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The Master Show Cat

by Beverley, Napier, New Zealand


I swear the antics of that cat will be the death of me. People stay at a motel along the street and packs of them wander the street admiring the gardens. Two women stood on the footpath outside our house. They were shaking their heads, pointing, and putting their hands to their mouths in some surprise. I shot outside and nonchalantly wandered down the driveway, ostensibly heading for the letter-box.

The plump woman called out. "Did you know that your cat is stuck on your roof?" I looked to where she was pointing. The cat was balanced precariously on the guttering of the roof. Ever the complete master show cat he was putting on a splendid performance for his audience. The low, pathetic howls would have melted the heart of a robot. When he saw me he stepped the whole performance up a couple of notches.

"Owwwwwwww, yowwwwwww, owwwww."

The other woman who was thin with a grave-yard-type face scowled at me. "That poor cat is in distress," she said accusingly. "How long has he been up there? You should get a ladder to get him down."

I disliked her on sight. I smiled sweetly. "What a splendid idea. I've got a ladder but I'm scared of heights. If I get it will one of you climb up and get him?"

The plump woman blanched. "Not me, I get dizzy when I climb to any height."

The thin woman was already walking down the street. The plump woman hastened after her and they both disappeared around the corner.

Ollie was disappointed to see them go, a master show cat is nothing without his audience. He quit yowling and stretched himself out in the sun to wait for his next audience. I went inside.

Ollie didn't have long to wait. A couple with a teen-aged daughter wandered past. The kid pointed to the roof and I could just imagine the conversation. I turned on the telly and pretended not to hear the crescendo of howls from the roof.

It was no use. There was a knock on the door. The man was apologetic, "I hope you don't mind me telling you, but did you know that you have a distressed cat on the roof."

I sighed as I followed them to the centre of the lawn. The master show cat was well into his routine - with head on paws which were pathetically clutching the verge of the guttering, his yowls were deafening. It was all punctuated with trembling looks at the ground with the cat seemingly poising himself to jump. The kid and the women looked upset. The man said hollowly, "I'll go up and get the poor little thing if you've got a ladder."

They were nice, caring people and it was time to end the charade. They deserved better treatment from the cat. "Hang on a minute," I said.

I went inside and returned shortly to the centre of the lawn. I produced a spoon and a half empty cat food tin from behind my back. I banged the spoon on the tin and yelled, "Tea time Ollie, come on."

Never has a magician produced such magic. The cat jerked upright as if he'd been shot. He thundered away across the roof towards the cat-walk fence long the side of the house. In two minutes flat he was at my feet. "Yeeeoooooooow." Ollie had blown it.

I could see the people were embarrassed; they couldn't wait to get away. How could I tell them that they had been victims of the master show cat. The explanation would have taken all day.

It was late in the afternoon when I glanced through the window to see if the paper had arrived. A lone man was standing on the footpath looking up at the roof. I listened - the yowling sound rang out for all to hear. It was time for action. I locked the front and back doors and headed in the opposite direction from the master show cat. I went out the back gate and went for a long walk in the high grass beside the creek. You never could tell, I might find some drug dealers or a marijuana crop.


Editor's note:

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