Master and Mistress

Madame Gigi’s back door was open in good weather to air the narrow kitchen and give Neko, her beautifully marked chunky black and white cat, the freedom to come in and out at will as there was no cat flap.

Neko usually dined on his favourite chicken in jelly served in a blue ceramic bowl from Granada around 6.00 pm. He had an internal clock and always knew his dining time. He would be left outside, his designated territory, on his ratan Victorian table facing inwards so he could watch his mistress at work in her lounge. Then around 11.00 pm, bed time, he would scratch on the window and ‘Miao’ silently.

T’was a few days before Madame Gigi was off to Paris, her spiritual city where she had lived on and off for 30 years. Paris the City of Lights had called her again that June. This time the Spoken Word Group, Paris Lit Up, had invited her to perform her true life stories, known as vignettes, at Culture Rapide in the Belleville district.

Madame Gigi awoke to find chaos in her lounge despite Neko lying innocently on the Turkish patchwork rug. Broken Turkish china and large excrement, pivotally placed by the window, asking to be removed.

Shocked Madame went into the kitchen to find more broken Turkish coffee cups and saucers on the floor. Was this a political anti Turkish animal? Packets of foil cat food with telltale teeth marks lay on the floor abandoned and empty. Later, brioche rolls devoured on her bed, were discovered and a very scratched tin containing chocolate biscuits. This rascal went to great lengths to satisfy his appetite.

Mister Rat was obviously back! A year earlier he had cost Madame a small fortune to be got rid of by a rat catcher. He had chomped his way through expensive Italian soaps, savouring the beautiful floral packaging before gnawing at the bars. Not to mention the wooden shelves with pieces missing and clouds of sawdust! However he was safely locked in the gift cupboard so Neko was excused for not pouncing on his victim.

Worse was yet to come the morning after the first discovery and 2 days before departure. Mister Rat had been up on the marble mantlepiece. All Madame’s precious mementos had been overturned and one of the candlesticks on the floor, broken.

Desperate, she went in search of rat traps and poison despite being apprehensive to find a big rat with a broken neck and cleaning up his turds. Madame was no domestic goddess but could get a whiff of a strong animal smell emanating from the coat and bag area in the hall as she walked past to get to the kitchen.

Neko was banished to his Catlandia haven on the terrace even throughout the mild night. She was advised to close all the doors, put her remaining china away in cupboards thus watching and waiting for the monster to appear.

The night before departure, Madame Gigi opened the kitchen door gingerly to get a late night herbal tea. She gasped and cried out loud ‘Oh my God!’ There, looking at her on the draining board amidst the dishes, was a terrified fox cub. The culprit who had been sleeping in the warmth of the carrier bags and suitcases for 4 days during the day and on the prowl for jellied cat food at night. Aaah but he was so adorable!

Sir Galahad magically appeared with a broom at 11.00 pm to open the back door while Madame took a video and photograph for facebook. Master Fox, the star of the show, fled into the night back to his family somewhere in the park.

Madame Gigi thought she had outwitted the Master by putting packets of cat food and treats in the large red shopper for her neighbour Maria to feed Neko on the terrace without coming into the flat. The cunning Master Fox smelt the chicken and left more mess on the terrace during her absence. In the end, after frantic Neko texts to Madame in Paris, the problem was solved with a golden key and Sir Galahad to the rescue.

Et voila. The end of the Master Fox and his Mistress saga!

Written in Linda McVeigh’s creative writing workshop at Evolution, Brighton on 17 November 2018.