Scottish Charity Number: SCO40701
COOK – INN Musselburgh operating in Edinburgh & East Lothian
5th May 2019.
Fred and Linda sometimes wonder where Morris goes on her travels. Once she used to be such a home-cat. Now, she disappears for hours at a time. When she does come home, there is often something different about her; a strange perfume, perhaps; or a sudden love of a food she used to spurn. The humans were used to these phenomena, and knew they might never get an explanation. But tonight, here is the reason for one such change.
While 29 food bags were being packed and delivered this week by the intrepid ‘Cook-Inn’ volunteers, Morris sat at the window until someone opened it. A sleek, cinnamon-coloured blur, she slunk out of the gap and along the windowsill to one of her hidey-holes behind a garden bush. There, she sought out a patch of darker earth which she had noticed the previous night. Thinking mice might be hiding behind it, she dug away until – to her surprise – light could be seen behind the soil. Morris gingerly put a paw into the hole, and when nothing bad happened, she pulled away more earth – and crawled inside.
She came out (somehow) on top of a high building, in a grey city Janine would have said resembled London. Being feline, the sheer impossibility of the situation simply didn’t interest her; so Morris ignored it. Catching a claw onto a drainpipe, she slid carefully down towards street level, staring in all the windows in that nosey way cats do. Passing the 27th window, she was amazed to see someone staring back. Her attention piqued, Morris climbed inside and used the curtain to lower herself gracefully onto the carpet.
The owner of the gaze appeared to be a short, pinstriped human with a bald patch, working on a computer with lots of figures on the screen. He bent down to stroke Morris’ fur.
“Hello”, he said with a smile. “It was nice of you to come in and brighten my day. I have all these numbers to add up before I get to go home tonight, and I’m not sure the figures tally”.
Morris mewed gently, meaning to ask if the man had any tuna. He seemed to misinterpret her enquiry. “Thank you for your sympathy”, he said tiredly. “My boss is just horrible. It’s a Bank Holiday tomorrow, and I’m not even allowed time off to be with my family”.
Morris, enjoying the strokes, purred contentedly. This seemed to make the man even more chatty. “I’d love a paid day off. Just one. I’d give my lunch for it”.
Morris’ ears pricked up again. She wondered what he had for lunch. The man opened up a tupperware box, and the alluring smell of sardine sandwiches wafted out. He passed some fish to Morris on a little saucer. Morris, between mouthfuls, determined to help the nice wee baldy man.
Leaving him to finish the rest of his food (Morris wasn’t a greedy cat) she slunk off to a posh door at the end of the room. Slightly ajar, it allowed the slim cat to enter silently. Inside, she saw an old man at a huge desk, happily counting money. He cackled to himself as he took stock of the cash. Beside him was an open box with loose chains on it; obviously, the money was normally kept in there. Morris, feeling mischievous, took hold of a chain from behind the plush curtain and pulled at it. Hearing the rattling noise, The man shot up in fear.
“Can it be the ghost of my former business partner, Jay-Bob Farley”? He cried. “I’m sorry I started rumours around the office about you getting extra chocolate biscuits from the tea-lady! The scorn you received from the other workers drove you to quit, and start a dog-walking business in Bognor”!
Morris, liking the way this was going, shook the chains a little more. The old man flew from the room, leaving her chuckling happily. She began searching the huge set of rooms for the old man’s bedroom.
That night, in a plush boudoir just off the room with all the money (now securely locked away) Morris hid under the bed until the old man shuffled in. Climbing in under the covers, he was off to sleep like a shot. So much, thought Morris, for a guilty conscience keeping humans awake! She waited an hour, or maybe two (because cats can’t tell the time, except from digital devices – they never went to school). Then she set up an eerie howl, rustling the velvet curtains in an agitated manner. Again, the man shot up from his repose.
“Can it be the ghost of my former love, whom I did not marry because she wanted me to take a year out from earning money and have a honeymoon”? He cried. Morris shook the curtain once more, and howled. Again, the man ran from the room. She got down from the curtain and, in the manner of cats everywhere, climbed into the bed and settled down in the warm patch for a snooze.
Presently, the man came back in with a night light (which he left on) and got back into bed. He was so tired he didn’t notice the extra bundle of fur, who was by now sound asleep. Dawn came, and the man yawned and stretched.
“What a lovely day”, he announced, “for making money! It’s at times like this”, he continued thoughtfully, “that I do miss the cuddles of my old cat, Furbag”. As he said this, his leg touched Morris’ backside and she shot out of the covers in surprise. Although, as it turned out, not as much surprise as the old man got when he saw her.
“Furbag”! He exclaimed. Only now, looking round the room in panic, did Morris notice the small, framed picture of a cinnamon-coloured cat quite like herself. The picture looked old.
The man reached out to pet her. Morris was having none of that, and backed off, diving under the bed. The man called his old cat’s name again, and leaned over so that his upside-down face looked in on Morris’ hidey-hole. “Furbag, I should have never have left to go to university without you. Please forgive me”. He reached in a hand, which Morris backed away from. No way he was putting these responsibilities on her. The man continued to talk. “But that was many years ago! You’d have been dead a long time, now. How are you here”? He remembered the creaking chains, and the howling from last night – and he drew his own conclusions. “You’ve come back to warn me of the error of my ways”, he murmured in awe. “All those employees whom I’ve denied a paid public holiday. Will you consent to eat your favourite dish once more, Furbag, if I give them the day off”?
Morris shrugged. It all depended on what ‘Furbag’ had liked to eat. The man went away, and eventually came back with a plate of steamed coley fillets. “Wow”, thought Morris. “He didn’t skimp on his pets at any rate! I kind of like him now” She tucked in happily while the man called all his workers and told them they had the day off, with full pay. Morris smiled to herself; that had been the effect she was going for.
“Will you come and see me again, Furbag”? Asked the old man, making stroking motions at her head and this time succeeding. Morris thought about it. Coley fillets for breakfast? Probably ‘Furbag’ will make another appearance soon enough. Food all gone, she nuzzled the old man’s hand a bit. Suddenly he clipped a glittery band around her neck, mentioning that he’d kept it all these years in memory of her. Morris, not fussed either way but still tasting that lovely steamed fish, mewed a ‘thanks’ just once, and then legged it out of the window. She climbed deftly up to the top of the building and, finding a darker patch of paving on the roof, she dived into it – coming up in her own garden. As Morris re-entered the flat, Linda noticed that the cat now had a golden coin on her collar. In fact, she now had a collar! She mentioned this to Fred, who already had a dog who visits Narnia – so he wasn’t all that surprised.
“I’m sure she has a good reason for it”, he smiled back.
The ‘Cook-Inn’ team wish you all a happy week! 🙂
Janine, Duncan and all the Animal Investigators. xx