CH 02: Cat Lady
Writing a truly boring report on his last case his eye lids got heavy, Buck loved the action in the field but hated the follow-up bureaucratic paperwork. His ears perked up when he heard on the Police Headquarters radio scanners that a neighborhood cat lady was found dead and despite figuring it was just an old bat crooking Buck wanted a break from the stale air in the office.
He jumped into his unmarked car the detective feeling at home in this quadrant of Calgary with a high number of immigrants, low-income and welfare people. The area had lots of break-ins and sketchy characters at night so was very unsafe after dark. And rednecks hung their confederate flags outside their door and partied with open alcohol on the streets at night-time.
Buck sighed the minute he laid eyes on the shack as he pulled up along the curb and parked in front of a police cruiser, Hurst, and the Humane Society van, there was no driveway.
Illustrated by Jason Hendrickson
Illustrated by Jason Hendrickson:
Police cordoned off the worst yard he had ever seen and the building was even more decrepit. His eyes that were trained to detect the smallest of details took in the picket fence with only a few flakes of chipped white paint that hung on for dear life to rotted boards beneath; that was what boards there were left. And the gate hung on crooked with just one hinge as if it wanted to escape it’s attachment to the aged boards. A dead tree cracked right down the middle leafless choked of life was an eye-sore in the center of the yard and the few patches of dead grass were riddled with huge ant hills as they claimed their own territory. Who could blame them? He sauntered up the overgrown pathway choked with weeds and crumbled concrete as his cowboy boots easily kicked away the remnants of stone and even the weeds were torn away by their unyielding toe. For a few moments he was mesmerized by his boots’ trail through the decay then he looked up and his eyes zeroed in at the shack ahead of him that should have been put out of its misery long ago like an old dog with arthritis, a bad hip-joint, and a limp the shack tilted to one side. Buck’s eyes slid along the rooftop those remaining shingles were so brittle they curled back and as his sight inevitably carried down the wood siding of the dwelling there was gaping chunks missing out of it like a junkyard dog had gone ape-shit and chewed it like a rubber tire. He shook his head when he saw the theme continued to some windows that were boarded up and the few others that made it were cracked so badly it spread like a spider web obscuring the view which in Buck’s mind really was a mute-point because the remaining glass was so filthy no one could see in or out of them.
Illustrated by Jason Hendrickson
When he reached the door the smell of cat feces and piss override the smell of death causing even Buck’s steel clad stomach to churn. When he instinctively pinched his nose close and his eyes began to water stung by ammonia because of the huge number of cats his macho image was betrayed. Buck’s watery eyes had trouble finding the body through the sea of cats they were sitting on her like she was a cushion and it wasn’t a pretty sight. In fact even the detective felt bile rise in his throat the combination of smell and the vision of what the cats had done to her was grotesque. Carefully moving the cats aside it didn’t take close examination to see the felines had nibbled on her fingers and toes some were knurled downed to stubs the poor animals were starved which was evident by their protruding rib cages. On further examination he saw her torso hadn’t been utilized as a cushion but rather a litter-box which the claw marks attested to just like a cat moving around litter in its box pieces of skin were torn out and crap lay in her stomach.
Illustrated by: Jason Hendrickson
Buck’s jaw was clenched so tight it began to ache painfully as he left the repulsive enclosure and instructed the Humane Society to begin the depressingly daunting task of moving the cat into cages to be transported. It was obvious that almost all of them would have to be put down and although Buck wasn’t a cat person he felt sorry for what he envisioned that they had endured not only starvation but fleas, sickness, and dehydration. He had no sympathy at all for old Ms. Kat but he had a slew of other emotions about her like anger, disgust, and disbelief. Buck just couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that the self-acclaimed cat lover thought she had provided love, food, and shelter when in reality she held them captive and condemned them to death. They would have been better off running wild in the city in back alleys where they could at least have been free to catch mice and in public parks or neighborhood backyards where they could catch birds. Yes disease, climate, and cars could easily claim a cat’s life but it would stand a better chance on the outside, at least in this case. He considered the case closed a natural death. Checking for next of kin her parents were dead and there was no other record of further family connections it was as if the woman was truly deserted and although Buck could empathize with that it still didn’t excuse her behavior.
Growing up average mousey brown-haired, golden brown-eyed Kitty Kat started life with the disadvantage of being named after her great-great-great grandmother the poor girl had to put up with being ridiculed by her peers as the meowing sounds and taunts here pussy, pussy only got more vulgar especially as she entered middle and high school the boys empathized the sexual connotations of her name. Not quite as bad but still annoying was when the girls at school sneered at her mix-matched, hand-me-down clothes. She couldn’t really blame them because they were rags, hand-me-downs and most of the stuff were two sizes too big which meant she had to roll up the sleeves and cuffs of the pants making her look and feel like a country hick earning her the nickname Orphan Annie. She was the last to be picked in school sports, no-one wanted her in their classroom group projects, and she ate her lunch alone.
Even at home Kitty felt like an outcast. Both her parents worked physically demanding jobs on twelve-hour shifts her dad directed traffic around road construction crews in the summer and over the brutally cold winter months he did snow removal on deserted back country roads and her mom worked on an assembly line. Her two sibling twins were two years older than her and although they were not identical twins they were joined at the hip they shared everything. Being in the same bedroom they got away with staying up late gossiping and giggling making Kitty feel left out even more. The girls annoyingly finished each other’s sentences and even exchanged unspoken looks that only they seemed to understand. In high school they even took the sign language class together so they could secretly communicate without muttering a sound. In fact they stopped talking to her altogether and just rolled their eyes at her and shrugged their shoulders whenever she did try to talk to them. Kitty felt like an outcast in her own family they were virtually strangers and it sadden her to the core as she harbored feelings of abandonment.
When the twins graduated high school and move out together Kitty’s parents also decided to rent a single bedroom apartment and let Kitty live in the bungalow as long as she paid the mortgage which was down to $25,000. Kitty took a typing course and found a decent paying job as a secretary at a large financial institution. To help her pay the mortgage she found a girl in the office who needed a place and they became roommates for a few years. Kitty hated the gossipy girls at work, the mean supervisors, and the terrifying boss. She ate lunch alone and never went to a single office party because she didn’t know how to socialize. Over the years as renters came and went the damage they made to her aging home was never repaired because Kitty didn’t have the money or know-how to fix it.
Before she knew it Kitty was a forty-two year-old virgin but it was also when she rescued her first cat from behind a dumpster. The poor scrawny thing was obviously malnourished and she nursed it back to health in only a month. Kitty named him Ace for being her first pet. A few weeks later she heard mewing behind a bus stop shelter and she was abhorred by the number of people who passed by with just a glance at the box full of kittens, five grey kittens to be exact. She took sick days, holidays and family days off just to bottle feed the babies who were only a few days old. Kitty realized that she couldn’t afford to register her cats with the city, spade and neuter them, nor could she afford costly vaccinations at the veterinarians so she never took them and as the number of cats increased she struggled to feed them and buy litter. She had two renters for a while but they both eventually moved out because of the disgustingly eye-watering smell of cat urine and also because at that point there were so many cats who were shitting and pissing everywhere due to not having enough litter boxes they cringed at stepping in it. When the roommates moved out the cats moved into the two empty bedrooms and Kitty just didn’t bother to find other renters actually in reality there was no-one in the world that would rent the toxic cesspool. Inevitably Kitty began to have breathing problems not to mention she had consistent diarrhea and skin irritation. At no time did Kitty even vaguely think that her health problems had anything to do with her beloved cats. It was beyond her comprehension that they could directly or indirectly harm her in any way. Just as she saw that her actions of loving the animals, feeding them and giving them a safe shelter was in no way hurting them but she was fooling herself. As she had topped over one hundred felines the situation became dire for both her and the cats but she either was blind to the situation which was hard to believe because of the visual proof or she refused to acknowledge it. In fact Kitty was proud of her charity towards the cats and smiled at the irony of her name and how it was as if fate knew what was in store for her. She knew that she had become labelled as the neighborhood cat lady and it was by no means the worse name she was called in fact Kitty liked it. Ms. Kat was buried with no witnesses save but a few stray cats that stood on the brink of the hole as her casket was lowered, crying out in unison at her demise.
Detective Buck Dale was terribly wrong this was not a natural death but in his defense any cop would have concluded a natural death because of the woman’s age and deadly living conditions. Besides she had no friends or family, she rarely left the house, and she had no valuable possessions so there was absolutely no motive to kill her. And normally he would be right but sometimes there was a hidden motive only visible to the perpetrator.
Illustrated by: Jason Hendrickson