The Witch, the Cats and the Lizards
“Mum! I can’t find my wash cloth!” Alex shouted from the upstairs bathroom shattering the early morning quiet.
Bertha winced at the yelling from her six year old son, it would wake his sister Beryl up before it was time and Bertha didn’t want to have to deal with her four year old daughter’s cranky mood fresh out of bed early.
Bertha was waiting to get the kettle off the stove before fetching her son’s wash cloth from the clothes line out back and rushing it upstairs… but she wasn’t fast enough. Alex called out again, and this time, louder:
“I’m coming Alex, I’m coming, just a second,” she soothed, trying to keep her voice down in wiling her son to be patient. Bertha reached out for the kettle, placed it on the kitchen counter and then walked with pace through the hall to the door that led to the back of the house. She hadn’t put the back lights on- it wasn’t really dark as daylight had started setting in.
She gently twisted her hand clasping onto the doorknob and pulled it ajar. She saw in the dark the shadowy figure of a cat lying on the grass beneath the right hand face of the stone- walled fence and then she remembered last night’s big thud! It was a loud sound, like something heavy had dropped, the sound of running water followed, and all went quiet again.
Feeling rather eerily roused from her sleep on the couch, where she’d dozed off watching a true crime thriller, Bertha had turned off the living room lights and gone to bed.
She could only see the cat’s back but instinctively she knew the cat wasn’t asleep but dead!
Feeling sickened, Bertha shut the door.
It was Alex again and this time Bertha hurriedly climbed the stairs and went straight into her son’s room, rummaging through the clothes cluttered in his drawer looking for a wash cloth.
“Mum, we are having Mr. Banda first thing in the morning and it’s a double session!” Alex groaned with a mouthful of cereal.
“Well don’t worry Alex…,” Bertha said, but she wasn’t really there – empathizing with her son’s declared torment of having his boring science teacher first thing in the morning.
“Daddy isn’t at home?” Beryl asked as Bertha cleared the breakfast table.
Beryl was at the front window and she sure couldn’t see any car parked in the compound. Their Dad dropped them off to school every morning after breakfast and today she knew she’d be walking to school, and this meant leaving a bit earlier than usual. Beryl’s long face made no attempt at hiding her displeasure with the unexpected change of routine.
What grouchy mood the children were in that morning, Bertha thought.
Bertha got out of the house through the front door to restrain the dogs. They were let loose during the night inside the fenced compound but with their playfulness, it made getting out through the front door a chore on most mornings. What with their tugging and licking at the children. It took some time for Bertha to get round to putting a leash on each dog and tethering them, if only to get to the gate and out of the house for the half mile walk to school with her children.
Bertha took the longest route back home, her mind preoccupied with what awaited her. She’d made sure the children hadn’t seen the dead cat lying in their backyard.
Just how exactly does one get the nerve to hurl a dead cat on her back yard? And how would she get the dead cat out of there? She realized she needed to call Chad but she hadn’t picked her phone from the bedside table when she left to take the kids to school.
Bertha entered the house and headed straight for the furthest window; it had a view of the back side of the house, convenient since Bertha didn’t have the guts to go straight out back. As she peered out the window, she was astonished at what she saw – there were two cats and they lay about half a foot from each other and both were dead!
She had two unfamiliar dead cats in her compound!
She composed herself and took another look. The cat nearest to the door was much smaller, and white and grey in colour. The other cat lying a bit further was much bigger, it was black and white and looked swollen around its belly and she could see it was pregnant.
Bertha left the window and sat down as she recalled the thud she’d heard the previous night. Could she remember what else occurred the previous night? She remembered the thud and the running water but nothing else came to mind after that, only the quiet stillness following the loud sound and now she had two dead cats in her backyard!
She went back to the window and gazed out at the two dead cats; they looked peaceful like they were asleep, only there was some eerie quietness to it all. Bertha felt her throat tighten. She felt such compassion for the two dead cats and much hatred for the murderous cat killer who’d done it.
Whoever had the gall to invade her space!
She had lived with such terrible neighbors before – the ones straight from hell, those who annoyed her for the love of it – they played their music too high just to make her mad until she slapped them with the noise regulation code. The ones she could cope with a little were the haters who didn’t understand how she kept off their gossip circles, living her own life; or the envious ones – maybe they wanted to be her and have her life – envious of Bertha because she seemed to have so much going for her and not that she was apologetic for it.
But now here was the pathetic psychotic type – the type that threw dead cats into your back yard and who knows for what reason!
She was raving mad as she climbed upstairs to get her phone.
She had two text messages from Chad: “Urgnt gig in Naivasha, wil c’m tomorrow” – this had been sent at 10.00 pm the previous night when Bertha had already gone to bed and the other one sent that morning: “Hi sweetie, kids gone to scul? here til Sunday, not pickin ur phone?”
…to be continued