Dad sipped his cappuccino, and then licking his lips, he leaned over. ‘I have a mystery concerning Molly.’
A tram rattled past. How the three ladies in their designer clothes and ability to talk through their noses could hear their conversation, I’ll never know. Maybe the nasal accent was just the right pitch to over-ride the rumbling of trams. I then waited as added to the tram noise, was the screaming of toddlers begging for their babycinos.
Dad, in his mid-70’s didn’t have such a strong voice. And my hearing’s never been good.
After the the rumbling of the tram faded, I asked, ‘What do you mean, Molly? What mystery?’
‘Er, um, I think she’s missing Mum.’
I gasped. ‘Oh, no! You haven’t lost her. Like Zorro. The last time, when Mum went to Sydney, New Year’s Eve 2000 with all the fireworks, and Zorro got spooked. He’s never been seen since. You don’t have a good record when it comes to cats and Mum being away.’
‘Oh, no, no, no!’ Dad said. ‘I mean, she’s been sleeping in funny places. Just the other day I found her in my underwear drawer. She was sleeping so peacefully, I left her there.’
‘How cute.’ I paused as another tram rumbled past. The ladies by the window exploded into laughter. When they quietened, I continued, ‘But you said she was missing.’
‘Oh, no, I mean, she’s…’ Dad coughed. Always does when he’s only telling the truth in part. ‘She’s…somewhere.’
‘How can you be sure? Maybe you left her out and she’s run away.’
‘Oh, no, no, no! I put food out for her at night. Inside. And in the morning, it’s gone. She’s eating it. She’s just hiding.’
‘I mean, I think she’s just found a nice little place to sleep. Where I can’t find her.’
‘I guess.’ I scraped out the last frothy bits of my cappuccino. ‘I’ll have a look for her when I come tomorrow.’
The next day, after school, the boys and I rolled up the driveway, piled out and then entered through the back door of my parent’s old trust home. While Mum’s away, I liked to visit Dad to make sure he was okay.
My sons raced off to the computer room but I lingered in the kitchen where I cleared away a day’s worth of coffee cups and stacked them on the sink.
‘Have you found Molly?’ I asked Dad.
‘No, but the food’s eaten. I think she’s hiding under the bed in the spare room, so I put the cat’s meat there and in the morning, again it was all gone.’
I followed Dad to the spare room to witness the evidence of an empty bowl with a few morsels of dried fish flakes remaining at the bottom.
A nasty, festering sort of smell lingered in the air.
Calling my eldest, I decided we should start our Molly-search in the spare room. ‘Would you help me lift the bed-base?’
My son joined me in the small room. Two single beds, a dressing table and a large wardrobe crowded the room. We manoeuvred ourselves around the first bed and lifted one end. No Molly.
‘What’s the stink?’ my son asked.
‘Not sure, but it doesn’t bode well.’ I remembered the dead mouse I’d found in that very same room, when I moved from home to Melbourne. ‘Come on, I reckon Molly might be under the other bed.’
My son and I edged around the bed and taking hold of each side, we hoisted up one side of the base.
Molly crouched in the corner and snarled. Dried blood had matted her fur.
‘Mum! I can’t hold up the bed much longer.’
Reaching, I gently lifted the tortoise-shell tabby from the furthest corner from under the raised bed-base. Around her neck and in the pit of her front leg, the fur had been rubbed away exposing a raw wound. Sticky ooze stained my sleeve.
My son put down the bed and dashed to the linen cupboard in the passageway, where he grabbed a towel. We wrapped puss up in the towel and stood in the passageway.
My younger son had extracted himself from his computer game and met us in the passage with Dad. ‘What’s wrong with her?’ he asked.
‘She’s been injured, that’s why she was hiding,’ I said.
Molly narrowed her eyes at Dad and growled.
‘Wasn’t me,’ Dad said. ‘The last time I saw her, she was fine.’
‘We have to take her to the vet,’ I said.
So swaddled in the towel like a newborn, and weak from her injury, Molly rode in my arms in the car without resistance.
At the surgery, the nurse ushered us in to see the veterinary doctor without the obligatory wait. The vet-doctor, a fresh-faced man in his 30’s, unwrapped the towel from Molly.
‘Oh,’ he said with a grimace, ‘it looks like she got her collar stuck under her front leg. Must’ve been like that for a while.’
Dad blushed and coughed.
‘You didn’t notice?’ the vet-doctor said looking straight at Dad.
‘Yeah, well,’ Dad said as he shifted around the table, ‘my wife’s gone…’
The vet’s eyes widened with that look of pity. ‘Oh, I’m sorry—’
‘No, I mean, she’s gone to Sydney—on holiday.’
We all laughed.
‘Molly is my wife’s cat. And she took to hiding when my wife went away.’
We’d found Molly just in time. The veterinary doctor treated her with antibiotics and a stay in the animal hospital. She made a full recovery.
Not sure that Dad ever fully recovered from the wrath of Mum when she returned from Sydney to discover he’d almost lost another cat in his care.
Molly, age 16, is still alive and queen of her home with my mum.
As the Good Book, the Bible says in Matthew 6:26-27
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016
Photo: Molly © Marie Trudinger 2004