Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Cat by Brian Skinner

 Josiah Trimble was a man full of hate. He hated cats for a start because they made his asthma worse, but he especially hated the ginger cat that belonged to his Aunt Emily. He hated the name she gave it, ‘Tinky Boo,’ and the way she fussed over it saying things like "Who's Mummy's Boofal?" God it was sickening. He hated the way it looked at him. He could feel its eyes penetrating his skull searching the deep recesses of his mind. It was staring at him now and he wondered if the cat could sense the feelings he had for it.

 

Josiah hated many things, his name for a start. "Josiah Trimble."  Just saying it made his stomach churn. He hated his parents, even though they were both dead, for giving him such an awful name and the way they had shortened it to 'Josie.'  That made it sound like a girl’s name and all through his childhood he had been taunted about his girlish name.

 

He hated being short of money and having to ask his Aunt Emily for funds in order to keep his failing business going. He even hated her for having a fortune whilst he had to struggle to make ends meet but most of all he hated that cat.

 

“I don't think I should help you this time," he heard Aunt Emily say, "It's not the first time you've had problems is it dear?" He was devastated but he knew better than to argue.

 

She was a bitch. He wanted to stand up and shout at her ‘All I want is a few thousand you tight fisted, vicious, nasty old woman.’ He wanted to but he didn't. He didn't understand why she wouldn't help, after all he was her only living relative and he knew that when she died he would inherit everything. It wouldn't hurt her to part with a few thousand now, she wouldn't miss it. She had more than four million pounds in the bank.

 

"If I give you more money, I won't be helping you, I'll just be holding you up," she droned on, "you have to learn to stand on your own two feet." He smiled and nodded understandingly but he didn't understand. He would never understand why someone, with so much, would not help their own family. God how he hated her! How he wished she were dead. Even though she was in her late eighties she was very healthy. ‘She would probably live to be over a hundred just to spite me,’ he thought.

                                                                                                        

As he smiled at her he thought how easy it would be to kill her. It would be simple. Just hold a cushion over her face until she stopped breathing. He was sure it would be put down to natural causes and never considered the possibility of a post-mortem on someone her age. The more he thought about it the more he liked the idea.

 

What about an alibi? Nobody knew he was here. Everyone who worked for him thought he was in his private office over eighty miles away. He could never let them even think that he had to ask his Aunt for money. He could kill her, be on his way in ten minutes and an hour and a half later be back in his office. No one would ever know that he had even left.

 

He made up his mind. He stood up and walked to the settee. He waited until she had put her teacup down and then he picked up a cushion, moved over to her chair and pressed it against her face. There were a few stifled sounds and a bit of a struggle, then she was still. He took his cup to the kitchen where he washed and dried it then put it carefully away. He went to the parts of the house that he had been to that day, to wipe away any traces of his having been there. Finally, he went back into the lounge for a last look round.

 

                    

The cat! Where was that bloody cat? He had thought about taking it and throwing it off a tall building or dropping it into the river with a brick tied around its neck, but everyone would expect the cat to be here with the old lady. 'It probably jumped out of the fanlight window as he suffocated Aunt Emily,’ he thought. ‘It would come back when he had gone.’

 

After closing the front door, he climbed into his car and drove off. It was hot, the air conditioning in his car had broken down and he was glad that he had the foresight to leave the car windows open. He drove carefully, letting the breeze that came through the windows circulate, and cool his sweating body. Merging into the traffic on the motorway he thought ‘Not long now’.

 

He moved out into the middle lane to overtake a slow-moving lorry then pulled into the fast lane to overtake some equally slow-moving cars. His, was a powerful Mercedes saloon and it surged forward at the slightest pressure on the accelerator and was soon moving at over eighty miles an hour.

 

Humming happily to himself he sped towards his office and his alibi confident he would soon have no money worries at all. A movement attracted his attention and glancing in the rear-view mirror, was shocked to see the cat standing on the back of his seat. He waved an arm to knock it away. The car swerved dangerously. He turned in his seat to see where the cat was and as he did so, increased the pressure on the accelerator pedal. The car leapt forward and the needle moved towards and then past, the hundred mile an hour mark.

 

The cat suddenly leapt onto the front passenger seat and unable to control his hatred Josiah Trimble made a grab for it. It was the wrong thing to do. The car swerved and the tyres screeched in protest. His hand clamped over the cats body but it squirmed free and spat and sprang towards his head. Sharp claws lashed the cheeks of his face drawing thin red lines as they were dragged downwards. He took both hands off the wheel in order to remove the cat from his face.

                                                                                                         

The powerful Mercedes swerved and hit the central reservation at over a hundred miles an hour then it bounced off and into the side of a huge articulated lorry. It careered back to the central reservation hit the kerb and somersaulted over the barrier into the path of a huge continental lorry.

 

As the car was catapulted into the air, Josiah Trimble held tightly onto the steering wheel, but it was too late. He saw the huge lorry bearing down on him and screamed out,

        

"I hate that bloody cat!" Then the lorry ploughed into his car crushing it into a mangled wreck killing him instantly.

                                                                                                                             The police and fireman began to sort through the debris of a thirty-vehicle pile-up that amazingly claimed only one life, when they noticed a ginger cat at the side of the road watching them. One of the firemen picked him up.

 

           "What's your name then?" He walked towards the fire engine. "We'd better get you off the motorway," he added. Feeling the collar and the disc, the fireman looked for a name and smiled.

 

          “Well, hello, Tinky Boo,” he said. The cat purred contentedly.


© Brian Skinner

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