The cat formerly known as Bob

He sits watching the little bird as it drinks from the water fountain, its back low with its tail pointed out straight behind him, poised to strike at the feathery little creature.

‘BOB, YA WEE GINGER BASTARD, LEAVE IT ALONE!’

The small ginger tabby turns around and stares at Mockey as the bird flies away.

‘Get in here,’ he says as he stands on the top step holding the back door open.’Yer dinners ready, ya wee feline prick.’

The cat continues to stare at him for a moment, contemplating his existence, and then he walks off, disappearing behind the garden shed.

‘Fucking arsehole cat,’ says Mockey as he lifts a bingo flyer off the kitchen worktop.

He folds it repeatedly, then bends over and tucks it in the bottom of the door, holding it open should the cat wish to return.

-Ah feel rough as fuck, he thinks to himself as he lifts the cat's bowl and puts it down on the floor, turning his head away from the vile-smelling cat food.

He sticks his head outside, one last time, the cold fresh air adding to his jitters. The cat is walking in between some bushes; its little ginger paws treading through the dirt.

‘You can stay out there then, ya smelly wee bastard,’ Mockey says, shaking his head before heading into the living room.

‘Where’s Bob? Is he ok?’ Asks Nan as she sits in her favourite chair, peering at him over the top of her little penny spectacles.

‘Aye, he’s brand new; just playing in the garden. His foods out. He’ll come back in soon.’

‘Did you see his limp?’ Asks Nan still very much concerned.

‘What limp? He’s fine: he’s out the back stalking birds for fuck sake.’

‘That’s enough of that language, young man.’

‘Cool, Nan, sorry,’ says Mockey, offering up the apology with the knowledge that he needs ten pounds.

‘I’ve phoned an appointment for him at the vet, but my legs are swollen and my back is sore: could you be a wee gem and take him there for me? It’s in an hour at Jamestown Main Street. You know the place?’

‘Aye, but there’s nothing…’

‘ — He’s all I’ve got to keep me company. I would hate for anything to happen to him. Be a dear, will you, and take him? I’ve paid the vet over the phone, but you’ll need bus fare. Pass me my bag.’

‘Okay no probs,’ says Mockey, ‘a’l take him.’

He bends down and grabs her bag placing it in her lap. His tea-shirt sticks to his back as he watches her rummage for her purse.

-Aw God, thinks Mockey, a’l have to hurry before this withdrawal kicks in full pelt, with a bit of luck the little ginger cunt has fucked off anyway.

‘You’re a good boy,’ she says opening her purse, unable to read his mind.

‘At your service, Nan; anything for you.’ Mockey forces a broad smile struggling against the cold shudders deep within his body.

‘Meow,’ Bob says, announcing his presence as he enters the room.

‘Awe Bob, there you are my little petal.’

-Och no man, thinks Mockey with a deep inward sigh.

She goes into her purse and pulls out a five-pound note and three coins.

‘Oh, I’ve only got eight pounds,’ she says shaking her head.

-Fuckin typical, thinks Mockey, ‘that’s fine Nan,’ he says through gritted teeth as a bead of sweat rolls down his forehead.

‘Meow,’ says the cat again, brushing up against his legs.

-Al have to tap two quid on the way round,’ he thinks, as he stares down at his little ginger problem.

‘His carrier is in the hall, you’ll need it, he’ll struggle.’

She hands him the eight pounds. Not wishing to waste any more time, he takes the money, bends down and lifts Bob up in his arms.

Mockey gets Bob into the hall and pulls the door shut behind him. Bob struggles and drops to the floor. Mockey sees the bright pink carrier.

-No fucking way, man, he says into himself as he slides a well-worn bag for life over the cats arse, while face shoving the poor ginger tabby into its new makeshift carrier.

‘Thanks, Nan,’ he says poking his head into the living room, then awkwardly pulling the handle down on the front door. He opens it and heads out and down the path: kicking the little gate open and walking out onto the street.

Mockey walks through the housing scheme, carrying his eight-pound clenched in his right hand: while holding the bagged ginger tabby against his chest with his left hand and both arms.

‘Meow.’

‘Awe, shut fucking up, Bob.’

‘Meow.’

‘You’re not going to the vet, there’s fuck all wrong with you. Once ah get two quid together am going to have a burn. We’ll sit for a while then a’l take you home. Nan will be none the wiser. A’l be squared up and you can go back to hunting birds or whatever it is you do, you sick little fuck.’

‘Meow.’

-Not a fucking soul in sight; where am I going to get this two-quid from,’ thinks Mockey as he gets closer to the dealer’s street.

‘Meow.’

‘Do you think he’ll tick me, Bob? Or better yet, let me off with it?’

‘Meow.’

‘No, yer right: it’s never been known, but I get on well with him and shy kids never get any sweets, do they, Bob?’

‘Meow.’

‘Okay, Bob, al take your advice and give it a go.’

Mockey heads up the front of the close steps and through the painted blue door with the broken intercom system. He bolts up the stairs two at a time still holding Bob tightly against his chest. He’s sees the big brown door, with a hole crudely drilled at eye level. He lifts the letterbox flap awkwardly, and lets it fall once.

-CHAP!

He stands there, with the cat in the bag, each moment feeling like an eternity, wondering if his efforts will come to anything. The flap flips up. Mockey bends down and looks through the letterbox. A set of unfamiliar eyes stares out at him. They’re yellow where they’re supposed to be white, sunken in and angry looking.

‘What you looking for?’ says the man.

‘Is Dante there?’

‘He’s sleeping.’

‘It’s just I’m two-pound short for a deal and I know the big man well; if only I could see him: I’m sure he’ll be fine with it.’

‘Naw, mate,’ says the voice as the flap snaps shut.

‘Fucksake,’ mutters Mockey as the cat struggles in the bag, bouncing its head off his chin, beads of sweats rolling down the back of his neck.

He awkwardly lifts the letterbox flap up and then lets it fall– again.

-CHAP!

The flap flips up. Mockey bends down still holding the cat in the bag tightly against his chest.

‘FUCK SAKE! Says the irritated voice, ten-pound notes only, now fuck off, before I come out there and throw you and whatever that ginger ball of hair that’s sticking out that stupid fucking farm foods bag that your holding right down those fucking stairs.’

‘What’s all the commotion?’ Says another voice from deep behind the door.

‘IT’S ME, DANTE, IT’S MOCKEY,’ he shouts past the set of highly irritated eyes. ‘CAN I SEE YOU FOR A MOMENT?’

Dante pushes the man out the road, bends down and looks through the letterbox.

‘What is it that I can do that my esteemed colleague can’t take care of?’

‘A’l go out there and kick his baws,’ shouts the man from deeper behind the door.

‘Am just looking for two quid tick, a’l get it to you later, ah promise,’ says Mockey in a pathetic sounding tone.

‘What’s that you’re holding?’

‘It’s my Nan’s cat.’

There’s movement behind the door. The sound of planks of wood being shifted. Then one after another locks open.

-Click.

-Click.

-Click.

The door opens wide and Dante appears. He’s a large man with messy grey hair. His face looks unusually thin. His presence would normally be intimidating, if it wasn’t for his big cheesy grin and overfriendly eyes.

‘Awe so cute.’ He says stroking Bob’s chin as his head pops out the top of the bag.

Bob purrs loudly.

‘He likes me,’ says Dante sounding happy.

‘This is Bob,’ says Mockey, keen to strike up a rapport with the dealer.

‘Meow.’

‘Hello, Bob,’ says Dante.

Mockey rolls his eyes.

‘I was wondering if you could tick me two pounds on a bag?’

‘Oh, sorry we don’t do credit, but how about I give you a bag for the cat?’

‘What?’

‘Awe for crying out loud,’ goes the voice from inside the house.

‘I… I couldn’t; it’s my Nan’s cat. It would destroy…’

‘ — That’s ok. I understand,’ says Dante turning away from Mockey and the cat and walking slowly back into his house.

‘TWO BAGS,’ shouts Mockey.

The words come out of his mouth, loud, sharp, and clear. Dante turns around sporting a huge smile.

‘It’s a deal,’ he says with his arms outstretched. ‘Twenty quid for this little guy is a fucking bargain!’

‘Awe, fuck me, Jesus,’ says the irritated voice again from inside the house.’

‘You shut the fuck up, mate,’ he says throwing a glance at the door then looking back at Mockey. ‘Just canny get the staff these days.’

‘No, I guess not,’ replies Mockey his bottom lip starts trembling as his eyes fill up slightly.

Dante waves his fingers come here, signalling Mockey to part with that cat. He hands him over. The cat struggles slightly, its claws now poking through the bag, digging into his jumper pulling on it a little. Dante takes the cat.

‘Jonesy, get out here and give this lad two bags.’

‘For fuck sake,’ says Jonesy, walking out the door, giving Mockey the evil eye and placing two wraps in his open hand. Then stands slightly behind Dante.

‘Cheers.’ Says Mockey unsure whether to laugh or cry.

Dante lets the cat out of the bag, then holds Bob up in the air with one arm and looks at him. Bob wraps his legs around it obscuring a couple of tattoos and digging its claws in. Trickles of blood roll down over a half-faded union jack on his forearm. They go completely unnoticed by the big man.

‘Who the fuck names a cat — Bob? I mean come on, that’s pathetic.’ Says Dante as his cheesy grin turns to a harsh scowl.

‘Meow,’

‘See,’ he says turning to Mockey.

‘It was my Nan, she named him that.’

‘Well he’s not called that now. We’re calling him Graeme, that’s a proper name for a cat. After Graeme Souness. A fucking legend.’

‘A fucking orange bastard,’ says Jonesy.

‘You shut the fuck up, pape face,’ says Dante, walking past him and back into the house carrying Graeme Souness over his shoulder.

Jonesy leans towards Mockey. ‘Am gonna kill that orange bastard,’ he says.

Mockey stares at Jonesy then looks down at the floor.

‘Fuck off now, wee man,’ says Jonesy as Mockey turns quickly and heads back down the stairs.

He stares at Graeme down the hallway. Graeme stares back at him over Dante’s shoulder.

‘Don’t fuck with cats? He questions with a sinister tone under his breath as he steps back in the house and closes the door behind him.

--

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They tell you it’s tough at the top, but it’s a lot tougher at the bottom. Short stories: Drugs. Violence. Dark humour. ✍️🤓

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Alan Cope

Alan Cope

They tell you it’s tough at the top, but it’s a lot tougher at the bottom. Short stories: Drugs. Violence. Dark humour. ✍️🤓

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