Archibald Jenkins lay there cocooned tight in his bed in his modest,
secluded, Jamaican home.
had been ten years since he had made the dramatic decision to retire
from twenty years in the public eye as a successful horror writer,
sell up his vast coastal estate in the hustle and bustle of Miami,
Florida, and retire. There was much debate in the media as to what
prompted such curious actions. The truth was, the older Archibald
got, the more and more he comprehended that he simply despised being
around people. He also discovered, to his utmost delight, that the
more wealth he accumulated, the less he had to actually deal with
them on a one to one basis. In fact, for the last seven years, he
only tolerated one person, Tamara, his housekeeper. After a succession
of housekeepers quickly quitting his employment, she had been the
one to stick it out. It was Tamara who for twelve hours a day six
days a week tended to the house and garden and prepared all of his
meals quietly and efficiently.
first experienced the flu symptoms taking over his body two weeks
prior. The local physician, a certain Doctor Irons, had been promptly
called by the concerned Tamara. He had quickly responded to the
call, and swiftly arrived at the property only to have hastily been
thrown out again by Archibald, with a healthy barrage of expletives.
appears that your employer is just suffering from a bad case of
influenza," he managed to inform Tamara as he made his departure.
"He needs plenty of rest and he should be right as rain in
a few weeks."
chastised Tamara for calling the doctor, who after serving him a
mug of warm milk and honey also bid a hasty retreat, and headed
on home for the evening. Tamara shook her head in frustration as
she exited the front door into the cold, blustery wet evening, muttering
as she went.
knows perfectly well that he pays me real good money, but in all
my sixty-three years I never have met such a cantankerous and ill-spirited
I swears I haven't."
Archibald listened to the front door close, he felt a sense of relief,
as he did each night as she departed, for he was then left, as he
preferred, all alone. Several minutes passed as the storm continued
to brew. Suddenly, as the rain began to beat down forcefully on
the roof, he began to feel as if his body were actually burning
up and a heavy sweat encased his entire body. As he lay there in
complete misery, he began to take full inventory of his life, as
only a dying man might. He began to consider his pitiful childhood,
how his parents had sent him away to boarding schools. He remembered
his university education and how he had been scorned and teased
by his schoolmates for being shy and awkward.
never fit in
" he lamented.
he fondly reminisced how, on the verge of certain complete insanity,
he had locked himself in a tiny rented one room apartment, and over
the course of just four months typed his very first novel, the book
that was the beginning of a flourishing and highly profitable career.
storm continued to batter against the house, and just for a moment
he wondered if Tamara had made the journey safely to her house,
for it was a twenty-minute walk. Then, realizing that he did not
particularly care if she truly had made it home safely, he
began to wonder if he had ever actually cared for anything.
Then his throbbing mind reflected even further and considered if
he had ever known true happiness in his sad life. Wealth and success,
But actual joy?
is as good a place as any to die," he contemplated morbidly
as he pulled the now soaked bedsheets even tighter about his quivering
was then he heard it, incredibly faint at first, yet the sound seemed
to spark something within him. The more he concentrated, the more
distinct and apparent the soft sound became.
is a cat
It is a god damn cat," he cried out loud in
a combination of astonishment and amusement.
sat upright and blinked several times.
is it," he realized as a half-hearted smile seemed to transform
his usual bitter features. "I did indeed know happiness once
and perhaps even love. I must have been nine or ten years old
It was the summer break from school and I had been out playing by
myself as I always did
I had come across a kitten drowning
in the river. I remember it looked so helpless and pitiful. I, without
thinking, jumped in and pulled it out. Yes, yes, it is all coming
back to me! How could I have forgotten? I wrapped the kitten in
my arms and raced on home. I kept it secretly in my room, too afraid
to tell my parents, convinced that they would not allow me to keep
I kept her there in an old shoe box under my bed
I should have called the vet
But I was only a child
I did not understand. It was not my fault."
was then that Archibald realized that something strange was happening
Tears were welling up in his eyes.
was the first dead thing I ever saw
" he remembered.
was then he heard the cat meowing even louder, and he looked up
and met the cat's pitiful gaze through the pane of glass. She was
perched awkwardly on the narrow outside window edge, gently pawing
at the glass. Archibald studied the strange sight for a few moments.
poor helpless thing is completely soaked, and appears to be half
starved to death."
then focused his attention to the mug of warm milk and honey that
Tamara had, despite the nasty things he had said to her, left on
his bedside table. He wondered if he was strong enough to climb
out of bed and let his unexpected night caller in. Archibald studied
the cat again, who looked from his gaze as if he could read his
thoughts, and seemedArchibald consideredalmost now to
With all the effort he could muster, he assertively
pushed aside the bed covers, sat himself upright and let his naked
feet dangle and then finally touch the cool bare wood floor.
cat is just what I need to make me feel better," he considered
as he awkwardly stumbled out of the bed. "This time it will
I will find the best vet in all of Jamaica if
I have to. That cat is a godsend, that is what he is. Damn, I haven't
felt this good in years!"
made his way over to the window and, as the cat looked on in apparent
bemusement, unlatched it and attempted to force it open... The window
refused to budge. It was then that the cat began to meow furiously
and continued to claw at the glass. Archibald once more studied
the pathetic creature, then, gathering together all of his strength,
pried the window open just two or three scant inches. It was enough
as the peculiar tiny cat, exhibiting a feat of unfathomable dexterity,
managed to squeeze inside.
later, Mr. Jenkins was once more back in the warmth of his bed.
The little black cat had been dried off and was sitting smugly on
the bedcovers, ravenously supping on the warm milk and honey from
a saucer. Archibald allowed his old wrinkled fingers to fondle the
scrawny little body as she ate, and she purred in satisfaction.
Archibald could not help but laugh. All at once he began to experience
thoughts that he hadn't since he was young innocent child; warm,
happy and gentle thoughts. He fondly considered Tamara who had taken
care of him so well and patiently over the yearsdespite all
the verbal abuse he had thrown at her.
need to do something nice for her and her family
should send them all on a nice two-week cruise. It is the least
I can do for her having to put up with me for all of these years."
Shaking his head in embarrassment, he then pondered his publisher,
the one he left high and dry after years of success, simply refusing
to write anymore
just perhaps there is indeed another sequel inside of me
I think it might be time to write once more."
peered about his sparse room that completely lacked color thoughtfully.
he decided contentedly as he rubbed the cat's ears, "things
are going to be a lot different from here on out. Tomorrow we are
going to redecorate this old place, and I am going to get me a new
* * *
was early the following morning when Tamara arrived back at the
house. Fifteen minutes later, she entered Archibald's bedroom, armed
with his usual morning cup of tea, toast and marmalade.
storm was quite something last night," she said. "I was
drenched from head to toe when I finally made it home."
spied the still open window.
are you trying to do to yourself?" she said.
was when she tried to awaken Archibald that she let out a piercing
is dead, he is dead!" she cried as she allowed the breakfast
tray to slip from her trembling fingers and crash against the wooden
is certainly dead, all right," Doctor Irons confirmed an hour
later. "Has been for several hours now, judging by the look
But, no it wasn't from the flu; in fact, it seems as
if the worst of that was over. It looks as if the fever had finally
broken. He should have been well on the road to recovery
don't understand." Tamara looked on as the doctor continued.
see, it wasn't the influenza that killed him
It appears that
he died from asphyxiation, but how, I don't yet understand
Let me have a closer look." Suddenly the doctor's eyed peeled
wide open in obvious alarm, as he reached over and pulled something
from the back of the dead man's mouth.
god," the doctor exclaimed. "It appears to be cat's fur."