THWACK! BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! THUMP! “OW!” BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! THUD!
What a rude awakening! I stretch languorously and decide I must investigate the cause of that horrible noise; after all, I am the curious type and a noise like that requires inspection. Padding quietly down the hard wood hallway so that I don’t wake anyone else in the house, I reach the top of the staircase. My little girl has fallen down the steps again. She is crumpled and in a heap at the bottom, not crying or hurt, but more surprised than anything. Auntie Meriwether is consoling her, already, before I can get to the bottom of the stairs. God, I don’t like that woman. She’s always there, lurking and stealing every moment possible with my girl. What are they doing up so early? I can only assume they’re going riding again and don’t want me around, sneaking out before I wake.
I follow them as they make their way to the kitchen and find she’s putting an icepack on little Janie’s head. I watch quietly from behind the potted palm, not wanting to be seen. I wish it were me who was comforting her. For the fifth time in as many days, Meriwether gives her some of that ‘special tea’ that she has been making for my child. I watch to see if there’s been any change in Janie’s stature after drinking this brew but from my limited viewpoint, I can see none. I don’t trust Meriwether. If only I were strong enough to intervene. I need to get a closer look.
That tired old woman, our maid called Eva-Maria, comes in from the herb garden. Meriwether takes the teacup from Janie’s hands and quickly washes it in the sink. Eva-Maria glares derision at Merewether’s back as she’s doing so. I’m so glad she never looks at me that way. It is a truly sour and frightening expression. At least I think Eva-Maria understands my way of thinking. Though she’s never said so, inside she knows Meriwether is up to something. I can tell just by her looks. I move from the potted palm to just behind the slightly open pocket door separating dining room from kitchen. This will give me a better vantage point. I need a plan. I need people to believe me when I tell them Meriwether is trying to hurt my girl. They just don’t seem to understand me nor do they really listen. I’m so tired of being overlooked in this house just because I am not what they consider ‘intellectually equal’. Who are they to judge? I understand things. I know things. They would know this as well if they listened to me when I spoke instead of just smiling at me with those blatantly obvious you-poor-creature grins.
Meriwether leaves to get her riding jacket and Eva-Maria hugs Janie so tightly I think she’s going to pop her.
“Aw my poor little chico, if you don’t stop being so clumsy and having all these accidents, it’s going to be the death of you. Then, you’ll be leaving me here, all alone, with that bruja,” Eva-Maria says as she blesses herself. I make a mental note that I must learn Spanish so I can understand what she’s saying.
I hear Meriwether call out to the maid, asking where their riding jackets are. Eva-Maria responds by telling her they are in the laundry room, freshly pressed and hanging up, ready to wear. I listen as Meriwether’s boots clackety-clack on the old, creaky wooden basement steps. I have an overwhelming urge to follow her. I hate her so much I just want to scratch her eyes out. If I were to do that though and act on my instincts, they would definitely think something was wrong with me and probably send me away.
Going around from the study side, I approach the stairs down with cat-like stealth and silence. I don’t want her to know I’m following her. As she rounds the bend in the steps I follow like a ghost, like the spectral presence that I am to everyone in this house. I hear her speaking on her cell phone.
“...just as soon as I can get rid of the girl. I promise. I’ve been trying since I’ve been here you idiot. Yes. Yes. No. I’m telling you, she’s not easy to kill, remember, it has to look like an accident, just like her mother’s death. If it doesn’t, I won’t get the money. Yes. I’ll call you later; I’m taking the little brat riding if you know what I mean.”
My heart shatters into a thousand slivers of ice. I will kill her. I bound down the stairs, no longer striving for soundless movement and stop short of the last five steps at the bend. The basement floor is covered in about two inches of water. Apparently the sump pump is overflowing yet again. I hate water on my bare feet. I look around. I must protect my little girl. What to do, what to do? I am almost panicking now. I’m not strong enough to take her physically, yet I just know, there’s got to be way to rid the world of this malevolent woman and save my Janie in the process.
Scanning my surroundings I see the desk lamp Eva-Maria uses for light while ironing. It’s still plugged in and turned on, sitting on the shelves at the foot of the stairs. With no thought whatsoever, almost too easily, it comes to me. The cord is frayed nicely. It will do. With a single push, it falls into the water on the floor. In a solitary and particularly distinct zap, it is done. The electrical fizz and snapping of the AC current, coupled with the frying of Meriwether as she lays fish-flopping and singeing makes me feel uncomfortably happy. In my delight and curiosity to see her eyes pop from her head, I almost electrocute myself in the process when I slip on the bottom step, craning my neck for a better view. I may have nine lives, but I’m not taking any chances with water and electricity. I give up on reveling in this just death, happy Meriwether is now out of the picture.
With the best Halloween cat stretch I can muster, I arch my back and hiss at the flopping corpse. I romp back upstairs, back to my little girl, finally satisfied. At last, I have my Janie all to myself again. Besides, she needs me; I’m all she’s got. Reaching the top of the stairs again, I stop to lick my paws and run them across my face. I laugh to myself at that rhyme I keep hearing in my head. Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought her back. Now, my little Janie, where are you, I just saved your life so there’s much petting to be done....