Tuesday, October 30, 2012
The Gray Cat and the Green House at the Corner
I watched, silently, as the gray cat prowled down the street. I followed it, hiding behind bushes and trees, as it turned the corner. I crept up to the corner, softly, pressing my back to the wall. Craning my head around the corner, I saw the cat cross the road quickly. I watched as it approached a house. It was a green house, with wooden panels. I slowly, crossed the road and crouched below the fence line. I waited for a few moments, and then quickly raised my head above the top of the fence, so I could see the cat. It was staring at a particular spot on the wall of the house. As I watched it, the cat pawed the wall carefully and waited. When nothing happened, the cat moved along to another section of the wall, and pawed it again. Suddenly, the cat was startled and turned around. It looked at me for a split second, before I quickly crouched back down. When I looked for the cat after a few seconds, it was gone. I looked around for it, along the side of the house, but could not see it.
How did it get away so fast? I thought to myself.
I turned around and walked back home, puzzled. I didn’t really know why I had started following the cat in the first place. When I first saw it, all those years ago. It just seemed to call to me, almost like I was being drawn to it, like paperclips being pulled towards a magnet. The cat didn’t really stand out, it was just a normal looking cat; gray, black stripes in the tabby style. It looked well-fed, not skinny like a common street cat. I was just walking to the shops when I first saw it. When I came back, it was still there, in almost exactly the same place, even though it was almost an hour later. I dropped my shopping off at home, and went back out, for a walk. I saw the cat again. I slowly walked up to it, trying not to startle it. When it saw me approaching, it ran away, leaping silently through the bushes. I went back home, and tried to forget about the cat, trying to push thoughts from my mind.
I saw the cat every day that week. Whenever I walked past, there it was. It might be on the street corner one day, on a nearby wall the next, but it was still there. Every time I tried to approach it, it ran away. I couldn’t explain what force kept drawing me back to the cat. I needed to find out what was going on with that cat. I needed to know more about it. So, one afternoon, I slowly stalked it, and watched it from across the street. It didn’t seem to notice me, and just continued, well, doing nothing. Then it ran towards the house again. I silently followed it. I saw it at the house again. This time, it didn’t notice me. It quietly slipped underneath the house, through a small hole in the paneling. I looked around the house, trying to find a way in.
I looked towards where the voice had come from and saw an old man, standing on the back steps of the house. He was tall, unusually tall for someone of his age, and had long and thin, wiry arms. I noticed that his arms were particularly hairy, as if he had fur of some kind.
“Nothing, nothing,” I smattered anxiously, worried about what the man would do. He might call the cops on me.
“So you’re the one who’s been stealing my fish eh?” he accused me, pointing his finger.
“No, no, I haven’t stolen your fish,” I said, trying to convince him that I was innocent.
“I don’t believe you,” he said “I leave my fish at the door, whenever I go fishing and it disappears. Someone must be taking it, and I haven’t seen anyone around here except you!” he concluded, angrily.
“The cat,” I suggested “it might have been the cat.”
“What cat?” the man asked “I’ve never seen any cats around here.”
“It was around here, it went underneath the house,” I said “please you’ve got to believe me.”
The old man started to open his mouth, as if to say something, but closed it again suddenly. Then he spoke again “a cat, which went underneath the house?”
“Yes, yes, it definitely went underneath the house, we could look for it right now,” I told him.
“What did this cat look like?” he asked, ignoring my offer to look for it.
“It was a tabby cat, gray, with black stripes.” I informed him.
The old man seemed to stop for a second. He was thinking, wondering. I saw his mouth moving, as he muttered to himself. I could barely hear the words “could it be?”
The man looked at me and said “please, come inside, I’m sorry about yelling at you.”
“No-way am I coming inside,” I said, turning to walk away.
“I can tell you, about a cat.”
I stopped, interested by his offer. Was he talking about the cat that I kept seeing? I really wanted to know about that cat. Why was it here? Why did it keep coming to this house? I wanted these questions answered, but I didn’t know whether I could trust the man.
“What kind of cat?” I asked.
“A tabby cat. A gray one. With black stripes.”
I knew that he was talking about the cat that I had been seeing. I wanted to walk away, to just go home. But I couldn’t. I needed to know about the cat. I would never be able to rest, knowing that someone could tell me about it, and I had just walked away from that person. Cautiously, I climbed the steps and walked into the house. I followed the old man, into the living room. As I walked through the house, I noticed the pungent smell of fish. The living room was almost completely bare. Just a few chairs and a table. On the table was a single picture frame. Inside the frame, there was an old, black and white photo of a cat. I couldn’t tell what color it was, but it had black stripes.
“Is this the cat you’re talking about?” I asked the man, as he opened the curtains to let in some light. A sudden rush of dust up my nose told me that those curtains had not been opened in a while.
“Please, sit down,” the old man said to me, pointing towards an old, under-stuffed armchair.
I sat down. A cloud of dust leapt into the air as I did.
“I will tell you a story now,” the old man said “a story, about a boy. A story, about a cat.”
Continued tomorrow ....