The Cat Under The Bed
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Maggie was not one to believe much of anything her mother
had ever told her about the curse. She awoke from another dream one night and felt it throbbing
just as her mother told her long ago; or maybe that was a dream,
too. Sometimes she was not really sure of everything that she
thought. Things would brush through her mind like willow leaves
in the wind, long and green and filled with life and motion,
but she could not determine which of them were real and which
When the throbbing pain continued in the darkness and
pulled her into reality, she knew it was real. She fought it
all the while kicking and tearing at the dream cat, the dream
cat that along with herself, was the second part of reality
that was part of the dream. When Maggie came out of the sleep
and the dream, the cat would still be there, it\'s razor-point
teeth still dug deeply under her fingernail. The cat, sleek and
yellow and biting on the end of her finger until she was rolling
on the floor in the pitch black night and the cat went with her
all the way because it was attached to her finger.
Somehow she managed to make it to the doorway, and reaching
upward with her free hand, tried to find the light switch and
the safety of reality. She could hear the growling now, and the sound
of the cats tail swishing across the floor. There was no mercy, and
her finger would not tear off and the cat refused to let go. A
thousand shots of pain shot up through her arm and made it feel as
if it were about to explode off of her body. She felt something
hot then cold then burning hot again rushing out of her arm and
her forehead. It flowed into her eyes and in the darkness
could not yet change to the blood red of reality pain...she had
to reach the switch! She had to reach the light switch and stop
the agonizing pain from the dream before it consumed her completely.
Suddenly the cat let out a terrible, shrieking cry, as if
some huge person had stepped on its stomach, and she could feel the
teeth come out of her flesh. She stared into the darkness, trying to
see its eyes, but they were as dark as the death grip the animal
had on her finger. She braced herself against the wall, pushing
her blood covered arm upward and found the light switch.
As light filled the room, the only indication of the cat
was its yellow tail swishing as it disappeared under the bed. Maggie
sat there against the wall, looking first at her black fingernail,
then under the bed where it was. Finally she stood up and slowly
made her way to the bed. The pain was gone now, everything about
the dream was gone except her black fingernail, and the cat. She
knew it was still under the bed. Slowly, she lifted the edge of
the bedcovers and looked, then she saw its eyes. The dream was
over but the cat was still there just as she had been told.
She went into the bathroom and held her hand under the cold
running water. She knew the cat was still under the bed, but it
would not bother her again until the next dream.
The next morning she told Clarence. He lived upstairs and
usually let himself in with the key she had given him and would
have breakfast waiting on her when she got out of the shower each
morning. Maggie had trusted him immediatly when they met and so far
had managed a near perfect relationship with no sex. Not even a
kiss goodnight. Sometimes she thought about it, and wondering if
he thought about it, too.
\"My god! It\'s falling off!\" he screamed through his
oatmeal. \"Does it hurt?\"
\"It\'s numb,\" she said. \"But it doesn\'t really hurt.\"
\"It looks like--if I drilled for oil there I would
get a real gusher!\"
\"This is no time for jokes,\" Maggie said. \"That cat will
kill me with pain.\"
\"You need to see a doctor.\"
\"No good. You don\'t understand. I have to get rid of the
cat. I have to destroy it while it is attacking. It\'s the only way.\"
\"My cousin has a shotgun,\" said Clarence, \"but he\'s
out of town. All I have is a baseball bat. You want me to run
up and get that?\"
\"You can\'t kill it now,\" she said.
\"How did this family curse all come about?
She hadn\'t planned on telling Clarence anything about the cat
or the dream and certainly not about the curse. It was all too
unbelievable. But Clarence was the logical one to tell and
for some reason it didn\'t surprise her now that he was believing
\"Ok,\" she sighed, sitting across from him and looking
him straight in the eyes. \"My grandfather was something of a-
well, a ladies man.\"
\"Don\'t interrupt. Grandpa Michael. We didn\'t call him
that, we just called him Grandpa. Anyway, he liked the ladies
and the ladies liked him. I think Mawmaw knew it but...\"
\"Mawmaw? Why was she Mawmaw but Grandpa-Grandpa?\"
\"Family tradition,\" she moaned. \"Listen up! A band of
gypsies came to town and Grandpa took a liking to one of the
young girls, I mean really young.\"
\"Really young,\" she said. \"You know, gypsies marry them
off really, really young.\"
\"That\'s not fair,\" Clarence said. \"I knew some gypsies and
they were great people.\"
\"Well,\" she reasoned, \"these must have been different
gypsies. Anyway Grandpa got caught in the act...\"
\"Mawmaw catch them?\"
\"Her Mama caught them. Down by the river and in broad
daylight her Mama and some other gypsies walked right up on
them. Needless to say the girls Mama thought her reputation
\"I thought Grandpa was a pillar of society, what about
\"It was already ruined,\" Maggie laughed. \"Everybody knew
what Grandpa liked to do.\"
\"So the gypsy put a curse on your Grandpa.\"
\"And his household, forever until the curse is killed.\"
\"That finger sure is black.\" he said. \"Maybe we could
find some gypsy to remove the curse? After all that was years
ago, and most gypsies today are a little more liberal...\"
\"Clarence, come on! No gypsy will even think of removing
a curse that another gypsy has put on someone. It\'s unspeakable.
The only way is to destroy the cat.\"
\"Ok,\" he agreed. \"Tonight I wait with my bat in hand,
and when the cat shows up to chew on your finger, I will...\"
\"This is real, Clarence!\"
\"Ok. I will pound the cursed thing to mincemeat!\"
That night Maggie went to bed after her usual prune cocktail,
while Clarence sat himself in the corner clutching his baseball
bat. They had agreed that once in the bedroom, she would immediately
turn off the light and neither of them would say anything.
He did ok until she went to sleep, then he grew impatient. He
tried to see into the darkness but there was no light coming
from anywhere, her bedroom was like a tomb sealing out the
entire outside world.
\"You sure like it dark in here,\" he whispered. She
was asleep and did not respond. He was about to leave when
he heard a scratching sound coming from the direction of the
bed. He clutched the bat tighter and squinted his eyes in the
unrelenting darkness. There was nothing to see. Maggie started
tossing in her sleep, mumbling something about the bathroom.
All at once a soft light began glowing from Maggies direction
and Clarences\' eyes began to detect outlines of everything
in the room. He heard a terrible low growl fill the room and
Maggies breathing got deep and heavy. Everything in the room
was shaking from the sound of the cats shrieking.
Then it got deathly quiet and Clarence could see
everything in a soft light like he had never experienced.
Maggie lay on the bed as if helplessly shackled to the bed
posts, arms and legs outstretched.
Then the cat stuck its head out from under the
bed. Clarence could see its\' eyes, bloodshot red and
pulling at his mind as if the cat were trying to mesmerize
him into bondage. \"Where did you come from you ugly piece
of dung!\" Clarence screamed.
The cat sprang out from under the bed and lay
crouched on the floor, stone silent and wagging its\' tail
ever so slowly, as if a mountain lion about to spring on
its\' prey. Clarence raised the baseball bat and swung as
hard as he could! The blow threw the animal screaming across
the room, where it bounced off the wall and, claws
slashing, grabbed Clarence by the hand. \"Asshole
vermin!\" Screamed Clarence, trying to fling it away.
But the cat held tight, all the time biting
into his bleeding hand. \"Dream hell!\" Clarence said,
rolling on the floor with the fighting cat. \"This is no
dream! The light! I got the cat, turn on the light!\"
Suddenly Maggie awoke and turned on the light.
\"Is that the cat?\" she shrieked.
\"Crap!\" he screamed back at her.
\"It\'s the cat,\" she said, grabbing the baseball
bat from the floor. She started clubbing the cat as hard
as she could, unaware that she was also beating
Clarences\' hand. Finally the cat let out a horrible
scream and fell to the floor and died.
\"Wow,\" said Clarence. \"That sure was one mean
cat. Is the curse over now?\"
Maggie smiled apologeticly. \"Well, see, there\'s this
Fort Knox, KY