Powder Burn Flash # 304 - Simon Hood
The Assassination Of Caesar
by Simon Hood
Mr. Jones bent down and placed the dish of cat food on the grass in front of him. He moved his torch from left to right, illuminating the garden in a steady arc. Privet, shed, grandkids' swing, sandpit, fence. On its return journey, the beam picked out a pair of eyes shining back at him. Caesar. The eyes were edging closer, advancing towards the smell of the food. Mr. Jones switched off the torch, clamped it between his teeth and opened up the sack which he had been holding in his other hand. It's come to a sorry pass, he thought, for him to be skulking around in his own back garden like this.
Caesar padded up to the dish and began to devour its contents. In a movement so swift that he surprised himself, Mr. Jones swept up the cat and dumped it in the sack. He brought an end to its desperate mewling with the nearest thing to hand. Immediate silence. He hadn't really struck it that hard, more of a tap he'd thought; akin to someone trying inexpertly to crack a boiled egg with a spoon. But it had done the trick; the bundle writhed no more. Mr. Jones dropped the half brick in the sack for ballast and secured it with garden twine. He made his way through his garage, down his front drive and into the gloom beyond.
Mr. Atkinson sat down on the rough timbers of the little bridge which spanned the village beck. He settled himself down here every Sunday between church and roast dinner, an hour or two of solitude in which he would sit and contemplate. On the rare occasions that he caught something – a slender dace, a chub or a spiky perch – he would toss it back in with the minimum of fuss. For him it was about the rumination, not the sport. Once, he caught an eel and grappled with it in and out of the water for more than half an hour. He hadn't enjoyed the episode at all; it quite upset the gentle rhythm of his day. Mr. Atkinson was mulling over that very incident, trying to forget that Caesar had been missing for more than a week, since the 15th March, when his line snapped suddenly taut and his rod bent almost double. Mr. Atkinson didn't get excited, he knew there were no fish in these shallow waters big enough to impinge on his calm like this. His hook had snagged on the reeds which grew on the beck's bed, it happened all the time. The only solution in situations like this was to resort to brute force. Mr. Atkinson stood up and set about his task. It took him a full ten minutes to reel in his beloved pet.
Mr. Jones was poised, knife over beef, when he heard the knock at the door. He stopped, mouth agape and blade aloft, like a hairdresser who had lost the thread of his conversation mid-flow. What could possibly be important enough to interrupt Sunday dinner? Mr. Jones downed his tools, wiped his hands on a teatowel and glanced at his wife.
“Won't be a moment, dear”.
Mr. Jones left the dining room and made his way to his front door. He opened it briskly, to be met by his neighbour's grave face.
“Geoffrey, to what do we owe the pleasure”.
Mr. Atkinson spoke calmly, through whitened lips. “Just wondering if you've seen Caesar recently?”
“Caesar? No, why? Has he gone missing?”
“I think you know he has, Bob”.
“I don't quite follow, Geoffrey. I'm sorry if he's missing. I know how you feel, what with Horace....”
“For the last time Bob, I didn't steal your bloody rabbit. He probably got out of his own accord, that hutch you built is hardly the sturdiest construction.”
“Well after what you did to my car, nothing would surprise me.”
“We've been over this, that was bugger all to do with me. Probably those Dale kids up to no good again. Why would I key your car?”
“I thought after I'd snapped off your wing mirror.....” Mr. Jones trailed off into an embarrassed silence.
“Ha! So it was you!”
“Yes it bloody well was, how many times did I have to ask you not to park in my space? I'm not proud of that, but petty vandalism's one thing, accusing me of killing your cat's a step too far though.”
“Who said Caesar was dead? I only said he was missing”
“I, I, I, I.......”
“Button it. I knew you'd done it, but you've just confirmed it. Remember those high winds the other day? Your bin fell over and I picked it up, put some stuff back in. Empty Whiskas tin in there. Odd, I thought. Last week, I was stood behind you in the Post Office queue when you asked them for a spare mail sack. Didn't think much of it at the time. I fished that sack out of the beck this morning, all wrapped up in your green garden twine, same as what you lent me.”
Mr. Jones dropped all pretence of innocence. “Sod you, Geoffrey, it's no more than you deserve, after what you did to my Horace. Probably put him in your pot and served him up, I know your game.”
“You're deluded, Bob. I ought to knock some sense into you.” Mr. Atkinson stepped forward and grabbed his neighbour by the throat.
Mr. Jones' eyes bulged, but only partly because he was being throttled. Mr. Atkinson followed his horrified gaze to the front lawn, across which a fat grey rabbit was hopping back to his hutch.
BIO: Simon cycles round the UK, writes about it and calls it work. Check out his website at www.bicyclekicks.co.uk