The story of the mannequin, the baseball bat and the policeman

“What is it with me and cats?” MadFather texted me this afternoon; a rather ominous text to receive from a man who has recently adopted a dog and kind of had a love affair with my childhood cat Aslan.

“What?” I replied.

“Later, quality Dabstory,” he replied.

At nine o’clock my phone rang while MindReader and I were watching House.

“So,” MadFather said.

“So.” I muted the television and put the phone on speaker.

“So I got home from work this afternoon and I saw The Neighbour having a row with a policeman.”

The Neighbour is a well-documented feature in MadFather’s life. The Neighbour lives with his mother, has the head of a mannequin in his bedroom window, and once, having not spoken to MadFather in 20 years, came over and asked if he wanted to buy a rowing machine.

“Right.”

“So, The Neighbour told me that this guy had been going around the outside of my house, you know – looking in the gardens and the bushes. So, The Neighbour went over with a baseball bat to tell him off.”

“Um. Wow. At least you know The Neighbour has your back?”

“Yeah. So this guy tells The Neighbour his cat’s been run over and he’s looking for it. The Neighbour tells him to fuck off and so the guy calls the police. Right? So when I get in the police are giving The Neighbour a telling off for overreacting.

“So I let The Neighbour fill me in, then I go inside and put a pot on.”

(This is MadFather-speak for brewing a pot of tea, also known as, what he does before he does ANYTHING ELSE).

“Then I had a quick look outside in the bushes. No cat. Before I’ve had any cups, the doorbell goes, and it’s the guy, and a woman’s with him. They say they’ve lost their cat so I say I’ll look in the bushes with them. There’s no cat in the bushes. So they go, and I go and tell The Neighbour that there really does seem to be a missing cat, so he doesn’t come after me with his baseball bat.”

“Good move.”

“So I get back to the house, and there’s a grey cat in the garden. No idea where it came from. I was just there. It was obviously injured, so I don’t want to move it. But I didn’t get their number – because I thought they were weird. So I call the police.”

Next to me, MindReader exhaled. “Wait, what?” I said into the phone. “You called the police because you found a cat? Put up a poster!”

“Well… I didn’t want to report the cat. I just knew they could help. I just rang and said I’d found a cat, and I said to them ‘I know you’re thinking you can’t help me, but you can.'”

I smiled. I could imagine the moment entirely.

“I said, ‘the guy whose cat’s missing rang you earlier.’ And they said they couldn’t pass his number on. So I said I only wanted them to pass on my number and they did.”

“Right,” I said, taking a sip of my hot chocolate.

“So, the guy turns up with his Mrs but this time he’s like – there’s something wrong with him – he’s staggering. He’s pissed.

“So I show them the cat and he just picks it up. Tried to offer him a box but he didn’t want one – just picked the cat up and it was whinging, almost fell down the hill, thanked me, and left.”

“Wow.”

“What is it with me and cats?”

“They love you. They obviously knew to check your house as that’s where all the cats go.”

“That’s true. Dexter was drawn to my healing ways.”

“Dexter?”

“That’s the cat’s name – Dexter.”

“You do know about Dexter, right?” I said, exchanging a worried glance with MindReader and going to sort the dishwasher.

“No?”

“It’s a TV show. The protagonist is a serial killer.”

“A what?”

“A serial killer.”

There was a pause. “I’m just going to lock the door now…” MadFather said.

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