Gemma’s cat launched himself from the window ledge where he had been lying in the sun and landed on Cameron’s stomach. He was lying on his back on the couch. He went “oof!” rolled over and fell on the floor. The cat yowled, and scrabbled to get out from under him. He scratched him for good measure, and took off. Cameron lay there for a moment, winded. Luckily the carpet had cushioned his fall.
He hated that cat although he had wisely never told Gemma. The feeling was mutual. He examined the scratch. It bled just a little. He loved Gemma, but the cat really had to go. Trouble was, she loved it as much as she loved him, so she said. What to do. The cat, inappropriately named Cuddles, was back on the ledge, glaring balefully at him. He clambered to his feet, and went to the bathroom where he dabbed antiseptic on the scratch. When he returned, Cuddles was gone. He wondered where the little monster had gone.
He plopped down on the couch. There was a squelching sound, then the vilest smell assailed his nostrils.
He shot up. Cuddles had left him a present. The back of his shorts was covered, the smell overwhelming. The couch hadn’t fared any better. Gemma would be so pissed. She loved that couch. The upside, the cat had done it, maybe she’d get rid of it now.
‘Highly unlikely’, he thought dismally.
He gingerly removed his shorts, carried it to the washing machine in the laundry and emptied almost an entire bottle of disinfectant over it. He knew it was overkill but the smell was unbearable. And what about the couch. He used the remaining disinfectant on it, found a can of air freshener and sprayed it at the stain and all around. That was all he could think of to do. And where had the damned cat gotten to? Cuddles was nowhere to be seen.
He debated whether to ring Gemma and tell her, but she was having lunch with her girlfriends, and would definitely not appreciate that kind of news. He thought cats only did their business in their litter trays. In fact, there was one in the bathroom which Cuddles normally used. This was targeted at him, for sure. The cat resented him moving in with Gemma, and was not happy his territory had been encroached upon. Maybe he would just go to the pub for a bit and leave the place to him. Decision made, he donned a new pair of shorts, grabbed his keys and headed out the door. He got into his car and backed down the driveway. He glanced back at the house and saw Cuddles. He was on the roof.
Gemma’s home was a two-storey unit. He must have gotten out of the upstairs bedroom window. He was about to drive off when he saw him slide down the slope of the roof until stopped by the protruding gutter to which he clung. Cameron watched, waiting in anticipation for the cat to fall. He didn’t, clinging on for dear life. He swore, then drove back up the driveway. If Cuddles fell, nine lives notwithstanding, he’d be killed, or at least seriously injured. He would be blamed. Gemma was irrational where the cat was concerned.
He sighed, got out of the car and went upstairs. He pushed open the window Cuddles had exited, it was just big enough for him to climb through, but then what. He’d probably slide down as well and end up splattered on the concrete below, alongside the damned cat.
Wait a minute, he had a tow rope in the car. He could lower himself down, get Cuddles that way. He retrieved the rope, secured one end to the post of the bed in the room, and climbed out. As he anticipated, the bed moved, but only as far as the wall beneath the window. Satisfied it was safe, he continued down until he reached Cuddles, who gave him a look as if to say, ‘What kept you?’ He grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and pulled him up with difficulty as he still clung ferociously to the gutter. Once free, Cuddles wriggled, then dug his claws into Cameron’s body. He let him go. The cat clawed his way up his body, up the rope and through the window without a backward look.
Cameron hauled himself up painfully, sure he must be bleeding from the cat’s scratches. Ungrateful bitch. He didn’t care if it was the wrong sex or animal. Once inside, he secured his gear, pushed back the bed, and found, surprisingly, that there was no blood, the scratches were only superficial. Back in the lounge room, he subsided into his recliner chair that he had brought over, with Gemma’s reluctant agreement.
“It doesn’t match the rest of the furniture,” she pointed out. Good thing Cuddles hadn’t left his present there. He would definitely have killed him, consequences be damned. He stretched out and was soon asleep.
It was there that Gemma found them, her two loved ones. Cameron, she noted with surprise had Cuddles curled up on his lap. One snoring, the other purring, although she did wonder at the strange smell in the room.
It was Sunday afternoon. Cameron and Gemma were sitting in the lounge room. The couch, at her insistence, had been professionally cleaned and deodorised. He thought it a bit of overkill. Once it dried, there had been no smell and hardly any stain, but she had been adamant. Now she sat on her nice clean couch frowning at her iPad, while he sat on his recliner reading the Sunday paper. Cuddles strolled into the room, tail held high.
Gemma’s face lit up. She put down the iPad, held out her arms.
“Cuddles, come to Mommy,” she called.
Cameron squirmed. He hated when she did that as if the cat was a child. Cuddles ignored her, stalked over to him, turned around a few times, then hopped up on to his lap, forcing him to lift up his newspaper. He looked at Gemma. Her face was like thunder. She was not at all pleased. He didn’t know what to say. She was bad-tempered at the best of times, this was going to be his fault, he just knew it.
She folded her arms.
‘Here it comes,’ he thought.
Through gritted teeth, she said, “You are aware, are you not, that Cuddles is my cat?”
“Then why do you insist on monopolising him?”
He was aghast.
“But I’m not,” he protested.
“He chose me. I didn’t ask him to jump on my lap. I don’t even like him much.”
“You don’t like him?” Her voice rose.
She got up and started pacing up and down.
“I rescued him from the animal shelter. I gave him a home, I nursed him when he had cat flu, I loved him! And he goes to you and you don’t even like him!”
She was getting hysterical. Was she talking to him or the cat? He wasn’t sure.
He scooped Cuddles up, struggled out of his chair, dropped his newspaper and held him out to her.
“Here, take him.”
“I don’t want him if he doesn’t want me!” she almost yelled at him. She turned and stormed out of the room. He stared after her, still holding Cuddles who was purring contentedly, oblivious of the fury he had just unleashed. What the hell was he supposed to do now.
“I should have let you fall off the roof,” he told the cat. Disconsolately, he sat down again, absently smoothing his fur. He purred even louder. If this happened over a cat, what would happen if, further along in their relationship, the question of children came up. A long way off for sure, but would he want this apparently unstable woman to be the mother of his children? And children would figure in his future, he was sure of that. Maybe she was just stressed over something else.
He decided to go and talk to her.
He stood up, put Cuddles on the floor, and walked into the bedroom where Gemma was sitting on the edge of the bed. She raised her hand.
“Before you say anything, I’ve made a decision. I’m sorry but I’ve come to realise that I can’t trust you. If you can steal the affections of my cat from me, heaven only knows what will happen whenever I leave you alone with any of my girlfriends. I’m breaking up with you.”
He stared at her, stunned. This was a huge leap. He opened his mouth, then shut it. What could he say? She had obviously made up her mind. In view of his previous thoughts, he didn’t know whether he was sad or relieved.
Cuddles came in and rubbed against his legs.
“Go, and take that treacherous bitch with you!” she yelled.
“And I would appreciate it if you could remove that hideous chair as soon as possible,” she added.
‘He’s a cat, not a dog, not even female,’ he thought silently but held his tongue. He returned to the lounge room, retrieved his newspaper, picked up his car keys, and exited the front door. He’d go and stay with his mother, who’d never quite taken to Gemma. He still had his bedroom and some clothes there. He would pick up his stuff including the chair some other time. Hopefully when Gemma had calmed down a bit. He had no intention of taking the cat. Cuddles stood at the front door and watched him open the car door, then came bounding over and jumped in after him. He gaped in amazement. Cats didn’t do that, did they? This one did. Maybe it did think it was a dog.
He drove off. Cuddles squirmed over and settled in his lap. Well, he’d just lost a girlfriend and gained a cat. Not quite the way he ever figured this Sunday would end. But as he rubbed the cat’s furry back and his purr radiated through his body, maybe he’d gotten the better end of the deal. He hoped his next girlfriend liked cats.