The Neighbourhood Cats | By David Cook
Stan loved it when the neighbourhood cats visited his garden. Tabbies, tortoiseshells, ginger toms – they were all welcome as far as he was concerned, even if they did trample all over his flowerbeds. If it wasn’t for them, he’d just spend his retirement eyeballing the television.
One day, a small girl, who Stan vaguely recognized from about half a dozen doors down, rang his doorbell. ‘Scuse me,’ she said, snot dribbling down her upper lip. ‘My cat is missing. His name is Pebbles.’ She thrust a phone in front of his face. ‘Have you seen him, please?’
Stan took his glasses from his shirt pocket, put them on, and examined the beautiful grey feline with malt brown eyes who stared back at him from the screen.
‘I’m afraid not, sweetheart,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry.’
The little girl’s face crumpled. ‘I miss him so-o-o much,’ she sobbed. ‘I just wa-wa-want him to come ho-home…’
‘Harmony, darling!’ called a woman, trotting up the driveway. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she said to Stan. ‘She just misses her cat. You haven’t seen him, then?’
Stan shook his head.
‘Okay, but if you do, will you please let us know? We’re at number 16.’
Stan said of course he would, and watched as Harmony was escorted down the street, shoulders slumped and tears flowing down her cheeks. He closed the door behind him, removed his specs, and shook his head as he shuffled down the short hallway to his kitchen. He opened the fridge and looked inside. A pair of lifeless malt brown eyes stared back at him.
He’d best eat this one soon in case that brat came snooping around again.
Stan shut the fridge, then lifted the lid of a pot on the stove. Hot steam assailed him and he wiped his glasses free of condensation before peering in. He’d skinned this cat, a brown and black moggy that had wandered down his garden path one evening last week, this morning. It had been cooking for about three hours now and looked almost ready to eat. He had sprouts, broccoli and potatoes on the boil to go with it, along with a jar of mustard.
He turned down the heat and ambled back to his seat at the lounge window.
Stan loved it when the neighbourhood cats visited his garden.
David Cook's stories have been published in Spelk, Cabinet of Heed, Ellipsis Zine, Bandit Fiction and many more. He's a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. He lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife and daughter. Say hi on Twitter @davidcook100.