Patrolling my street, as I did every morning, the first person I met was old Mrs Bootman, outside number 7.
“Hello, sweetie,” she said, leaning down stiffly to stroke my head. “Have you come for your morning milk?” I answered by following her up the path. The old, Victorian, terraced house was similar to all the others in my street, but seemed smaller because it so full of … stuff. There was stuff everywhere, piled on every surface. It made the place seem dark and dingy. I knew that Mrs Bootman had lived there for 50 years, ever since she got married. She had been a widow for 30 of those years and the house had fallen into disrepair. Her only son, Rob, visited once a week for a cup of tea. The old dear told me all about her life on my daily visits.
“I’ll put the kettle on then we can have a cuddle and a chat.” She poured milk in her tea, adding some to a saucer which she placed, with difficulty, on the floor. I think I was the only friend she had and she enjoyed my visits.
After a nap on her comfortable lap I took my leave. I worried about poor Mrs Bootman. She was getting old and her joints ached, but, more worrying was her confusion. It seemed to be worse after a visit by Rob. He only stopped for about half an hour but she was more confused for the rest of the day.
I trotted up the path to number 9 and jumped up onto the windowsill. Little Abbie was there as usual, curled up on the sofa watching TV. She spotted me though and came over to wave at me through the glass. I put a paw up to ‘touch’ her hand. She never came out. She didn’t play in the garden, or go to school, just lay on the sofa. I noticed a new bruise on her arm as she waved to me. She lived with her parents in this rented house. Mrs Bootman told me all about them. They kept to themselves. When Abbie went back to her sofa I headed off to number 11.
Number 11 was opposite my home, number 12. I lived there with my owner, Jason, and his parents. When I was a kitten Jason had named me Ginger Biscuit, but as I got older it was shortened to Biscuit. I loved Jason, but while he was at school I roamed the street, finding out about the residents, and receiving treats and cuddles from my favourite.
The front garden of number 11 was full of building materials and the door was open as usual. Mark was renovating the house according to Mrs Bootman. I could hear him banging away in the kitchen. He would shoo me away if he saw me, probably with his boot, so I sprinted upstairs for a nosy around. The bedrooms had been cleared and plastered ready for decorating and there was a new bathroom. He was staying overnight sometimes, in the smallest room. There was a mattress on the floor and a wardrobe. The door to the wardrobe was open. Well, I had to go and have a look in, didn’t I? There were clothes hanging up and piled on shelves. A big, brown holdall was on the floor. I was just about to put my head in to see what was in there when I heard heavy footsteps on the stairs. I crouched behind the bag. Mark came in the room, stripped off his wet T shirt and pulled a fresh one from the pile. Then he closed the wardrobe door!
I didn’t panic. I’m a very cool cat. I had eaten breakfast at home and had my saucer of milk so I could last a while and, hopefully, he would be back to change eventually. I could do with another nap anyway. I nosed into the holdall to see if I could make a comfy bed in there, but it wasn’t comfy at all. It was full of packs of notes, that humans prize so much. Where had he got all this money?
Wow, it’s all going on here today. I’m sitting on my wall keeping out of the way, but I have a good view of everything that is going on. I can see Mrs Bootman looking out of her window. There’s an ambulance outside number 9 and a police car outside number 11.
I will go for my usual patrol down the street when the emergency vehicles have gone. I won’t be going into anyone’s house though, except Mrs Bootman’s of course. I had a bit of fright yesterday when I got shut in Mark’s wardrobe. I wouldn’t admit it to anyone else but I was a bit scared. What if he had gone off for a few days back to his other home? I could have starved in there! Fortunately he popped upstairs before leaving and changed his top again, leaving the wardrobe door unlatched so I could push my way out. Getting out of the house should have been easy as he had left the small window in the kitchen open, but it was tricky with a wad of notes in my mouth! My plan was to take some of the money to give to Jason and Mrs Bootman. I was so sure they would be pleased with me.
Apparently that was not a good idea. When I turned up at number 12 with a mouthful of money Jason’s dad took it straight away and called the police! They came to ours yesterday evening. Jason suggested that they let me lead them to where the money was found, and they laughed.
“He won’t understand what you want him to do. Cats are not very bright, son, not like dogs. If I got a sniffer dog out here it could take one sniff and lead us straight to the place.” Not very bright! Indeed! I had to prove him wrong. I headed for the front door and Jason followed me. I led him to the garden of number 11 and showed him the wad I had put under the bush ready to take to Mrs Bootman. I then sat on the step by the front door.
“You clever cat, Biscuit!” said Jason. “I knew you could do it.” He ran back over the road to fetch the policemen. They sauntered over, reluctantly, but soon perked up when they saw the second wad.
We couldn’t tell them anything about Mark or where he lived. I knew more than Jason and his mum and dad did, from listening to my friend. The police told everyone not to mention the money to anyone, and that they would be round in the morning in the hope of catching the owner at the house. That explains the presence of the police car, but what about the ambulance? I stayed on the wall watching, and eventually the family came out to the ambulance, Abbie being carried by her father. Oh no! Mrs Bootman popped out of her front door and had a brief chat with Abbie’s mum and then the ambulance went off with the little family in the back.
I jumped down off the wall and trotted over to number 7 before the door was shut.
“Oh hello, sweetie. Come on in.” As I sat on her lap Mrs Bootman filled me in on what had happened with Abbie.
“Poor little thing has poorly kidneys. But it seems that a donor has been found for her. Hopefully when we see her again she’ll be like a different child. Her new kidney will help her get back to normal so she can play and go to school.” I didn’t really understand all of that but this new kidney sounded like a good idea. “What’s going on at number 11 though, I have no idea.” Well, that was a turn up for the books! I thought Mrs Bootman knew everything. “I’ll ask Rob when he gets home tonight.” Rob would have no idea, and anyway he had visited a couple of days ago so he wouldn’t be ‘home’ for several days.
I leapt off her lap and headed outside, just in time to see Mark being put into the police car, along with the holdall from the wardrobe!
Jason’s dad filled us in on what had happened to Mark, while they had their tea.
“It seems that the money was from a robbery carried out last week. The money was stolen from a van carrying the takings from the betting shop to the bank. The wads of cash had the name of the shop printed on the binding. Mark had befriended a guy who works there and gained inside knowledge of the routines.” So that explained that.
Patrolling my street, as I did every morning, a couple of weeks later, I noticed Rob had parked a van outside number 7. The door was open so I trotted in.
“Hello, sweetie.” Mrs Bootman picked me up and gave me a cuddle. “I’ll miss you. I’m going to live with my son and his family. They have built an annex for me. I know I have been getting more forgetful lately, and Rob wants me where he can keep an eye on me.”
“You can have a cat of your own, mum,” said Rob.
“I would love a ginger cat, just like Biscuit here.” She gave me one last cuddle and placed me on the floor. I wandered out and sat on her wall. No Mrs Bootman, no Abbie, no Mark. I would have to go further afield and make some new friends.
Just then a taxi appeared. It stopped outside number 9. Abbie and her mum and dad got out. Abbie still looked a little pale, but she seemed more lively and animated once she saw me.
“It’s Biscuit! He’s been waiting for me. I knew he would.” She stepped towards me and stroked me for the very first time.
I went to see Abbie every day. Jason would often find us sitting in the garden together when he came home and the three of us became firm friends.