She was the scarlet pimpernel of cats. A thunderstorm was looming and the sun had already set and she had not made her way inside though it was her dinnertime and she was a stickler about that. Hail was forecast. Go outside and rattle the tin, I was ordered. I’m having an early night. Fair enough. A cold will do that to you.
On and off for the next four hours I did as I was instructed, rattling the biscuit tin, calling her name. Only the hail answered. If she was on the roof again, she’d be a soggy, sorry cat. Occasionally between downpours I’d check the road with the torch on my iPhone for something flat, gingery and blood-stained. Fortunately there was nothing. The Scarlet Pimpernel of cats was indeed elusive.
Around eleven I packed it in and slumped asleep.
Did you find her? came a text message next door. I’m scared.
No, I messaged. ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
In the morning preparing two bowls of cereal I opened the pantry door and out popped a cat! She headed straight for her bowl, wofing down the food from last night. I checked the pantry for tell-tale signs of toilet distress but there were none. How did you go for so long without doing a wee? I asked.
I read about the sad shopping centre, the one that’s going to close in Surrey Hills and turf out all the shoppers who like to hang out in the down-at-heel coffee shop where even broken light bulbs are not replaced, all the lonely people.
I read about how it’s going to close anytime soon, maybe tomorrow, next week, how it’s going to be replaced by shiny new apartments purchased by a Chinese business conglomerate, that there’s going to be flashy new shops to replace the deadbeat ones, the shuttered ones. Only the liquor store is thriving, all the lonely people.
I think of a world that’s closing down. Hotels, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, stadiums, places where people congregate. The city is emptying. People are retreating, even the parks have fewer people, the beaches and winter is closing in. It’s like a city that a neutron bomb has hit, all the lonely people.
People shuffle back to their homes from the seedy shopping centre, the old, the destitute, the disabled, the friendless, not knowing if they’ll have somewhere to go next week, somewhere to meet up. Winter is closing in. And the Fear. And now the churches and libraries are closing too. All the lonely people.