cat meowed, yowled, wailed. He jumped in front of the jogging couple, so that
they almost stumbled.
cat,” the man cursed.
woman stopped and looked around, breathing deeply. “Something’s wrong.”
blue and green bundle of feathers with metallic sheen plopped into the branches,
opening a view. Bronze-green and lilac slowly welled across the harbour. A long
smoky cloud rushed to eat the sun, leaving streaks of blood drenching the
dark-blue sky. The city beyond the water put on a drab frown.
interested in that pigeon, Kathy. Let’s jog down again.”
cat cried like a baby.
a minute, Richard, I feel the cat wants to show us something.”
wood pigeon flapped off and branches whipped the panorama. The cat brushed
Kathy’s legs and took a few jumps up the road.
going to have a look.”
snickered. “OK, I won’t keep you. I’ll jog back. See you soon.”
nodded and quickly strode up the road. It narrowed. Trees drooped their leafy
loads, almost creating a tunnel. An earthy smell hung in the shadows. Then there
were only steps, rickety ones, well trodden, just soil held back by rotting
boards. The cat jumped up the path, still meowing. Kathy couldn’t help feeling
uneasy. Then she stopped abruptly. “Oh, my God,” she panted.
sun will soon come round to visit us, Felix,” the man muttered and stroked the
cat’s fur. It was light grey with fuzzy fawn stripes and soft. Felix purred
and stuck his head into the man’s wrinkly hand.
wind gust flung twigs against a windowpane. The man peered out. “Ah yes, and
the wind’s coming too,” he joked, brushing his grey hair with the fingers,
were rocking and rolling in the sky, grabbing each other, twirling, parting,
jostling teasingly. At times they spat fine spray over the seaside suburb below.
Now and then they let sunlight stab at the city across the harbour; dots of
glass and steel flared up.
right, nobody. Nice talking to you. Without you I’d talk to this musty wall,
wouldn’t I? I’ve got to talk. I’ve got to hear my voice.”
man shoved a bowl of milk under Felix’s nose. “That’s it for now. I’ll
go and get us some more from the dairy. That’s a place to have a chat. ‘Good
morning, Alf. How’re you today,’ the Indian guy will ask me. ‘I’m fine.
I’ll just grab a bottle of milk.’ ‘Help yourself. What a day, not bad, is
it?’ Great conversation, right Felix?”
sat up, listening. “Can you hear footsteps?”
was quiet up here next to the hillside bush at the end of the road. Some noise
from passing traffic drifted up. Wind gusts huffed at the house. Otherwise there
when I was working in the car factory, I used to enjoy the lack of noise after
work. Now I miss it. I miss my mates too. Used to love talking politics over a
few handles of beer in the pub. I was good at my work. Then the car assemblers
closed down, one after the other, struck by the new economy, so-called
progressive thinking, rationalisation. That left me stranded.”
walked over to a sideboard and picked up a black and white photograph in a dark
brown scratched frame.
don’t know what I’m talking about, but, at least, you’re listening.
‘Don’t talk so much and stop that cursing,’ my wife used to say. Now
she’s gone. Found a new man. A decent feller, she says, perhaps more agreeable
stared at the picture over his spectacles.
looking good here. That was a long time ago. Just looking at the kids, Felix!
How young they are! That’s Linda and that’s John. Didn’t my wife and I get
on when we left the UK to settle here? We were a happy family. Now everyone’s
living their own lives. Linda and John turn up for help, occasionally. Is that
good enough, Felix? Does this make up for the long patches of loneliness in
think you understand, Felix, don’t you? Is this a life worth living? I eat, I
drink, I potter around the house, I sleep. What else is there?”
kicked at a book that had been lying next to his bed.
I’m sick of it. I’d rather do something with my hands. I’ve been a good
toolmaker. Could do anything somebody wanted. Could solve all the problems that
came towards me.”
shuffled into the adjoining room and opened a sideboard drawer. There lay,
neatly arranged and polished, tools of his trade. He fondled them, touching them
lightly, letting his fingers glide over them.
could still do the odd jobs, even ambitious ones - but they’ve thrown me on
the scrap heap.”
sighed. Suddenly, he felt unsteady and had to sit down. Felix jumped on his lap.
you’ve got a comfy life, Felix. I’m an old man. What if I should kick the
bucket? What would happen to you?”
had rested his head on his paws and gave off soft regular purrs. Alf brushed him
couldn’t care less. Go and sleep somewhere else.”
proceeded to make himself a cup of tea and stopped abruptly. “Oh yes, I’ve
got to get some milk first. Stay here, Felix. I’ll be back soon.”
put on a jacket and took a nylon bag. A gust of wind slapped his face when he
opened the door. He felt giddy.
weather changes are a bloody nuisance. I really feel them,” he mumbled.
had to lean heavily against the creaking railing. Then his right side turned
strangely numb. He saw his foot come forward, but there was no strength in it.
He stumbled. A treetop circled around his upturned eyes. It seemed to move ever
so slowly. Then he hit the stairs with a thump.
my God,” Kathy exclaimed, when she saw the body of the man slumped against the
bank of the hill into which the stairs were cut. Blood had seeped from the grey
hair patchily covering the head, had run in streaks across the face and dried.
He stirred a little.
happened to you, for God’s sake,” Kathy cried.
shook his head feebly.
shook his head again.
there a phone in your house?”
nodded lightly and stared past Kathy. “Felix..,” he mumbled.
what did you say?”
hurried up the last steps to the house and found a phone. She dialled 111.
found somebody who’s had an accident. He may even be dying,” she shouted
into the receiver. “Name and address? I’ve got to find out. No, there’s
nobody around here. Just a cat...”
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