This is an unusual type of post. I did not write it. It is a recently-discovered short story written by my mother's late husband "Rosy" (he himself always used quotes around his name).
The story is a bit of whimsical by-play with no deep meaning that I can detect. The title is mine.
I have no idea when it was written. It is a rather untypical piece of work. "Rosy" wrote several pieces based on his life experiences as oil rigger, cow rancher, etc. You can find more here.
On a bitterly cold Saturday, Albert Ronoff hurriedly packed the few belongings he possessed into his compact duffel bag. He had been overcome with lethargy all day, for the dreary weather had comfortably surrounded him, but now he was all but comfortable. He quickly straightened his aching back and rolled his shoulders repeatedly. It was definitely time for him to move on to another country. The small-town animal shelter of Sun Valley had served its purpose all too well. He had successfully managed to make fur coats out of five hundred very unlucky little kitties Now Sweden’s cats had reason to be worried. One cat in particular, named Jinx, would be his first victim. Jinx was wanted mostly because he had no tail. Albert’s partner in crime, Gertrude Haag, had found the cat a month before and contacted Albert at once. Albert was more than happy to accept, especially since he felt like he was being watched.
He took one last final look around the room that had been his home for over a year. Cool wisps of air filled his lungs as he tried ever so hard to relax. Where was his taxi? A loud shrill honk that pierced his ears and made him jump interrupted that very thought. He hurriedly picked up the heavy suitcase and two shoulder bags that would accompany him on his trip to make fur his fortune. All at sat in his room was a looming heap of the itchy new sheets he had slept on just the night before and all the other nights. He would miss that harsh feeling against his resting skin.
Tripping and making a fool out of himself, Albert finally plopped into the back seat of the beat up-taxi. “Where to?” grunted the extremely overweight driver.
“Om, the airport. Gate 4C on Delta.”
“Great,” mumbled the driver sarcastically. “So are you traveling for business or pleasure?”
“I guess you’d call it business.”“Hmmm. Where’d you say you were going again? Was it South Korea?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly where I’m going,” lied Albert with all too much ease.
After ten more minutes of lovely conversation with the overly, enthusiastic cab driver, Albert was making his way briskly to the check-in counter at gate 4C departing for Sweden. With an alarmingly fast check-in, Albert was two bags lighter and slowly unwinding in a first-class airplane seat by the window. Life couldn’t get too much better so he let himself slowly enter the magical world of La-La-Land. For the next ten hours nothing would bother Albert because visions of Jinx’s fur filled his head.
“Sir, wake up, we’re in Stockholm.” called the piqued voice of a flight attendant. Albert, confused from sleep, sat up and rubbed his eyes vigorously. After his eyes again refocused, he slowly lifted his body out of the airplane seat and grabbed his two duffel bags from the overhead bin. “Thank you for waking me, madam,” Albert replied with an equal amount of happiness.
An hour later, Albert flipped through the damp soggy airport phonebook in search of Ms. Haag’s phone number. (357)-555-9638 Albert clumsily pushed the miniscule buttons of his cell phone with his fat fingers. “Hello, this is Gertrude,” proclaimed a very business-like voice.
“Gertrude, this is Albert.”
“Hey, I’m at the airport. My plane just landed. I wanted to know where to meet you.”
“Well, I was just heading out the door to the factory, so I guess you can just meet me there. Is that all right with you?”
“That’s fine. Where is the factory?”
“It’s on Smorgasbord Drive”
Albert caught yet another taxi. The trip to the factory was very scenic, even though they drove through downtown Stockholm. The taxi made its way across a dozen bridges that all crossed crystal-clear water of the frigid Arctic Ocean. After missing the tum-off for Smorgasbord Drive three times, the taxi driver finally figured out the confusing streets and let Albert out right in front of the towering factory building free of charge. Albert, with much effort, for he was pathetically out of shape, climbed the fifteen steep cement steps up to the entrance of Gertrude’s factory. As soon as he walked in he was hit in the face with the warm air that that the factory’s many heaters were producing.
The weather in Stockholm was stifling cold, with a high temperature in the twenties.
Gertrude popped out from behind a dark comer causing Albert to grasp with fright. The coffee from Starbucks earlier had left him quite jittery and extremely jumpy. Gertrude seemed very pleased with herself at scaring him so and stared at him with a smile pursed on her lips. Albert suddenly questioned the woman’s sanity and almost decided to bail out when he remembered what he was there for. He would play her game, he decided defiantly. With newly found confidence, he straightened his back and asked in a clear voice “Where is Jinx?”
“Follow me!” grinned Gertrude excitedly.
She took him through a maze of dark hallways that possessed the aura of a dungeon. Finally, Gertrude paused at the heavy wooden door with a security keypad stationed right beside it. Secretly, she hunched her back just enough so that the highly interested Albert would be unable to obtain the confidential code needed to enter the important room. Three beeps and the dark splintery door slid open. The room was very small and contained only a small dusty television, and sitting in the middle of the room was the cage holding the beautiful cat that would make them both rich. It was just a shame that the cat’s eyes couldn’t be used as something for they were the biggest balls of yellow either one of them had ever seen. Both looked at the confused creature in awe. After Gertrude got hold of herself, she began to spurt off the cat’s history, which was of no interest to Albert until she stated “Jinx is actually King Eric’s kitty.” You would’ve died if you had seen him begging on the news for Jinx back. He even offered a one-million-dollar reward. It’s so pathetic.” Albert’s ears quickly perked up to this. One million dollars! Gertrude was a complete fool! She would never get even near that much money by selling the Jinx’s fur coat. All of a sudden, a very sneaky thought crept into Albert’s mind. What if he was to take the cat and return it to the King himself and get that reward money? The only problem was getting the cat out of the factory without Gertrude being aware. He innocently questioned where the royal palace was. “It’s only two blocks away!” she exclaimed and showed him the elegant structure through the small dirty window in the room.
Albert thought of a way to get Jinx out when Gertrude announced that she had to go the bathroom. This was his chance, he realized. As soon as the bathroom door was shut all the way, he undid the dinky latch that held Jinx captive in the cold metal cage. Carefully he tiptoed over to the big wooden door with the furry bundle under his thin jacket. Fortunately, you didn’t need the three-number code to open the door, so he quietly continued out the door and through the maze of hallways until he found the main entrance and broke into a full run until the factory was out of sight. Only then did he slow his pace to a jog, which was incredible for his out-of-shape body. Adrenaline pumped through his veins in a tumultuous surge. By the time he fell upon the steps to the royal palace, he was nearly exhausted.
Back at the factory, the unaware Gertrude was just unlocking the bathroom door. As she opened the door, she was quickly let down when she realized that both Jinx and Albert were missing. Her biggest nightmare was now becoming a terrifying reality. Totally sure of defeat, Gertrude did not even bother to search the factory. While breaking down into hysterical sobs, Gertrude decided what she would do. Sadly, on that very cold day in Sweden, Gertrude hopped into an assembly machine and took her life.
Albert, not knowing that his evil decision would cause so much disaster, merrily recovered from his exercise and skipped up the two stairs that led to the palace doors guarded by two watchmen. He quickly explained that he had found the royal cat and even showed them the shivering ball of fur. In a matter of seconds, Albert found himself seated in an overstuffed chair in front of the King’s desk. He was in heaven when King Eric himself came regally into the room and sat in the chair behind the rich mahogany desk. In the King’s hands was Jinx himself sleeping peacefully, seeming to have forgotten the factory and the insane Gertrude.
“I suppose you know of the reward I put out for the return of Jinx?”
“I certainly do, but you really shouldn’t.” lied Albert.
“No, I insist.”
“All right! Do you think I could hold Jinx just one more time, though?”
“Of course, go ahead.”
Albert picked up the cat with feigned affection. He again sat down in the chair across from the King with Jinx in his lap and began to make small talk when he felt something wet and slimy on his hand. He looked down and realized slowly what the wet liquid all over his hand was. Albert sprang from the chair and launched the cat through the air, yelling “You disgusting beast! I should’ve made you into a coat when I had the chance!”
The King watched the drama with his mouth hanging wide open, almost causing him to drool. When he realized that Albert was not indeed a hero but a thief, he quickly tore up the check that he had been writing. Five guards posted outside of the door quickly busted into the room and carted the hysterical Albert off. The King rushed over to his hurt kitten and yelled to his guards to behead the evil Albert.
Now, a month later, with thieves Albert and Gertrude dead, the King had two fur coats sent out to each mother with a letter written by that King explaining the incident. Although the King never received a thank-you note back from the mothers, he didn’t care, because he had his beloved cat Jinx safely at home with him.