It all started because of suicide cat; a black cat with a red collar that always waited for me when I returned from work. As soon as it saw me, it would dart out in front of my car, and I had to brake to avoid running it over. It had been doing this every evening for the previous two weeks. It hadn’t done this to anybody else, just to me, and I was wondering if it had something to do with my car. One night, I decided to put an end to it. No, I did not kill it, though I have to say that the thought had crossed my mind.
That evening, I drove inside the parking lot, when, as usual, it lunged forward. I slammed on the brakes and stopped inches away from its tail. I jumped down and grabbed the cat by the collar. The collar came off in my hand, and I saw it had a Velcro fastener. I looked for a telephone number or an address, but there were none. However, at one end of the collar was a USB key, and I thought it must have been the latest fashion for cat owners.
When I got home, I took out my old laptop. The last thing I wanted was to catch a computer virus. The odd thing was that there was no text file inside, just a picture. It was the photo of a farm with a Roman Amphitheatre in the background. I knew where the Amphitheatre was, but I had never noticed the farm. I decided to take the cat there the next day.
The following morning, I arrived with the cat at the farm. The farmer came out of his house to greet me when he heard the car approaching. I told him I had found a picture of his farm in the cat’s USB collar. He didn’t seem to know anything about it, but smiled politely. He thanked me for the cat, and told me it had been a gift, and he had been sad, when the cat had disappeared. As a sign of gratitude, he gave me a dozen eggs and shook my hand. I remember noticing that he had a ring in the shape of a snake eating its tail; the symbol for infinity. Also, his hand was smooth and manicured, which I found peculiar. As I drove away, I turned to see him holding on to his cat, waving goodbye to me.
I would have forgotten all about it if it hadn’t been for the eggs. I was a receptionist at a local hospital and I’d grown tired of the local cafeteria, so I sometimes brought my own lunch. And that day I had decided to bring a couple of boiled eggs, the ones the farmer had given to me the day earlier.
I was alone in the break room. I had peeled the first egg, and I had cut it in half. As the two halves fell away from the knife, I noticed something dark in one half. I couldn’t believe it. Embedded in the centre of the hardened yoke was a metal nut! A tiny six-sided nut, the type that screws onto bolts. I stared at the egg, turning it this way and that, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand how it could have gotten inside the egg. I had peeled the shell. I had cut the egg in half. How did it get inside?
I knew that Alfredo, a friend who worked as a radiologist in the hospital, was in the cafeteria having lunch, so I called him on his mobile.
“Alfredo, I need a favour. Can you X-ray an egg for me? I’ll make it worth your while.” I said.
“Are you kidding?” He asked.
“No, I’m deadly serious. There’s an aperitif and a pizza with your name written on them if you do this X-ray for me. Meet you in the X-ray room in five.” I replied.
The X-rays of the second egg confirmed it. There was a metal nut in that one too. I thanked Alfredo, asked a colleague to cover for me at the front desk, and headed to my car with the X-rays.
When I got to the farm, there was a fire engine there. Firemen were maneuvering hoses to douse a fierce fire. Four firemen were lifting a body bag into an ambulance. There was a charred hand sticking out of it, and I recognized the farmer’s snake ring. With the corner of my eye, I spotted the suicide cat; it jumped into my arms, and rested its head against my chest. I could feel it was shivering. Its collar had gone.
A fireman shouted to get out of his way and to take the cat with me. I walked back to my car and turned to look at the fire still raging. There was nothing left to do. I put the cat in the car. Before reaching home, I stopped at the side of the road, where I crushed the last boiled egg underfoot, and burned the X-ray. I called Alfredo and told him to burn any copies of the X-ray and not to mention it to anybody. He told me he didn’t know what I was talking about. I smiled; I knew I could trust Alfredo.
When I got home, I cracked open all the eggs and flushed the metal nuts I had found inside them down the toilet. It was then I noticed that the cat had become stuck to the fridge door like a magnet. From then on, I took pity on this creature, and decided to share my flat with it.
The cat never ate anything and never expelled anything. It only drank like a fish but never peed. It recharged in the sun. It never got old. It always chased mice but never killed them; it just scared the living daylights out of them. No dog ever got near it. Suicide cat had no smell and dogs, and all other animals, feared this above all else. They knew.
I met Anna, my girlfriend, through suicide cat; it had tried to get itself run over by her. She nearly drove off the road, and I ended up offering her a drink to make up for it. Months later, Anna became my wife and was the only other person to know the truth about suicide cat.
One evening, decades later, while Anna and I were watching a film, the cat fell asleep on her lap as usual but never woke up.