O’Grady the landlord sent his sons to sort the old woman out. She was a cantankerous old boot, hard of hearing and should, by rights, be in some kind of home, but no, out of the kindness of his heart, O’Grady had graciously allowed her to remain in the end-of-terrace house, without much of a rent increase. But now, the old biddy was in arrears and this was the chance O’Grady had been waiting for, the excuse he needed to kick her out. Let social services take care of her. As far as he was concerned it was a business deal, pure and simple. And everyone knows there is no room for sentiment in business.
His boys, Liam and Finn, went around first thing. They were uneasy about turning her out and stacking her belongings at the side of the road but, as their dad said, it was purely business. She hadn’t kept to her part of the contract and so out she must go. There must be dozens of families waiting for top quality accommodation like this.
Finn knocked the door. There was no answer. Liam peered in at the windows but the interior was too dark; he couldn’t see a thing. And then he jumped back, startled, and trod on his brother’s foot. A black cat with malevolent eyes had appeared on the inner windowsill.
Finn laughed and deemed his brother a softie. He stooped at the letterbox and peered into the hall. “Christ, it stinks!” he turned his face away and gulped fresh air. “Does she keep cats or something? She must have dozens in there.”
His phone buzzed. It was O’Grady. “Yes, Dad, we’re there now. No, Dad. She’s not answering… Well, we can’t do that, can we? Can we?”
“What?” said Liam, trying to listen in.
“He wants us to kick the door in,” Finn explained. “If she’s out, we can make a start on bringing her stuff to the kerb.”
“I don’t like this,” said Liam.
“We’ll go around the back,” said Finn. “Away from prying eyes.”
The back door was easily dealt with. One shove from Liam’s shoulder got the wood splitting around the lock. He stumbled into the kitchen and was immediately assaulted by the stench. The floor seemed to be alive and crawling. Finn pushed his brother aside to see for himself.
“Shit me,” he gasped. Everywhere they looked there were cats, of all colours, breeds and sizes, a sea of fur constantly moving. His outburst drew the attention of the mass of moggies. The animals began to hurl themselves at the intruders; hissing, spitting, projectiles of tooth and claw. The brothers staggered backwards into the yard. Cats poured from the house and over the fence and were gone.
Only one remained, the black cat with malevolent eyes, standing sentinel at the side of a motionless figure on the kitchen floor, a skeleton in old lady’s clothes.
“So that’s all that’s left of her,” said Finn, recovering from the shock. “I’d better phone Dad.”
“Not all,” grimaced Liam, examining the sole of his shoe and the cat shit he had just trod in. He thought of his own grandmother, alone in her farmhouse with only a Collie for company, and resolved to try to see her more often.