The new boy

Algernon watched the house for weeks. I’d see him sitting at the end of the drive at one in the morning, staring mournfully at the front door. His presence drove Teddywinkle up the wall. He would growl and hiss and pace the window sills, protecting his turf. I tried to reason with Algernon but whenever I would open the door, he would disappear. He waited before singing to me for the first time. I was washing the dishes, and heard an insistent miaowing from the palms. This song went on for some time; I was reminded of Aslan singing Narnia to into being in The Magician’s Nephew.

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At first, I thought it was a child playing a prank. I walked outside, holding a dish cloth, and there he was, shielded by leaves, calling to me. I dropped to my knees and clicked my tongue. He tentatively approached – bony, dirty, right ear torn, head riddled with fleas. I fed him four bowls of food that night. He wolfed the food, loudly purring as he ate. I couldn’t let him in the house – he was filthy – and so sat outside on the step for a time, just stroking him.

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Over the weeks, I fed and wormed him and gave him flea tablets and washed him in a hot, lavender oil scented bath and towelled him dry and rubbed antiseptic cream on his torn ear and cleaned his ears. I caressed his paws, and he would purr.

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He would sing outside the house after I left him, sometimes until 3am, or paw at the doors, trying to enter. One night, he somehow leapt up onto the roof, where he sang for hours.

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Which is when I realised that it was time to take him in. At first, I locked him in the warm laundry, where he sat on a piece of old green velvet on top of the washing machine. Teddywinkle held a vigil outside the laundry door, hissing under the crack. Algernon slept and slept and slept. After a week, I let him into the rest of the house. He took his place on a pale pink mohair blanket on a chair, where he could keep an eye on Teddy, who, in the way of all Devons, was soon overwhelmed by curiosity. Teddy now spends his days observing him from secret vantage points. When Algernon sees him, he narrows his eyes and softly growls.

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How did he know that I would love him? I’ve never been adopted by a cat before.

6 thoughts on “The new boy

    1. admin Post author

      Once Algernon was fat and well, I rang the ranger. He drove around almost immediately and scanned Algernon – he did have an owner, and she lived almost 4kms away. The owner came over to pick Algernon up after work and the minute he saw her, he growled. When she tried to pick him up, he hissed and leapt back onto “his” chair (the one with the pale pink mohair rug). It took her half an hour to calm him down and even then, he struggled to return, pleading with his eyes.

      Reply
  1. Duane

    What?! Surely, the owner didn’t really care for Algernon and would’ve been happy for you to keep him! This is not the happy ending I had hoped for…..

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Apologies for late reply – I missed this! Algernon has not returned. He is undoubtedly locked in a small room with foil palm-tree wallpaper and a gigantic flatscreen TV, catatonic (no pun intended).

      Reply

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