“Jesus, cats what have you been doing?”
Kate stumbled in through the front door picked her way through her lounge looking at a scene of utter destruction. Sitting facing each other, playing it cool, Olly and Horatio were pretending that she wasn’t talking to them.
The date hadn’t gone well. It turned out that since she’d last hooked up with Casper, he’d got himself engaged to someone he met on holiday in Portugal. Worse, he insisted on showing her photos on his phone and talking about weddings.
After half-an-hour she had excused herself to throw up. Whether it was the wine on an empty stomach or the revelation that she was sitting in a bar talking to someone who considered “Angel Pie” to be a lovely nickname for his girlfriend, and was even considering having it tattooed on his manhood.
Getting back to the bar having carefully adjusted her makeup and spritzed some perfume to cover up any smell, she found Casper, or “Pumpkin Puppy” as he apparently liked to be known, talking on his phone. One look at his face told her that it was the love of his life on the other end and that no matter how revealing her outfit was, there would be no action from that direction.
He made his excuses and she decided to hang around by the bar. It was a nice place and you never knew who might rock up.
An hour and two gins later, she decided it was time for a cab. In truth, even if anyone had chatted her up, she doubted she’d be up for anything other than a slurred conversation. If women can suffer from brewers’ droop, she was well in the zone.
The cab ride home hadn’t helped either. Maybe her eyesight wasn’t at its best, but there seemed to be about twenty air fresheners hanging from the rear-view mirror. Were they masking smells, the seats had some interesting staining that Kate tried and failed to avoid sitting in, or did they actually make the problem worse? How did you sit in a knackered Toyota all day with that stink wafting near your nose?
Back at the apartment, it took a few seconds for her brain to comprehend the scene.
Olly, a black and white moggy, she’d had since he was a kitten looked up at her. He’d been her sidekick and go to companion during the ups and downs of work over the last few years. Horatio had come back with Kate from KODs last job at Fillern Holm. An unloved island tabby, she’s latched on to her and had jumped ship when they left. Kate had reservations about bringing her back because of Olly, but she couldn’t bear to leave her any more than the cat seemed to want to be left behind.
It seemed that two cats in one penthouse apartment didn’t mix. In the three days they’d been together the made short shrift of Kate’s pristine pad. Rugs had been sprayed, sofa’s mauled and most things knocked off the worksurfaces.
Tonight, was the worst. It wasn’t just the destruction, Kate realised that as her nose recovered from the cab, she could smell cat poo. Walking in to her bedroom found a pile in the middle of the floor.
“Argh, I really don’t need this shit!”
Olly had always been a house cat but Horatio was a wanderer. She’d had the whole of the island to herself and the idea of being contained seemed to be sitting badly with her. She didn’t like the litter tray either.
Feeling her stomach lurch again, Kate slammed the bedroom door and headed for the spare room. Collapsing on the bed, she didn’t bother to get undressed. Passing out, she realised that if she had brought someone home, then this would probably have ended the evening there and then.
Waking in the morning, for a few minutes Kate struggled to work out where she was. Through the fog in her mind, the previous evenings activity gradually came back to her and she groaned. Opening the door, the mess hadn’t magically gone away so she grabbed her jeans and a sweatshirt then donned rubber gloves and carpet cleaner. Kate tried to make the best of the mess in her bedroom, vowing to change the carpet soon. Picking the bag of mess up she decided to take it down to the outside bin.
Making her way down the three flights of stairs she didn’t realise she had a shadow accompanying her. In her rush to leave she’d left the door of her apartment ajar and Horatio had made a break for it. Depositing the waste, Kate turned to see a tabby tail high tailing out of the door.
“Horatio!” Kate rushed after the cat, just to see her crossing the road and running off in to the local park. “Damn, just what I don’t need!” Kate muttered to herself.
Retrieving a key and some cat snacks from her apartment, she spent the next half an hour try to locate the elusive tabby, but she was nowhere to be seen. Collar and microchip less, Kate was worried she’d never see her again.
The next day in the office Kate was distracted. Horatio still hadn’t been seen. She’d skipped her morning HIIT class to walk round the park calling the cat. Some of the people there had given her very funny looks as she walked round shouting ‘Horatio’.
She was busily printing off a poster with a picture of the cat to put up around town when Gareth walked in.
“What are you up to?” He tried to peek at what was coming off the printer.
“Nothing, nothing.” Kate quickly folded up the posters and put them in an envelope.
Gareth managed to swipe another as it came off the printer.
“Missing. Tabby named Horatio. Last seen on Wednesday night. If found call 07777 5555555. Oh no, what happened.” Gareth looked genuinely concerned, he liked all animals and remember the cat from their last job.
“She’s been staying with my brother but that didn’t work out. She managed to escape my flat last night and now I can’t find her.” Kate’s voice wobbled slightly at the end of the sentence and she turned away from Gareth.
Gareth turned slightly pink, he’d never seen his colleague get emotional. He patted her on the back.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure she will come back. She’s not stupid that cat.”
“Thanks, yes I’m sure it’ll all be fine. I’m just going to pop out and do some postering.” Kate gathered the signs together and some tape.
“Don’t be silly, we’ll all help.” Being his usual boisterous self, Gareth wandered out of the office.
Everyone. Down tools, we are all going over the park for lunch today. Kate’s lost her cat so we are the search party.”
The sounds of ohs and ahs came from the office before bags were picked up and phones collected.
“I’ll even buy everyone an ice cream.”
That got everyone moving a bit faster.
By the time they’d walked to the park the group had a bit of a party atmosphere. Gareth found the ice cream van and Mr Whippy plus flake were dished out.
Handing out posters Kate felt a mixture of relief and confusion. She didn’t like being made a big deal off, but this was a nice touch by her colleague.
Out of the corner of her eye she thought she saw a tail in the undergrowth. The next thing a tabby stepped out the bushes. It was Horatio.
“There she is!” Kate shouted to her colleagues.
Lulled by the ice cream they took a while to react. The cat had gone again before they got their act together.
“Quick, spread out.”
It was hard to make a team of office workers; in heels, skirts, shirts and ties turn into a crack search team, but they did their best. Split into three teams they did their best hedge bashing and undergrowth exploring trying to find the elusive cat.
An hour later they had to admit defeat. Where ever the cat was she wasn’t showing her face again. The team put posters up around the park and resigned themselves to a fun but unsuccessful lunch break.
“I’m just going to put one of these up in my apartment block. I’ll meet you back at the office.” Kate was disappointed, they hadn’t retrieved the cat but at least she knew she was still alive.
Walking towards her block she thought she saw something by the entrance Sitting quietly by the door was Horatio.
“Oh puss, you have given me the run around.” Kate scooped her up and gave her lots of fuss. Looking no worse off for her trip out Horatio bounded up the stairs to the apartment and proceeded to curl up in a corner after scoffing some food. Olly looked over bemused.
Picking up her phone Kate texted Gareth. ‘She’s back’