Binky got up from the chair in the sitting room and swaggered into the kitchen.  There can have been few more inappropriate pet names than the one that adorned the large marmalade coloured blob that then squawked demandingly at Martin.  The latter attempting, unsuccessfully, to eat his cornflakes quietly so as not to enrage the church bell that seemed to be going off in his head.  Binky had been so named by Bonnie, Martin’s daughter before she had been taken away by her mother to live with Steve the plumber.

Bonnie loved the cat and the cat reciprocated.  She had constantly wandered around the house with Binky in her arms affixed like a ridiculously oversized brooch.  The animal had always been a little standoffish with other people but when Bonnie had left it had acquired a genuinely malevolent temper.  This had manifested itself in amongst other things lacerating Martin’s toes should they stick out of the bed, or lurking near the top of the stairs and feigning affection in an attempt to send Martin headlong down.  People had told Martin not to be so stupid when he had said that the cat was looking for revenge, but he knew, and Binky knew he knew.

It wasn’t that Binky expressly disliked Martin but his little friend had gone and someone had to bear the brunt of his anger.  Martin was now the only one in the house and was thus subjected to whichever of the random acts of violence the ginger fiend felt like mooting out.  Martin who had previously felt he was hanging on to at least some semblance of control over things when Bonnie and her mother were around had entirely lost it when it became clear that he was now below even the cat in the pecking order.  Both man and cat had been forced to adapt to a new way of life that had been in neither of their interests nor very much cared for.  The cat’s answer had been to acquire considerable rancour and the consequential menacing behaviour.  Martin’s had been to acquire large quantities of drink and the consequential hangovers, as evidenced today.

Last night had been especially savage, Martin had stayed in the pub until gone 2am and was now going to have to pay the penalty of too little sleep and too much beer.  To make matters worse he had awoken to find Binky sat on his windpipe at stupid o’clock in the morning and the matter had traumatised him sufficiently to not find sleep as restful as before.  This was of course not the first time Binky had attempted to kill him, there had been the aforementioned stairs incident, which had taken some explaining at the hospital.  He had only fallen down 3 steps to the point on the stairs where they turned ninety degrees but he had clattered his head into the wall and when he came to had gone to A&E to ensure he wasn’t suffering from concussion.  After that failed attempt the cat had appeared to curtail operations or at least became more covert and long-term in their planning and subsequent implementation.  Martin couldn’t be sure he hadn’t merely been lucky to have woken up on this particular occasion, Binky indeed seemed livid to be flung about in the flailing of arms of Martin’s panic and clung to the duvet like an angry mongoose, tail fluffed and spiked like a bottlebrush, ears pinned back and eyes as wide as saucers.

Binky for his part had been hungry and food had not been forthcoming in the kitchen from the slovenly idiot in the darkened stench-ridden bedroom.  His attempts at awakening the thing nicely had not worked, he had tried but impending starvation necessitated desperate measures and it was throat or danglies, he figured the former would be the kinder first port of call.  The cat did not understand why the man seemed to look considerably worse after sleeping than he had done prior to doing so.  He let out another yowl, an impeaching sound with the faintest hint of malice, that there would be trouble were it not heeded.  Martin got up and went to the kitchen, focusing on trying to figure out how he might survive the day.

The beleaguered figure at the table turned abruptly and shouted at the animal, banging his fists on the table as he did so before wincing.  Binky shot out of the room into the hallway where he sat with his back to Martin who had resumed his slouch over his cereal.  Both parties knew that Martin would pay for this, the cat took offence at being the scapegoat for the man’s hangover and Martin who was not at heart a cruel man recognised that Binky was not at fault for his predicament, not on this occasion.

Martin decided that as a piece offering he would put down a nice piece of fish.  He also needed to tackle the litter tray to clean things up, a job he had been trying to avoid for some days.  Binky had earlier decided that a dirty protest was in order and as well as the stench that pervaded the kitchen there had been some offerings near the entry to the hatch of the covered loo.  Martin had been in a state of disrepair when he had returned that night and staggered around with his face buried in his jacket to mitigate the appalling odour whilst he fumbled for some air freshener.  He had no intention of changing the mog bog again whilst battered.  It had taken over an hour to purge up the mess of the last well-meaning attempt and Binky had not taken kindly to the lack of facilities whilst Martin crawled around on his hands and knees bleaching the floor.

Martin took another handful of painkillers which had been prescribed for his chronic toothache some time ago and slugged them down with his coffee.  The doorbell rang.  He went to answer it and saw his daughter standing the other side of the frosted glass.  Martin had not realised the time and immediately stood up straighter and combed his hair back with his fingers.  He opened the door and there was Bonnie, a crooked smile on her face that suggested she knew exactly the dichotomy of her parental state and wished to please both camps.  Sarah shouted from the car parked right outside the gate.  “Don’t be long Bon-Bon remember we’re off for Laser Bowl and Pizza.”  That was low Martin thought, the bitch, Bonnie loved laser bowl, Martin had taken her there when she was seven and they’d had a wonderful father daughter afternoon returning flushed from laughing and bonded.  Sarah had sulked when they had got back all smiles and had insisted joining them the next time.  As far as Martin was concerned the woman was able to suck the very life out of a room, she could turn vibrant colour into monochrome and rosy cheeks to pasty-faced.  The  next laser bowl had been considerably flatter and they had been seldom since despite Bonnie’s pleading.

Bonnie came into the house, she was as pleased to see her father as she was the cat who ran down the stairs on recognition of her voice.  Binky’s countenance had changed immediately, Martin had largely forgotten that the cat could purr, he had not heard it for some time save for the rare moments of tenderness when the cat’s depression seemed to reluctantly require some comfort.  Now here he was winding himself in and out of Bonnie’s legs and raising himself to his hind legs so as to rub against her outstretched hand.  He froze briefly when he saw the cat basket.  That had meant trouble before, that had meant visiting that wanker who was obsessed with his arse and sticking needles into him, not to mention the subsequent poisoning of his food for weeks with those disgusting white tablets which he had to spit out when no-one was looking.  Binky had learnt the hard way not to do so when anyone was on hand as the first time they had wrapped him in a towel and rammed the thing down his gullet, it had been an experience the whole family wished to forget.  Bonnie had cried, Sarah barked at Martin to stop pissing about and get on with it and Binky had spat and hissed as if he were being violently abused, which from his perspective he had.  He had then shot up the stairs and under Bonnie’s bed where she had spent the next half an hour trying to coax him out.

The cat basket had been drugged accordingly and the scent of catnip wafting enticingly drew Binky trance-like toward it.  Bonnie put the front grill on whilst the cat rolled around on the floor of it covering himself in little green seeds.  She watched him for a few moments before turning back to her father.  “Are you ok Daddy?” she asked “do you miss me?” she had added quickly.  Martin nearly welled up, he couldn’t really tell her that without his daughter his life lacked any meaning or direction, that the pain of losing her had robbed him of the very reason for being, that he would rather not be at all if the alternative was not being with her.  It wouldn’t be fair he thought, she couldn’t understand.  Bonnie had a comfortable home now, he hated Sarah but on the whole he did not doubt her maternal instincts, and Steve the plumber had seemed a pleasant bloke in the week he had known him before he became the adulterous git that had been the final nail in the coffin for him and his wife.  Bonnie was best off out of it, this area was full of half feral kids anyway, thieving little swines, and the local school was just a haven for their criminal activities.  He had always wanted to protect Bonnie from that and the irony of the fact that the removing her from him had done just that was not lost on him.  “I’m fine sweetie, don’t you worry., and of course I miss you, you know that.”  He hoped she’d accept the platitude.  “How’s your new school?” he asked “Have you made friends?”  Bonnie nodded brightly.  The car outside honked. “I have to go Daddy, Mummy will get cross if I don’t, will I see you soon?” “I’m always with you my love, you know that, even when you can’t see me I’m watching over you and I always will be don’t you worry about that” Martin embraced the girl tightly.  He knew there was no chance in Sarah agreeing to let him see Bonnie with any regularity without a court battle which he could not afford.  The cow had told him that if he handed over the house she might consent to some visitation but agreeing would leave him homeless and her with the house which she’d never even liked and she already had Steve’s nice 3 bedroom semi in the far more salubrious Malton 50 miles away.  Sarah held all the cards and Martin’s only bargaining chip to coax Sarah into letting Bonnie return now and again had been the creature now in the box ready to depart.

Bonnie had recently implored him to let Binky come and live with her because she missed him so much and he could not refuse.  He had never been able to, she had wound him round her little finger when she was a day old and not unwound him since.  Sarah didn’t even like bloody cats but she knew what Binky meant as well as he did.  Bonnie picked up the basket and asked her father if he wanted to say goodbye.  Martin knelt down and looked in as Binky’s paw came through the grate and waggled around looking for something to claw.  Martin felt it was an appropriate parting, his claws had not even been properly out, more of a friendly attempt to wound for old times sake, Martin smiled, the little bastard, be strange not to have him around.

A sudden wave of melancholy hit him which he desperately stifled as Bonnie kissed him and walked out of the front door.  Waving goodbye he kept the smile from the gravitational pull of the sadness and nausea inside.  He wanted Bonnie to remember him as he was not what he had been becoming.  Shutting the door and going to the sitting room he slumped into the sofa.  It was beginning, he could feel the narcosis, not long now.  He picked up the small bottle of barbiturates on the coffee table next to him, looked at the label briefly and took the thirteen that remained.

Song Of The Day ~ Phoenix 23 – It’s a Blast

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