Friday, 11 September 2015

X-ray vision

Hi there!

Have I got a special treat for you!?

Recently, I had reason to be visiting a building in the heart of Melbourne, and ran into an old friend I haven't seen in several years.

E.E. Caldwell, or Betty to her friends, is one of the best writers I've ever met, but you won't have heard of her because Betty has - despite years of my nagging - stubbornly refused to ever publish any of her work.

So there I was, minding my own business, and there she was, right in front of me! So Betty and I embarked on a lengthy catch-up on old friends and times, during which, she, to my extreme disgruntlement (is that a word?) admitted that she has finally published a book of short stories.

Betty's book, Scotters Lane and Other Stories, is a limited publication - that is to say for friends and family only, similar to my All That & Everything.

I immediately demanded that she sell me a copy, which she did, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Meanwhile, I told Betty - yet again - how she is too good a writer to not share her work with the wider world, so, because she likes me, or perhaps more likely because I have nagged her incessantly for too long,  Betty has kindly agreed to let me share one of her wonderful short stories with you.

In two parts, today and next week, I will present X-ray Vision, a short story by E.E. Caldwell, reproduced with Betty's permission for you to enjoy.

Here goes:
Betty Caldwell

Ex-Ray Vision
by E.E. Caldwell

He'd been banished to a cattery! Imagine that! He, Tibbles the beautiful! The magnificent, wonderful, winsome, glorious Tibbles in a common cattery along with ordinary felines, forced to share their food, play their stupid games, sleep in a prison cell.

How degrading! Couldn't they recognise nobility when they saw it? Not that he had any offical pedigree to support his claim but that was beside the point. 

He knew himself to be regal. It was demonstrated in the way he walked, arched his back, condescended to be petted. But none of that was recognised in the miaow, miaow land where Tibbles was simply one of the herd!


However, it was over now. His mistress had returned from something called a honeymoon and brought with her an obnoxious accessory named Paul.
Why did she need him about the place when she had Tibbles? Humans are odd characters sometimes.

Karen was reasonably predictable, though. He had her pretty much in his clutches. Or he had had. Now, with Paul cluttering up the place, he had to tread a little warily.
He wasn't always welcome when he strode along the back of the sofa, trying to edge between their heads as they sat in romantic embrace while the television played endlessly in the background.

"I didn't realise I'd have to share you with this confounded little black devil," Paul muttered as his attempted kiss went slightly astray.

Karen turned to scoop up Tibbles and seat him on her lap. "It's his home, too," she said sweetly. "And he was here first."

"I've heard of love me, love my dog, but a stupid streak of black covered cat flesh?"

"Don't hurt his feelings. He's sensitive, you know."

"Hmm. Like a sandwich? I'll make one if you like."

In the kitchen, Paul opened the refrigerator while Tibbles patiently awaited developments. Then, when he heard the sardine can being opened, he jumped from Karen's lap and marched majestically forward to demand his share of the anticipated supper.

"Get out, you little devil!"

"Who, me?" thought Tibbles. "I'll show you!"

Darting behind Paul's legs, he came round the other side and sprang up on to the bench. With a sudden swipe, Paul sent him flying to the floor.The aggrieved Tibbles snarled audibly.

"Don't you try any monkey business with me or I'll boot you in the ribs, old boy."

Tibbles retreated to smoulder in a corner while contemplating his retaliation.

"Here." Paul placed the almost empty tin on the floor, gathered the sandwiches and headed back to the lounge room.

They had bought complementary dressing gowns as a symbol of luxury for their otherwise austere honeymoon - his, blue shot silk; hers, rose pink. Each had cords ending in fascinating tassels that swayed to and fro as they progressed throughout the house. And what could be more inviting to a lively young aristocrat sitting on the dielines dying to leap up at the shimmering target?

Karen and Paul loved their robes but Tibbles was obsessed. When they hung them in the wardrobe, he managed to insert a paw, manoeuvering until the door opened. Then he'd drag out a cord and run with it through the house to hide under the sofa where he had limited protection from the wrath to come.

Karen found it impossible to be angry with him for long. Paul was of different calibre!
"Bloody cat!" he'd scream. "He's got x-ray vision! No matter where I put them, he manages to get at those cords! One of these days ...!"

That's all for this week. If you're enjoying Betty's story about Tibbles, check this site next week. Oh, and bye the way - for those of you who may be concerned for Tibbles' fate - Betty is an animal lover!

Until next week - read something every day!

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