The Perils of Possum Point is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between persons, organisations or events described here and actual persons, organisations or events is purely unintentional.

The Cat on the Mat

Marcus Aurelius Mashed Potato was a largish, plumpish, evil cat. His walk was loppy and his eyes were crossed, and he was huge, and reddish brown. He was a stalker of birds and of rabbits and of mice; of things which walk upon the earth, and of things which crawl. Of bugs, of snails, and of arachnids. Yea, even of larger things, though with lesser success, as when he cornered glubglub in Jason's shed and nearly had his tail bitten off.

Marcus was not precisely owned by anyone in the neighborhood, though he was generally fed by Mavis Gromlin. The name came first from Trevor McGill, who thought he had a pompous look, and the vegetative surname was later supplied by Mavis' grandson.

Marcus roamed through Possum Point, digging up gardens, pooping in bird baths, dropping dead animals on porches, yowling lustily at night, and generally annoying everyone. Except for Mavis, of course. Who fed him.

Now, Marcus was blessed with more than the usual number of lives. Which was just as well. He had survived poisonings, dog attacks, shotgun blasts and Range Rovers. Nearly everything movable had been thrown at him, from crockery to old tyres. None of this had caused him to change one iota.

Everyone had some experience with Marcus. Trevor had proclaimed a fatwah against him. Ned had created a powder that turned his fur a bright green for a time. Sara anointed him with mop dip. John had once tied him to glubglub, resulting in a tornado of fur and claw that subsided only when both creatures were exhausted. The birds had bespeckled him. But it was all to no avail.

Ned had a unique relationship with Marcus Aurelius Mashed Potato. From the moment Ned had moved in, Marcus had been giving him the eye...that cold, inscrutable cat stare. Perhaps it was because he had lived under the back shed before Ned arrived. Or, more likely, he just had a specific cat prejudice against a newcomer. So Ned had been in for more than his share of cat incidents. Most particularly, Marcus would yowl and create a great commotion whenever Ned had an important phone call, which, to Ned, was intolerable. The loathesome moggie also left dead animals on the doormat, precisely where Ned was likely to step.

One afternoon, Ned was having some lunch outside, thinking of this and that, admiring the rubble left by the roof incident. A brace of Satan's Slaves chanced to be walking down the street from their clubhouse. As they passed his cottage, Ned muttered somewhat loudly to himself "Will someone not rid me of this meddlesome cat?"

"What'd'ye reckon?" said the largish, fat-ish, greasy-ish Slave to the other.

"Mmm," was the response.

The Slaves continued on. Ned returned inside.

The Satan's Slaves had established a club house in Possum Point. As a smaller gang, consisting of only two members, they had been forced out of Christchurch, then out of Kaiapoi, then out of Rangiora, and progressively northward until they had finally arrived here. Here they could live off the fat of the land, which is to say, the dole, without either competition or harassment from authorities. But you can't have a gang without dastardly deed, and that is how the Marcus problem presented itself. In fact, if you thought about it, it could amount to something like a gang war, with Marcus resembling the larger Slave to a great degree.

Came a loud yowling, echoing and re-echoing through Possum Point. This was followed by the throaty roar of a motorbike. And then there was silence.

"It's all my fault," thought Ned. "They must have heard...and did...Oh Woe! He was not that great a cat, but...he was a cat. And a cat among cats, no doubt. A cat's cat. And now he is slaughtered, most horribly, by brutal thugs."

The neighborhood went into mourning. "Oh, Marcus, you foolish beast" said Mavis. "They were too many for you."

No corpse could be found, and the neighbors shuddered to think what the Slaves might have done.

The next morning, Ned opened his door to find Marcus glowering at him, and a dead rat deposited daintily upon his doormat. Marcus twitched his tail, then was off to bother others.

Later, the Satan's Slaves were seen to leave town, the short, mean one with his hands wrapped in bandages, and the larger one walking with a curious limp. They were heading north again, having once more been pushed out of town.

As for Marcus Aurelius, he was given a great deal more toleration, and attempts to assassinate him were greatly reduced.  

Copyright (c) 1996, 1997 Brian J. Dooley