George looked at his wife. She had grown podgy since their honeymoon. It didn’t bother him – her weight. He was glad to have some one with him. Tonight he didn’t like the
look of her. She was pale and withdrawn, it seemed – almost as if she was carrying the world on her shoulders. Also, she smelled like stale perfume and cigarette smoke and it was
worsening his headache. All he could feel for her was the sharp pain in his chest and the throbbing, hammering in his head. He wanted to pull his eyes out to have a good reason as to
why he was feeling so awful.
“I’m going for a walk,” he said, and gently touched her shoulder. It was not her fault, a voice pleaded somewhere in his mind.
“Can I come with you?” she asked, eager to get out of the house. It was stifling hot and a walk was the most welcome horizon that had interrupted her thoughts the whole long day.
“A walk!” thought George’s wife excitedly. It was more than she could dream of. Well, not exactly more than she could dream of. She dreamt of a lot of things, mainly that George
would love her forever and that they would have enough money to do anything that they wanted. But a walk, it was like heaven. It’s really going to happen she could have been shouting
from the rooftops. “I’m going for a walk with my husband.” She threw a cotton shirt over her skimpy top which was bursting with voluptuousness, unlocked the security gate and felt the
night air caress her face. It was cooler outside than inside the house.
She left her keys in the gate for George to lock up while she waited for him and plopped down on the steps…
It was around eleven in the evening. The night must be still, dark and thick outside these walls, George’s wife thought to herself. And full of criminals… I must take my ‘phone
with me. I’ll hang it on my pants in the small of my back, and, put it on silence, she added, smiling to herself. And some water…
Patricia sat outside on the step looking into the distance through a crack in the buildings surrounding her. She could see the lights of a suburb twinkling like stars on the horizon.
While she was waiting for her husband to get ready for the walk, which involved him donning a pair of jeans-to-take-a-belt-to-take-the-holster-for-the-gun, she mused at the insignificant
differences between the stars, diamonds and the horizon. In her mind, she formulated the idea that the closer one got to any of them, they would just turn out to be ordinary and familiar,
like a lamppost…
George struggled with his sandals. She was sitting outside on the step. He could hear her. She was calling the cat…
He hated the cat. It always messed up his neat garden. How close he was to kicking the cat in the gut…
The cat looked at the old woman sitting on the steps. What was she doing, calling him? He didn’t know her and had no intentions of getting to know her. His belly was full and he
needed to keep pulling at the soil so he could relieve himself. He knew she was a ‘lovely cat lady’, but he had business to attend to, so he finished covering his scent and slunk into the
George’s wife looked at the cat. She was too tired to walk over to her little friend at the far end of the garden, so she called her name.
The cat didn’t come.
“It looks like Mixen…” she thought to herself. She strained her eyes through her glasses.
Mixen was black and white and silhouetted on the window sill in her room in the adjoining block of flats. She could hear her friend calling her, but she was a prisoner – like every night that
had passed since one of her boyfriends had marked his territory and her mistress became distressed beyond cat-reasoning.
She longed to sprint down the stairs and bounce into the loving arms of the cat lady. Her mistress left the kitchen window open on some occasions, and Mixen would wait anxiously to hear
movement from the house next door, then she would happily know that she could slip out the window and be petted and stroked until little spools of delight plopped out from her ever smiling
Trixie – that was George’s pet name for his wife, looked long and hard at the black and white cat poised in earnest contemplation and wondered if it was indeed Mixen that she was seeing.
“Mixen would’ve come,” she thought, but was still indecisive when George’s footsteps became louder down the passage to the front door.
The cat was forgotten and Trixie thought of her husband.
“So much pain, and there is nothing I can do about it. Oh, God, please help me to help him…” she pleaded to the Great Unknown, while smiling pleasantly at her husband’s back lest he should
turn suddenly and see the concern etched into her round features…
“I must be strong for him.” It was a mantra-like thought that she repeated to herself day in and day out. The uninvited disease ate at her heart’s desire, lapping up her resolve like a
thirsty tongue – spooning away her reserves, and somehow, always, leaving her just enough hope to carry one. Where she found the inner strength to stay focused, she could only guess.
George slipped on his one sandal. He winced with excruciating pain as a knife sliced though his innards and out his side. He pursed his lips in tight resolve.
“Fuck this! I can do it.”
The words echoed in and out of his consciousness, egging him onwards towards the breath of fresh air that he so desperately needed, wanted, had to have; …and that might take away the pain for a
Trixie was quiet now. He couldn’t hear her loud whispered cat call. He should end it now … while she was outside and not under his nose, watching his every move.
It had become unbearable, this helpfulness that she tried to fulfil.
“There’s nothing you can do,” he would say, meanwhile he would be screaming for her to get on with something – her life! She had her whole life ahead of her. What was she doing hanging
around him like this? It seemed as if she had put her whole life on hold and had become a Florence Nightingale. It was all worthless, didn’t she realise? He did not want to stop
her living… not on his account.
Trixie thought about telling her husband about the strange cat in the garden. Perhaps, she thought, he might begin to understand that Mixen was not to blame for uprooting some of his
seedlings and flowers… And then, perhaps not. How was she to defend her friend?
The other sandal came on easier and the pain had subsided for the moment, all though not entirely. George had become accustomed to feeling uncomfortable and relished the moment of peace that
descended upon him.
The gun felt heavy in its holster and George became aware of it, as if for the first time. He was shocked that he was carrying a gun. His memory taunted him with visions of his blood
seeping out of his body while Trixie came screaming into the room…
George shook his head, found it too painful, and stretched his back while he rolled his head around on his shoulders. He could hear the pieces of bone that kept his head up crunch under the
weight of his head like gravel stones…
He let out a heavy sigh.
“What is going to happen to Trixie? Who is going to take care of her? She is not as young as she used to be and won’t find easy money…”
George managed another small shake of his head and then decided to stand up. This walk would do him good. It had to. He couldn’t take the pain anymore. Not inside the house
in his favourite room. Not dying there or anywhere, not tonight, he resolved.
Mixen couldn’t hear her friend’s voice calling her anymore. She strained once more, and then succumbed to the hum of the night. She could hear the person next door typing sporadically,
as if the thoughts came in dribs and drabs. She heard the familiar sound of the Trixie’s security gate and gave her a long distance, whimsical smile. Trixie…
Trixie looked at the security gate. When was her husband going to make his appearance? It wasn’t that cold, but if she remained seated on the cool step and didn’t get her blood flowing
with a brisk walk, she would have to go and put on a warmer sweater.
The electronic gate rumbled loudly over the rubble and rubbish that had gathered during the day and closed behind them.
Trixie didn’t know which way her husband wanted to go and stood still, waiting to see his direction. He turned left and she quickly got into step beside him. There was no wind to speak
of and only two stars shone like eyes in a cavern watching their movement with the dullness that comes with knowing the inevitable outcome of every moment.
George didn’t see the stars, or if he did, he didn’t mention them. He was on alert, ready to protect Trixie in any event, (bugger the pain that had decided to walk with them). He
clenched his jaw and winced. He had lost most of his back teeth. No one could tell him why; and that loss, great as it was, wasn’t as great as the imminent loss of his front
teeth, broken now because no one had warned him to watch his bite and his hunger had cost him thus. He was hungry now. Trixie had tried to make French toast, but had failed miserably
and he had had to ask her to fry them again as they were raw inside. He had tried to eat, but only managed half a slice.
Trixie was saying something. He knew if he listened a little while longer that he would get the gist of what she was talking about and make the appropriate sounds. Poor Trixie, he
thought, she doesn’t have a clue as to what I am going through. Sometimes he wished she would feel his pain, and then he would soften and touch her gently, allowing his memory of her to
comfort them both.
They turned left again at the garden Trixie always admired, but she was silent. He was grateful for that, not wanting to alert any one to their presence. Trixie had worked at the bar
around the corner and had told him countless stories of how people had been mugged at the auto tellers in the circle. He winced at the thought of her all alone in the bar with a door open to
temptation. He had saved her from selling her soul over a counter to drunkards and who knows what, not that he had married her to save her. No, he had fallen in love with her the minute
he saw her walking down the street towards him, giving one of her dazzling smiles and a friendly greeting tripling from her curved lips…
Trixie looked at her husband’s face as they were walking. She wanted to hold his hand, to link her arms around him, but, she knew, she would only cause him discomfort and possibly annoy him
into saying something sharp. It was better just to keep up with him, although it was easier now than it had been in the beginning…
She remembered how he used to walk. That confident, cocky stride with a bit of a sway and a subtle swagger. You beautiful man, I love you, she said to him, though her lips remained
sealed in silence. What is happening to us? Why can’t you just get better and smile and joke again?
The Mixen look-alike melted into the shadow under the car parked in the circle. He licked his lips, his anticipation of blood now a thing of the past. He was aware of the other Toms in
the neighbourhood, discerning their scents filtering through the air.
He was almost the newest on the block, having been rescued from the animal shelter by a childless couple around four moons ago.
George began scanning the area opening up in front of him, and when Trixie noticed him doing thus, she began to feel the usual rush of adrenalin at being on the point of danger. They turned
left again, into the circle. George noticed the car with the tinted windows outside the far teller.
The Tom heard the footsteps coming closer to the circle from one of the side roads. They were not yet in sight and he stiffened as the ‘some one’ in the car caused it to creak. He
nearly ran to the nearest drainpipe, but was glad that he hadn’t for the footsteps had become human forms and he sensed the danger to the cat lady and the man with her…
“Let’s read the notice board,” Trixie said in a hushed voice. She had noticed the second car parked next to the auto teller on their path back to the house. It was quiet but for the
distant whine of the highways snaking around them.
The Tom had heard the footsteps coming closer to the circle from one of the side roads. They were not yet in sight and he had stiffened as the ‘some one’ in the car caused it to creak.
He nearly ran to the nearest drainpipe, but was glad that he hadn’t for the footsteps had become human forms and he sensed the danger to the cat lady and the man with her…
Trixie laughed softly at something she read and waited for George to finish his reading.
George wasn’t really reading. He was gauging how fast he could draw his gun to protect them should they be ambushed…
Trixie wanted desperately to hold her husband. She wished that she lived in a country where there were no criminals, and if there were, they were safe in jail…
Every one who was awake in this midnight hour heard the soft, low whistle. Some even thought, still, that it was a bird, but those in the know knew it for what it was: a sign from one
crook to another to spot a prospective victim…
The Tom had heard that noise before. It warned him of memories to avoid, coming to flood his mind: to see his loving owner whipped across the head with the butt of a gun and falling…
George took his wife’s hand. “Come!” was all he said. Instinctively they both walked on as if nothing was afoot. They knew the whistle. Many cars had disappeared from the
streets when the “bird” was heard at ungodly hours of the morning…
Trixie noticed the other car for the first time. She was about to mention it, then thought the better of it. She felt safe with her husband at her side. She knew that he would
kill any one who threatened them in any way.
George felt the pain return, this time increasing in volume in his abdomen. A wave of nausea enveloped him and he felt like falling to his knees… Trixie was foremost on his mind, but
the pain was beginning to win him over, wanting to pin him down on the ground - wrestled into submission. Something in him wanted the criminals to come, but only for him. He wanted to
exercise his right to defend himself and at the same time rid the world of the vermin encroaching on his freedom to inhale the fresh air…
Trixie was glad that she had her husband’s hand to hold. It had felt so right from the first time she had allowed herself to feel his skin against hers. This is mine, she had vowed to
herself. She knew he was right for her. She knew, more than anything, that this was the only man in the world she would want to spend forever with.
She felt his grip tighten on her and then he released her hand.
The living shadow under the car waited…
The tall, bowed man braving the relentless pain under the dark sky waited…
The podgy woman didn’t wait. She was going home with her husband. “Fuck you.”
The criminals hesitated. The cat poised. The couple walked passed the auto teller and a wave of disgust swept through the veins of the criminals…
The cat on the windowsill looked out into the night, not seeing the building directly in her view, but further and further still, till she could feel the memory of Trixie’s hand rubbing her chin…
The gate shuddered and slid shut behind the couple as they made their way to the steps leading to the front door of their home. The woman looked up and saw her friend, the cat, and saw that
all the windows were closed. They smiled to one another.
The Tom had followed the couple back to the garden he liked. They didn’t see him as they closed and locked the doors behind them. He looked up at Mixen and smiled. He only had a
few hours before the sun came up to stare lovingly into those eyes he adored.
George looked at his wife. She was beautiful. He stroked her hair. She was the only one who gave him pleasure and he wanted it now.
“Life goes on,” he thought. He pondered the thought deeply as his loving wife began to stroke his back.
© Copyright 2016 Raine Carosin. All rights reserved.