The Witch, the Cats and the Lizards – Pt2
…continued from here
Bertha was angry that Chad wasn’t coming home until Sunday so she called James, her brother who lived nearby.
She hadn’t divulged much on the phone, only that she had a little errand and she needed his help. Was Bertha fearful of putting two dead cats in the bin herself – yes she was – she was all squeamish and the thought of lifting dead cats off the grass and looking into the strange dead cats’ eyes, terrified her!
But the garbage truck would be coming around soon as it was Friday (thank God!) and she needed the dead cats picked up with the rest of her garbage.
Oh gosh! She didn’t mean to take the cats as trash, but she’d have to throw them in her garbage because there was no way she would bury them in her compound.
James arrived shortly and Bertha told him all there was to tell and with James leading the way they both went out back. They saw two beautiful cats; healthy too, only they were dead. Maybe someone’s house cats or a child’s pets had died and they decided to desecrate the beautiful creatures.
Anyone with half a brain could see that the angle at which the cats lay and the distance from the right hand wall, meant someone had dropped the cats from over the other side of the wall fence. They didn’t die where they lay, but were ‘killed’ elsewhere and their bodies dumped on Bertha’s grass. There was no blood, no trail of any sort on the grass or any sign of a struggle. The only markings were two impressions on the grass visible after James had lifted the cats’ bodies off the ground and into the black garbage plastic bag.
It was by all accounts a quiet and undisturbed crime scene.
“You’d want to pour out some disinfectant on that grass,” James told Bertha. Not that there was any foul smell on the grass but Bertha poured a bucket- full of highly concentrated dettol® water just to fumigate.
“Now we go to your neighbor’s – we both know those cats came from your neighbor’s barring the fact that they could likely have dropped from heaven!” James said.
At that moment it hit Bertha just how unusually quiet it had been at her neighbor’s house all morning. She could tell her neighbor’s morning routine to a tee. Bertha and her family had just over a year since moving into their house. She didn’t know much about her right door neighbor only that whoever they were reared chicken on their back yard. The clucking of the birds made Bertha know and the morning feeding routine did as much.
James and Bertha were standing at the front gate of the neighbor’s house plotting the first move. The gate was locked but they could see the front of the house from where they stood – the outer burglar door was open and the curtains were drawn out. They knocked severally at the gate but their knocking went unanswered.
Bertha had her culprit and for her it was beyond suspect, but what was the motive? She had one convincing theory running through her mind: her neighbor was a Witch who didn’t like Bertha and her family and who thought of hauling them away to wherever they came from using magic. What bizarre initiation into the neighborhood! On this day though, the two decided to give it a rest feeling the weight of mounting apprehension.
Bertha had her family’s back to watch and a Witch living next door could not make her job any easier.
Bertha didn’t have to wait for long, because apparently Witches don’t visit just once…
It was Sunday and since Friday Bertha had become a hound, a sight and smell hound. She wasn’t troubled by the dead cats anymore now that she knew who had done it, but she was consciously aware of everything and anything within and near her home.
It was after church and the kids were out playing. Bertha couldn’t believe her bad luck not affording to laze around undisturbed, patched on her best seat watching her favorite Sunday afternoon soap re-runs. Instead, she had to slave on a whole week’s dirty laundry. She did her washing in her back yard and the sun was out and terribly sweltering hot but she had no choice since Alex’s and Beryl’s entire school uniform was in the dirty laundry basket.
She had assembled everything outside and had finished on Beryl’s washing and just about to hang it up the clothes line, when suddenly she let out a shuddering scream – “Shrieks!” Lying tucked against the wall and in camouflage were two dead lizards! She could see that one of them was beheaded and lying on its back.
In the hot midday sun, their bodies had ballooned and it explained the unusual and seemingly unpleasant whiff that had crossed Bertha’s nostrils. She immediately noticed that no sooner had she screamed than the cacophony of noises she had heard from over the right wall ceased and a door slam shut!
She sat at her door dazed, not wanting to believe what she had experienced to be real. When she stood up, she entered the house and went straight for her phone.
She called James.
“James just come see!” Bertha blared into the phone. “Just come see, you can’t believe it!”
“Now what is it?” James asked.
“You just can’t believe it! I’ve got two dead reptiles out in the back, just come over James! Just come see!” she begged.
Bertha could tell from James’s tone of voice that he probably had just woken up from deep sleep and he sounded irritated that some reptile story had interrupted his afternoon nap.
“Report it to your Neighborhood Watch, see the Chairman! or Mrs. Primrose! I can’t come over. Okay!” and with that he hang up. Mrs. Primrose was the Organizing Treasurer of her Neighborhood Watch. Bertha didn’t know her well, but James did, as she was his Math teacher back in High School.
Bertha went back to her washing barely bearing with the consciousness and stinking smell of lizard carcasses. When she finished with her washing she swore she had evidence that she wouldn’t tamper with this time until an official of the Neighborhood Watch was there to see and Chad too!
The thought of calling the police crossed her mind but then she wondered what she would report. “There’s two dead lizards in my back yard!” Lizard homicide in her back yard wouldn’t count as requiring police attention! She had uncovered a lizard graveyard? No, that wouldn’t even bother the coroner.
If the children hadn’t seen the dead cats, Bertha couldn’t care less if they saw the lizards. Alex came from the backyard into the house asking what foul smell came from out there. Bertha asked his son if he’d seen the two lizards and Alex ran out back excitedly to check.
“Where are they? Can’t see them!”
“Next to the wall,” she shouted back.
“Yuck! Gross! How did they die?” he asked.
“They both got choke holds from the Witch next door; as she pressed them down on the kitchen table, they both pleaded for their lives, and one managed to wiggle free. The Witch now really angry caught up with it and slashed its head off with a single swipe of her paring knife and then she strangled the other with her bare hands. Only God knows how she trapped them.”
She didn’t tell the story to Alex but Bertha played it out in her head.
“How did they die?”
“Oh, I don’t know Alex, just found them there.”
Shortly afterwards, Bertha went out looking for Mrs. Primrose. She didn’t give out much until Mrs. Primrose got inside the house. She then pointedly poured out her heart and before Mrs. Primrose left she led her into her backyard where the stinking stench of the dead lizards made them choke. Mrs. Primrose promised to call on Bertha’s neighbor and report back the following day.
… to be continued.