It wasn’t just the murder, he decided. Everything seemed to have conspired to ruin his day as well. Even the cat. Well, come to think of it, especially the cat.
He’d arrived at Herb and Myrna’s early in the evening as planned, with the packet of cyanide secreted in the pocket of his jacket. His luggage was already in the boot of the car. At the last minute, he decided to carry his revolver with him. Strictly for emergencies. The last thing he wanted to do was to call attention to his movements with a gunshot.
Herb greeted him at the door with his thinning black hair combed neatly over his bald spot. “Hi, Rich. Come in and have a drink. Myrna is just getting dressed.”
Herb behaved exactly as he’d predicted. After all, they’d been business partners for years. He was really quite a nice fellow. What a shame he had to do him in. It hadn’t been part of the plan when he’d started salting away some of their profits. He hadn’t banked on falling for Myrna, and it was simply impossible to disappear with both the money and the wife without Herb contacting the authorities and giving chase.
As Herb poured him a drink, Rich fixed his eyes on the painting on the wall behind him, preparing a distracting comment while palming the packet of cyanide. It shouldn’t take much to distract him. Herb was going on and on about a violent convenience store break-in he’d read about in the papers. He was always worrying about their stores being robbed.
Then Herb put the bottle away. Without pouring himself a drink.
“What about you?” he asked.
“None of that stuff for me, Rich,” he said. “I’ve just been for a checkup. My blood sugar’s high and the doctor suggests giving up alcohol. Say, what have you got there, Rich? Some new recreational drug?”
“Uh, yeah,” he said, grabbing the opportunity. “Care to try?”
To his surprise, Herb’s mild green eyes narrowed. “Are you mad? You know that most of the guys in the papers who commit rape and murder were high on drugs! I’ve got my wife to think of, so if you’re on anything like that, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
He was now unable to come up with another strategy. So, in a remarkably uncreative move, he pulled out his gun and shot Herb.
Ugh. Blood everywhere. He hated mess. To make matters worse, the bullet had exited and struck the painting behind Herb, one that he really admired. It was worth quite a bit, too, and he’d contemplated bringing it with them, but now that was impossible.
He heard the sound of feet running down the stairs then Myrna appeared. “Get your stuff and let’s go,” he said.
Instead she dissolved into tears. “I can’t,” she gasped. “I can’t leave my precious one.”
“Precious one?” he sneered. “You told me you had no more feeling for him.”
“No, no, it’s Guinevere.”
“Guinevere? The cat?”
“My cat. She’s pregnant, and I just can’t leave her when she’s in a delicate state, poor darling….”
There was no more time. He knew they wouldn’t be allowed on a flight to a foreign country with an animal. Change of plan then. It wasn’t like anything had gone according to plan in the first place.
He ordered her into the car with her luggage and yes, the cat. They’d have to drive to the mountains to hide and they’d better go before some neighbor reported hearing a gunshot to the police. They’d probably end up in an abandoned shack with no running water instead of a five-star Caribbean hotel as he’d planned. Well, Myrna was asking for it. Still better than jail.
They had just left the city limits when the cat began emitting cries of distress that were soon echoed by her owner. Rich finally broke down, what with the screeches of the cat and the pleadings of Myrna and pulled over at an inn. The proprietress, a cat lover, immediately called a vet to attend to the screechy white bundle of fluff.
Following the delivery of the kittens, they fell into bed exhausted, only to be awakened an hour later by the sound of sirens. The windows being barred, there was no means of escape. He went out quietly with his hands up, Myrna timidly following.
In the hall, he spied the copy of the evening paper that had tipped the innkeeper off. The huge society photo from Herb and Myrna’s living room had been reproduced. It depicted the couple with the huge Persian sprawled across Myrna’s lap.
“I recognized the lady from the cat,” the innkeeper said. “Now don’t worry, Guinevere and her kittens will be taken care of.”
“And so will you,” added the officer, as he snapped the handcuffs on.
He got the life sentence but incredibly, Myrna was acquitted. Her attorney created the impression that Rich had abducted her by using the damned cat as a hostage. The story made it big in the papers, and there was even a color photo of Guinevere with all her kittens. There were six in all. Five of them fluffy blue-eyed white clones of their mother. And one with patchy black fur that glared out at him with unwavering green eyes.