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The Cat with No Eyes - Short Story by Louise M. Hart

It was a chill January morning. A stranger approached 11 Allan Poe Close. He stared at the house’s boarded windows and wiped away a tear. Mrs Nopperson, who lived nearby, surveyed the man with puzzlement, for the stranger cast an elegant figure. Tall and stylishly dressed, he looked incongruous with the dreary and conventional surroundings.

Mrs Nopperson advanced towards him, her curiosity aroused like a hormonal teenager. He continued to stare ahead; apparently oblivious to her nearing presence, though she sensed he had seen her. “Proper eyesore, isn’t it?” she began.

Last summer, the stranger relocated to middle England. A stray from his native northern climes, he was an escapee from reality who favoured isolationism and self-hatred to social interaction and fleshy emotionalism. Like Steppenwolf, he rarely ventured outdoors, choosing rather to make love to the shadows of his own despicable and tempestuous thoughts.

The stranger always concealed his intentions from domestic view. But, crossing paths with Mrs Nopperson thwarted his secret campaign. His noble brow, usually adorning a practiced frown, smoothened with feigned displays of interest. He even forced a smile.

“Did you want to see where IT happened... all those years ago?” Mrs Nopperson asked. His interest piqued, the stranger suddenly turned his head towards the wretched woman. Perceiving her inauspicious reflection in his mirror glasses, he observed her adjust her floral blouse and smooth her hair. He vaguely smiled again, revealing a set of cheekbones that only an aristocrat or a crack addict could possess. Mrs Nopperson’s heart missed a beat and she began to tell a tale, a tale to twist the mind and unsettle the quiescent soul.

 

Built during the post-war boom years, the Blackwood estate formerly epitomised the solidity and dependability of 1950’s British working-class life. But, behind the houses’ bricks and mortar, lurked struggle and disquiet, psychical unrest and the doom-sated torments of the body, soul and the tortured mind. In disingenuous Blackwood, backstabbers and social butterflies existed as symbiotic bedfellows, feeding off each other’s neuroses and soup. Each resident told many stories and every story enunciated lies.

Nanny B moved to 11 Alan Poe Close in the 1960’s. The Mother of a daughter and wife of a factory worker, life had never been better. But, in 1974 her daughter bore the child of the friendly, local drugs dealer. Thereafter, she left home pushing a pram and cannabis in order to work on street corners with a monkey on her back. A year later Nanny’s husband died from a massive heart attack. Life had been better.

Nanny lost contact with her daughter, but in 1992 her now adult grandchild knocked on her door. She looked into his eyes and saw not herself, as she had hoped, but the effects of the extra strong cider he had been drinking. He was, though, her kin, and seemed eager to know her.

He visited her for about an hour and promised to return again, soon. Ostensibly a bright and diligent young man, Nanny offered to help him resolve his current financial issues. He left her house smiling and £20 richer.

Nanny no longer enjoyed going out. Gangs of troubled youths often congregated outside the corner shop where she bought milk, newspapers and basic groceries. Although the rapacious rabble rarely bothered her, they cast a menacing shadow over the neighbourhood. This particular day was different. As she left the shop, a moon-faced boy deliberately kicked out his foot and tripped her to the ground.

Helpless and pitifully vulnerable she laid on the ground, an old woman in fraying skin. The braying mob cackled above her, like a pack of hyenas salivating over their defeated prey. Nanny struggled to her feet and fought back tears, as she made her way home.

Nanny B limped through her front door into her modest abode. Collapsing into her favourite armchair, she brushed away the tears that drowned her papery cheeks and searched her mantelpiece for the small piece of paper on which her grandson had written his phone number. She was about to reach for the phone when she felt something rub against her ankles. Startled, she looked down and saw a cat.

How the creature had entered the house, she did not know. But, in appearance, he was a wretchedly poor example of his own kind. Pathetically thin, his fur was coloured black and unhealthily dull apart from a small, white triangle of fur on his chest where his heart should have been.

Nanny reached down and lifted the cat to her slack belly. He fed greedily off the warmth she radiated and purred volubly. She noticed that he possessed no eyes and felt her heart grow heavy with the weight of unshed tears. She pitied the ailing and fragile creature even more than she pitied herself and continued to grasp his bony form, as though validating him would somehow validate her, too. She wondered what cruel and hideous acts had befallen him.

After eating a tin of tuna he curled up on her lap, falling into a deep and restful sleep. He distracted her from her painful thoughts and feelings. So, she decided to postpone the phone call to her grandson and, rather, concentrate on a worthier existent.

The cat spent the rest of the day following Nanny around the house. Had she not known differently, she would swear that he possessed perfect vision. Not even once did he stumble or bang into furniture or other items scattered around the house.



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