"Sheila's Nose." A Serial Cat Tail. Part 8. 'Wouldn't A Cat Who Had Lost Her Nose Enjoy Having Several Options To Choose From?'

The bells on the bookshop door chimed.  It was the elegant woman returning with her daughter, having changed her mind, he imagined, about the Pynchon.  Mr. Elliot hid the cat back on the poetry shelf and hurried to the door, his left eye twitching. 
The woman, who Mr. Elliot found fascinatingly repelling, said “Now, ask the nice man and he will tell you.  Your cat is not here.”  
Mr. Elliot, sensing the depth of her anguish, said to the girl,  “I don’t know what you are talking about.  There couldn’t possibly be a cat here that belongs to you." And then, so it wouldn't appear that he was lying, added,  "The mere notion of it is ridiculous.”  
He couldn't help but stare at the little girl's nose adorned with a large red scab.  “You’re lying!” she whispered.  Mr. Elliot who was not a liar by nature was so ashamed that he opened his mouth to say, "You are right dear child!" but he got no further than "you" when his tongue tripped up.  Despite all the work he had done with the halitothic speech therapist, he still was stumped by certain "r's".  The girl and her mother stared at the bookshop owner as he struggled, his face flushing crimson.  "Thank you very much!" the elegant woman offered, "I just remembered that she dropped it on the sidewalk."  And even though the girl knew this too was a lie, she followed her mother  through the door without protest, noting that in some lies, there was kindness.   
With "are right dear child!" flying off his tongue like shrapnel, Mr. Elliot dove for the door and locked it.  He flipped the sign.  CLOSED.  He was not surprised to see that the stuffed cat was resting on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
“A fan of T.S. are you?” he asked, stroking down the fur on the top of her head. In this bewildered little creature was a determination that matched his own.  He was not ashamed that he had worked many years as a tailor to save enough money to finance his dream of owning a book store.  He still kept a workshop, upstairs, off the kitchen.

With his glasses perched upon his nose, Mr. Elliot rummaged through his old scrap box and found a piece of rabbit fur and a small length of wire, just enough to make a new tail, one a little crocked at the end seemed best.  In his button drawer, he found a gem stone that didn’t look half bad as an eye.  But what to do about the nose?  He held up trinkets and bits of fabrics and buttons.  How to choose just one?  
        Sheila wanted to tell her kind savior that it didn't matter at all which nose he chose, though  the white cotton ball was very handsome. After one has suffered as she, one appreciates any nose one gets. Sheila was grateful.
         Suddenly, Mr. Elliot was awash with inspiration. Why only one?  Wouldn’t a cat who had lost her nose enjoy having several options to choose from?
He stayed up most of the night, sewing a snap to the spot where a nose should go and the other half of six snaps to six new noses he selected from his drawer of miscellaneous curiosities.   He chose the most festive of the new noses, a tiny ball of sparkling purple tinsel to snap onto Sheila’s face.  He smoothed her fur with a tonic he had used to tame his own wild locks before he had lost them.  He cleared a place on his nightstand.  Then, feeling silly, but compelled, he kissed the little cat on the top of her head and wished her a good night.  He set her on the nightstand and turned her so that when he lay down, he could look into her eyes.  That night he dreamt of Miss Abigail.
When he awoke the first thing he saw was his new companion sitting in the morning sun.  How charming she was!  He wanted to set her in the bookshop window, but he could not risk the little girl demanding her back. 
Several times that day, he snuck away to check on the little cat who he had set on a doily in the kitchen nook.  Each time he was so thrilled to see her, he changed her nose, from button nose, to clown nose, to tiny silver fish nose.  “Yes, she does bring one a certain inexplicable joy,” he whispered to Miss Abigail.  Mr. Elliot stood straight and blinked, realizing that ever since he found the cat he had been carrying on one long conversation in his head with Miss Abigail.

No comments:

Post a Comment