Puss in Boots ©
(This is a variation of the classic I updated earlier. b)
The Chairman of Gridlocks Corporation retired and his town house together with liquid assets he willed to his eldest son; his home in the suburbs he gave the middle son, and Randolph, the third son, got his tortoiseshell cat.
Compared to what his brothers received, mention of a cat in the will was merely chaff. Randolph meant almost nothing. After the will of Pilkington senior was read and his earthly goods divided up his brothers thought their youngest ought to have received more. Directly they set out to make amends. Randolph got part of the furniture earmarked for disposal, some pots and pans and a pair of calf-leather boots. Having done this the two shut the door on the face of young Randolph and the cat.
Young Randolph had to think of a roof over his head. He moved temporarily to the house of a friend. Luckily Baron Balderdash had a castle and some hectares of ground. Before leaving for a long cruise around the world this baron was certain that he would amuse himself in his estate.
‘Worthington Castle is a pile of ruin. But what a ruin!’ the baron said as he handed keys to him. Randy thus found himself in a castle where every stone was a slice of time chipped out and halls laid out with fan vaults, an antiquarian’s dream. While his brothers moved to widen their horizons he had a castle moat with drawbridge. The only advantage he could think of was it would discourage bailiffs from coming in, if it came to that..
Worthington Castle was grand but drafty; its demijohn dark and musty. Randolph Pilkington found the wine cellar bare and the larder empty. The cat checked the buttery while the master found some linen to furnish the sleeping quarters. The young master had no choice but settle his few belongings in one room that later he found was the boudoir of Lady Worthington. Looking through the Norman window he had to agree the lady could look at some pleasant vistas while she sulked. He made it his home in transit as it were.
What money he had was quickly spent in food and fuel. Next day a shivering Randy looked morosely about him. He was all alone but his cat purred as if he was purposed to bring some warmth into his life. He asked his cat, ‘How are we going to survive this?’
Puss said, ‘It is a four letter word. But in a time like this I cannot soft pedal.’
‘Is it some riddle?”
‘No, master’ replied the cat, ‘Only work can help you now.’
‘Puss I didn’t know you could speak?’
‘Your mistake master,’ the cat said matter of factly, ‘May I remind you I have nine lives?’
Poor Randy groaned and lay in his bed. ‘If I don’t sleep migraine attack is sure to come,’ and he slept.
On the third day the cat came up to his master and purred, ‘I have one request.’
‘Well what is it?”
“I would like to wear a pair of boots.”
‘Mine or my fathers?’
The puss said he had his heart set on his father’s unbroken boots. Randy laughed his heart out. His migraine was gone and he saw a glint in the eye of his cat. It was queer of course. Then he realized a cat who wished to break a new pair of boots must be prince among cats. He threw the pair of boots with a laugh towards him.
‘You break this new boot, ‘he said, ‘and let hell loose for all I care.’
The cat dug his paws into the boots.
Presto! The puss transformed himself into a man and the wonder of it was he was the spitting image of Randy Pilkington! The size was right and also the wave of his hair and mustache. The cat stroked the tuft of hair below his lips and silkily murmured, ‘mon panache.’.
‘Call me RP,’ said he trying his master’s best coat.
‘It fits me like a shot,’ said the body double after checking himself in a mirror. He admitted the only misgiving of his change was what to wear for an occasion. ‘Do I enroll myself in a suit or casually?’ He asked his master whether he recommended a pinstripe or a mauve shirt for the morning. The master whose shock had still not died down jabbed his finger to a sober grey. RP had some reservations. ‘I am going to the university of Runnymede’, said he.
Not wanting to jump him needlessly he explained that he had rummaged through his papers and was sure a bachelors degree in computer application and information systems was right up his alley.
‘But I am dud in mathematics or in working out figures’.
‘But I feel strong about the subject’
‘Well it is your funeral,’
RP thought his master needed to know a few matters between their relationship. ‘I intend to work and bring home the bacon.’
RP was sure from careful deliberation that he was right to say and say he did,’ Some people take to work like a duck to water and some don’t.’ His conclusion was his master would be a disaster in any workplace.
‘The more I see I know you will thrive only on your supine position.’
Young Randy knew his cat was all industry and eager to get ahead.
‘Trust me, master’ the cat announced as though he had read his thoughts.’I take your place from here and now.’
Before it sank in RP had all the papers in his briefcase and wallet.
‘What is your password?’
Ralph’s jaw dropped.
‘I have the bank statements social security number and other particulars.’ RP said and his confidence was awesome. Perhaps he was born to fill his dad’s boots, so thought Randy. So the master quietly clued him in.
‘But there is a heavy cutback and Tories are out to rub your nose on the gravel if you intend to work your way in?’
The cat gave a laugh that was tinged with diabolical cunning. He purred and said, ‘I am going to give work an altogether dimension. You need to learn how and what, from my example.’
There was something strange in the way he said it.
That evening RP came home and said he had to hang out with some students in a pub.
His observation was that picking all the loose information was good for the career. But he was reticent to answer questions in detail.
RP was good at his word. Everyday he went out and bought food from the supermarket swept the hall clean and polished his boots and cooked breakfast and it was quite a treat. Randy could on the strength of it bear life and the ghostly air of a castle as though he were in the Bahamas. The bleak countryside in his mind had brightened up thanks to his incomparable puss in boots.
Two months later a constable knocked at the door and demanded admittance.
PC. Potts the constable on duty said there was an armed robbery in the neighborhood. From several witnesses the law was trying to piece together the identity of the bandit. The law didn’t like the look of things. The young master burst out laughing, ‘And you come to me to solve it?’
The constable explained gravely a security van was waylaid and a bandit in boots had decamped with money. Randolph laughed and explained, ‘I didn’t go anywhere, I didn’t see anything or heard anything.’ The constable looked at him and his innocent face betraying no emotions hit him that he was wasting his time. Only that he asked in his line of duty if he could produce one who stood alibi. Alas the young master admitted he was alone in that castle and it made him feel very despondent to keep on with a conversation that was to no purpose.
The constable went off. His sixth sense said, ‘Master Randolph could not have even got away robbing old lady of her purse if he wanted to. But his experience tweaked him to consider two pairs of boots that stood innocently in one corner of the room. One had a peculiar cut and evidently made to order by some nob. He filed his suspicion away and went to the police station to report.
Meanwhile Randy did not observe the cat who had just ambled in his tail swishing and he silently jumped on to the cill to take in the back of a constable moving away.’ Well the caller drew a blank, didn’t he?’ he asked conversationally.
The young master wanted to ask how his study was getting on. ‘Application, application is the watchword, ‘he observed.
‘In what sense?’ Ralph asked.
‘Attending lecture is fine but applying it in real situation makes it all the more fruitful.’
Ralph had to observe, ’Work makes you take a moralizing tone as easily as baring your claws.’ Rather peeved he said, ‘I preferred you purr than drop pearls of wisdom. Coming from you it smacks of fish oil. ’
Strangely RP was not to be drawn in and he stealthily went out into the night.
PC Potts the constable went back to the police station made his report.
Five months later there was arson and an ATM was blasted. Money was found missing. Again witnesses found the culprit was seen moving in suspicious circumstances. Some witness could sweat whoever it was intended mischief. Some swore the culprit carried dangerous stuff to blast open the ATM. None however could be sure of the height or his color. But all of them agreed on one point. His boots were very distinct. The detectives also thought there was something in it. PC Potts immediately unlocked his mental file and informed his colleague about seeing something similar in the Worthington Hall. He was sure it could help them crack the case.
Meanwhile the sergeant in charge of the case found the shoe imprint. Photographs revealed all the more strange feature. The sole of the boot merely imprinted a cat’s paw in the debris of plaster and mortar. The evidence of boots was shooting beyond the realm of probability!
It so happened Randolph Pilkington had to do some business in the city. He took a taxi and called on his bank and checked his account. His cash balance of Pounds 82 s.12 had overblown as though by magic into 3 million! His hand trembled as he pored over the statement. Below he saw a debit entry and it had drawn the entire amount leaving pounds 1000 in his balance. He could from the transaction understand his unknown beneficiary had created a special account for College education.
He probed the manager who was sure that he had come four days earlier and had an interview with him. In order to make sure he referred to his diary and showed the day and the hour. The manager asked if he had any doubts as to it. Quivering inside Randy shook his head and said everything was in order.
Randy took leave of the manager and all of a sudden scales fell from his eyes. There was no unknown benefactor but a criminal mind who had taken over his life.
That night Randy wanted to have a show down with RP but at that precise moment a team of police constables descended from a van. The sergeant who led them was to the point. Politely but firmly he showed a warrant and searched the premises. One had directly swooped in and collected the two pairs of boots. One pair was identical to the description but the sole was as ordinary as any boots of a man size 10.
The sergeant pointed to the sole to his subordinate and hissed, ‘There is no imprint of a cat’s paw.’
One took down the details and photographed the pair. He asked, ‘Whose boots are these?’
‘Mine of course!” Randolph said without blinking. He knew he had to brave it out with them.
They also understood there were none in the castle but a man and his cat.
As soon as the van drove away Randolph confronted the cat and said, ‘You robbed a ATM off Soho and waylaid a publishing form in the middle of the street. Do you deny this?’
‘It all depends,’ the cat asked,’ are you asking RP or to your cat?’
Randy sank into his sofa dejected. ‘Have you ever thought of loss of name or honor if this crime is found out?’
‘Ah,’ exclaimed the cat ,’this crime shall never be laid at my door.’
Randolph could appreciate the gravity of his situation. He sighed and there was a painful silence such as one got to have machete to part it. Randy knew no rancor at what happened and also at that awful realization nothing would undo the damage. He said controlling his mixed up emotions, ‘RP don’t you think we need to make a fortune for living in style and have the best address in town? Perhaps I could have an escutcheon at the entrance with a cat en rampant? ‘
The cat just purred and went around his pair of boots swishing his tail lovingly around it.
‘Tomorrow I have a test. I must read well into night.’ he said. He meowed and went to his corner.