Spilt Milk

It had been a quiet morning for Dick Knipple. The kids had started back to school after the tortuous six week summer break and he had managed to get an hour’s lie in. He’d been up for ten minutes now and his head was just about regaining its conscious equilibrium. The sound of his wife vacuuming the living room, which had annoyed him intensely just a few minutes earlier, was now only mildly aggravating. He stood in front of the whits porcelain toilet evacuating his swollen bladder and gazed out of the window at the front garden, which was highlighted in the late summer morning sunlight. As he felt the relief of the mornings first pee sweep gently across his lower torso, he noticed a black cat scurry past the window.

“Clear off, you bastard,” he muttered.
The cat turned to look his way. It could not possibly have heard Dick’s curse, but was presumably aware of his presence and was beating a retreat to avoid the likelihood of a missile which might follow its progress. It paused only to look towards the source of the tell-tale sounds that had disturbed its investigation of Dick’s black refuse sack. The cat was one of four belonging to Sue Grewcock, a neighbour whose husband, Hugh, had failed to provide her with any children. As a result she had gathered this surrogate family about her.
Dick hated the cats. They came into his garden and urinated on his plants. They tore open his rubbish sacks for food scraps and dug holes in his borders. He had once owned a cat but it had left home and had last been seen on the small Council estate at the beginning of the next village. He had also had a number of dogs over the years. Since the last one had died – chasing a cat, possibly even this one – he had decided not to have any more animals. They were, he had decided, simply a nuisance and made a mess of his home with their hair, saliva and faeces. Having made this decision concerning his own potential pets, he was not about to tolerate the intrusion and incursion by the feline frippery of his neighbours.

The cat had by now disappeared up the garden path. It crossed the road and Dick could see it walking up the drive opposite, which lead behind the houses lining the main road. It jumped up onto the top of the fence surrounding the Grewcock’s back garden and onto the shed roof where it stopped, sat down and peered round towards Dick’s house. It lifted its back leg until the foot was pointing skywards and began licking its bottom, occasionally stopping and checking in Dick’s direction. It looked most peculiar when it was checking, with its head low down to the shed roof and its leg pointing up and the bulk of its body arched to one side, as if someone had cut off its head and placed it by its bottom.
With this image in his mind, and a broadening grin breaking across his face at the thought of making it a reality, he shook the drips off his penis, sheathed it and zipped up his trousers. Pushing open the bathroom door, he noticed a pile of letters lying on the mat where they had fallen after the late delivery. It was unusual, he thought, to get so many in the second post. Dick bent down to pick them up and noticed, coming from under the front door and trickling down the threshold, a stream of white liquid. Curious, he opened the front door and saw to his horror that a milk bottle had been upended and had lost its top. Its contents were spread in a roughly circular puddle about a yard across, the edge of which was disappearing into Dick’s house. There were feline footprints heading away up the path.

Furiously Dick bent down and picked up the empty bottle. He stood up sharply and glared in the direction in which he had last seen the cat. The cat had seen him come out of the door and had stopped its preening. It had jumped down from the shed and started to slope off along the drive away from Dick’s house. It was now about fifty yards from where Dick stood fuming, and was getting further away with each step. Without hesitation Dick leant back as if taking part in an Olympic field event.

“You absolute bastard,” he yelled at the top of his voice as he uncoiled his thrower’s stance, letting go the bottle on its fateful way. Foolishly, on hearing Dick’s outburst, the cat stopped and turned to see what the fuss was about. It stared straight at Dick and seemed not to notice the elevated trajectory of the bottle as it screamed down out of the air and exploded on the tarmac four feet in front of it. Glass shards sped across the driveway towards the cat. The startled black beast bolted in panic. To Dick’s great delight, it was so shocked by the unexpected bomb that it ran headlong into the side of a concrete garage and knocked itself unconscious, Dick was happy.
“Retribution at last,” he thought. “That’ll teach it.”

He knew it wouldn’t teach the cat anything really – except not to run into garages – and he knew that it would probably be back tomorrow to do the same thing. He was having a good morning now, though, and nothing could possibly bring him down. He turned to go in and noticed the torn refuse sack. He paused briefly to clear up the strewn vegetable peelings and tins, and then continued inside to have his breakfast.
Dick Knipple did not consider himself a violent man, nor even a cruel one, but the thoughts he was having now, about the fate of the next cat to cross his front garden path, were far from those of an animal lover. He felt justified in his murderous plotting because he so loved his garden. It was a source of joy and relaxation to him, and that was a precious thing in his world of daily misery.

He hated his job and despised those neighbours whose work seemed to bring them pleasure. They would return home from work as if they had been to the park and they always appeared to be equally as happy in the morning when they climbed into their shining new cars after having kissed their wives goodbye on the doorstep. He, on the other hand, had to face the daily worry of whether his old Ford Escort would start or simply fall into a heap of rust where it stood. It had given him so much trouble in the past six months that he dreaded going out in it in case it gave up the ghost somewhere inconvenient, like in the middle of the busy High Street of his local town, Romsey. He could imagine the people staring at him, getting more and more irate as he tried to push it out of the middle of the road. Why was it, he wondered that no-one ever stopped to help in a situation like that, but merely leaned on their hooters and increased the embarrassment of the poor person whose transportation had been sadly amputated.

© Richard Holt 2012

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