Of Cats and Bags
Sometimes the simplest of things let the cat out of the bag.
I awoke screaming, consumed by feelings of guilt and dread. I knew I’d killed her. I saw again the silhouette of her body sliding into the hole.
Why had the old bag screeched for her bloody cat at three a.m. every morning, dragging me from drug-induced oblivion? All I craved was sleep, to forget the horrors. But no, her sodding cat came first.
‘I’m just back from Afghanistan, I’m finding sleep very difficult’ I’d pleaded ‘please, just buy a cat flap; I’ll install it for free.’
‘Huh’ she said ‘I know you, you’re that weirdo who sleep-walks. Didn’t the police bring you home last week?’
‘Yes, I’m having a few problems, now, about your cat……’
‘Piss off, weirdo.’
Sandra switched the light on ‘Oh, for god’s sake. Really, Frank, I can’t take much more of this’ she snapped. She sounded even angrier than usual.
‘If you hadn’t let the spare room out whilst I was away I could have slept there.’ I said defensively.
‘Right then, while you’re at your therapist’s appointment I’ll tell her to go, OK?’
I lay sleepless as dawn broke, my feelings of dread intensifying. At six I took a rope and went to the park. In the park I thought, coward’s way out Frank? At eight I went into the police station. ‘I murdered my neighbour last night’ I told them.
Detectives questioned me with a lawyer present. I confessed, telling them all I could remember.
‘And you reckon you were sleep walking at the time?’
‘I must have been.’
‘OK sir, we’ll pop you into a cell whilst further enquiries are made.’
Hours passed before they came, ‘right, Mr Williams, we’re releasing you into the custody of a psychiatric hospital, your condition is more serious than was first diagnosed.’
‘What about the murder?’ I asked.
‘You didn’t kill anyone, sir’ he said looking at me like I was an object of pity. ‘Let me explain. At three thirty this morning a Mrs Paisley rang the police to say that you and your wife were burying her cat in your garden, he looked embarrassed ‘we get a lot of these calls; we arranged a visit for later.’
‘So what’s happened? I asked.
‘We searched your garden, sir, where we recovered the body of one Miss Jane Phillips, your lodger and, whilst you were overseas, your wife’s lover.’
I knew Sandra had occasionally slept with women before we married.
‘Miss Phillips resented being demoted from lover to lodger and threatened to reveal all. Your wife was tiring of you both and saw a way of killing two birds with one stone. She slipped Miss Phillips some of your sleeping medicine then garrotted her with your army boot laces, burying them with her. During the burial you sleep-walked onto the scene.’
‘And Sandra has confessed? Why?’
‘She didn’t have much choice, sir, Mrs Paisley witnessed her digging and you watching. She couldn’t see what was being buried and assumed it was her cat.’