Rekindled Memories
by P.S.Gifford
forum: Rekindled Memories
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Rekindled Memories


          Mr. Archibald Jenkins lay there cocooned tight in his bed in his modest, secluded, Jamaican home.

          It 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.

          Archibald 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.

          "It 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."

          Archibald 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.

          "I 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 soul… I swears I haven't."

          As 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.

          "I never fit in…" he lamented.

          Then 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.

          The 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, certainly… But actual joy?

          He then shivered.

          "This is as good a place as any to die," he contemplated morbidly as he pulled the now soaked bedsheets even tighter about his quivering torso.

          It 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.

          "It is a cat… It is a god damn cat," he cried out loud in a combination of astonishment and amusement.

          Archibald sat upright and blinked several times.

          "That 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 her… 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."

          It was then that Archibald realized that something strange was happening to him… Tears were welling up in his eyes.

          "That was the first dead thing I ever saw…" he remembered.

          It 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.

         "The poor helpless thing is completely soaked, and appears to be half starved to death."

          Archibald 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 seemed—Archibald considered—almost now to be smiling… 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.

          "This 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 be different… 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!"

          Archibald 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.

          Minutes 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 years—despite all the verbal abuse he had thrown at her.

          "I need to do something nice for her and her family… Perhaps I 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…

          "Perhaps, just perhaps there is indeed another sequel inside of me… Yes, I think it might be time to write once more."

          Archibald peered about his sparse room that completely lacked color thoughtfully.

          "Yes," 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 laptop."

* * *

          It 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.

          "That storm was quite something last night," she said. "I was drenched from head to toe when I finally made it home."

          She spied the still open window.

          "What are you trying to do to yourself?" she said.

          It was when she tried to awaken Archibald that she let out a piercing scream.

          "He is dead, he is dead!" she cried as she allowed the breakfast tray to slip from her trembling fingers and crash against the wooden floor.

          "He is certainly dead, all right," Doctor Irons confirmed an hour later. "Has been for several hours now, judging by the look of him… 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… I don't understand." Tamara looked on as the doctor continued.

          "You 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.

          "Good god," the doctor exclaimed. "It appears to be cat's fur."



copyright 2006 P.S.Gifford.

P.S.Gifford calls Lake Forest, California home. His work can be found at