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What the Neighbours Said

by Beverley, Napier, New Zealand


Our neighbour Maurice has lived across the road from us from the year dot and is single, retired and lives alone. He regards our house as an extension of his own and particularly enjoys exchangers. He gets them from the airport, shows them the right places to visit and invites them to share all their problems.

Maurice was over in a flash when we arrived back. "There's been a burglary," he chanted with a grin.

"What," we shrieked. We had been burgled a couple of years earlier and had had some $3,000 of gear uplifted from the garage. They took our motor mower,car radio and all our gardening tools - they even took the broom. The garage is set back from the house and we slept blissfully on as they smashed open the garage side door with an axe and threw all our possessions over the back fence. They then knocked over pot-plants as they had a go at the back door. We installed a burglar alarm.

Maurice's story went something like this. The cat-hating pair were deep in the arms of Morpheus one night when the alarm went off. It's happened to us so I know how it feels. This ghastly noise is screaming through the house, your heart pounds, some axe-wielding maniac is probably loose in the kitchen! You reach for the cordless phone - do you ring the police? But wait, if you put on the light you're doomed for sure.

Finally, you creep down the hall, terror in your heart and end up in the kitchen. The blue light on the garage is blinking through the kitchen window. Your relief at the burglars not being in the house is dampened. Perhaps the burglars are in the garage. You reached for the garage door opener. To me, the opening of the double-doored garage is rather like the curtain going up in a stage show. There's a deep rumble from the orchestra pit, the curtain glides up, lights, action. This time the star of the show was on centre-stage, Ollie was on top of the car, stretching, bowing, yawning, and waving to the audience. God, how those people must have hated that cat.

We got further explanations from another neighbour who always volunteers to mow our lawns when we are away. He had collected the opener from the exchangers, got the mower out of the garage and mowed the lawn. He tidily put down the garage door and incarcerated Ollie.

Ollie's owners on the other side said the mean exchangers had obviously never given Ollie a morsel to eat and had locked him outside!! He had returned home like the bad penny and had had all his meals there.

I think I know what really happened. The woman had been driven demented by Ollie's yowling and had simply fed him every time he opened his mouth. {I'd say, that'd teach her for telling me that a cat's yowling wouldn't bother her!) Hence we had the interesting increase in the size of Ollie's girth and the disappearance of all the cat food.

I made a New Year's Resolution after that exchange. Future exchangers MUST BE CAT LOVERS. So there!


Editor's note:

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