The wardrobe door was flung back against the hinges. The sudden flood of light, accompanied by the crash and splinter of old wood ignited the cat. With a gargantuan thrust of his back legs he launched himself, just out, no aiming or thought just out and away. Unfortunately, just at that moment the swarthy gentleman was taking a step forwards the better to search the depths of the cupboard. The cat was leaping upwards, the man was leaning downwards, the two met midway. Rags extended his claws as a result of shock and fear; they hooked into skin, one lodging in the tender flesh just inside a nostril. Not unsurprisingly this caused the human to screech in a most inhuman fashion. This terrified the cat even more and he scrabbled and scrambled upwards, clawing and reaching, rending the soft skin of chin and cheek and forehead.
The bloke staggered backwards, by this time Jenny had grabbed her camera and without anything approaching logical thought she pointed it and clicked the shutter button. The scratched and bleeding ne’er do well now got an eye full of camera flash, he squealed anew and covered his eyes with both hands, effectively blinded.
Jenny grabbed the umbrella and charged forth brandishing it spear-like before her. The crook had tipped on his axis and was now on his way forward again. Due to the difference in height between the two, the pointed end of the gamp connected brutally with the squashy, tender parts that were inadequately protected by the soft, baggy track suit bottoms that were his preferred attire.
He collapsed in an S-shaped, shrieking pile on the bedroom carpet; his hands were clutching the area around the top of his legs which he truly believed were aflame. Jenny leapt over him “Sorry, sorry – I’m so sorry”.
Rags had had just about as much as he could take. He headed like a small ginger rocket for the stairs, the outside and safety. For reasons that were never fully understood the second intruder leapt after the cat, whether he was fleeing from the ear curdling screams of his erstwhile companion or whether he believed the cat to be possessed of unnamed treasure it was difficult to know, but he was off in full pursuit before Jenny had reached the bedroom door.
Unfortunately, or not, depending on your point of view, his feet disavowed his ambition and tied themselves into a knot on the top step. He tumbled in a flurry of flailing limbs and rolling, bouncing body parts from top to bottom of the narrow staircase arriving unconscious and uncaring against the front door.
Jenny fled as fast as her wobbling legs would carry her for the ground floor. She jumped over the hunched and immobile body in the hall, grabbed the cordless phone from the little table and ran to the kitchen where she shot outside. She secured the back door and tore the key from the lock. She ran round to the front of the house where she paused, breathless and slightly hysterical, she dialled 999.
She reported the current circumstances, suggested that it would be very helpful if the local constabulary could send someone other than an apprentice and that perhaps an ambulance would be of some use. The screeching of the various sirens and horns brought out such of the neighbours who were at home, all of whom stared in some bemusement at the batty old cat woman who seemed to be patrolling the front of her house armed with an old umbrella, her hair awry, her clothes askew and her face wearing a rather manic expressions which precluded conversation.
When the dust had finally settled and the nice police lady had provided a steaming cup of tea, Jenny took the time to shed a couple of tears of shock and nerves. Only a couple, just for appearances sake really, because in truth she had found it all terribly thrilling. Not to be repeated, no never that, but still quite out of the ordinary run of things.
The man from the bottom of the stairs was carted away on a stretcher to be given treatment for his concussion and a rather nasty broken wrist. The other chap was escorted to a police car, hobbling in a most peculiar and careful fashion, blood smearing his shocked and ruined countenance.
“Hello, hello madam. Are you alright? Are you sure you don’t need a doctor?” The young policeman was being terribly kind and friendly. Probably felt that he had some sort of stake in the whole thing and Jenny was more than willing to let him bask in a bit of reflected glory.
“Has anyone been to the garage constable?”
“Yes indeed. You are quite the hero. The boxes are very clever devices indeed. On the top they are fitted out to carry bottles of rather nasty Bulgarian wine.”
“Oh, is that all? Wine – well!”
“Ah, but quite a number of them have false bottoms and that’s where it gets most interesting. The bottoms appear to be used to carry bags of very valuable drugs. Oh yes you are quite the hero and no mistake.”
“Drugs, well my word, drugs here in our little road.”
“Unfortunately they are everywhere and hidden away back here probably seemed a good idea. Well, if it hadn’t been for you and that old cat I don’t doubt they could have carried on for pretty well as long as they wanted. Where is he the old fella?”
“Oh, I don’t know. He was dreadfully upset and frightened. I don’t know where he’s gone and I’m so worried about his leg. He could have torn the stitches. Poor old Rags what a rotten time he’s had.”
“Well, I’ll tell the lads to keep an eye out for him anyway.”
“Yes, that would be nice. Thank you.”
“So, what are you going to do with your reward?”
“Oh yes quite a handsome reward coming your way madam. Quite a nice little sum.”
“Well. Goodness. Really? My heavens, who’d have thought it?”…
The next morning Jenny filled the cat bowls. Everyone was going to have a special treat. She didn’t have the reward yet but had been assured that it would be substantial.
“Here we are my lovies, tuna treat and chicken livers in sauce, the little gold tins were scraped into various dishes and she did believe there were more visitors than ever. Word must have got around the local cat population.
A stately ginger figure strode haughtily past the feline hoi polloi. With a very superior glance in their direction Rags made his way through the garden and entered the kitchen via the back door. He sniffed at the small empty porcelain bowl sitting next to his blanket. His ears rotated just once, checking for untoward noises. All was calm, he turned his great gold eyes upwards and stared unblinking at the daft old biddy.
“Oh Rags, how lovely. You are quite famous you know and really rather rich. Would you like something to eat? I have a special tin of Pampered Pussikins, tuna in prawn jelly. Do you think you could eat that? Apparently he could.
Afterwards reclining on the settee, licking at a front paw he took stock of his situation. It had been an interesting few days, he was getting on a bit and this daft old bat wasn’t bad – for a non feline. Maybe he’d stay. Just until something better came up anyway. Jenny poured a cup of tea and plonked down beside him. “Well Rags, that was different wasn’t it?” He listened but none of what she said seemed to relate to food so he tucked his front paws under his chest and drifted off to sleep. Jenny smiled and sipped her drink, life could be so very lovely couldn’t it, and so surprising.