Neighborhood Cat Lady

perched hawk

Her arcane speech was difficult to follow. It was like trying to decipher a cryptic language, and not just the lexicon of a bygone era. Even the name she used to introduce herself, Goody Birdwhistle, was a mystery, because Goody was neither her actual first name, nor a description of her temperament.

Widowed five decades ago, Goody remained single after her husband died in a freak jaywalking accident. Some say she pushed him in front of a city bus, others speculated he jumped to get away from his sharp-tongued bride.

Suddenly single and rich, Goody spent a portion of the inheritance from her wealthy banker husband on a two-story Minimal Tudor Cottage at the edge of town. Through guile and astute business acumen, Goody built her modest fortune into an impressive portfolio.

She also built a reputation as the town eccentric, and mean Cat Lady.

Neighborhood kids could hear her shouting at them to “avaunt from my garth.” It wasn’t until she turned a garden hose on them that they realized she wanted them out of her yard.

The greengrocer was concerned about his virtue when she asked whether his “love apples” were ripe and firm. The relief over learning she was inquiring about his tomatoes was enough to prompt him to simply give her a dozen of the fruit.

Goody was also known to yell at the scantily clad college co-eds walking in front of her house, berating them as “strumpets” and “fizgigs.” They would yell back, in their vernacular, words that were as foreign to her.

It was the absence of her daily outcries that was the first indication something was amiss with Goody Birdwhistle. No children are admonished, no young ladies were chastised, and no farmers were propositioned. Her mail was delivered without complaint, and her prescriptions were prepared at the apothecary without her finding fault in the compounds.

Sheriff Roswell, intent on making a courtesy call on the dowager, approached her front door only to find it slightly ajar. Entering the foyer, Roswell first noticed Goody’s cats. The dozen or so felines circled around his legs mewing, getting between his feet risking their tails and his ankles should he trip and fall.

Calling Goody’s name, he went from room to room. Seeing nothing amiss, aside from the vanished occupant, Roswell inspected the backyard and outbuildings. A canvass of her neighbors uncovered no new information about Goody’s whereabouts.

With a lack of immediate family to make a report, Roswell opened a missing person investigation. Despite weeks of investigation by his best detectives, no clues to what happened to Goody Birdwhistle could be found.

Her cats were taken to the city shelter and adopted out to new homes. Her belongings and home were auctioned off, and the proceeds were used to build a new city park, reluctantly named in her honor.

Locals claim that Goody just “meaned” away. They pointed to a lingering hawk that roosted in the dead oak tree in her former front yard. They said that the carrion bird was actually Goody, and her screeching was her continued scolding of all who encroached on her property.

This week’s Studio30 Plus: “Arcane” and/or “Mysterious

9 thoughts on “Neighborhood Cat Lady

  1. Around the corner from where I grew up was a run down house, sitting at a slight angle on a never mowed slight rise in the ground (never a hill) and in that house lived a woman we were sure was a witch. She was nasty, had 5 black cats and yelled whenever you used her three pavestones worth of sidewalk. I was terrified and quietly intrigued by her in equal measure.

    This reminded me of her and so I loved it for making me remember.


  2. I agree with the above comment… I really enjoyed this! It was eloquently written, humorous, and witty! Such a great way to learn some new vocabulary 😉 The story had such a nice sense of completion by the end, as well! The villagers’ theorising about how Goody “meaned” away into a hawk was interesting. I also enjoyed the image of the cats swarming around at the feet of the guy who came to investigate.
    Long story short, you’re talented! Keep writing! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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