Last week at our Bahrain Writers’ Circle workshop, a number of us brought in and shared excerpts from pieces we had written. At the end of the session, we decided that if a piece is read out aloud, mush of its success depends on the reader. Certainly, as far as my contribution (below) was concerned, I felt this was true. As you can see, some words are a bit long and a bit of a mouthful, so the person reading it stumbled over these words.
Did it adversely affect the impact of the story? This of you who were there, tell me what you think after reading this one!
“Just Another Day”
As anyone who’s ever known or had a cat knows with some certainty, from way back when, that a cat always has three names. There’s the name the family gave him or her that very ‘sensible everyday name’, then of course there’s the name by which the other cats know him or her, and then there’s that marvellous third name, which, as TS Eliot so cleverly called it, the ‘ineffable, effable, Effanineffable, deep and inscrutable singular Name’ which only the cat knows.
But, Dai, as the family called her, had only one name. “And that,” she said with a meoooowwwrrr, that rang all the way down that elegant street and struck terror into all the other cats and dogs and even some of the neighbours where her family lived, “is Dai!” She had to be singular. “Or else,” she purred, “what’s the point of being me at all?”
In fact she made the family call her Dai by grabbing the diamond bracelet that Angus had given Madeline the day they brought Dai home. She and the bracelet were Madeline’s birthday present. But Dai was the gift that Madeline loved most. Even the children Jeff and Tara couldn’t get away with as much as Dai could.
She insisted, by imperiously scratching at the door that the family make a separate entrance for her and fluffed out her fur and marched in and out whenever she wished. When she sashayed down the street with her tail in the air, everyone gave her a wide berth. She chuckled wickedly to herself when she did that, “It’s such fun!”
“You’re mean, you know?” her friend the street cat, who everyone called Katz, said. He was the only one who could walk alongside Dai and say almost anything to her as he’d chased off a nasty dog the very first day that Dai had ventured out alone.
“Am I mean to you?” Dai purred so low it was just a little rumble in her throat.
“Naah. You wouldn’t be.”
“Don’t tempt me Bozo,” Dai grinned as her whiskers twitched testing the sensitivities of passersby. Bozo as you may have guessed was Katz’ cat name.
Today was a stroll and check-it-out day, not a day when Dai and Katz were looking for adventure or stuff for Katz to eat.
So by the time they’d spent the day chasing pigeons, sitting on a wall and watching the street while the sun warmed their backs, climbing a tree, which Dai decided today was not the day she’d go to the top, and it was time to go back, the evening shadows had started to grow long.
“Ahhhhh!” said Dai as she stretched her slim body “Yawrrrr” she sighed as each leg was stretched so that Bozo just had to look the other way. “Let’s head home, I need some of that cat food Madeline leaves for me, and maybe I’ll demand a little cuddle.”
Bozo said nothing. He just sighed; sometimes he wished he had a home to go to.
The house was still dark as Dai slipped in like a soundless shadow through her private entrance, not a single light on. “That’s odd” Dai thought as all her senses became alert and she silently sniffed the air.
And then she froze. Madeline was tied to the kitchen chair and gagged. Angus wasn’t home yet and the children were still at their friends.
Dai just looked at her and went into the bedroom where she saw a man with a mask throwing Madeline’s jewellery into a bag and with it her diamond bracelet.
Dai a furious streak of flame leapt at his face, scratched his eyes and removed the mask.
Bozo, on hearing Dai’s yowls came rushing through the cat door and attacked the man’s hands.
He dropped everything and fled through the door and down the street just as Angus was driving into the driveway. Angus leapt out of the car, ran after the man and caught him before he reached the street corner.
By then there was enough of a hubbub. The neighbours came. Madeline was released. The police were called. Tea was made. The burglar was taken away.
Madeline told everyone how marvellous Dai had been but where was Dai?
In her favourite place. On the back of the sofa, fast asleep. Or was she?