“Missing Cat in Dublin 9” by Kate Huffman
It was a mistake to knock on her door. That much is certain. Her eyes buggin’ out like that – I’m after frightening her. That’s what it was with those bug eyes.
I was trying to get ahead of it. That’s why the visit. Did I mention my wife? I did, yeah. More than once I think. Did I mention her too much? Didn’t want the lady thinking I was a creep, was all. Ah, those bugged out eyes a hers.
Her other cat sat staring from the window, suspicious like. A harmless creature, that. More like a lapdog. I don’t know what a Fred Armisen is, but that cat comes when she calls it as much.
The other though – the one she’s been posting signs about – ‘tis a wretched thing, the way it eyes my pigeons. A feral little shite, that one.
I wanted to get ahead of it. As soon as the signs went up around the neighborhood: “Missing: Orange Tabby; microchipped, named Angie though won’t respond to it,” I knew it would only be a matter of time before neighbors would be knocking on her door to warn about me. Me: the cat murderer.
It’s a fine irony that I stand accused when it’s my beloveds being picked off. I’ve a sad flight of five fine pigeons from what was ten strong not long ago. I won’t pretend neighborhood fauna aren’t involved in these losses. Decades I’ve kept pigeons, and decades they’ve proved harmless, intelligent companions. Yet it’s the murderous felines people care about.
“Peter! Thank god you’re home.” Sibhan doesn’t normally greet me with such desperation in her voice.
“Ya alright, then?”
“Angie’s been taken by a neighborhood cat murderer.”
I laugh, but she’s grim.
“I know it’s ridiculous, but yesterday, a woman at the dog park saw my signs and said the culprit must be this man Liam who keeps pigeons and has a history of abducting neighborhood cats who harm them.”
“That’s a pretty extreme accusation.”
“I know, and I’m still hoping Angie’s on walkabout, but today the man knocked on our door!”
It’s been a long day at the hospital, and I’m still holding my helmet and bag. I take a breath, but before I can ask for a moment to put on a cuppa, she grabs my things in one hand, picks up the kettle with the other, and mutters, “Go sit down.”
It’s fancy pigeons I keep – not sporting or utility. I’ve two fantails, three trumpeters, and even a Limerick Tumbler, who’s after taking home a Highly Commended ribbon in Carlow two years in a row! My pigeon house separates the cocks and hens and offers a fly pen for interaction and breeding. Both enclosures keep them safe.
But feral cats are too clever. Lugh, my fantail… mauled beyond repair not hours after I shooed the cursed Angie from the yard.
Ah, but I shouldn’t have mentioned that incident when I knocked on the woman’s door. It spilled out of me. Did I mention my wife?
Not one of my neighbors has SEEN my pigeons. It isn’t so hard. A friendly knock on the door. An INTEREST in who we are. Twenty years ago, Peggy and I greeted every new family on the block with a basket of greens from the garden.
But then. The article in The Fiddler. A defamatory pile of lies accusing the local pigeon keep of CAT MURDER. They’ve drawn their own conclusions about the weirdo pigeon-man for decades since. Spread rumors with every missing cat.
“I blame the little cat detective shites. If we’re going to be blaming neighbors.” Sibhan meets my humor with stoicism. A trio of Russian school girls that Sibhan met at the dog park – where she goes daily to call to a cat who never once looked up at her name – have taken on the case of the missing Angie and now visit hourly with hot leads like, “The cat is still missing!”
I grow weary of it, but bighearted Sibhan says they’re new to Dublin and clearly haven’t any friends. “Okay,” say I, “they’re lonely little shites, but they’re clearly casing the joint!” Normally, Sibhan laughs, but I get no chuckles today.
“He must’ve killed her. He’s put several birds down because of Angie! I asked why he never said anything, and he just stammered something about his wife – my god, those eyes! He’s off!”
Now it’s the authorities she’ll be bothering. Thank god I’ve hearts to perform surgery on. If I operated the Luas, she’d ask me to take sick leave.
Turn up, Angie. We’re all tired, and Fred Armisen’s acting strange without ya.
She’s crying. “We’ll get is sorted,” I murmur in her ear. “No cat murderers in Whitehall.”
That I often work out of town means I miss when the rumors about my husband start up. But I can predict them. Missing cat posters went up two days before I headed for the seminar in Belfast. I offered to stay, but Liam insisted I go. I was a keynote speaker, after all. So I told him it’d be fine and to keep his head down just in case. He went knocking on that woman’s door anyway.
Only once was there the mildest evidence that our household was to blame for a feline disappearance. Never enough to sully my husband’s good name forever. Cats disappear every day. It’s Ireland! They could fall in a puddle and drown.
I said as much to our heart surgeon neighbor when he rang. He didn’t want to be there and was quick to accept my explanation. Let’s hope he puts his wife straight and that’s the end of it. I’ll leave them a basket of greens tomorrow.
What he DIDN’T ask about was our lost Lugh. I know Liam told them about it, but Doctor Peter didn’t acknowledge. Selfish.
None of them see how Liam’s heart aches. He mourns. Deeply. More deeply than any of those arseholes mourn their felines. If they cared, why would they let them wander the neighborhood like the little terrors they are?
Especially this one.
Her evil cat eyes glowed that night. She was laughing – mocking Liam as he keened over Lugh. You’ll mock him in your hole, I thought. And I swear to St. Brigid, the she-devil turned her arsehole to me the moment I finished the thought. Reading my mind, she was, and mocking me, too.
I crawled out of bed hours later, knowing she’d return. Often I’ve caught ‘em digging up corpses to take to their masters. She was predictable enough. I scooped the screeching banshee into a shoe box and tied it tight with a bungee.
No. I don’t kill the things. I take them with me north and dump them along the way. Do they sometimes die if I seal them too tightly? Who’s to say. Either way, my Liam is innocent. And when he arrives home tonight, he’ll be met with a beautiful new Frillback. And if that surgeon and his bug-eyed wife get a new animal, let’s hope for their sake they train it not to murder.
About the Author: Kate Huffman is an LA-based, Indianapolis-born actor/writer whose work in film, TV, and theatre has won her an LA Weekly Theatre Award, an Encore Producers' Award, a Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle nom, a Soaring Solo nom, and a Valley Theatre Award nom.
She writes and performs regular sketch comedy at iO West, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Second City. She has appeared in San Francisco Sketch Fest, Austin’s Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, Los Angeles’s Funny Women Festival, the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Comedy Central Stages, improvOlympic Chicago, and countless other venues and festivals. Her award-winning solo show, I'm Too Fat for This Show, has been seen in cities across the US as well as in Ireland.
This is her second short story published by Two Sisters Writing and Publishing, and she'd like to dedicate it to Aoife Spillane-Hinks, John Duddy, the real life feline Fred Armisen, and the spirit of feline Patti Smith.