Today’s writing prompt brought to you from, “Writing prompts that don’t suck.”
Ryan was standing on the doorstep with a suitcase.
‘So. Sophie finally kicked you out,’ I said, smirking.
‘The case,’ I said gesturing to it.
‘Oh, this? Nah. It’s a cat. I need you to help me get rid of it.’ He pushed past me and walked into the house. I followed, trying to work out if I had heard him right.
‘I’m sorry, what’s in the case?’
‘A cat. An evil cat.’ He turned and looked at me seriously. ‘Steve, I really hate cats.’
‘I know you do. Why do you have one?’
He shrugged, dumping the case on the ground and making himself comfortable on the couch. A muffled wail came from the bag. ‘It’s Sophie’s. Well not really. It’s her grandmother’s. Or was. But she died and instead of leaving her only granddaughter some money or maybe a nice necklace, she left her an evil, soul-eating feline, with one of those fake, glitter collars.’
‘The cat eats souls?’
‘No, the cat eats pizza!’
‘Ah,’ I said knowingly. Ryan was a pretty reasonable guy most of the time, but when it came to pizza he turned into a crazy person.
‘We need to get rid of it.’
‘What exactly are you proposing?’ I asked, knowing there was no point in trying to talk sense into him until he had said what he was going to say.
‘I want to send it back to grandma.’
I looked at him open-mouthed. ‘Ryan! We are not killing the cat!’
‘Who said anything about killing the cat?! I just want you to drop it off in the cemetery for me.’
‘Just let it go? To live in the cemetery?’
‘Yes. Unless you think that maybe it will find its way home again. Maybe we could tie it to something and…’
‘Dude! Just stop! This is terrible! We are not tying up the cat, or leaving it anywhere!’
‘Why?’ He looked genuinely confused, which left me genuinely concerned.
‘Because it’s an animal! And it’s not ok to hurt or abandon animals for any reason, let alone because they eat pizza.’
‘It got into the fridge and stole it.’
‘I don’t… wait, what?’
‘That’s what I’m saying man!’ He stood up, his arms gesturing emphatically. ‘I bought pizza and I put the left-overs in the fridge on Saturday…’
‘You had left-overs?’
‘No. Sophie did. I had already eaten two pizzas, and I wanted to save the extra slices for lunch the next day. So I put them in the fridge, and the cat was watching me as I did it. Those tiny beady eyes of hers fixated on the cardboard box like lasers on a blackboard.’
‘Weird metaphor but ok.’
‘Anyway, I woke up at 2 in the morning, and was hungry, so I went to get the rest, and it was gone. But he!’ He pointed wildly at the case, ‘was asleep in the empty box!’ Ryan’s eyes glimmered with a terrifying fanaticism, that could only be fixed with one thing.
‘Hey man, I’ve got some pizza. Would you like some?’
He looked towards the kitchen as a dehydrated man in a desert looks towards a mirage, his feet moving before he could even answer the question.
‘Hang on a second Ry,’ I said, standing up. ‘I’ll give you the pizza on one condition.’
He turned at looked at me, his expression moving from confusion, to curiosity to something just short of fearful malice. ‘What?’ he asked, his voice as cold as the slice of Meat Lovers in the fridge.
‘You have to promise to take the cat home, and look after it.’
‘What? Why?’ If he was as close to being the petulant toddler he sounded like, it might have been cute.
‘Because it’s Sophie’s cat Ryan. It was her grandmother’s cat. And it’s been through enough. It needs some love.’
He looked at me, disbelieving, and I sighed before saying, as seriously as I could, ‘dude, if you abandon the cat, you’ll spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder, sure you can hear it meowing.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous Steve!’
As if on cue, the suitcase let out a pitiful whine.
Ryan stopped his scoffing and looked me carefully. ‘You’re just saying that to save the cat.’
‘I’m not. It’s true. I read this story on Facebook about a dog that was abandoned because it kept eating its owner’s steak. The owner went to his favourite restaurant and heard howls coming from the kitchen. He was so traumatised, he never ate steak again.’ Ryan looked at the suitcase carefully, thinking hard.
‘And don’t forget about Grandma?’
‘What about Grandma?’ he whispered.
‘If you leave the cat — her unbelievably special cat who she bequeathed to her only granddaughter — she will come back and haunt you.’
‘She would do that,’ Ryan said seriously. ‘The woman was crazy.’ He thought hard for a minute. ‘Ok. I’ll take the cat home and look after it. Hand me the pizza.’
I went to the kitchen and grabbed the lone slice from the fridge, handing it to him on a paper plate and bidding him take the cat home and let it out of the bag before he accidentally did the unthinkable. Ryan nodded, seeming himself, and returned home.
Later that night, there was another knock on the door.
It was Ryan. Standing on the doorstep with the same suitcase, a pizza box and a case of beer.
‘I hope there’s no cat in that bag,’ I said.
‘What this?’ He looked down at the case as if suddenly remembering it was there. ‘No. It turned out it wasn’t the cat that ate my pizza, but Sophie instead.’
I looked at the case, ice chilling the blood in my veins. ‘Ryan… please tell me Sophie is not in that case.’
‘Ok,’ he said. And walked into the house, the suitcase trailing behind him.
So, who feels like pizza? 😉
I know, it’s a little weird and dark, but here’s the add-on ending for those who can’t stand not knowing:
I opened the case later that night. It had nothing but clothes and toiletries. Turns out Sophie eating the last piece of pizza had been the final straw in their relationship and he had left. I bumped into her a few years later. She was in a pizza store, cleaning the windows. Her pizza store. The one she had bought with the money from the diamonds in the cat’s collar.
No cats or people were injured or abandoned in the writing of this story. I wouldn’t do that. That’s just mean.