My blood pounds in my ears. The paper is swirling. The charge in the air is tangible, palpable, sentient. You believe me mad, no? You prefer the cat over me, no? You won’t believe my story, yes? I am to unburden my soul today as to atone for the sins I have committed. Before I tell you my story, I want to you know that I am not mad. See how calmly I sit, how calmly I narrate, how calmly my ideas flow. Madmen know nothing—nothing of what happened, nothing of why. I know why. I was insanely jealous. And now, I sanely tell you my story.
Now, I loved the old man. I loved him with devotion and with indifference. He was the sun in which my planetary life revolved around. The center of my universe. My idol. My star.
He loved his cat.
It was a large, sable black cat with many white splotches across its back and chest. It had beautiful luminous green eyes that peered deep into your soul. I hated it, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you hate for the secrets of your heart, locked deep inside your soul, hidden in the recesses of your body, to be revealed? I kicked at him when the old man wasn’t looking. Execrable cat.
I do not know when this idea came to my mind, or how it came. All I know is that one day, I had enough of that cat. Day after day, when the old man was asleep, I slowly, painfully slowly, quietly crept into his room to watch the cat in his sleep. I did this patiently every night for thirteen days. For thirteen days, I watched, and the whites grew clearer—clearer—clearer into different shapes. Axes, swords, lynches. Torture devices. Glorious, glorious pain I could cause the cat. I made my move on the fourteenth day. I crept into the old man’s room with more caution than ever before. So much caution—though it took me minutes—it felt like hours—like eternities to creep into his bedroom.
He was not in his basket! The wicker, tightly braided basket was empty—barren!—vacant!—but then where could he have gone? He was always in his basket. I whip my head around in search for his tell-tale splotches and spotted him reposing on the old man’s face. Then, I slowly, slowly slink towards the bed.
But look—he stirs!—I freeze—I wait—patiently, statue-like, quietly for my plan needs its stealth. But he moves no more. I continue to creep closer and closer until I am at his bedside. Tonight, I am in luck. He does not perceive my presence. So I plunge the long needle through his neck. Carefully, cautiously, warily, I lift the cat away from the old man’s head and stuff it in a sack to be hidden inside the sofa couch.
The next morning, the old man questions me about my night, he on his creaky rocking-horse chair and I on my cat-stuffed sofa couch. I answer his calm and collected questions with calm and collected answers. Suddenly, my nose tickles. I smell cat. I rub my nose. The itch goes away. I continue to chat with the old man as he rocks in his chair. The itch soon comes back, this time on my neck. It feels like a feather being brushed across my neck. Or whiskers. I brush the feeling away as an errant hair.
“We’re almost out of cat food,” I say because I want to steer the conversation away from that treacherous terrain—but I blunder into a trap.
“Which reminds me…where is the cat?” the old man asks. The itchy feeling comes back again on my arms. I scratch furiously until my arms turn raw and sore. Then I feel wet on my arms. I roll my sleeves up and see the long scratch marks I made from furious scratching. I quickly grab a tissue and staunch the flow while the itch fades away.
The itch travels down to my chest and sides. Scratch, scratch, scratch is all I could think of. Scratch to relieve the pain—to relieve the irritation. Scratch, scratch, scratch. It travels down to my thighs and my bottom. I wriggled and fidgeted in my seat. I try to concentrate more on the mechanics of his rocking. Back and forth. Back and forth. Creeeak…Creeeeak…Me-owww…
No! I must not think of that!
CRUNCH. A loud crack makes me lose my concentration. The man looks at me curiously. I look down. A mouse trap.
“You know, you still haven’t answered my first question yet,” he says. I ignore him, past the point of caring for his indignation, and continue to fidget and try not to scratch. The long claw marks on my arms start to ooze a little bit. Perhaps they are infected. I should get some antibiotics, but I stay in my chair and fidget and use tissues to staunch the flow. The whiskery feeling comes back and the smell of cat is stronger than ever. I spot a mouse scurrying along the wall. The food tastes ashen, like kitty litter.
“Where is my cat?” the old man asks me for the third time. “I haven’t seen him since last night. He’s a good mouser, you know,” he added. I begin to feel dizzy as the smell of cat and blood becomes almost overwhelming and the fire in my thighs and buttocks begins to rage out of control. The gossamer tickling feeling becomes next to unbearable. It’s teasing me. But I cannot scratch without letting the gashes untended to. I sit in my cat-stuffed couch, gagged and blinded by the reeking stench and dizzy pain. Deaf, but to the sound of the harsh me-owww of the rocking chair. Care for me! I wanted to yell, to scream, to shriek. Care not for the cat, care for me! A sharp pain stabs my toe. The mouse skitters away from my foot to make yet another circuit of the room.
“Mew, mew, mew,” calls the old man as he is getting up. He is tired of waiting for me to answer his question. “Mew, mew, mew.”
Effervescent fire racing unchecked around my thighs and buttocks.
Fetid stench of blood and cat.
Dizzy from the inability to scratch away the itch in my nose and neck.
Mew, mew. Mew, mew.
Over and over and over again—spinning, spinning, spinning—whirling into a murky myriad of pain—confusion—cats! Cats. Cats. Cats. CATS!
Little brown mousie, scurrying busily. Around the room—over the floor—sniff, sniff—up the table leg—nibble the food—down the table leg—twitch—spot a nice morsel over my foot—MY FOOT?
Why? Why? WHY ME?
“AAUGH! GET OFF!” I shriek, standing up, letting go of my tissues. I scratch and scratch and scratch. To douse the fire, to relieve the itch. Wounds, long cat scratches, appear on my thighs, my neck, to accompany the ones already on my arms. I kick out and stomp the floor. It felt good to relieve the pressure building up behind my soul. The mouse—the cause of all my pain and misery—the target for my pain and misery. The misery and the jealously that tumbled out. “I can’t stand it anymore! I killed the cat!”