soggy moggy

Not so much rain as an invasive, super-saturating mist. And no point waiting for it to pass – there’s no sign of easing, no break in the clouds – hell, we are the clouds! – no sense of the passing of anything with a beginning, middle and end. Climate change has happened, people. We’ve blundered into a whole new age. Fish will do well, but humans? In these trousers?
There’s nothing else for it. I have to get out of the car.
Hugging my bag and book I run to Mr Norrington’s front door and ring the bell. There’s no porch or any kind of shelter. Even though I stand as close-in as I can, I’m soaked in an instant.
I curse and ring the bell again.
The house is dark. No reassuring lights in the window.
I knock on the door, just in case the bell doesn’t work.
Whilst I’m standing there wondering what to do next, there’s a rowling, gargling kind of noise from the hedge just to the side of the house. A long-haired cat, as wet as a roller in a car wash, walks towards me and plops itself down at my feet.
‘Hello mate!’
I bend down to stroke its head. It’s like showing affection to a mop. The cat tolerates the attention, but I can tell from the set of its mouth and its murderous expression that what it really wants is for someone to open the goddamn door.
‘Me too!’ I say, straightening up and knocking again.
A light goes on.
‘About time!’ I look down at the cat, who rowls once, an intensely crotchety sound.
‘You need a cat flap’ I say to it. ‘Poor thing.’
There’s a pane of frosted glass in the centre of the door. I can make out the shape of Mr Norrington shuffling with his zimmer down the hall towards us. When he eventually gets to the door, there’s a great deal of ineffectual trying of handles and locks, some muffled kind of apology, then he retreats the way he came to retrieve the key he’s forgotten to bring with him from the kitchen.
‘Come on! Come on!’ I say under my breath, hopping from foot to foot. The cat is utterly still, though. It’s gone beyond caring about the water. It knows it couldn’t be any wetter if it had just swum the Channel. I reckon if I wrung it out I could get about a bucket and a half.
Mr Norrington approaching the door again. Some more fiddling about.
What is this place? A bank?
I must admit I’m impressed by the cat’s stoicism. I’m guessing it’s used to being out all-weathers. If Mr Norrington hasn’t seen fit to provide a cat flap, the poor creature must have grown up relying on someone to open the front door.
‘Not long now!’ I tell him. He doesn’t alter his expression, so intensely focused you’d think he was trying to cut himself a flap with his eyes.
At last! The handle drops, the door cracks and Mr Norrington backs up precariously to open it.
The cat goes first, so laden down with water it can barely make it over the step.
‘Whoa! Whoa!’ says Mr Norrington, putting out a slippered foot to stop it. ‘What’s this?’
Amazingly, the cat doesn’t jump over his foot. Instead it simply stands there, dripping on the parquet.
‘I thought it was yours’ I say to him.
‘I don’t have a cat,’ he says. ‘Clear off, why dontcha!’
The cat doesn’t move, and Mr Norrington can’t do anything, so I have to pick it up and put it back outside. It stands there in the rain, and I wonder whether there’s something else I should do. Put it in the car and let it dry off there? Take it down the rescue? But it’s wearing a collar. Someone owns it.
‘Sorry mate!’
The cat gives me one last look, utterly withering, like I’d been planning this all along, and didn’t he know it? Then he turns, gives himself a shake, and heads back into the hedge.

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