We hadn’t meant to steal the cat. And it would have got back home unscathed if Anthony hadn’t interfered.
It was a huge, white floofer – bigger than any ordinary moggy. We’d stopped and fussed it before on our way back from the 24-hour SPAR. One time I’d tried to turn it into a white rabbit, tapping it on the head with my fairy wand. We’d giggled like maniacs.
This time it had climbed from the garden wall and hauled itself up inside Trev’s duffel coat for warmth. That’s when Izzy shouted Run! and we all did. Gasping with laughter. We only lived a few streets away, closer if you cut down Flasher’s Alley.
The house smelt of burnt toast and Anthony emerged from the lounge looking cross.
‘The toaster should be set no higher than 5,’ he said.
‘Look what we’ve got for the stolen corner,’ squealed Izzy, and I helped ease Gerald Fluffington out of Trev’s coat. ‘Ta da!’
We don’t know what Anthony’s problem is but he always has to spoil things, to piss on the picnic and shit in the champagne. We were immature idiots, in breach of the landlord’s No Pets policy. And had we forgotten he was allergic to cats, and happened, actually, to be running low on his inhalers and…yawn, yawn, yawn.
We squeezed past him, laughing, and deposited Jeanette Whiskerson onto the sofa.
“Are you a hungry pud-pud?” asked Izzy. “Would you like some Billy Bear sausage face?”
I went and peered into the fridge. Not a lot of choice for a cat of this pedigree. King Furbert the Fird. Mayonnaise seemed the closest thing to cream. Helmans, not supermarket brand, and painstakingly labelled with a date and name. Anthony S. There was only one Anthony. I spooned it into a bowl and called to the others that Prince Percival Purford’s dinner awaited.
He had polished it off and was being helped along the top of the gas fire when there was a knock at the door. A loud, forceful knock, like when we’ve really pissed the neighbours off.
Izzy shouted Hide! so I scooped The Fluffmeister back into Trev’s coat, foisted it into Trev’s arms, and bundled them both into the cellar head, shutting the door.
It was the Fuzz! The Pigs! The Filth! The Bizzies! That nark Anthony must have phoned them. But their attention had been deliciously diverted by the big-leafed plants on display in Anthony’s very own bedroom window. They were draped with fairy lights, and growing there in brightly-painted pots, brazen as you like. That was the absolute genius of it, according to Izzy. Anthony had been persuaded to look after them, that they were simply decorative houseplants, that all the oxygen they would give out would help him breathe.
Our alleged cat-theft was suddenly nothing, and Anthony was being led dazed and wheezing to the cop car. As it drove off we heard bump – bump – bump – meow and giggled like maniacs.
Shelley Roche-Jacques’ work has appeared in magazines such as Flash, Litro, The Rialto and The Boston Review. Her collection of dramatic monologues Risk the Pier was published in 2017. She teaches Creative Writing and Performance at Sheffield Hallam University.
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