Archive for August, 2009

The Cat Man

August 24, 2009

My first published story – thanks to The Legendary ezine! Here they are:

http://www.downdirtyword.com/authors/fayfranklin.html

And here’s the story:

There is a small island, a bare, dry rock of a place, with a harbour at one end and a monastery at the other, set in Homer’s wine-dark waters, nestled snugly in the reluctant arms of the Turkish coast. Nothing so very special, you might think, but, once upon a time, if you were there of a warm evening, settled at a rickey harbourside table, sipping an ouzo or a retsina and nibbling from a chipped dishful of salty olives and anchovies, you would have seen an amazing thing.

As if at some silent signal, the island’s shabby assortment of patchwork-patterned cats would begin slipping from the shadows, padding softly to the water’s edge, and sit. Watching. Waiting.

At first, you would not even notice the stocky fisherman, plaid shirt, bushy beard, strolling towards you along the quay. But the cats would notice, and you would see them, one by one, falling into step behind him, until he was walking, Pied-Piper-like, past your table to the salt-faded net sheds.

There, while his assembled followers sat again and waited patiently, no leg-winding or mewing, he would fill bowls with all the gutty, boney, bloody detritus from the day’s catch, and feed his flock. He was their god, and he walked amongst them every evening.

We did not know his name. We called him the Cat Man.

Once we asked Costas, who ran the bar, if we might buy the fisherman a drink to thank him. He’s very shy, reclusive, we were told. It would embarrass him. He keeps company with the cats alone.

Some years later, returning to the island, we waited for an evening promenade that never came.

We asked Costas, where is the fisherman with the cats?

Costas topped up our glasses and shook his head. It had been a hard winter that year, no boats getting to the island for weeks, and people and cats were hungry. Giorgos, our marvellous Cat Man, had gone out fishing. He had used that infallible Greek solution for a fast catch in bad weather. Dynamite. One slip, maybe it was the cold, who knows, and his hands were blown to pieces.

Fellow fishermen got him back to the harbour, he was flown to the mainland still alive, and the surgeons must have worked some kind of miracle, but he would never fish again.

We saw him the next evening as he walked along the quay, his prosthetic hands hanging by his sides. There were no cats in his wake. Cats are, after all, fickle creatures, and anyway the old generation, who basked in his beneficence, was long gone.

But, Costas told us, it had made Giorgos a changed man. Having to accept the care and the concern of his fellow islanders had brought him out of himself. Now he would join them at the bar for a drink and a laugh. It turned out he was a fine singer when Lefkas picked up the wheezy accordion. He had met a good woman, who kept house for him and… Costas winked, and moved away along the bar, topping up glasses.

Giorgos did still have one cat. Fatima. Costas pointed her out to us, as she dozed peacefully in the shade, and she lived up to her name. The sleekest, glossiest, fattest cat on the island. And, although it was bitter that his hands could not caress her fur – the greatest pleasure, as anyone who loves cats knows – still, we thought of her curled up close to that bearded cheek at night, purring, sending him to sleep with her melody. Bringing a good man sweet dreams of when he was a god.

We got to buy the Cat Man that drink at last.

This is a true story.

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Welcome to FirstFolio

August 13, 2009

Fay Franklin is a professional travel guidebook editor and writer, and a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers. However, she regularly strays away from the world of non-fiction as a participant in a weekly literary flash fiction writing challenge at www.showmeyourlits.com. Her short stories have been published by The Legendary, HazardCat, Fiction365, Cuento, StoryMondo, The Ghastling and Litro, which made her one of its “Ones to Watch”. She lives by the water on each side of the English Channel, but not both at the same time.

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