Daniel Roche

The Flying Cat
In those times you had to do everything for yourself. You cut your own wood, you concocted your own medicine, you looked after your rabbits, hens, lime trees, fruit and vegetables….And you made your own wine. Spotless, who owed this nickname to a corruption of his first name, did everything himself and even, one day, made his wife’s cat, La Thérèse, fly through the window.
He was born in 1895, which meant he left for the war at the age of 19 and came back a year later with a stiff leg, an exploding shell having shattered his left knee joint. He used to get up at dawn and, before going to work on the bits of land he had, scattered throughout the village, and while La Thérèse still slept, he would lay out on the table his big breakfast. He would get an impresive amount of food out of the larder. He wouldn’t return until midday, after a long and difficult morning’s work.
Once everything he was going to eat was laid out on the table, Spotless would leave the room and the house. He had to descend a flight of stairs, open the door, take a few steps down the sloping road, go into another part of the house leading to the cellar and there, beneath a roof vaulted out of the rock, draw his wine out of a barrel. Then he would make the reverse journey with his stiff leg and his bottle full of wine.
Meanwhile, the cat, which would in fact wake at the same as him and greedily watch him preparing breakfast, had all the time to enjoy the various sausages and cheeses. Spotlesswould come back. The cat, absorbed in its feast, wouldn’t hear him coming. Spotless, furious, would pick the cat up by its neck and throw it out the door. That happened every day.
One day, his son-in-law noticed that the cat was limping and asked his father-in-law why.
« The cat limps because I threw him ouy of the window », Spotless replied in Provencal, vousvoying his son-in-law. Then he explained, still in Provencal, what happened every day. Every day the cat stole his breakfast. That day, more furious than ever, in stead of throwing the cat out of the door and chasing it down the road, he had thrown the cat out of the window and it had fallen five of six metres upside down.
« But », said his son-in law in Provencal and vouvoyant, « why don’t you go to get your wine firsst and then prepare your breakfast ? Then you could stop the cat eating it.»
« I agree with you entirely, brother-in-law », replied Spotless, « but I’m not having a cat dictate to me what to do”.
(translation by Ian Hugo)

This post is also available in: French