“Insurance – on that!” He pointed a lump of a hand at my house. “Would you like life insurance?” He donated a leer. 

I helped him into his car and slid his crutch through the window. He hit the knob of his gammy knee with the heel of his hand to make some sort of a connection between foot and clutch – and off he went tantwivy down the street.

But he was right. The place was a wreck because Mac the Mouse ran a bawdy nugging house for little grey fellows. I needed a cat.

A huge woman sold pets.

  “I want a cat please.”

She pulled a thin turtle from a tea-chest and tossing her cigarette out the window said: “How about that?”

  “It’s not a cat.”

  “People!” She threw the turtle back into the tea-chest and extracted a damp cat. “How much do you want – half or the whole edifice?”

I backed away. The cat was neck-dropped in on top of a green lizard.

All advice now led to an exclusive cat salon.

  “Monsieur would like a long-haired – no?”

What monsieur wanted was a killer. She picked up from a cushion a thing with hair so long it couldn’t see. Maybe it had glimpsed things as a child – but now fed on memories.

  “Something not blind.”

Mac would have enjoyed Zeitz. Mademoiselle helped him to his feet. He stood unaided all by himself. The Siamese chanced a few steps. We were getting somewhere.

  “Would it need . . . you know . . . special food?”

  “No monsieur, the chopped rab-bit”

  “And an occasional mouse?” We both laughed at the thought.

Suddenly behind the Siamese a huge cat launched itself into the air and caught a fly in its paws. Two minutes later The Flyer sat in the back of my car.

That night Mac led the parade out of the remains of what used to be a wall.They fanned across the room. Two heavily pregnant ladies waddled at a hobbledygee and took their ease where a go-by-the-wall grandmother already sat. To The Flyer these were his kind of mice, guys with personalities. I leaned against the remains of the grandfather clock – and watched.

The cat unsheated his claws. Now we were really getting somewhere. “Action! Take one – anyone. Take Mac.”

Launching himself into the air the cat caught a fly.Then he lay on his back, his claws hopelessly entangled with the fly within. 

I stared at Mac.He stared back. Behind him the door fell off its hinges.


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