The doorbell-leaner was the postman, with a flattish cardboard package. “Looks like a new router maybe, Pete,” he said. For a moment, still trying to prise his eyelids open and squinting against the light, Pete squinted suspiciously at the man’s face, wondered how a postman knew his name. Then it came to him – Jerry. They’d been at school together, once, a long time ago. Jerry: quiet and dull. Wouldn’t say boo to a goose. No real challenge. Apart from the occasional routine beating for the purposes of extracting cash Pete had hardly noticed him. The loser had never had much worth stealing, anyway.
Jerry was sweating and obviously ill-at-ease. I’d sock you one in the eye just for old times’ sake, you fat git, thought Pete. Lucky for you I don’t feel up to it this morning.
Jerry cleared his throat. ‘That cat, Pete…’
‘What cat, Jerry?’
‘The little black one.’
‘I ain’t seen no cat, Jerry.’
‘Oh, I see, only…. only if you had seen it I was going to offer to take it off your hands, like. I’m fond of cats, see, Pete, and… well, I expect you’ve got enough on your hands, what with the wife…’
‘And what about my wife?’ he asked, pushing a bleary, unshaven face into Jerry’s and breathing stale alcohol. Jerry took a step back, and then another.
‘Oh, well nothing really, but… the cat, Pete. Were you looking to re-home it maybe? Only I’d be glad to take it off your hands, like. It’s just that one or two of the neighbours… the RSPCA… I didn’t want you to get into trouble, Pete. I just thought it might be a help if I could take that little cat off…’
Pete glanced sideways at the bloodied heap of fur on the far side of his debris-strewn living room.
‘Get lost,’ he snarled, and slammed the front door.
Pete watched from the side panel as his former classmate shuffled off up the garden path, and then down the neighbours’ path, edging sideways between a cast off plastic go-cart and a heap of old wooden pallets, his postman’s sack hunched over his shoulder. He looked miserable.
‘Dammit,’ thought Pete, and went through to the kitchen for a black sack. Whose wheelie bin am I going to dump it in?
When he got back he engineered some space amongst a pile of grubby, union jack scatter cushions and watched some TV; then, catching sight of the remains of a take-away curry mouldering on the coffee table in front of him, he rushed out and threw up in the sink. Feeling a bit better, he made himself a mug of black coffee and watched some more TV. Then the long, flat parcel caught his eye – his new router. Better fix that thing up before he started into the booze again, he supposed. He was looking forward to visiting that new gaming site they’d been advertising, as soon as the computer was up and running again. And then there was Hot Babes. He hadn’t had a look in on those Babes for a while.
Seized by a sudden impatience to get a tedious task out of the way Pete muted the TV, ripped open the cardboard box, tossed the instructions to one side and discovered that he was just about sober enough, by now, to plug in a few wires. He pressed the button on the top of the router and a promising blue light came on – yay! Then he hit the power button on his computer and waited for Google to come up. But it didn’t.
Something else did.
Featured Image: Tuxedo angel cat with peace dove heaven stained glass window: Cyra R Cancel, Florida