Cats were everywhere. Twining around each other on the floor in little cliques. More were perched on top of tables and countertops. There was even one lazily preening itself upon the fridge.
The smell that got to me first; cat litter, rotten fish and the tang of bleach used to clean up after them ineffectively. This house belonged to the cats, not the old man who harboured them.
It was all I could do not to retch right there in the dining room, and in my line of work, I’ve had occasion to smell some putrid homes.
The second was all of those green and golden eyes focused on my every move as I made my way gingerly across the room. There was the intelligence there that all cats possessed and humans could never hope to understand, but there was also distrust and loathing.
I was not welcome, invited by their host or not.
It was at that moment that the host himself came shuffling into the room.
‘Thank God you came, Detective Russell!’ Harold exclaimed, his weathered face crumpled in distress.
‘Take a deep breath and tell me what’s happened.’
‘I came home and found the victim on my back porch, Detective.’
I followed as Harold led me to the crime scene.
‘I swear it couldn’t have been my cats,’ he was saying as I looked down at the victim, horrified despite my long experience with violent death.
I shook my head. Poor dog, he’d never stood a chance.
© Alison Pearce 2008