Hibbert and the Cat
was not sanguine when the cat joined the household. Although
had felt that it might possibly be a good idea to get a dog,
didnt appeal to him, a cat was strictly beyond his ken.
In fact, the entire
concept of his wife paying that much attention to another
creature seemed to
him to be a regression to the period before his children had
moved out. This
was an eventuality that appalled him.
cat simply ignored Mr. Hs cat not welcome
parked himself outside the kitchen door until his wife fed
him. At first it
was simply table scraps, but the week that a food and water
bowl appeared in
the kitchen, Virginia announced that the cat had a name. Although
personally never have named a living creature something like
mattered not. Mr. Hibbert knew it was all over.
the cat, which turned out to be a half-grown kitten, maintained
sort of armed truce for the next three years. After an initial
the cat stayed out of his office and out of his way, while
he forbore trying
to expel the little monster at every opportunity. During the
months however, the animal doubled in size, and was really
little in any regard.
Mr. Hibbert did not give up easily though. He fought a rearguard
against the cat staying in the house at night, against the
cat being allowed
on the living room furniture, against the cat getting the
food that was so incredibly pricey. While she said Yes
dear, as dutifully
as he could wish, there was a conspicuous lack of results
the cat (who developed from a weedy, long-legged, tawny, fleabitten
item with a runny nose into a very large and exceedingly sleek
red tom cat)
he simply ignored any directives from Mr. H as if there was
a vacuum in the
position from whence they issued.
decided to work on Saturdays, Carl and Smidgen found
themselves cohabiting alone for the entire day. The first
regarded each other balefully across the kitchen in the morning.
retired to his office while the cat disappeared into his wifes
It was acceptable.
Today was Saturday. Once again Mr. H was faced with a cold
lunch left in the fridge at the crack of dawn. He also had
to make his own
coffee, which was annoying. Although he would never let her
Virginias coffee always came out much better than his
own, which was
scandalous since she didnt drink coffee.
in his office, unhappy at the prospect, he found himself now
with a further conundrum. The cat was sitting in his office
After trying to ignore the feline for a few minutes, he was
What? he asked accusingly, eyeing the cat.
flicked one ear slightly and turned its back on him.
creature, Mr. H muttered, going back to the journal
reading. The cat flicked its tail tip but did not move.
know, I dont care what she thinks. I cant believe
that you have a
soul. Cats dont go to heaven. Its ridiculous,
Mr. H said to the cats
tail began to sweep back and forth in a full-blown gesture
didnt do anything to you! Mr. H insisted. The
cat looked briefly back
at him over one shoulder, then settled into a prone position.
The tail tip
continued to twitch.
to conectrate on his journal. It was hard to keep up with
publications his engineers insisted were critical, and he
used his Saturdays
to skim the cream. This one was important because one of his
people was a
co-author on an article, and he was going to have to be able
to discuss it.
he couldnt concentrate. No matter what he did, he was
of the twitching tail-tip. After reading the article abstract
three times he
gave up in disgust and stood up. The cat did likewise, still
They walked to the kitchen, Smidgen leading the way. Once
there, he poised
himself by his empty food bowl and let loose with one of his
dont feed cats, Mr. H said. You should be
out catching mice, not
his own lunch out of the refrigerator.
sitting by his bowl, insisted several more times that he would
fed, and to be right smart about it too.
feed you when she gets home, Mr. H said haughtily and
lunch to the dining room table with ill grace. He could feel
the cats eyes
on his back.
he though, eating, the cat had enough sense not to keep bothering
him. He didnt know where it had gone, but clearly it
was intelligent enough
to figure out that there was no change to be had from him!
Mr. H was vaguely
pleased with himself for the smart way he had repudiated the
demands of the
taking his plate to the sink and making a wholly unsatisfactory
coffee for himself, he retired to his office to read
which usually meant
to take a nice nap.
smote him at the doorway. He wasnt sure what it was
After all, there had never been a litter-box in the house.
Mrs. H had
installed on in the garage and put a cat door in between the
garage and the
house. From the first, Smidgen had been well-behaved. There
had never been
this an accident. This was surely in the nature of retaliation.
where was it?
his teeth and being extra-careful where he put his feet on
patterned oriental carpet, which was wonderfully concealing,
he searched the
office cursorily. His emper was not improved by noticing the
cat sitting in
the doorway, watching him with what was undoubtedly a look
Carl fumed. You dirty beast! Where did you put it?
vouchsafed no reply. Carl could have sworn that he was smiling.
was simply too much.
just wait! he said. Youre going to have
to find a new home, you,
At last, inarticulate with rage, he reverted
to an oft-said
phrase from the past. Just wait til your mother
all over the floor, even into the corners of the room. He
in the potted plants. He looked under his desk. He looked
under and behind
the bookcases, although he couldnt see how a cat the
size of this one could
get behind them.
turd was nowhere to be found.
sitting down he looked closely at the seat of his desk chair.
smell kept wafting in fresh waves at him. Just when he would
think he was
used to it, some faint stir of air would waft a new assault
on his senses.
He couldnt rest; couldnt read. Neither, of course,
could he leave. After
all, the cat was still sitting in the doorway, watching him
with that damned
smug look on his face.
his desk drawers was ajar. With growing horror he realized
couldnt remember whether he had left it so. Could the
cat open drawers? It
was the drawer with the household bills and records in it.
what he would find, he opened the drawer. There was nothing
now took his leave, having apparently gloated enough for one
took the opportunity to search the room once more, this
time getting down on his knees and having a good close look
at cats eye
level. While the smell continued fierce, once again he was
he decided that at the very least he had to get out of the
awhile. Smelling something like this for hours on end could
not be good for
his health. Sitting down in his desk chair, he slid his stockinged
aware of a sensation of dampness on his left foot.
Christ! he cried, as the possibility that he had found
deposit became a probability. Why, he thought, he had even
picked up his
shoes and moved them when searching. Had he touched anything?
He stared at
his hands in suspicion.
to do now? If he took off his shoe hed have to walk
smeared sock to the back door where he could exit to the garbage
Unthinkable to put this in a garbage can in the house. But
if he took his
sock off too, surely his foot would be equally soiled. The
only thing to do,
it seemed, was to walk in his loafers to the kitchen, through
it, and out
the back door. But could he do it?
of walking in his shoes, feeling the stuff squidging about
foot was disturbing enough, but the thought that really made
him shudder was
the idea of it working its way around his toes. And that brought
problem. How was he to get his foot clean enough to come back
He was flummoxed. Impulsively he decided to call his wife
at the store and
ask her opinion, only to put the phone down with the number
d surely tell everyone. He could hear the laughter now.
He checked the
clock. It would be fully another four hours before she was
he couldnt sit with his foot in shit for four hours,
he reflected. On
the other hand, at least his foot seemed to be blocking most
of the odor.
trying not to think about it, he got up and limed from his
to the hall. The cat appeared at the end of that dim aisle,
staring at him
Carl spat, utterly at a loss for words.
there baffled, he remembered the hose in the back yard. In
days of water shortages it was rarely used, but surely it
was still there.
Smidgen walked him to the back door and exited with him. At
the garbage can,
Mr. Hibbert pulled his shoe off and then stripped the sock
off with his
fingertips, holding only the very top of the ankle. Reflecting
that they had
been damned expensive loafers which had only just stopped
hurting his little
toes, he dropped both regretfully into the can.
expected, his foot was besmirched. It was totally disgusting.
beckoned him from the garage wall. But upon setting his bare
down on the dry grass of their parched back yard, he became
aware that the
ground was hot and the grass was sharp.
he cried, lifting his foot rather more quickly than he had
on one leg, he steeled himself for what must come. Then, he
proceeded with a curious hopping motion to cross the back
yard. Perforce, if
he was not to fall down, he had to put his bare foot down
Crossing the cement path proved to be even more painful than
the grass and
dirt, and he began to swear fluently and loudly as he felt
his caked foot
bake against the pebbled embedded there.
he reached the garage. He picked up the sun-soaked hose. It
absorbed a tremendous amount of radiant energy, and he immediately
it again. Ow ow ow! Oh HELL! he cried. Turning
on the water would probably
cool it, but the spigot itself was brass baked in the sun,
and it required
some courage to work up to the event.
he was sweating all over, hot and uncomfortable, his foot
cat doo and stinking. But he persevered, like the brave man
he was; and in
spite of the feeling that the spigot would be branded onto
the palm of his
hand, he turned on the water. He was rewarded with a tepid
flow of water
that trickled from the hose.
waiting for a few minutes, mostly balanced precariously on
like a fat bald stork, he picked up the hose and began washing.
He had to
spray his foot to get the stuff off and put his foot over
his other knee to
get the bottom of it. During the process, he got water in
his shoe and both
his pants legs wet from the knees down.
point the volume of his swearing brought forth a neighbor
over the fence.
got a problem? the neighbor asked laconically.
CAT! Carl yelled in his general direction.
a young man whose odiferous smoking habits had been a great
worry to Carl and Virginia during their childrens adolescence,
gotta watch that, man, he said, apropos of nothing in
to the house in a continued hop, thoroughly wet and with a
hotter than the cement back stoop, Carl removed his remaining
shoe, sock and
was sitting in the doorway to the kitchen. It now raised its
in a querulous demand once more.
if I dont? he asked.
began to twitch again.
is blackmail. I wont have it. But he was beaten,
and he knew it. God
only knew what else the filthy beast had in mind for him.
Clad only in his
shirtsleeves and his boxers, he was forced to go into the
provide food for the creature.
and a half hours later, Virginia pulled her car into the drive
ccame bustling in through the kitchen door, where she found
his pants, one
shoe, and a sock on the floor. All were wet.
whose foot was now itching madly from being soaked in an entire
bottle-full of antibacterial liquid soap, greeted her with
a look of
cat! he began, before she could say a word. That
cat shat in my
she said, unfazed. What had you done to him?
put my foot in it! he protested.
well, I hope you washed it off. Thats not very sanitary
Carl retired to his office, where the smell had nearly
stuff: Please do not print, copy or distribute this without
permission from the author. All rights reserved. Copyright
© 2001 Alexandra R.
Nyfors. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly