This is a very short story that I wrote on the spur of the moment. It can stand on it's own (just about), but it might also slot into a larger piece which I'm thinking of writing. Anyway, here it is:
The Old Toilet Man and the Cat
I was seven-years-old, and loved going over to my Grandpa’s house. He was a strange old fellow, but I loved listening to his stories. Of course, at the time, I didn’t realise that he believed they were all true. My favourite story was that of my Grandpa’s encounter with a talking cat.
It was the Easter holiday, so my mother decided we would drive up to Birmingham for a visit.
At this point I think it’s fitting to explain a little about my Grandpa. He was eighty-years-old, and for thirty years had suffered from violent irritable bowel syndrome and incontinence. For a time this resulted in some embarrassing public accidents. He dealt with this problem by leaving his job, having a toilet installed in the sitting room, and never getting up from it. Although largely impractical, it did solve that particular problem.
His hired carer let us in, and, as young children do, I ran and gave him a big hug. The isolation had made him a little eccentric, but he was still a good Grandpa, and I loved him very much.
After we had sat down to some lunch, I asked Grandpa to tell me a story. I sat cross-legged on the carpet in front of him, and this is what he told me:
‘It was the afternoon-time, and I was sitting on this here toilet, as always, about to eat some lunch. Maria [the carer] had made me a lovely sandwich, real butter, tomato, lettuce and golden syrup. She set it down on the table, and left me. Usually she would be back in the evening, but on this occasion she was attending a party, so would not be returning until the next morning. Due to this I decided to save my sandwich until later in the day.
At that moment a cat hopped up on the windowsill. But this was no ordinary cat; he was wearing a purple Stetson on his head, with a pigeon feather attached to the side. He saw my sandwich, licked his little lips and came on over to me.
He said to me “Sir, I’m here to steal your sandwich.’
I couldn’t quite believe the gall of this pussycat, so I replied “Excuse me, Mr Pussycat?”
He tipped his hat and said “I smelt your mouth-watering sandwich from outside, and decided to relieve you of it.”
Unsure quite what to say I simply said to that pesky pussycat “Why, Mr Pussycat, if you’ve decided to take my lunch there’s very little I can do to stop you, being unable to leave this here toilet and all, due to the IBS.”
The cat recoiled, and purred at me “Why sir, I was unaware that you suffered from such a horrible affliction. It would go against my honour to take your lunch from you.’
He bowed so low that his whiskers brushed the ground, and left through the window just as quickly as he had come.
However, I did not trust that pesky pussycat, and so decided to leave the sandwich as it was.
It came to be nighttime, and the house was entirely dark. I leant my head back against the wall and pretended to be sleeping. Sure enough I heard a quiet scratching, and that pussycat landed on the carpet with a soft thud. He padded his way toward me, and hopped up onto the table.
I arose in a flash, but that damn cat was too quick for me. He snatched the sandwich from where it lay and began to make off back toward the window.
I did the only thing I could, not being able to leave this toilet and all. I snatched the lid of this here cistern, and hurled it at that pesky pussycat as hard as I possibly could. It flew toward him at an amazing speed, but he was a quick little feline. The lid slammed down upon his tail, and he screeched the most horrible screech you’ll ever hear in your life. The sandwich dropped from his mouth, and he hurtled out of the window, leaving his tail behind on the floor.
I never saw that pesky pussycat again. To celebrate my victory I ate that sandwich, and it was one of the best things I have ever tasted to his day. I kept that cat’s tail as a souvenir, and a reminder to never, ever trust a cat wearing a purple Stetson.’
A year or two after my Grandpa’s death I went to visit Maria. She had stopped being his carer three years before he died so that she could start a family. I had tried to contact her before the funeral but had been unable to reach her. When I did eventually track her down it occurred to me that she might not know of his death. It turned out that she didn’t, and we spent the day talking about our experiences with him.
The conversation soon turned to his storytelling, and when I told Maria that the story of the cat was my favourite, she laughed. She told me that my Grandpa had had some trouble with a cat, the next-door neighbours tabby that was determined to pay a visit whenever the window was open. Everything else had been a complete fabrication, but I found it somewhat comforting to know that what he had told me was grounded in reality.
Thanks for reading. All comments very welcome.