on a lead
or two cats, on two leads
or three on three
and so on
up to whatever the theoretical cats on leads limit is

But I didn’t have a cat
because I was catless
so I had to watch from outside
through the railings

I bought a postcard from the shop by the gates
and a magnet for my fridge
and listened to the stray cats sing
and watched the non-stray cats dance
which they all did
for an hour
at dusk
every sunday

Once it got dark they locked the gates
and everyone and their cats went home

And who knew what it was the stray cats did then
in their houses
in the dark
in the park
where the stray cats live

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Notes:

1. Written on April 15th, 2019
2. and based on a dream
3. I had
4. about cats
5. Also, if you set this to music, it should probably be to this music

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The Boat

My brother had this boat. It was quite a nice boat, as far as boats go. I’m not sure where he got it from. A boat seller, I suppose.

He had no idea how to sail, or even, as far as I could tell, how to row.

Every weekend he would wheel it out of his garage and onto the drive and wash it, or repaint it, or varnish it, or any number of other entirely pointless jobs designed mostly, if not entirely, to delay the moment when he would have to commit the thing to water and demonstrate, in public, the extent of his own incompetence.

His house burnt down one autumn, struck by lightning in a late and lonely thunderstorm. He lost everything, even his cat.

The cat wasn’t hurt, but he never forgave him, and ran away across the street and moved in with a neighbour, hissing in horror whenever my brother tried, forlornly, to claim him back. The sadness in his eyes on these occasions was heartbreaking. In my brother’s eyes, I mean. In the cat’s there was nothing but the fury of betrayal.

Everything else was covered by the insurance.

He moved in with me for a while, while his house was being rebuilt, and it was tolerable at first. But slowly he started filling up my house as the insurance slowly coughed up replacements for all his possessions, and to be honest by the time he moved out it was a bit of a relief. There’s only so many times you can sit in a living room filled to the brim with new TVs, bikes, computers, sofas, cupboards, plates and clothes, before the claustrophobia starts to seep into you and you dream, each night, of being crushed alive under an avalanche of pots and pans.

He never reclaimed the boat.

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Notes:

1. Written on September 27th, 2017

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