Cat Tails by Ellen Miffitt

From early childhood on, Edith was clueless even with her eyes wide open; she habitually walked into senseless brick walls of her own construction. Her parents did their best with her particular behavior set which none of the other siblings exhibited. Between Edith’s screeching, lying, crying and smashing things, they were at a loss of how to give her substantial guidance. As Edith reached her teen years the proclivity for tantrums decreased but she’d still complain to the skies above that it wasn’t her fault. It was always someone else’s fault. The perpetual blame game never included the fact that she made a series of interesting decisions that lead to an impasse or caused her to injure herself or her siblings and their friends. Edith was not an endearing child and as a teen her manipulative skills increased. The family was well aware of these deceptive methods and routinely deflected Edith’s attempted subterfuges. The school counselor and other staff couldn’t illicit a turn around and neither could the psychologist.

A prime example of her failure to learn was Edith’s indiscriminate choice of sexual partners which obviously showed her total lack of common sense. The extorted tribute gifts filled her bedroom. Tired of her parents and siblings trying to rein in her faltering achievements, Edith moved out after high school. Her resume was a barren wasteland of short term jobs that didn’t disclose clandestine opportunities with managers or co-workers. Mini affairs filled her mileage book. She seemed a sucker for men’s lies but they were the real fools; she could pick out an easy target every time. Her obvious Kama Sutra talents and ability to capitalize on anyone’s weirdest sexual fantasies appealed to her quarry.

And then there was the financial crisis… actually there were many of them. Whatever money she finagled from this partner or that one evaporated quickly; she was perpetually foolish with their money. Family and friends rolled their eyes and refused to participate in her personal circus. Her circle grew smaller as the people she knew from her small hometown went about their normal successful gambits.  Yes, they made mistakes but they didn’t repeat those blunders twenty times to be sure it was a flawed choice. Now no one offered to bail her out no matter how much she pleaded, shed tears, intimidated, or threatened; former friends and her immediate family had given up on Edith and her practiced exploitation.

Obviously Edith ignored her family in return for their desire to be removed from her crazy life.  Gaining sympathy from new acquaintances, she would tell tales laced with despair about the tragic accidents that left her alone in this life. Lie piled upon lie until she almost believed her family was deceased and that was why she was alone. Quite the manipulator, she threw away friends and acquaintances like used Kleenex. She was a self-righteous know it all who despised the nasty people who abandoned her. Swearing mental mumbles toward former alliances, she continued her party lifestyle.  Clinging to one rich patron at a time until they caught on to what a fraud she was or a significant other discovered the warped indulgence.  She was adept at scheming and with minimal tweaking usually had her next mark primed.

If anything was consistent in her wild world, Edith was in denial about the ludicrous partying, rampant affairs and glam liaisons. Gazing into the exquisite Rococo guilt hall mirror did not alert her to her fading looks. The puffy features, lines and dark circles belonged to someone in their late fifties. She was aging far too fast. Botox, alcohol, recreational drugs and everything to excess, lovers were dropping her. How dare they drop me! What stupid jerks. A dating service came to the rescue for this birthday bash; tonight she was left paying cash for a steamy gigolo. She did know how to please her conquests. Edith had enough practice to last for many lifetimes. Most rock stars couldn’t hold water to her incredible record of notches on the bedpost and so many risqué locations. Where hadn’t she made love? Her gritty journal was almost filled with encounters of the male and female kind.

Turning her back on these random reflections, maybe her only regret was that she wasn’t speaking to her family especially since she found out that her brother, Edgar, and wife Nora were undergoing fertility treatments. Woe to them.  Edith had the fertility of a rabbit and longed to rub that fact in her sister-in-law’s face.  Look what I can do? Too bad you can’t conceive. Rattling the ice in her drink, Edith recounted her five unplanned pregnancies. The terminations were never confided to anyone but the local clinic had warned her about her wanton abortions. Everything was disposable in her life: family, friends, lovers, babies…  Especially babies which would eliminate lovers; with little persuasion she easily rolled into another person’s arms.  Extremely thankful for the morning-after-pill, she winked at the host and hostess of this gala soiree.

Glancing around the main room, this penthouse location could have been right out of Architectural Digest or a televised series like Mad Men; the layout was worthy of being featured on that passé Rich and Famous production.  After her reflection left the expansive mirror, Edith stumbled a bit among the lavish furnishings looking for her newest dating acquisition. Where did Douglas disappear to?  Grabbing another high potent drink, she accessed her options. This place would be quite livable… men and women were so gullible.

Indulging in a long deep sip of whiskey, she mentally ran a comparison to that dump… her oh so common childhood home. Growing up she hated the boring ranch style house. Her boring mother was a typical retro 1950’s happy homemaker.  Smiling through sickness and health and all that was in-between. The entire do-gooder family always participated in bake sales and fundraisers, knitting chemo hats, quilting baby receiving blankets, volunteering at food banks or soup kitchens. Those boring days and semi-boring nights were so far in her past even though she was a mere twenty-five. Wonder where all the high school jocks have gone? They were great to practice with… willing and able with excellent stamina.

Wandering onto the balcony, two Persian cats lounged on soft cushions enjoying the night scents. Their soft luxurious fur brushed to perfection was enhanced by jeweled collars worthy of a queen. The candlelight was enough to make the diamonds sparkle at their every move. Surveying the guests, the cats were the epitome of grandeur. These beauties were nothing like the rescued alley cats kept by her family as pets.

Guests laughed and conversed while a live quartet played softly filling in the empty spaces.  Libations flowed freely. Douglas was rubbing elbows with the hostess. Edith snorted as she stroked luxurious fur… Douglas you twit, you’re not wrinkling my sheets tonight but I bet that hostess would. The women’s eyes locked in acknowledgement.

Setting the empty glass down, Edith noticed several other exotic cats relaxing in the shadows of potted palm plants.  Without thinking her actions through, she grabbed the two reclusive cats by their tails. Hoisting them upwards, the surprised cats did what any feline would do to anyone stupid enough to dangle them by their tails. Stumbling backwards, Edith screamed profanities while clutching at her torn face.  The guests upon hearing the howls from the irate beasts watched in disbelief as Edith disappeared over the highly polished metal balcony railing.

Shortly after Edith’s forty floor wailing descent left absolute silence, the host turned to his gathered guests. Raising his whiskey sour, he said, “So it’s true that if you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.”

Epilogue

The officers looked at the flattened oozing form, “Isn’t that Edith?”

“She looks like crap.”

They laughed but contained themselves as the pedestrians gathered.

“Too bad… she still knew how to hold our attention.”

“Josh, just call the coroner… no rush that’s for sure.”

The family refused interviews. They neglected to post an obit in the paper feeling the police blotter report summed up Edith’s exit information. After giving her belongings to Goodwill, they donated her tainted savings hidden in a frozen food box in the freezer to Planned Parenthood. Cremation seemed logical and the ashes were disposed of by the crematorium.  At last there was immense relief… finally the family was able to wash their hands of an incorrigible embarrassment.