Saturday, January 23, 2010
More cats have gone missing in the locality. As usual, the eye of suspicion has fallen upon myself and The Mother.
A garda called to the door at the ungodly hour of 1.20 pm (barely lunchtime). Needless to say, I was smoking cigarettes in bed with a copy of Obama's excellent Dreams From My Father on my lap. (Reading extracts from this tome aloud in the best approximation of the great man's voice one can muster provides an inspirational start to the day - I recommend it). Anyway, the bell kept going and I knew herself wasn't going to budge. Unlike most of us, The Mother is usually out of bed by this time but she likes to spend her afternoons sat in the lounge, donned in the wedding dress, looking through family albums and reminiscing. 1 to 4 pm finds her utterly lost, lost in the haunted ballroom of her mind, ghostly renditions of Boyer's Huckle Buck resounding throughout. 'Doing a Havisham' is how I refer to it. There's no talking to her when she's like that.
In high dudgeon, I ceased my recitations and clambered out of the bed to open the door. Once The Mother realised we had visitors, she was up on her feet and treating it like a social call, which it was not. She offered the garda a sherry, put cocktail sausages under the grill and brought out a bowl filled with Tayto and peanuts. The dog's bowl, but never mind. 'The sausages will be a little while but here's some crisps and nuts that are collectively called nibbles,' explained The Mother. She then made a further contribution to both the conversation and circumstantial evidence by adding, 'I once had a cat called Nibbles but my son made me have it destroyed.' Contesting this version of events, I said, 'now Mammy, you know well the vet said we should ease Nibbles' suffering'.
'Ease his suffering, they've euphemisms for everything these days' said The Mother.
Becoming agitated, I raised my voice. 'The creature was sick,' I yelled.
'Don't get excited love, we're only making chat,' said The Mother dismissively before asking the garda if he had a cat himself. 'I do,' said the garda. I saw The Mother narrow her eyes and go for the kill, 'and would you like to have it destroyed do you think?' she asked. The unfortunate garda stumbled over his words, trapped as he was between my pyjama clad distress and The Mother's steely gaze. 'Perhaps, if she was in pain,' he mumbled, siding with me. As a punitive measure, The Mother revoked the offer of nuts and crisps, taking the dog's bowl from the garda and carrying it out of the room. 'Nibbles wasn't in pain, he was just poorly,' she said as she departed. The garda looked at me and faintly smiled. His eyes then dropped and I could have sworn he took a mental note of the Sharpton in 04 badge pinned to my pyjama lapel. 'Subversive,' I almost heard him think.
The Mother came back into the room, dispelling an awkward silence. 'Would you like to see a picture of him?' she asked the garda.
'Who?' asked the garda.
'Why Nibbles of course,' answered The Mother, picking up a family album and searching through its pages. She carried the album over to the garda and pointed into it. The garda's face crinkled into a portrait of uncomfortable bewilderment. 'That's your cat?' he asked. The Mother took a closer look and laughed. 'Oh no, not at all, what am I thinking?' she said, 'that's not Nibbles, that's my late husband'. The Mother then informed the garda, with excessive bluntness I thought, how my father died in hotel fire during their honeymoon. 'It matters little,' she said, 'I had conceived by then, his lordship over there safely stationed in the womb.' The 'lordship' referred to being me, as The Mother made clear via a disdainful nod in my direction. 'You know,' she added wistfully, 'a hotel fire is not a pleasant way to go but had my husband lived I've no doubt his lordship would've found a way to, what's the expression, oh yes, . . .ease his suffering.' I attempted to counter this salient attempt to place me in the dock as a potential cat vanisher but The Mother spoke over me. She told the garda how she was once considered the belle of the ball and could've had any man in the town. 'I settled for his lordship's father as he owned the local newsagents and was well stocked in Curly Wurlies, my favourite foodstuff at the time,' explained The Mother. 'Of course, you can't get Curly Wurlies these days,' she went on, 'I suppose someone eased their suffering too'. As The Mother pontificated the fate of the Curly Wurly, the garda made his excuses, backed into the hall and darted out the front door.
From my bedroom window, I watched the garda quickly make his way down the drive. I hope he made it back to the station safely. Nyx's gloomy cobwebbing still covers the sky and there are things out there. Bad things. Was that The Mother's lacy gown I spied in the undergrowth? Was there a hint of something peeking from the hedges, that crossbow she ordered from the outdoor activities shop? Regardless, we've not had any cat related inquiries since.