Remembering ( Max The Cat )
By: Nameless Creator
I don't know why it is, but all throughout my life ever since I can remember back to when I was a toddler; there was this cat that always seemed to follow me everywhere I went. It always baffled me that even still as I write this for you to read he still follows me. At least in my thoughts he does. I was maybe 3 and a half and I was considered a master crib escape artist. I grew up in a pretty big four bedroom apartment in a building my dad was a super in during my toddler years.
My two older brothers had their own room that they shared, as did my older sister and my younger sister and my grandfather who was quite old and senile at the ripe young age of beach sand had his own room. Mom and pop had one, Of course. Which pretty much left me in a crib in the living room next door to them where they could keep an eye on me.
"Yeah right, they kept an eye on me alright!" That's why I used to sneak out of my crib and climb into the bed with them every chance I could. They never could figure out how I kept busting out of kiddy jail. Anyway we had this cat that I used to torment almost five hundred times a day. "The poor creature." I think to myself now that I'm much older and just a little more wiser. So this poor cat was a gray-green tabby with tiger stripes and beautiful eyes. One eye green and the other was blue and we used to play with each other. I would give him rides around the apartment on my wagon and he'd pay me back by tripping and pawing at me every chance he could.
ever this one day we were playing as we usually did and I gave him a ride into the living room on my toy wagon when out of nowhere he just bolted right out of the wagon and over to a reflection on a distant wall near an open window that had a sun spot shinning on it that seemed to be beckoning him to come near and try to pounce on it. Max the cat was such a cunning hunter and would always like to prey and pounce on moving objects and the occasional mouse and little kid. That kid being me of course.
Max was so silly that day he was trying his best to jump on the spot of sun light. I guess to try and kill it or at least to show it who the real boss of the house was. He must have jumped on that wall about twenty times or more. You had to give it to him he was persistent and I guess determined. It really was funny watching him do that and I laughed at him and he'd look back at me and give me such a look as if to say: " what the hell are you laughing at? " Then suddenly the spot seemed to move closer and closer toward the open window until it shown right at the window ledge and I saw Max preparing to go for another attack and he leapt right at the window at the floating spot of sun and right out of the window to meet his maker four floors down and into the rear courtyard bellow.
I SCREAMED for my mother and she came running in and in a startled tone asked me what had happened. With tears in my eyes and balling my head off I bantered " MAX mommy! MAX!" and pointed at the window. She ran and stuck her head out to look for the cat and quickly came back in with a look of shock and sadness on her face. She said, "Max is dead John."
She held me in her arms and pulled me close to her and cradled me. She asked what we were doing and I told her that I was playing with Max and that he was jumping at that spot on the wall and that the cat was trying to catch that spot and she told me she was glad it wasn't me that was trying to catch that spot but that she felt bad that Max didn't make it. My father was in the boiler room at the time the cat jumped and came in just as my mom was holding me and telling me how she felt bad about the cat.
She explained to my dad what had happened and my dad went down to retrieve the cat and go bury it in that same courtyard. I was so inconsolable at that time. Mom promised that Max was going to go to heaven and that I will get to see him again when I go to heaven. She said that it was simply Max's time to go and that God was looking for a cat of his own to play with so he chose Max. I didn't want to hear that, nor did I know what she meant by me going to heaven. Remember I'm 3 and a half years old at this point people. I just wanted Max back. After a while my dad came back upstairs and asked if we saw Max come back home. We told him no. He said he went to get Max but when he got there Max was gone. He searched all over but there was no Max to be found in the rear courtyard so he came upstairs.
"Are you sure he even fell? " He asked my mom. "I saw him laying on the ground and blood was oozing out of him." I heard her say to him. "It's odd that I saw him dead right there and now you're saying he's not even there?" Mom said. "Then where can he be?" "You better not be yanking my crank." Dad said. "And what about the blood on the ground I saw?" " Did you see that?" She said. "Seriously dear I didn't see anything down there, I swear." Pop said. My dad had a reputation of being a prankster even in serious times. "If you'd like I'll search the entire building and the grounds for you?" He said. "No it's okay. I believe you dear." Said mom as she went and carried me off and laid with me on the bed in her bedroom. I continued to cry myself to sleep all the while wishing Max wasn't dead and that he'd come back.
Later that night I was awoken by the sound of a car's brakes screeching and a frightening loud MEOWWW…! Of a cat. My dad must have heard it also because I heard him run to the window to get a look at the commotion. " Ah Man….! I hit a damned cat!" I heard someone yelling. My dad yelled down and said: "Hey that's my cat!" My mom got up and asked what was going on. Dad said, "Our dead cat seems to have returned and died again." " I'll be back let me check on the cat." He said. He threw on his robe and slippers and went down to see what had happened. I could hear him talking in a garbled tone with the driver but I couldn't make out what they were saying. A few moments later he returns with a surprised look on his face.
"Well, what happened? Was it Max?" She asked. "No, I mean yeah, well I thought it was." "I went down to check and see if it was Max the driver hit, but the funniest thing is that the cat was gone when I got there." He said to my mother. 'Oh really Paul." " How is a dead cat going to get up and vanish not once but twice in the same day?" She said. "Well I don't know?" "You tell me?" "Didn't our cat just do a swan dive out of our window earlier today?" He asked in a rather husky tone. "Yes but how is it possible it could even be Max?" She retorted. "Anyway let's get back to bed." He demanded. " I have to put out the buildings trash later and I need my rest. Goodnight dear." He said to my mom.
So life went on for some time and we since got another cat to fill poor old Max's shoes. We named him Mister. He was an okay cat. He even looked somewhat like Max. We all moved on to a bigger house in the same neighborhood. Dad was still the super of the building that Max died at; just we had to move to a bigger place to avoid overcrowding. Needless to say our new cat came with us. The new house was big. With lots of rooms on two floors and an attic on the third floor. There was a basement and a large backyard that was fenced in with shrubs all around the inside perimeter of the fence and tall chestnut trees scattered about behind the fence in the common area our house shared with the neighbors house behind ours.
We had just finished moving in. It took a full week of going back and forth from the apartment building to our new place. I really enjoyed living in an actual house.
So one night after moving in we walked around the neighborhood introducing ourselves to all the neighbors in the area. Which is what you did back then when being a neighbor meant something. Oh we got a few reactions from the natives on our street. Some good and some bad. All in all we were received by those that were worth recognizing. Anyway. I thought to myself this is a good place to live and grow up in. What's best is that I have my brothers and sisters living with me in the same house. I was maybe 9 or 10 years old at this time.
So all was well in Camelot. Well, at first I thought so. A few weeks after moving into the new place some strange and oddly weird things started happening. We ( my siblings and I ) would be playing in the basement of the house yelling and carrying on when out of nowhere a loud banging noise would come from the ceiling above our heads as if to tell us to stop the racket we were making. So we did. We'd go upstairs to the first floor to see if Mom or Pop had knocked on the floor but no one was in the whole of the house when we checked.
It would end up being Mom or Pop were either outside in the yard or in their bedroom asleep. Then some nights we'd all be sleeping in bed in the middle of the night we'd all be awoken by the sound of a man crying out: "Where are you?" "Where are you hiding at?" " It's freezing out here!" Hearing that in the middle of the night always freaked us out. I suppose it freaked my mom and dad out the most because they'd always come barging into our rooms to check up on us and make sure we were all okay.
We had this thing on Friday night were we used to gather around the television set in the living room, much like we did in the old place and sit down and watch this program called "Chiller Theater". It was a horror and science fiction t.v. series that was popular in the 60's. It was black and white, some in color; but it used to scare the living crap out of us kids.
Well it did scare me for sure. I'm not going to lie. I used to stay up all night after watching that damned show that I slept literally with the blanket over my head and the holy bible and a flashlight at either side of me. I thought if anything was going to get me then they'd have to come through God to get to me.
Then there was this old man I used to see with a leash in his hand walking past the backyard fence. I'd always only see him walk in only one direction behind that fence but he'd never return. It was like he would be walking towards one of the opposite facing houses but I could never see which house he'd go into. I'd tell my mom about him but she'd just say that people walk their pets back there and not pay them any mind.
Then I'd tell her that the old man would only walk in one direction only and seem to vanish because I could never see where he went. She would say I was crazy for imagining such a thing. Then again, how could you imagine seeing some elderly man with an overcoat and fedora hat on a seventy degree afternoon walking by the back of your house and not wonder what it is he's doing walking with a cat on a leash as plain as the nose on your face and not think that was peculiar?
These sightings happened periodically until I reached my teens. Then the real fun started happening. My older brothers and sister were old enough and they moved out to start their own lives. My older sister went and got married and moved out to have a family of her own and my brothers were doting bachelors. They both were in college and working. Both had girlfriends and were always too busy to remember that they still have a younger sister and brother here at home.
Sissy Is what I call my younger sister hanging out in the living room watching some program on the television with some of the other kids from the neighborhood when the phone rang one particular afternoon. Just as I'd get up to answer the phone there would be a loud knocking at the front door and the doorbell would also ring. I picked up the phone to say hello and we heard what sounded like someone falling down at our front door. I hung up the phone to go to the front door and I asked the other kids to back me up just in case it was some sicko trying to do us harm and I told my sissy to stay by the phone ready to call 911 just in case. I opened the door slowly and looked out but found no one there. I closed the door and told the rest of the bunch that it must have been the wind, but I knew it wasn't. We all turned back into the living room after bolting the door closed when the phone rang again and the knocking at the front door started again. The doorbell rang and the sound of someone falling was heard again by all of us.
This time Mister the cat came into the living room and started moaning gutturally and hissing at the front door. He had a look of rage and tension on him and his hair was raised up and he was prone to pounce at what was at the front door. Sissy said, " Mister sees something at the door, maybe we should call 911." "What do you think Johnny?" she said, "Wait by the phone Sissy if they want us they're gonna have to get by Me, Mister and the rest of us!" I yelled out. Just then we all saw the lock on the door turning and we all started yelling and my sister started dialing 911. One of the other kids passed me a broom and I held onto it like a piñata bat and was readying myself to smash the first thing that walked in through that door. When It flung open and we heard my Moms voice calling for us and saying "Jesus Christ you guys, it's only me!" "Hey someone get the bag of groceries that fell in front of the door, please?" "What in the world has gotten into you kids?"
Mister hissed at my Mom and bolted up the stairs and wasn't seen until the following day. I explained to my mother what had happened and she quipped back with one of those motherly snipes of "You kids better not be doing any drugs in my house when I'm away!" " And stop watching those damned scary movies. They give you nightmares." I guess she didn't believe that we may be haunted by some strange phenomena or maybe she just didn't want to accept the fact that we were being spooked by things that were not of this world. Or maybe she just might be afraid of admitting to the goings on around here.
Suffice it to say that was the last time that the kids on my block hung out at my house. From that day forward I'd be the one to go and hang out at their houses. Mostly I'd go to their houses just so I wouldn't have to be stuck getting the be Jesus scared out of me at mine. I'd often take my Sissy with me so that she wouldn't get left behind. God forbid something should happen to her and I couldn't be there to help her. But I really felt bad for Mister. He was left all alone a lot of times and I would feel very bad for leaving him alone at home. That poor cat must have seen and heard more spooks than anyone I knew including myself.
I know he must have because he would never leave my side once I'd come home from being out. Even at night when I went to sleep he'd be right on the foot of my bed and we'd both be looking at each other like if we were having some kind of a Mexican standoff to see who'd fall asleep first. Seriously. Like we were waiting for one of us to draw guns or something. But we never got to figure out who'd draw first because we'd always seem to fall asleep together.
Last year of high school and I was graduating with top honors. I was valedictorian and it was my big day coming up and Mister was a little older now and I guess we all were in my family. Mom and Pop were a little grayer and big sis had her 2 kids with her and my brothers were driving in from points unknown and sissy wasn't sissy anymore. She was referring to herself by her real name: Michelle.
So I dubbed her Missy. She had the guys calling for her and tripping over their tongues at her high school prom. While me and dad had our fair share of chasing the boys away that came calling and Missy was just as spunky and rebellious as the rest of us kids on the block by now. There was this one guy that was cool with us and cool with Missy so me and dad let him live when he came around Missy. They seemed like a cute couple. So we were cool with the two of them seeing each other. So long as they followed the rules of engagement.
So my big day was coming up and I was geared up for it and all of the family was finally home to see me graduate and we had fun the day before and went out and made a day of being a big happy family. We had breakfast and lunch at the house and were reminiscing about growing up in the new house and things in general and we all started talking about the strange things that happened in that house when from out of nowhere Mister the cat comes bolting from upstairs and starts moaning and hissing at the front door again.
He let out such a frightful moan and then went quiet. This time no noise was heard by any of us and the phone nor the doorbell rang. I got up from the dining room table and walked over to Mister after a brief moment of trying to regain my composure to see Mister lying down in a pouncing position. I nudged Mister telling him, "It's okay big boy we're all here, no one's coming through that door with all of us here for sure." But Mister wouldn't move. In fact he toppled over and wouldn't look up at me. He was dead. Just staring straight into oblivion. I told the rest of the family. "Mister is dead you guys." They all came over and tried to revive him but he wouldn't come to.
Tears were welling up in my eyes and I just had to step out of the house to get some air and let it all out about Mister. I went out into our yard and came up on the old man walking his cat again. This time I was determined to get to the bottom of all of this foolishness and find out once and for all what his deal was. I went up to him at the fence and said: "Hey young man, are you walking your dog?" He turns and says: "No I was walking my cat and he seems to have come off his leash back here, can you help me find him?" I said. "Sure, What's his name?" My spine froze when he said "MAX". I stood there shaking but was able to speak. I asked what he looked like and the old man said: "Like a tabby with gray green hair and one green eye and one blue eye." Then I really freaked. He just described my MAX. "What is your name sir in case I might come across your cat?" I asked him. He said: " I sure hope you find him sonny It's getting late."
I was trembling with fear at what he said next when I asked him. "So what do I call you when I spot your cat sir?" He said: "MISTER…" "Just call me MISTER…" "Good luck tomorrow eh…" That's when it dawned on me that I was talking to a ghost. But I stood mesmerized at the thought that he could know the significance of what tomorrow had in store for me. "How could he possibly know?" I asked myself I stood in utter shock of what I heard him say to me and turned real quick and ran straight for my house and slammed the door shut behind me. I locked and bolted the door and didn't say a word of anything to my family and just sat at the dining room table. Mom And Pop asked what happened to me and I said not a word to them.
Graduation came and went and summer was upon me again. I had some free time on my hands so I went to the local library and did some searching in the news paper archives for the area and came across an article about an elderly man who was found dead in what is my backyard on a cold winter's day in January of 1946. It turns out the old man lived alone on this street back then before this street was developed and all of these houses were put here.
The paper said that when the old man was found he was wearing a gray overcoat and fedora hat and was found to be holding a leash in his hand that people in the neighborhood at that time remembered seeing him use to walk his cat. The old man seemed to not have any family living with him or that could be contacted about identifying him so they dubbed him: Mister, which seemed to be what every one in the neighborhood called him being as no one ever bothered to get to know his name in all of the time that he spent living there. The cat it seems was never found either. Just like my Max.
I am now approaching forty and I have since inherited the house from my parents passing on and my siblings have all gone on to live their lives and we still talk and try to see each other. But it's hard sometimes. I went on to become a teacher in my community and I have since replaced MISTER the cat with a new tabby of the same color and breed that seemed to be popular with me and the old man in my back yard. The name I chose for the new cat is "MISTER MAX."
It has been many years since the encounter with the old man and I haven't seen him since, nor have me or my wife heard or experienced anything out of the ordinary. However, I do still look over to that fence in the hopes of seeing the old man so that I might explain the story of his demise to him and to let him know about Mister Max. Maybe I just want to let him know that all is well with the universe now that Mister Max is here and perhaps just maybe he can finally stop looking for his missing cat God bless you Mr. John Doe who passed sometime in January of 1946. Peace be with you.
This story is fictional and none of it is based on any actual persons or events to the best of my abilities on this day Monday September 12, 2011.
September 12, 2011.