" Hack," said Fat Phil with unaccustomed caution
in his voice, "You're not real good with this death stuff, are you?"
I was busy talking to Syd, my dead cat, so I had to ask him to repeat
"Don't get me wrong, Syd was one of a kind," continued Fat
Phil. "He was a lot more human than a lot of people I know..."
Fat Phil said this, while casting a withering glance towards Rodney
L.T. Coombs, who had his head shoved into my refrigerator. Rodney L.T.
Coombs was looking for the last couple of bottles of beer I'd hid at
the back, right behind the "best before" stuff, that had now
become "not so good after" stuff.
"Here they are!" exclaimed Rodney L.T. Coombs triumphantly.
"I knew you had some beer here. I'm never wrong about these things."
Fat Phil said a bad word, and then returned his attention to the top
shelf of my front hall closet.
"It's nice that you had Syd cremated, and that you kept his ashes,"
said Fat Phil.
"And it's o.k., I guess, that you keep them on the top shelf of
Fat Phil paused, trying to find the right words.
"But, people are gonna think you're nuts if you keep takin' him
out for walks, and puttin' him on the coffee table to watch T.V. with
"You think he's watching too much T.V.?" I asked, feeling
a little guilty.
"Hack, every time you come and go, you say 'Hi Syd, I'm home'
or 'Take care of the place while I'm out' - Hack, people figure you're
loopy if you talk to live cats, let alone dead ones!"
I could tell that my calm silence, and knowing smile, was proving to
be unnerving to Fat Phil, so I attempted to put him at ease.
"Look Phil, I know it might seem a little odd. I mean, when I first
brought his ashes home I had every intention of finding an appropriate
place to scatter them.
"But it was kind of nice having him around again - he always was
"Never should have had him cremated," mumbled Rodney L.T.
Coombs, with his mouth full of some sort of sandwich he'd just made.
"Could've got a few bucks for him from the science lab guys."
Fat Phil and I were busy pretending Rodney L.T. Coombs wasn't there.
"Hack, ya gotta face facts. Syd was a giant, a champion, a real
thoroughbred! But, now, he's cat dust in a jar. You wouldn't talk to
the canned peaches, or a jar of pickles, would you?"
"There's no more pickles," chimed in Rodney L.T. Coombs.
"I had the last one."
"O.K. Phil," I said after some thought. I wasn't gonna tell
anybody this, but I guess I can confide in you."
Fat Phil looked uncomfortable.
"When I first brought Syd's ashes home, I put 'em on the top shelf,
there, so he could look outside every time somebody came and went. I
figured I'd just leave him there.
"But, one day I went to get the mail, and for no good reason,
I decided to take him down off the shelf.
"We went into the kitchen to make coffee - you know my hot water
tap is so hot, I can make instant right from the tap, without heating
it on the stove.
"Well, I put Syd down beside me on the edge of the sink, ran the
hot water, made coffee, and we both went into the living room."
"This story isn't makin' me feel any better about your mental
health," said Fat Phil.
"I realized I'd forgotten the cream, and when I went back to the
kitchen, I saw that a sponge, from the shelf above the sink, had fallen
into the sink, so I put it back on the shelf. I put it right at the
back, so it wouldn't fall down again."
Fat Phil lit a cigar, and waited for the punch line.
"Well," I continued, "I got back to the living room
and suddenly I hear a very loud gushing sound - at first I thought it
was coming from outside.
"So, I get up to check, and there in the kitchen, the water's
blasting full bore out of the sink tap. At first I figure somethin's
busted, but when I check, the tap handle is turned on full! And, I look
in the sink, and the sponge is there again!"
"Ah, maybe you just left it on yourself," offered Fat Phil.
"No, Phil, I would have noticed, and besides..."
"What?" asked Rodney L.T. Coombs.
"It was the cold water tap turned on full. I never touched the
cold tap. And, I put that sponge so far back on the shelf, it wasn't
Fat Phil was shaking his head. "I don't know, Hack..."
"Neither do I, Phil. But it was the first time I took Syd out
of the closet, into the kitchen, and then, suddenly, stuff starts movin'
Just then, a yelp came from the kitchen.
"The toast just popped up," screamed Rodney L.T. Coombs,
as he made a beeline for the front door.
"So?" Fat Phil queried.
"I wasn't makin' no toast!" hollered Rodney L.T. Coombs,
as he slammed the door behind him.
Fat Phil looked at me. Then he looked up at the top shelf of the closet.
Finally, Fat Phil spoke.
"Hack, do you think Syd would like to come watch T.V. at my place
sometimes? I still ain't totally convinced, but if it takes supernatural
powers to get rid of Rodney L.T. Coombs, I'm all for it!"