The Cat Box

Jean and Barry had known each other since college in Bradford, where they both came from. They got married when they were both twenty-six and had a splendid wedding with flowing dresses and expensive flowers and food fit for kings. At the alter Jean had turned to the groom and had looked directly into his eyes and smiled and Barry had been shocked at how much Jean’s beaming face looked like his Mum’s face. He had gulped but carried on, however his hands were still shaking when he was offered a champagne glass a few minutes later.
Their honeymoon was in Barbados and they sat on the beach for the first day feeling nervous about the wedding night – their first time.
It had gone ok, a bit smelly and awkward. During, Barry had looked with confusion at his wife’s behind; it looked non-too pretty from certain angles to say the least. The room smelled bad afterwards.
They looked at the view from the balcony afterwards and had smoked and watched the orange sun going down. It was very big and far away.

The next day they were tucking into a delicious breakfast and both were feeling relaxed and happy enough. They were both eating a full English breakfast and it was a fine example with three sausages, five bacon, two fried eggs, scrambled egg, toast, tea, coffee, orange juice, jam, marmalade, marmite, black pudding, four hash browns, corn flakes or Frosties, tomatoes and a large helping of beans and mushrooms each. The hotel was very good they both agreed and his wife was pretty Barry mused to himself remembering where they first met – under a friends umbrella at a run of the mill cricket match near his parents modest house. The sun was shining brilliantly there in Barbados and Barry was looking forward to decorating their new home, when they had found one that is.
Jean, who had been smiling and silent for a while, put down her cup and clasping her hands together enthusiastically said

“I want us to get a cat when we are settled in.”

“What kind of cat?” his eyebrows raising and a frown appearing

“… A black cat … a tom cat … it would be lovely, what do you say hmmm?”
After a short pause Barry replied “On two conditions you can get a cat. One, you clean it out, not me. And two, you clean it out when I say so,” he clasped his hands to imitate his darling.

“Oh,” she said slightly crestfallen “Ok,” nodding quickly and nervously and then looking into Barry’s eyes, searching. It was the first time he had ever sounded like that she thought.

*

The house they bought was in Bradford, near both their parents and Barry was very pleased with the garden.

“That will be good for our sons to play football in,” he said.

“No, it will be good for plant pots and a good area for our girls to practice dance moves,” Jean joked.

“Hmmm.”

“And a good place for our cat to hunt meeces!”

“Hm.”

Unfortunately Barry had a non-existent sperm count they found out when Barry had gone for a check up at the doctors and insisted on the test, as Jean was worried. Jean had cried for days at this news. Barry had finished decorating the small house (it had taken three months to do up the terrace house they had got a mortgage on) feeling like half a man.
They had been married nearly four months when Jean had once again said to her husband

“Shall we get a cat now? We can’t have children I would love a cat,” she almost weeped

“Hmmm, ok, but remember the agreement,” he replied. Two days later Tickles joined the household and the cat box was placed in the hall where Barry had to pass it often (he thought to himself) but he didn’t want it in the kitchen that was for sure.

Two days after the cat had made itself at home Barry stood looking grim faced at the turds in the cat box and shouted

“This cat box needs cleaning out … NOW please!”

“OK … BE THERE IN A MINUTE!” she affirmed.
Barry looked at his watch and mumbled something obscene but went and sat down in the living room switching on the TV once more. He switched it on and saw Lilly Savage interviewing some woman he recognised from GMTV or something. He flicked through the channels but it was all garbage. The sport channel was not mentioning Bradford City FC and the shopping channel was selling … he switched off before he could find out. He sat back and wondered where the cat was. ‘Stupid fucking cat. Walking around with its arse hole on display all the fucking time. Shitting and pissing everywhere’ he thought. The cat was bought already litter trained (and had not shit in the garden yet), it had also been neutered and so it would not spray the house with its territorial spray (these had obviously been rules on deciding which cat they should get Barry had ordered). Just then the phone rang and Barry sprang up and headed for the hall where his wife was on her knees with yellow rubber gloves on picking out cat shit and putting it carefully in a black bag. Barry tried squeezing past but his wife bumped him with her growing backside and pulling the gloves off said

“Sorry, I’ll get that, it’s probably my mother,” as she said this she turned and shoved, in a friendly way, the slightly brown gloves into Barry’s chest and his hands went up to grasp them in a reflex action. He was flabbergasted. As his wife picked up the receiver and said a happy hello to her mother, turning and smiling apparently not seeing what she had done wrong, Barry coughed and his eyes were wide and intense as he put the gloves carefully on the black bag which was now on the carpet. He became more tense and squeezed passed his laughing wife and slowly climbed up the (immaculately) decorated stairway into the bathroom where he took a long shower imagining that fucking cat smiling at him, licking it’s filthy paws triumphantly, his wife laughing along.

Later that week Jean was at the shops and Barry was inspecting the decent sized (for a terrace) garden again. The walls on either side gave privacy and there was grass covering the end of the garden. ‘That will be good for diving on’ Barry thought strolling over and picturing the goal where his sons … but then Barry remembered and looked up at the sky bravely and wanting to be alone or with his wife. He looked back down and saw, to his horror, half a cat shit protruding from the bottom of his slipper!

“SHIT!” he bellowed “I’ll fucking KILL it!” he raged and hopped to the back door.
He dumped the slipper in the drain for now and washed his hands in the kitchen sink still upset on at least two fronts – his inability to father something other than a stinking cat and the slipper in the back yard.
He went and sat down in the lounge and covered his face with his hands. But he had to uncover his eyes and sniff at his hands, seeing if he could detect the smell of cat faeces and when he wasn’t sure, he got up and sniffed the cushion where he had been sitting but he decided it seemed to be all clear, so he sat back down muttering and looking at the carpet for signs of shit. The cat was upstairs feeling sleepy.
When soon his wife arrived back with fish and chips, and after she had listened to Barry tell what had happened, she disposed of the slipper. Over tea she told Barry casually, as if it was no big deal, that she had trod some cat crap in the back door that morning and had had to clean it up with bleach.

“Did you tread it through onto the hall carpet?” Barry asked, putting down a chip.

“No, no. But not to worry eh?”
Barry said nothing for a while but then “How am I supposed to mow the lawn with cat shit all over it?”
Jean half choked as she started laughing uncontrollably and Barry had to admit it was a bit funny – inside he was imagining kicking the cat so hard its back broke and then stamping on the cat with heavy boots until dead.

A few days later and the cat box had been cleaned out several times at Barry’s request. Jean hummed happily as she did this task Barry noticed with puzzlement and, jealousy?
Barry was sat in the lounge feeling almost relaxed again but always wondering what his wife’s furry friend was up to now ‘All it does is shit, eat and sleep on MY bed, well I’m going to put a stop to that – it can sleep on the landing in its basket – that’s what I bought it for – and I work hard as well’ Barry was builder and laying bricks took his mind off everything – helped keep him sane.
He switched on the post watershed tele and found a Film on ITV 3 called “The ship of doom”

“Hmm, what’s this?” Barry asked himself, interested – and this is what he saw:
The ship was like an old pirate ship with massive white sails and a crew of unshaven brutes milling around being given orders by their captain – a massive man with long grey beard and ridiculous clothing.
Some of the crew were guarding some thirty men huddled together on the deck tied up and looking down at their knees or feet or the creaking deck. The prisoners were clearly beaten and downcast. The weather looked pleasant.
The captain bellowed “All ye traitors! Listen! You will listen to me the great Greybeard Gutter!” at this a great roar of triumph and loyalty went up from the crew, some raising swords and daggers in the air.
Greybeard continued “At the request of the Gods of the deep, wrathful and merciful sea you will be spared this day” the camera was now fixed on Greybeard Gutter and he pointed away at a small island some two miles away (the camera swinging round to look at it.) The island clearly had a wide beach with bushes and trees on it. There was an ominous mansion at the centre of the island. “You will be cast to the waves and you will make your way to the island yonder” he pointed again. Some of the prisoners looked up now wide-eyed and untrusting (or so it looked to Barry). The crew did not look surprised at this but kept jabbing at the prisoners with their sabres and crude pistols and rifles. “You will be spared and you will swim to island yonder” he repeated “You will arrive there and never leave or be consumed by the sea gods wrath in ways so horrible they make even I wary.” Some prisoners nodded, the guards grimaced and growled. “You will live in the ruin of that mansion where our defeated enemy King Ulcot once plotted against ME – the mortal lord of the surface waves!” another roar of savagery went up. “You will live there as an offering to the land God of Goll – from I, the great pirate of the east, heir to the throne of the deep abyss, and as a flesh offering from the sea Gods!” another roar. “You will eat the fruit of the island and wait in longing for that God of the land to consume you and you will be grateful for the days of life the Gods of the sea have given you! When I could so easily have you cut into pieces and thrown to the fishes! But the sea Gods want to make peace with their brother! Whom dwells on land and you are to help them – a great honour! I too wish to appease the mighty Goll, and return to land to bury treasure, so you will be helping ME appease Goll, one of the mighty land Gods! He will surely then grant me safe passage on any land in his realm!” he bellowed “And when I return to the waves I will surely be granted favourable waters for many moons!” he roared. “NOW THROW THEM OVERBOARD!”
The guards dragged the depressed prisoners to their feet and stabbed at them and threatened. The prisoners were untied, some attempting to fight the guards but these few men stopped protesting when one was stabbed brutally in the chest falling to the deck already dead when he crumpled on the wood.
The prisoners were soon floating in the green water and the guards cheered and chanted their leader’s name. Greybeard Gutter looked on grim faced.
The swim to land was tiring and hard, they looked ahead to the island and it looked deserted. The ship could be seen far away, a shadow on the horizon.
As the men crawled onto the beach they saw the island was indeed empty of men and very quiet. They gathered together and soon were walking towards the hill leading up to the mansion looming above. The way ahead was covered in grass and green bushes and fruit covered trees. As they neared the top of the beech they felt doomed, as they knew the Gods of land and sea were angry and murderous Gods. But suddenly a shouting human voice was heard ahead!

“OPEN FIRE! CHARGE!” it commanded.
Utterly confused the prisoners stood still and immediately heard the crack of gunfire and three of them went down groaning loudly and were dead. Then some twenty men, some dressed in military uniform and some in rags, could be seen emerging from behind bushes and from the branches of trees in font of them, with swords and blades glinting in the sun! These men started shrieking and ran at the huddled prisoners with murderous intent. More gunfire could be heard and three more prisoners were quickly dead. Then cannon fire boomed across the island and two explosions went up on the beach behind the terrified and soaking wet, unarmed men.
They all looked at each other and at the sound of two more cannon balls headed their way and at the sight of the men charging at them weapons raised and ready for killing, came to an unspoken agreement to charge up the island at their enemies and fight them hand to hand!
They did just that and even more armed men came shrieking from up the hill.
The men with swords stabbed, slashed and hacked at the unarmed men and gunfire came from both sides. A cannonball landed amongst them and killed a few on each side outright. Three of the prisoners managed to break a few necks and stole the swords with which they killed three more men, but soon they were dead from rifle fire coming from nearby. Soon all the prisoners were brutally killed except two of them who had somehow survived amongst the gathering ranks of armed men but these two were quickly shot in the back.
As the two men lay sprawled on their fronts, next to each other on the soft sandy and green ground, waiting for the end, one turned to the other and gathering up a handful of fresh grass and brown leaves, offered it to his friend, who took it and they all said in unison “This … will help us … the next … time…” then both the men on the ground were killed in a barrage of bullets and metal blades. Then the screen went black and the words THE END appeared.

“Eh? What?” said a puzzled Barry and he quickly changed the channel.
He flicked through and remembered a rumour he had heard at work as the sport news channel came on. And this rumour was confirmed as the presenter said

“And it is confirmed, Bradford City have gone into administration.”

“AW FUCK,” said Barry and slapped his forehead.
Just then Tickles sauntered in and Barry, still annoyed, lashed out with his foot and just missed the cats face with his boot. The cat made a mad noise and leaped out the door and ran upstairs.

“Stupid facking cat,” he said, and then “I’LL GET YOU ONE DAY,” shaking his fist at the open lounge door.

When his wife got in they watched repeats of the earlier soaps and then yawned and went upstairs, Jean putting the alarm on after locking the back door.
Barry took his socks off and lay his head down on his pillow, gasping in panic and surprise as he realised his pillow was soaking wet, soaking wet with cat piss!!

“Where is it?! I’ll wring its bleedin’ neck. I’ll murder it!”
Jean stopped getting undressed and turned, slightly amused but a little taken aback and asked

“What is it dear?” she folded her trousers.

“That cat of ours has PISSED on my pillow,” Barry pulled at his hair and was standing again.
Jean turned back round and hoped the cat hadn’t heard, but wondering why the cat had done this to Barry, said quickly

“Oh don’t get angry, Tickles is still young you know, don’t blame him, I’ll get you a clean pillow.”
Tickles the cat was outside watching the cars go by.

The next few days Barry was off work with a bad cold. His wife was a dinner lady and general helper at a local secondary school and so Barry and the cat were alone. They spent the days staring at each other – in the lounge when Barry was half watching Murder she wrote or Bargain hunt, in the kitchen when Barry was drinking tea and eating digestives, in the back yard when Barry was having a smoke and a think. The cat was challenging him in HIS house thought Barry.
One of these days Barry went to the corner shop and bought some Monster Munch and bread. When he got in he opened the crisps sitting down on his chair in the lounge and just as he was about to pop a crisp happily into his mouth, noticed the cat staring at him from the windowsill outside. Barry had an idea – he would test the cats loyalty by offering a monster munch and if it refused then it must not respect him. He went outside and crept up to the motionless feline. A plane roared overhead as Barry approached with hand outstretched holding a monster munch threateningly. The cat went “RRROWWWL” and slashed at Barry’s hand with razor sharp claws faster than the booming jet, which was not far above. But Barry’s cursing and threats were easily heard by the two old ladies passing by (whose expressions did not change). Barry was in shock as he ran inside dripping blood on the path chasing the cat who ran upstairs and shat all over Barry’s side of the bed, then went immediately to sleep in its basket on the landing, as Barry ran a shaking hand under the tap in the kitchen.

A few days later Barry was looking forward to going back to work as the cat watched him relentlessly and Barry would sit in subjugation in the lounge with the TV off, both in silence. Barry would look up at the cat every now and then and the cat’s alien stare filled Barry with dread and loathing. The cat would often puke up on the sofa across the room from Barry and he would always clean it up bowing to the cat and flinching if it moved at all. The cat slept on the landing now and Jean noticed how quiet and subdued Barry was but she guessed it was to do with Bradford City FC being deducted ten points. The cat always meowed in a friendly way and purred when Jean was around and Barry would look up from his dinner or paper with a certain look on his face, Jean noticed. She would say, “You do like our cat don’t you?”

“As long as that cat box is clean I don’t care,” Barry would say calmly and Barry would see the cat look more and more pleased with itself as the days went by.

Then one day Jean was excitedly getting ready for a rare night out with her friends. Barry was watching Sex and the City and the one with a face like a foot was saying “Mr right, is Mr big…” he did not know where the cat was.
He got up and went to inspect the cat box, and seeing two turds and a wet patch shouted upstairs to his busy wife “This cat box needs cleaning out NOW!”
Jean appeared at the top of the stairs clipping on an earring, and as she descended the stairs said

“Oh Barry, I’ll do it in the morning!” and was out the door having given him a kiss on his slack jawed face before he could muster a response.
He looked at the front door and clapping his hands together said to himself, and the cat if it was listening, “Right” and went and got the longest, sharpest knife in the kitchen.
He found the cat on the landing loitering in the corner. Barry wasted no time and booted the cat in the face and then kicked it sharply in the mid section. The cat was knocked half unconscious by the blow to the head and blood was spat out weakly. Barry grabbed it by one shoulder and ignored the viscous scratching from the cat who was somehow alert again.
Downstairs, Barry slammed the cat down into the kitchen sink and expertly switched the hot tap on shoving the plug into place. Then, as the water rose he started stabbing at the cat’s belly and at its limbs, turning the rising water red. The cat made awful sounds and lashed out in a desperate frenzy drawing blood on Barry’s hands and arms, but the attacking knife was starting to subdue it and the cat meowled an agony and hatred. The water was deep enough soon for Barry to put down the soaking knife and hold the cat firmly under water and he kept repeating “Fucking fucker, fucking fuckers” under his breath as the cat was drowned.
After this Barry put the corpse on the breadboard and went and got his saw from his toolbox. He cut the cat’s head off and went into the yard with it dripping gore. He booted, like a goalie, the head over the roofs of the houses that backed onto his, but not before he had gouged out both eyes with his bare hands. He put the eyes in his shirt top pocket and shouted “SEE YA” into the night.
Back inside he nailed one eyeball to the kitchen wall with a hammer and went upstairs and ceremoniously placed the other on his wife’s pillow.
Downstairs again, he cut off all four limbs and put them under the grill sniffing in the smell of burning fur as he ripped out some of the cat’s intestines, and cutting them from the dead animal with bacon scissors, hung them round his neck and tied the ends to look like a medal. Then he had another idea and pulled out more intestines, took down the picture of a farm scene off the wall and hung the cat’s insides on the nail already in the wall leaving the other end still attached to the dead animal which was on the breadboard, on the kitchen worktop. Then he went and switched the tele on and it was Sex and the City again and the one with red hair was saying, “For romance to exist, there has to be great sex.”

THE END

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