Art and Music      
Chianciano Biennale


The Sinister Cat

Allow me to introduce myself - I am the Sinister Cat, trusted companion of Tim Ten Yen, the sensational Singing Salaryman.

Master Yen writes karaoke pop songs which he sings live. He's quite good. Much better then I thought he would be. He has a slightly mysterious history which I have been piecing together for a while now, and I think it's the same for him with me.

I don't know if he knows, but we first met in the mountains - though which mountains I am not at liberty to tell you. So far as to say it was cold - very cold - and Master Yen hadn't dressed for the occasion. Walking at high-altitude in a suit and tie - no hat, gloves, boots, food, compass or radio - is foolish in the extreme, and that evening was, unfortunately, very much the extreme. The weather had turned for the worse just as the sun was sinking in the sky and those sounds which creep from the darkness of a forest at night were just beginning to stir. Amongst them, I half-thought, quite close by, was the voice of a man, there outside my cabin. As one does, living high up and away from the valley, I waited to see if I had but conjured imaginings from what might merely be the wind buffeting the trees and the moan that therein occurs. There it was again.

I shuffled and rolled from my blanket, gracefully from the armchair to the floor, opened my eye, and sensed there was definitely someone or something outside. Now, I'm never one to be frightened, although, as any warrior will tell you, taking precaution is crucial to emerging victorious in almost any situation. The battle is already half won.

Craftily, I crept silently around the skirting board, skulked around to a secret hatch leading to the rear of my mistress's property (more about her another time) and, on my belly, slithered like a snake, deftly and invisibly through the snow under the trees around to the front. Blinking away a single stray flake that had fallen upon me, there I spied, swaying and leaning against a fir tree for support, a dark, human-shaped silhouette. Foolishly, this figure was facing the opposite direction. By some inverse gift, it had, it seems, managed to negotiate the forest without realizing there was a log cabin directly behind it.

I lay in the snow for a good five minutes, allowing my eyes to adjust in the now nearly completely faded light, observing this creature. I say creature, though at this point I was sure I was looking at a male human. He hadn't moved much, and hadn't made much sound other than a constant light chattering of teeth. I would say I am an instinctive creature, and here my instinct had already told me that this chap I was dealing with wasn't the brightest, though I was impressed by his smart attire. We don't normally get many well dressed fellows this high up in the mountains. So although the over-riding feeling was of him being a bit silly and the kind of case that’s likely to cause a full-scale rescue search where the helicopters buzz overhead, I could also sense a mild and grudging admiration for him.

The fact of my mistress being away for the week made my next decision easier - I was bored and lacking in company, and this chap shivering pathetically was obviously but minutes away from being in serious trouble.

Knowing that a telepathic cat in the woods might be too much to deal with, I made my way deftly around so he was between me and the cabin. Then, in a brazen fashion, I did my best impression of a scary animal slowly crunching through the woods. This is harder than it sounds in falling snow that is settling thicker and thicker by the minute, so I had to actually select protruding twigs and crunch down hard on them with my paws to achieve the correct volume to cause alarm.

My plan was already working. The figure's ears pricked up (metaphorically) and, pulling extra internal strength that he probably didn't realise still resided within him, backed away from this terrifying sound in the darkness. Within a couple of seconds he seemed to register the cabin and, importantly to a fellow in his current state, the welcoming smoke emanating from its chimney, and made his way to the door. He tried it and found to be unlocked. He made his way in.

I can probably leave the story here. This chap was obviously Master Yen, saved from the frightening cold of the mountains. Mountains are wonderful, beautiful places, but can also be very hostile with weather that changes drastically within minutes. It's amazing how a bowl of broth, a blanket, fire, and a cat on the lap can raise the spirits and bring one back from the brink.

The cat in question quietly disappeared for his morning stroll before Master Yen awoke alone, ready to pick his way in daylight from whence he had veered off course the previous night. 

The Sinister Cat 


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