FEATURED in The Writing.Com Newsletter - Mystery: 5 Tips for Writing Mystery Stories - Editor's Picks, by New Year, New Squirrel , December 28, 2011
After his poor feeble wife got very sick and died of pneumonia in less than a month, Rudolph became in charge of her cat. Oh how he hated this burden; each and every day. He cursed and swore and blamed her for this responsibility. Lenore knew he hated cats. Why hadn’t the cat just died --- right after her? How old was it? Thirteen years old? Oh he hated his life. He thought he’d have peace of mind, silence and finally be able to live a quiet boredom after living 39 years with the same woman… and her damn cat.
Rudolph never understood why she brought it home one evening. Lenore had found it on a Friday, in a dark alley, under the stairs of an abandoned, old building --- dirty and hungry. There was a very good reason not to keep the cat, because, spooky enough, that day was a Friday 13th. The cat was so full of ticks that she couldn’t hold the cat properly and you could see the buggers creeping all over the fur. Lenore groomed and cared for the cat and pretty soon that cat was fine and dandy and following her everywhere. This happened… when? Fourteen years ago? How long do cats live? Longer than dogs do? Shorter? He wished he had the courage to put the cat in a bag and throw it in the river – but he had promised her on her death bed - to look after her precious cat.
The cat was house broken but it was the meanest Siamese cat he’d ever seen. Sometimes the cat would become so excited about something that it would run up to Lenore and scratch her legs painfully even though it was a one-person cat (his wife Lenore) and even if it seemed to be entirely “loyal” to her. Ha! What a lie. That cat was mean, selfish, boring and had a horrible, distinctive yowl, totally deserved to it, as it was hysterically loud and distracting. And now, Rudolph had to put up with that cat, living with him in his silent and peaceful world.
Once, the vet had told Lenore to have the cat undergo an operation called tendonectomy, where the tendons are severed to prevent the cat from being able to scratch things… and her. A cruel operation, but not nearly so disabling as de-clawing. It is painful, and leads to so many behavior problems like more biting and litter box aversion, especially in Siamese, which are such “sensitive” cats to begin with. Lenore wouldn’t hear of it! Never. Not Meeka.
This feline had its unique personality! It was darkish-white, with a darker pattern around the head. Meeka had a long neck and the most mesmerizing deep blue eyes… yet, sometimes the cat’s eyes looked somehow cross-eyed. It had a slender body structure, a very thin two-toned coat and, the sleek striking color contrast usually distracted him from watching his favorite ball game on TV, while she sat opposite him on her pink cushion. The cat would look at him intently and purr… and irritate him, really annoy him daily --- as if she did that on purpose - her meow was extremely loud, sounding like a crying baby with a harsh squeaky voice. Oh how he wished this breed came with a mute button.
On the cat’s 13th. birthday it scratched his wife so deeply on the hand that he suggested exchanging the cat for another one – maybe get a Persian cat --- they were the fluffiest! Lenore held her adorable cat in her skinny arms and looked at him in shock, as if he was trying to give her “child” away for adoption. Rudolph finally gave up, wondering if the cat would run away or die one day. Cats die just as people, don’t they? But, who died was Lenore… not Meeka.
How could he be affectionate to that cat? And as a pet, he often wondered who was the animal and who was the human. The vet told them that a Siamese cat was intelligent and easily trained, but… most become quite adept at training their human in their own ways… as Meeka easily did with Lenore. He would not put up with this at all. Rudolph had tolerated that animal for a long time now… but something kept him from giving the cat away --- or simply drowning it. It wasn’t about the promise. It was about all those weird things she had told him about cats and… about Meeka.
His wife was positively certain that Meeka had paranormal powers; Meeka had belonged to a witch or wizard – the cat knew things we didn't; that Meeka truly “watched over” her. Sometimes the cat tried to initiate some type of response from her. Many times she would arrive home and try to tell him weird “spiritual or supernatural” occurrences and more, that Meeka knew what was going to happen in the future! He refused to hear about all this cat nonsense. Sometimes he thought his wife was deranged or becoming ill and even told her that he’d schedule an appointment with a psychologist. Lenore laughed and said that he simply wasn’t a “true believer”. Then, Rudolph would try and reason with her by telling her that cats were creatures of the night; an omen of misfortune and bad luck and that sadness and darkness would follow quickly in your life if a black cat crossed your path. She would laugh some more, in her peculiar, sweet way. One day you’ll know, one day you’ll... understand, Lenore would say… but after that she never told him those strange stories again or about Meeka’s undeniable ties to the world of the supernatural and the premonition of doom.
One morning Rudolph tried to look at his image in the bathroom’s mirror but he only saw a blurred image of himself. His eyes felt as if they were clouded, as if opacity or an obstruction blocked the passage of light. Was he becoming so old that he was having vision loss and becoming blind? He immediately scheduled an appointment with the same eye doctor he had had for 12 years and for that very same day. His eye doctor, Dr. Israel, was an old Jewish man that only thought of work and money but was reliable and good. He got his old tweed suit from the closet and noticed all her dresses still hanging there, untouched. Rudolph lay his suit on the bed…and there came Meeka and sat right on top of it. "Out! Get out, you fur ball, you damned cat. That’s my only good suit. This was the one I wore for Lenore's burial! Out! Go!" Meeka wouldn't move. He also observed that Meeka kept looking at him, meowing… no, yowling impatiently. Meeka looked at him with her deep blue eyes as if trying to to tell him something. It was so intense that it disturbed his concentration. Was he becoming his wife? Was Rudolph becoming Lenore? Do we become the ones that leave? This was insane. He sat on his bed and tenderly caressed her pillow. Her nightgown was still under it. Rudolph smelled her perfume, took a deep breath and then, putting both his big hands on his face, wept so profoundly that his big body trembled, shaking the big, empty bed. He finally wept all the unshed tears of sorrow and longing because… a man must cry… in silence.
Meeka was quietly sitting on his lap. Purring. Observing. Feeling. Understanding. How strange... and, how... irritating. This was a really strange cat. He abruptly got up. Meeka fell on the floor. She meowed, impatiently. She walked over his big feet, trying to stop him from walking out of the room and from getting dressed. She scratched his leg. He pushed her away with his left foot. Rudolph put on his black socks. Then again, Meeka scratched his right foot and this time the scratch hurt and bled. He kicked her, irritated. He put on his black shoes, his white shirt, his only suit and his red bow tie, the same red bow tie he had worn for years. Rudolph picked up his gray hat and got ready to leave. Meeka followed him and jumped on the sofa and meowed unhappily. He didn't stop. Meeka persevered. He walked away. Meeka insisted. She tried to scratch him on the leg but this time, he pushed her away so violently that she meowed in pain. She seemed very upset. She yowled loudly and nervously. Go away! Let me go! What an annoying cat! What a strange demeanor for such a stupid cat! Go away. Rudolph forced himself out and closed the front door leaving Meeka meowing hysterically in the empty apartment.
Rudolph walked down the three floors of the small building he lived at and went to the corner street. The moment he was about to cross the busy street he heard Meeka’s shrieking yowl from the open window upstairs. He stopped and looked up. Meeka was sitting on the window sill, next to Lenore's plants and behind the thin white curtains softly blowing in the wind - observing him. When Rudolph turned to go, he felt… no, he tasted… the rust and blue paint of the bus as it rushed past his nose, face and body and inches away from smashing him into tiny pieces in that cold afternoon.
He finally understood.