José Álvarez

Every cloud has a silver lining

 


 
 

                                                           "I am not young enough to know everything."  Oscar Wilde
                                                                                                                                       


                                           
                                                     You might be struck by a ridiculous thing which I do every day in the morning leaving home, but the truth is that I always notice if the first foot I set outside upon the street is my left foot or the right one. And this has nothing at all to do with any superstition nor with the pointless things that we do throughout an ordinary day.
For me it is something that goes beyond a simple step, because I do it looking at the Sky, and saying good morning to all, while I stretch out my leg outside the house door and step on to the ground. I think this is the right way to proceed; at least this is what we usually do whenever we see a friend or go into some new place. So, for me, it is just a custom, a courtesy.

                                               Every morning, our Planet is 2,592,000 kilometres  far away, from the point where it was in open space the morning before, at the same time.  That implies that every day we are in a very new place, in which we have never ever been before
.
Having said that, the question is, how can we come out into such a new place without greeting the new environment?
 
It is true that, we walk over the same road that we walked the day before, and we buy bread or milk in the same shops as we did the previous week.  However, what about the air we breathe? It is not the same air we breathed the day before, maybe yesterday it was hundreds of kilometers away from us, but today it has come to be our closest companion throughout the new day. As is the case with water, I can´t imagine myself crossing the bridge that I have to cross on my way to the town center without greeting the water which flows under my feet. I even stop for a while on the bridge resting my hands on the handrail protection looking towards the oncoming flow.
The water that is running down the river, when I am looking at it, has been on the poles as ice, in the sky as clouds, on the ground as fog, billions and millions of times. It has seeped thought the earth, time after time and run through every underground river on this Planet. What is more, this water, I mean the same water that I see running down the river, it has been inside of every living being, included our own bodies.
 
                                            As for trees, how can we pass by our centennial neighbor trees without patting them and saying: hi! How are you? They would feel as happy as everyone else does, knowing that we appreciate them to the same degree as we appreciate every other living being. In fact, they are way much older than we are, and unlike water and wind, they are always in the same place, they have been witness to stories which have never been told. Maybe they have known, how our great, great grandparents once grew up, and what is more, they have been here since before we were born, waiting for us and ready to supply us medicines, food and so on. What is more important, is that they take carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen, just to make our lives possible.
 
As Hermann Hesse wrote in his book "Wandering: Notes and sketches": For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forest and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely people. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.  They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

As you can see, I greet trees wind and water and whatever grows along the path, because I like to live in accordance with the elements of nature and the living beings that are going to share the day with me. And although I don´t know who is in the driving seat, I also thank our Planet for carrying me in safety through open space at such speed, that is to say at 108,000 k/h.
 
                                            Well, I thought that once you knew my customs, it would be easier for me to tell the following story which happened some months ago, when a black cat came into my life. So going back to the purpose of this book, I´ll start by saying that, I am a writer who likes to write about happiness, and about the matters that go beyond the human mind. I also love nature, especially trees, in which I deeply believe that you can find more answers than in any library, as long as you are able to prick up your ears and hear the voice of nature. I like to get up early in the morning and wait for the coming dawn, sitting alone on a mountain, and see how nature offers us a new day making visible, everything that for some reason exists in the same epoch as I am existing, and living in the same place as I live.
 
In my case, I used to live in a large city, where everything is done in a hurry, and where there are people who live as if they will never die and die as if they never lived. Because of that, I moved some years ago to the countryside, where I bought an isolated, ample, old house of two floors with a large garden and many ancient trees, like yew, chestnut and oak, which at first glance each of which might be over five hundred years old.
The house was located in a flat area of a forest foothill, from where looking downwards I could see some six hundred meters away, the little village to which my house belonged. It was a small village made up of about thirty houses, separated by narrow, paved streets and surrounded by green meadows, corn and wheat lands, and if I looked upwards, I saw a lush, leafy forest.
 
At first sight, it could seem a little bit creepy to see a neglected remote house on its own in the countryside, but it was exactly what I was looking for, far away from the unnecessary hustle and bustle of the big cities. I was sure that at that place, where only the voices of nature were heard, I would be able to interact with the surroundings nature and get the necessary state of peace and enlightenment, to write about matters such as happiness and the sense of existence.
 
                                            I saw this house in a local newspaper ad and I went straight away to see the owner, carrying the newspaper in my hand. He welcomed me kindly and showed me the compound, telling me while we were walking around that everything was a little bit neglected, because they hadn´t lived there since twenty years ago. He also told me that they had had to move down to the village owing to his kids. Moreover he said, that when his sons were children, they used to hear continuous eerie noises and even though he and his wife had tried to persuade their children, telling them that the noises were caused by dry leaves or wild animals looking for food and by nocturnal birds living in the forest, it made no difference to them, and the children lived in state of anxiety and panic.
–They begged me and my wife several times to leave the house.
-Maybe it isn´t the most appropriate place for children living next to such wild but beautiful forest, particularly if they are not used to it. –I answered.
 
The house itself was a two-floor house, 12 meters high with six meters per floor. It was built of thick stone walls, in good condition, with an asymmetric gable roof, with the longer part of the roof on the left side, where the garage attached to the house was located.
Once on the ground, looking straight towards the entrance, the front part was about 30 meters wide; there were two entrances, one for the garage and one to the house. The house had four windows, two on each floor. Inside the ground floor, there was a large hall, the kitchen, a toilet and a large dining room with a staircase going upwards. On the second floor, there were 4 bedrooms, a large living room and a toilet.
 
                                            About the price, I didn´t want to drive a hard bargain, but even though I didn´t find the first price he asked to be overly dear, I offered him a lower price, appealing to the poor state of the house and the surrounding fence which was falling apart. It was obvious that some repairs and renewals would be needed and a complete interior painting was required. He understood these things and accepted my offer. He also suggested a local company to me, that could take care of fixing everything, like mending the walls, the roof, and painting and cleaning the whole compound. And so it was. Four days after I reached an agreement with that company and a month later, everything looked brand new.
 
Regarding the interior painting, I have to mention here that the man who was in charge of doing this job, told me that the north wing wall soaked up much more pain than expected –way more, it soaked up the pain like a sponge, -he said. I took it that he was looking for a tip or extra money. I didn´t know what to answer, I really was at a loss for words. The only thing that came to mind at that pretty moment was asking him if everything was ok.  –Yes Sir, it is. –He answered.
 
However, eight days later, I´d already settled in my new home with everything I needed to live, as I liked to live. I´m a vegetarian, I never eat meat just out of respect for animals, in addition, I never cook, so in the kitchen I only had a coffee pot and a frying pan to make an omelette. Because I think that we have to keep our minds away from gluttony and greed if we want to interact with nature. Enough is as good as a feast. Therefore, to fit out the kitchen in my new house didn´t take me much time.
 
                                            For the first few days, I was snowed under working like a dog, installing some shelves and my books and computer hardware in one room on the second floor of the house, which was next to the window in front of which there was an ancient yew tree, that according to my calculation was a wise tree of about thousand two hundred years old. However, even though I was tired, I still found time to water and clean the trees, which had been abandoned to their fate for years. I also introduced myself to each tree, telling each of them that henceforth I would be their new neighbour, and that I was sure that we would get along well. Here I have to say that I saw the trees as being frightened and suspicious about my intentions when I approached them, nevertheless I promised and assured them that I would be a loyal friend.
 
When nightfall came, I used to sit at my computer until midnight working on my new book. I would draft up reminder notes that I’d develop into each topic in depth some time later and paste together. So, even though I finished every day exhausted, I felt happy and satisfied, because I could not only see that the colour of the trees had become all the more cheerfully alive, but I also realized that I had gained their trust, and with some of them I had become great friends, especially with the yew tree.
 
 
                                            Up to here, there was nothing to write home about. Everything was ticking along just fine, and that kind of life was exactly what I had been looking for, for years and years.
 
I would get up at about eight o´clock in the morning, drink a glass of water and then go out greeting all around. Then I’d head to my car and drive to the central village, which was five kilometers down the hill. There I’d go to a cafe where I used to have a coffee while I took a quick look at some newspapers, and after the coffee if I needed to buy something, I wound go to the supermarket to purchase it and then drive back home.
 
                                            Thus it was, until one day that I had a small setback leaving home in the morning, while I was greeting on autopilot as I had always used to do since many years afore. That day I lifted my left foot up, stretched it out looking at sky, and when I went to step on the ground, I stepped on top of a black cat, who was laying down belly up next to my house door. For a split second I unavoidably put all my weight on the cat. The cat meowed, and me, I really jumped out of my skin and almost fell down.
 
-‘Verdammtes Viech’ -Bleeding critter! For Pete’s sake! It isn´t just a cat, but a black cat. ¡Bloody hell! –said I after the event.
Here I have to say that I am not superstitious at all, but to meet a black cat belly up next to my new house door and in addition stepping on top of him, it really made me go round the twist. I saw red, and I reacted so angrily that as soon as I came back into the reality I threw at him the only thing that I had at my fingertips –my cap-. The cat dodged it jumping aside, then I tried to kick him away, but the cat dodged me again and the blow failed.
 
He stood up a little bit aside from me, stared at me while moving his tail. Then, with all the roughness and wrath I could muster, I tried to scare him away stamping time and time again on the ground and clapping my hands, which made the cat run in circles, over and over again, around the garden with me chasing after him.
Since my efforts to scare him away were like water off a duck’s back, I took hold of a long stick to chase him away, but there was no way to hit him, because the cat ran again in circles in front of me. At the fourth or fifth turn, I turned over on my heels in the opposite direction as quickly as I could sweeping the stick along the ground. As I did so, the cat bumped into the oncoming stick and rolled over twice on the ground meowing. I seized up that setback for the cat, trying to hit him again, so I raised the stick, but when the blow touched the ground, the cat had already jumped away.
Fortunately, this made the cat realise that this was not a game; he ran straight away to the fence, climbed up it and jumped out. Then I threw stones at him until he had disappeared into the forest. -
Gott sei Dank Thank goodness!  –Said I when I lost sight of him.
 
                                            Effing and blinding at the brainless cat I headed to my car looking at my left foot, the foot with which I had stepped on the cat, and when I was sitting at the wheel, I took off my left shoe and sock and saw that I didn´t have any scratches. I wondered why the cat hadn´t scratched me when I stepped on him, as that is what they usually do when faced with a problem. Anyhow, the incident with the cat was already water under the bridge and I didn´t want to rack my brain wondering why the cat had behaved so. I decided to forget about it and focus my mind on the book I was writing.
 
                                            I drove down to the Village and went to the same cafe that I used to go to every morning, where I took hold of a newspaper that was laying on the bar and asked for a cup of coffee, and when I took the cup to my lips, I saw the cat’s eyes inside the coffee. Taken aback, I suddenly threw my head backwards and pushed the cup downwards and away. Then, I looked around holding the cup of coffee in my hand and keeping an eye on the coffee.
It was not my imagination or a vision; it was true, the cat remained inside the coffee looking at me and scratching the cup’s wall. Then I wondered if anyone else could see the cat or only me, but in the cafe, it seemed as if no one else saw the cat.
 
Discreetly, I tried to poke him once and again and crush him against the side of the cup time after time. But there was no way, when I tried to crush him, the cat slipped out around the edge of the spoon as if it was gelatinous liquid and turned back into the same figure every time I lifted out the spoon.
I looked around one time more, and it seemed that apart from me no one else saw what was going on. Then, I seized up the right moment, discreetly grabbing the cup, and went straight away to the lavatories, where I poured out the coffee into the toilet bowl. I had to flush the toilet once and again until the bleeding cat disappeared. He vanished down the drain looking at me stretching out his arms; his nails were the last part that I saw of him.  ‘Es wird Zeit‘  It was about time too!
 
 
                                            To step on top of the cat, it was an incident, but what I had seen inside the coffee, that mashed my head up and put me off from my initial purpose, of living alone interacting with nature and writing in depth about matters that go beyond our minds.
Perturbed and shaken up, I drove back home trying to keep any negative ideas away from my head. It made no sense being sorrowed by an incident with a simple cat. And about my coffee, everyone knows that sometimes our minds play bad tricks on us. Therefore, I was not willing to waste time racking my brain about that matter anymore.
 
                                            That day was a Sunny spring morning; the Sun was rising up from behind the rear mountain and had almost lit my whole compound when I arrived home. I opened the garden gate by remote control, came into the garden headed to the garage, which was about one hundred and fifty meters in front of me, and while I was driving through the garden, I saw the cat from the left side jumping over the fence into my property, and it headed straight ahead to the North wall wing of the house.
 
I slowed down the speed and looked astonished at the cat, who was walking with long strides with its tail raised up and ignoring me.
At that time, I didn´t understand the cat´s language, but it was clear that he was challenging me from that way of walking. I perceived that he was telling me something like don´t get me wrong Sir, it won´t be easy for you to get rid of me, take your time Sir!
 
The cat and I simultaneously proceeded towards the house at a right angle to one another, set as we were going to meet at the central apex of the house, and so it was. The cat reached the north wing wall at the same time that I reached the garage, and without losing time, he started to scratch the wall. I got out of the car and stayed for a while standing up looking at him with my arms crossing behind me. The cat had overstepped the mark. His behaviour was quite beyond the pale. I went spare, and was willing to tolerate neither his arrogance, nor his defiance, nor his self-importance.
 
I got back into my four-wheel-drive car and suddenly lunged the vehicle towards the cat as fast as I could. Só, I had to play hard ball and give him a real lesson, and make him understand that if he kept insisting on invading my property, it could have a very bad ending for him.
 
I didn´t want to hurt but scare him away once and for all. Because of that, I drove as fast as the cat could run in front of my car, but carefully; I didn´t want to run him over, until I came to know that even if I had wanted to hit him, it wouldn’t have been possible,  because every time the nose of the car was about a meter from him, he turned suddenly right or left, over and over so fast and so easily that I had the impression that he was taking the mickey out of me, which made me change my mind and drive after him willing to run him over or whatever.
 
But the cat was way cleverer than I’d thought, he was a really wily cat. Because he ran in spirals drawing small circles towards the fence, making it impossible for the car to catch him, and as soon as he got to the fence, he jumped out and I couldn´t see his arse for dust running into the forest.
However, I can tell you, that even though the cat played these wise tricks, he was twice in a real spot of bother and close to breathing his last. 
-This time I really freaked him out! He won´t drop in again! -Thought I after the incident.
 
                                            It´s easy to be wise after the incident, but at that time I didn´t know how to get rid of the cat, in the event that he was willing to come back over and over again. He was really putting a spoke in my wheels and ruining my plans. At that moment, I felt depressed and restless; it was exactly the last thing that I had expected.
 
                                            After this fighting afresh with the cat, I looked at my watch and it was 10:30 in the morning, and if it had not been for the new incident with the bleeding cat, it would have been a great and useful day for me.
The facts were real and tangible, a black cat was harassing me, and not only in my property, but wherever I went.  I didn´t know quite what to do.
Before the fresh incident, my previous intention was to write about the pointlessness of spending our lives gathering wealth and power, but owing to my discouraged state, it wasn´t the right moment to write about this matter, and I decided to put it off until I was a little bit more positive and optimistic.
 
 
                                            So, I lay down beside my best tree friend, the yew tree. It was an expert and ancient tree who had seen time after time the futile reactions of humans, when things had not gone as they had expected.
It made me to recall the "Four Principles of the Indian Spirituality" in which the second one says: wahatever happened is the only thing that could have happened. Nothing, absolutely nothing of that which we experienced could have been any other way. Not even in the least important detail. There is no “if only I had done that differently…, then it would have been different…, No. What happened is the only thing that could have taken place and must have taken place for us to learn our lesson in order to move forward. Every single situation in life, which we encounter, is absolutely perfect, even when it defies our understanding and our ego.
 
Well, I agree with this statement as long as we do our best making an effort to reverse an adverse predictable situation. We can´t stay all day long lying down without doing anything to improve our lives and saying: Whatever happened is the only thing that could have happened, as the statement says.
 
However, this spiritual way of thinking made me wonder about the fate of life, and regarding this matter, I really think that everything that has to happen will happen, but at least we must do everything that is within our grasp to prevent a catastrophic end. In my opinion, when we come into this World, we have to walk along our own path, this is from birth to death, from the cradle to the grave, and every one of us has to walk on their own. For some, this way could be a long way even if it is short in time, and for others it could be too short even if it is long in time.
 
In my book, I will write in depth about those who even having lives which are short in time; they find it too long, because a suffering time never ever was a short period. However, even being difficult to understand and explain the reasons for which some living beings have come into this World just to suffer and run a path full of obstacles, I would say that beyond our human minds there must be a logical explanation.  Otherwise we have to accept that imperfection and a lack of logic is something inherent to the Universe and its creation.
 
                                            Lying down beneath my best friend the yew tree, I also remembered Buddha who by the way, reached a state of enlightenment sitting down below a Bodhi tree. He was one of the best ancient thinkers, and about this matter, he said: the cessation of suffering comes with the cessation of craving, as we are the ultimate cause of our difficulties, we are also the solution. We can´t change the things that happen to us, but we can change our responses.
For me Buddhism is not a religion, but a philosophical way of understanding life, that is why there have never ever been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism, and that is why Buddhists do not preach, they only explain if an explanation is sought. Buddhism depends on understanding and not on faith.
 
About wealth, I deeply agree with Buddha, who realized that material things such as wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness. In my opinion, we should not spend our lives gathering wealth, power and belongings. Because in these cases we have to keep in mind that we are dealing with temporal belongings, which have been here before we were born, going from person to person over centuries, and they will remain here after our departure. All our illusory properties will remain in silence throughout our whole lives waiting to talk just at our last breath, as they have done millions and millions of times afore, telling us that nothing that we have conquered, or nothing which we own, would help at that critical point. When we depart from this world. In my opinion, for being on the Earth just for a short period of time, as we are, we don´t need to own so many things as we usually do.
 
According to this way of thinking, I recall the third of the last three wishes of one of the most powerful and richest people ever to live in the World, I´m talking about Alexander the Great. When he was on his deathbed, waiting to breathe his last, he summoned his generals and told them. -I will depart from this world soon; I have three wishes; please carry them out without fail.
And here we have what he said about his third wish.
-My hands should be loose, dangling out of the coffin for all to see.
The generals who had gathered there, wondered at the king’s strange wish and asked him about the reasons for such a wish.
-I want my hands to swing in the wind, so that people understand that we come to this world empty handed and we leave this world empty handed after the most precious treasure of all is exhausted, and that is TIME.
About this philosophic statement, we have to remark that Alexander the Great was educated by Aristotle.
 
                                            Writing these draft reminder notes by hand and recalling the tips and lessons that some of the best ancient thinkers left written, is how I spent the rest of the day, next to my best friend the yew tree. It goes without saying that every now and again, I stood up and looked around in hope of not seeing that bloody cat again wilfully trying to ruin my plans.
 
That day I stayed beside my tree friend until nightfall, and for a long, long time after the Moon had risen. It was a warm, starry, Spring night, a delightful night to let our minds fly freely through expansive, voids of Space and distance, whilst imagining whatever theories of the Universe might be possible. I was sitting down facing forwards, i.e. in the direction to which we travel in open space, which is looking to the East. I felt myself to be an atypical microscopic, living being with my days numbered in this world, sitting on a tiny floating ball, which travels across unlimited and timeless space, without a fixed human benchmark, as everything that surrounds us is spinning around on its own axis and at the same time rotating around something else.  So, following this rule, I would say that our Universe, has also to be revolving about something, together with another group of similar universes.
 

 
                                            About our Planet, it seemed to me as if the Earth had been settled by living beings and plants for centuries and centuries, without ever having been experimented upon, nor changed, nor developed, owing to its inhabitants at that time, only having had to worry about staying alive. They could have been us, before we became ourselves, going through reincarnation to reincarnation over and over and over again until we had developed this current greed, accumulating belongings and having control of everything on this planet. We even attempt to go further trying to reach and conquer other Planets, a project with which I totally agree, I always support scientists, cosmologists and such like working in this direction.
 
Thanks to researches, for instance, nowadays we know why objects fall downwards, with indifference to position. It happens in the same way, regardless of whether you are where you actually live or if you are on the other side of the planet. This matter was a headache for scientists for a period as long as two thousand years. Aristotle was the first thinker to tackle this enigma, three hundred years B.C. Followed by others well-known mathematicians and astronomers like Copernicus, Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler. They made great progress in this direction, but we have to wait until the year 1700 in which Newton discovered the universal Gravitation Law.
 
Going in this way of exploring the cosmos, maybe one day in the future we will be able to bump into our kith and kin on some planet far away from our Solar System, i. e. meet up with our own relatives, on another Planet with the same environment, where we could walk and breathe as we do here.
It goes without saying that many different situations could be imagined if this comes to be so. For instance, would they receive us with bullets, or would they be glad to see us?  Would they have “developed” in the same way as we have?
 
                                            Well, I know that this thought could sound a little bit astonishing, but this is what happens when we are able to let our minds fly freely; doing so, we can make up funny stories about whatever might be possible. We must not forget Jules Verne and his exciting novels “From the Earth to the Moon”  “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea”  “Around the World in Eighty Days”.
Another quite different thing is to write about philosophy or science, for these two matters our thinking must be based on study, on research, on observation and on reasoning, as we do.
 
                                            The next day when I woke up at about 8.30, I got up, jumping out of the bed and ran from window to window, poking my head out of each window in the hope of not seeing that bloody cat again, and fortunately I didn´t see it. Then I drank a glass of water, took my wheels and drove down to the village ready to have my coffee, but when I was at the entrance, I changed my mind out of the blue. I thought that it would be better not to tempt fate and decided to go for a walk instead of entering the cafe.
The walk didn´t take me for long, I was anxious to start writing my book, but there was a lot left to do, I had many reminder notes to put in order, and I wanted to go over and over each of them again. So, I turned over on my heels and drove back home.
 
When I got home, everything was ticking along well, I drove along the garden looking to the right and the left side and all around the whole of my property. There was not even a trace of the cat. I opened the garage door by remote control, drove in slowly a few meters farther, and when I was going to stop the engine, the cat came out from below of the car nose, and walked ahead along the garage with long strides and its tail raised up. While I remained siting at the wheel looking at him in astonishment.
 
He appeared as if he came out of nowhere. At that pretty moment, I didn´t know how to react, but he was in, and I was sure that this was his objective, and had been his purpose since the very beginning. Though I didn´t know for what, and why?
 
He walked defiantly through the garage heading to a table that was at the back of the garage. He jumped on top of it and then on top of some chairs piled up upon the table, and from there, he jumped on top of a shelf which was attached on the upper part of the North wing wall about five meters high from the floor, and without wasting time, the cat started to scratch the wall.
 
At first, I tried to scare him away stamping on the ground and clapping my hands, but as he blanked me completely, I ran into the garden as fast as I could, took hold of the long stick and came back into the garage ready to sweep the shelf from back to forth. But when he saw me coming back, raising up the stick, he stopped scratching the wall, scrunched his body up bending his back upwards, and raised his tail up hissing and yowling at me showing his teeth.
 
This attitude from the cat really freaked me out a little bit. I walked two steps more towards him, but instead of hitting, I stood with the stick raised up looking at how he walked back and forth along the shelf with his back bending up and hissing at me.
 
From his attitude of walking along the shelf looking and hissing at me, I deciphered something like this: take care Sir! Did you check out my weapons? Do you know that I can scratch your face to pieces in no time? Don´t make mistakes Sir!
 
 
                                            These perceptions freaked me out totally. At that pretty moment I, didn´t have a chance.  So, I walked slowly backwards and lowered the stick as slowly as I could.
 
When I was in safety some meters away from him, I put the stick down on the ground, and the cat cooled down, relaxed his position and sat patiently on the shelf. Now the cat had what he wanted from the very beginning, and he was determined to fight to the death to defend the ground he’d gained if necessary. I tried to work out the meaning of his way. If the cat was trying to get something, this was not at all a way of looking for a shelter or for adoption, in case he was a stray cat. Anyhow, l was not able to see his reasons for ruining my dreams. How could I write a book with a black cat harassing me day in, day out?
 
                                            Time was passing by, and the cat had not moved even a whisker, he remained sitting on the shelf without moving, as if he was waiting for something or for someone. His attitude drove me up to the wall. The only way that I had to fight him was using the water hose that I used for watering the trees, but it was wound up tight leaning against the wall, just below the cat, so that each time I tried to take hold of it, the cat took a fighting position, he stood up, scrunching his body up and bending his back upwards.
 
After two hours I decided to call the police, they were the only ones that could shoot him down.
-Hello! you are through to the police station. How can we help you?.
-My name is Paul, I am in need, or better to say, I am in danger.
- Calm down and tell me what exactly is going on.
-A wild cat has come into my garage. I can´t chase it out. It is attacking me. Please I need help.
-Ok, Sir. Stay calm. Don´t provoke the animal and wait. We’ll come straight away.
I explained my situation to them, and about ten minutes later, I heard a siren sounding. I went out of the house to open the main gate and looked downwards putting my hands up as visor and could made out a blue light. -Good- The police are on their way.
 
Five minutes later, two police officers got out of the car with their guns drawn just next to my door.
-Good Morning Sir. -Where is the wild cat?
-Here in the garage, on top of a shelf.
When the cat saw us coming into the garage together, he stood up, bent his back upwards and hissed at us.
 
-Do not approach him please; it can jump on top of you. Please, shoot him down. –I told the officers who were pointing their guns at him.
-Not so fast sir. We are not cat hunters. Stay away and wait a sec. The Animal protection unit is on its way. This is their job, not ours. And no worries, no one is in danger.
The cat remained in his attack position until the “Animal Protection Unit” appeared at the garage entrance. As soon as he saw them, he sat down again as if nothing had ever happened.
 
                                            -This cat is not dangerous at all, -One of the Animal Protection Brigade said approaching him.
-How do you know? -The police officer asked.
-Just look at his whiskers, they are pushing forward, that means that the cat doesn´t feel angry or in danger. No worries, I will take him down. Do you have a ladder Sir? -The expert asked me-.
-Yes, I have, wait a sec please.
I went to the garden, grabbed a wooden ladder, which I used to climb up the trees, and came back into the garage in no time at all.
-Here you are Sir.
 
He took the ladder and leaned it against the upper part of the wall, just half a meter below the cat. The expert started climbing up the ladder at the same time that the cat started to stand up, then, while the man was climbing up, the cat was stretching out.
It was a creepy situation, but for me everything was confusing and amazing, I could not believe my eyes. What exactly was the cat looking for?  Or, what was going to come next?
 
When the man was stretching up his arms to grab the cat, the upper surface of the wall where the upper part of the ladder was resting, collapsed inwards on itself. The man screamed in alarm as his face bumped into a gathering of skeletons, piled up inside the hollow wall. Trying to avoid contact with skeletons, the expert snapped himself back onto autopilot as fast as he could. As he fell down from the ladder, a heap of bones dropped down, too onto the floor and all of us jumped aside scared.
 
                                            With the shock of the new events, everyone forgot about the cat. The police officers surrounded me and started to question me about the new findings.
-What about all these bones Sir? An officer asked me. –Are you the owner of this house Sir? The second officer asked me.
I walked around the bones ignoring the officers, and looking at the wall without realising that I had tripped up twice on the cat. I saw him when I looked down at my hands to see how the police were handcuffing me. The cat was rubbing against my legs, he crossed through my legs rubbing on one side, and then he turned back rubbing on the other side, time after time.
-Yes, yes Sir, I am the owner of this house. –I answered looking at the cat.
The police continued questioning me, but I really was at a loss for words. The bones, the cat’s new behaviour, and me handcuffed that was too much to take at the same time.
 
                                            Half an hour later, after the police had called and updated the station on their findings, all kinds of cars with all kinds of people inside started to arrive. I didn´t know who they were, but all of them looked at me as if I was the weirdest person in the world.
I was very surprised and annoyed, about the provocation from some of these people. They started to knock on the wall even though I told them once and again that they should not.
-Don´t knock at the wall please, it is freshly painted.
But they looked down their noses at me and continued knocking on every wall in the house, they expanded all around the house like a plague of ants. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when a big boned man who seemed to be the one who was running the show, ordered his people to start digging holes in the garden, as deep as half a meter each.
I tried to step towards him shouting and saying, please don´t do it, you will damage the tree roots.
 
The police blocked my way and held me tight as I insisted on approaching the big boned man, who had ordered for me to be taken aside from the investigation area. There was a moment in which it was a really edge situation, until the police had taken me upstairs and got me to my desk, under the threat of locking me up if I didn´t keep quiet and calm down.
 
So I had to remain sitting at my desk handcuffed until some minutes later a big cheese appeared in my desk, who introduced himself as the head of the investigation.
-Take him out of the shackles. He ordered the police.
The head investigator started out by stating. -According to the first investigation, it seems to be that the skeletons, they are more than one hundred years old, and we consider that you are not involved in this, as you told us that you had bought this house some months ago. Is it so Sir?
-Yes, it is so Sir, I bought this house one and a half months back, and I have only been living here since one week ago.
-Well you are not under arrest, but you are not allowed to leave the house.  You can move all around your house as long as you don´t interfere with our work, if you do, I will send you to the station as we are going to leave no stone unturned and we will look here, there and everywhere until we discover every last skeleton. I only need one thing from you. -The big cheese continued- I need the sale document forms for this house.
 
I felt a little bit more relaxed and understood that this was the usual way to proceed in such cases, and that they had to carry on with the investigation. So, I stood up taking care not step on the cat or trip up on him, as he was rubbing against my legs. I gave to the big cheese the required documents and then, I walked around watching the huge mess that the investigators were making all around the compound.
 
                                            That evening when the investigators called it a day, leaving only some cops on duty, I prepared something to eat, an omelette for the cat and one more for me. I thought it was going to be a great nosh up for him, but it was not. He didn´t even taste it, fortunately, I had a can of tuna, and the cat wolfed it down completely.
 
The day after I got up early in the morning and shared breakfast with the cat –coffee and some cupcakes- then, I spread out all my draft reminder notes over my desk and started to work on them, going over each topic and putting them in order.
A little bit later, I saw from my desk window the investigator’s cars coming into my compound again. They spread all over the compound once more and started to dig in the garden and knock and chip on the house walls.
 
That day I didn´t know quite what to do. I thought it would take them some time until everything was clear, and after that, I would need to look for a lawyer, as soon as I was allowed to leave the house and get some advice about taking the skeletons out and away as soon as possible and so on. However, I didn´t want to spend time on what was not in my hands. I decided to focus all my attention on my draft reminder notes.
 
                                            So apart from the noise that the investigators were making inside the house and all around the compound, everything was going along well, until a little argy bargy at the house door attracted my attention and made the cat get the hell off of my desk. I couldn’t see his arse for dust going downstairs, while I went straight to the window and stuck my head out, to see what was going on. Just down below the window there was a woman showing the cops the front page of a newspaper, she was pointing at the headline and saying to them: it isn´t a stray cat, it´s my cat.

From above the window I was able to read the headline. "STRAY BLACK CAT DISCOVERED DOZENS OF SKELETOMS IN A HOLLOW STONEWALL"
 
From the window I saw the cat slipping in between the police man’s legs and like a feline possessed he jumped straight onto the woman’s lap, she hardly had time to stroke him more than three times along his back while asking him: Jasper! Why did you hit the road? Why…
Suddenly the cat jumped down from the woman’s lap and went upstairs straight away back to my desk.
 
-Please let me in, I have to take him home. -The woman said to the cops, running after the cat.
I went to the upper part of the staircase and from the second floor I invited her to come up.
-Climb up please; the cat is at my desk; he is always next to my feet.
-Thanks, I couldn´t see an explanation for his behaviour, because Jasper never turns his back on me. -The woman said while climbing up the stairs.
-Please let me introduce myself, my name is Paul, -said I stretching out my arm.
-My name is Leonie. Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you, please come in, and have a seat.
-Thanks. Jasper -started the woman- is a two-year-old cat. He disappeared three days ago, and I have been looking for him day after day all around the village, for me his disappearance was a mystery, and now I don´t know what to say. I bought the paper this morning and I could not believe my eyes when I read the headlines.
-Well, I don´t know either how I can explain all this disarray that you have seen with the cops looking for skeletons in my house. To be honest and to sum all this mess up, I have to say that I bought this house one and a half months ago. I am a writer and I thought that it would be the proper place to write my book. And about the cat, what I can say is that he appeared here three days ago, I thought that he was a stray cat, I fed him and he was moving around the house as if it was his own home. Well, everything was ticking along well until this morning when I went into the garage, as soon as I opened the door, he ran in a rush and jumped onto a shelf in no time, then he started to scratch on the wall as if he were mad. I told him once and again to come down, but heedless of my words, he continued scratching on the wall, so, I took hold of the broom and tried to scare him, but he reacted by facing up me.
-No way! Jasper!  Have you done this?
-Yes yes, he did, he was bending his back upwards and threatened to jump on me.
-Jasper! Did you lose your head?
-It really freaked me out, so after some time trying to change his mind without any results, I decided to ask for some help. You know… as you can see everything is freshly painted and…it looked as if suddenly he had turned crazy. You know how dangerous a mad cat can be. Then… well, I think you have already read the story in the paper, but this was so.
 
After a sec of silence, the woman asked.
-You said you are a writer, right?
-Yes, I am, here are all my draft reminder notes. –said I pointing at the table.
-May I have a look at them please?
-Yes of course, you can. Please, come closer to the table. They are nothing but loose notes, I have to go over again and add to and improve upon each topic.
After reading for a while, she turned to me and said: Paul, it’s great what you have written, I would like to read all of them, and discuss each matter with you. I apologise for not saying to you when we first met that I am a philosopher.
-Oh, this is good news, it would be great to discuss every topic with you. But now… actually I am not allowed to leave the house, but… of course! Certainly, maybe some time in the future when this little setback is over.
 
                                            She got up and after having a look around the house, she said: Paul, I really think you are going through a hard time. In my opinion and Judging by the state of the investigations, I would say that these sorts of things usually take some time.
-Yes, it will take them some time, but there is nothing I can do. -Said I.
-Paul, -Said she looking at me-  as I can see you´ve treated my cat like your own, if it had not been so, he wouldn´t be staying next to your feet as he is all the time…
-Well, I love pets…
 -I would like to give you a hand in return as a compensation. I think it would be possible for me to pull some strings to simplify your situation. Moreover, I can put you up until everything in your home is back in place and solved.
-Leonie, I would appreciate it greatly if you can give me a hand resolving this problem, because I never ever have been involved in such cases, like being faced skeletons.
-Please, look after the cat and keep him with you for the time being, and I will see what I can do for you.
-It’s very kind from your side, and I thank you. To be honest Leonie, I won´t rule out your offer, because I really need some help. -said I.
She disappeared downstairs with a smile. While the cat remained next to my feet without batting an eyelash.
 
                                            Some help is always welcome when you are in need, but I had my doubts. At least, before we would have to talk about fees, and I’d also have to tell her that I was a vegetarian, and that most of the time I’d be in my room working on my book.  This is what I was thinking about while I was trying to put all my reminder notes in order, when suddenly, I don´t know how but I missed the cat rubbing against my feet, I looked downwards and below the table and around my desk, but I couldn’t see him anywhere.
 
At that pretty moment I thought that he must have gone downstairs, looking for his mistress and maybe he was running after her. So, I went downstairs calling him, and I even asked the cops on duty at the entrance, but they told me that they had not seen the cat going out.
-This is a very cunning cat, he is as bright as a button, maybe he jumped out the door in no time at all. -I told the cops again.
-Here not even an ant can enter or leave without our knowing about it. -An officer told me-.
 
Then I went back upstairs, calling him and checking every corner of the second floor without finding a trace of the cat. Here I have to say that I wouldn’t have found him if he had not meowed when I was coming out from my bedroom. I turned over on my heels and I saw him sitting on top of my black suitcase, which was upon the wardrobe. I don´t know how he had managed to jump so high, but anyhow, this time he heeded my words when I asked him to come down. He followed me back to my desk, where I sat down again on my chair, on this occasion instead of rubbing against my feet, the cat sat down opposite and starred at me as if he was waiting for an answer or an explanation.
 
-Ok Jasper, -I told him, -stay here by me and don´t rush! Such sort of things need some time. Take it easy.
But as soon as I spun my chair to face the table, the cat turned around and went straight back to my bedroom. I went after him. He jumped onto a chair and from the chair onto the wardrobe; then he sat once again upon my suitcase.
I instructed and invited him, time after time, to come down, but my words make no difference to him, so, I got up onto the chair and grabbed him. When I was pulling him towards me, he sank his claws into the suitcase so that I had to put him down with the suitcase hanging from his claws.
 
                                            It didn´t take me much time to pack my bags, a suitcase with some clothes and a shoulder bag with all my draft reminder notes and laptop. So, ten minutes later I was sitting at my desk ready to go. Both of us, the cat and I we were sitting one in front of the other waiting for some news. I looked at the cat, at his whiskers, and they were pointing away from his face, which as the expert had said, this meant –satisfied, happy, relaxed and pleased-.
 
-Ok Jasper, Don´t get your knickers in a twist, it is not as easy as you think. Your mistress is at work attempting to find a solution to my situation, and how set me free from this house. Hold on!
 
                                            Time was passing and sometime later Leonie gave me a ring.
-Paul! Good news! I was having lunch with some friends, and I can tell you that you are allowed to come in and out of your house whenever you want.
-Many thanks Leonie, I thank you ever so much.
-By the way, is Jasper still by you? Is he ok? –She asked.
-Yes, he is sitting opposite, and looking straight at me.   Leonie! -I continued- I would like to thank you for what you have done for me. Do you fancy a cup of coffee? We are ready to go down town.
-Yes, it would be nice; please come down here and do not forget Jasper. -She replied.
-All right! No worries, we will be right there.
 
                                            -Come on Jasper! We have to go, just follow me. –Said I to the cat whilst I got up from my chair.
As my words didn´t make any difference to him, I bowed down to grab him, but he had sunk his claws into the suitcase again. So I tried to lift him up, and even though the suitcase was full of clothes, he lifted it up hanging from his claws.
-Jasper! Release it, it´s not polite to attend an appointment carrying a suitcase. Forsake my luggage.
I pulled him upwards and swung him up and down, but there was no way he’d leave my luggage behind. So, I gripped a hold of the suitcase between my arms and hoisted it up with the cat sitting on top and so I took him to my car.
 
                                            When I met Leonie in the village, I really was at a loss for words. The only thing that came to mind at that pretty moment was: hi! Here we are.
She opened the car door and said, - Jasper! Come!
As the cat continued looking at her without batting an eyelid, she attempted to pick him up, and that is when she realised that the cat had strongly seized the suitcase.
-I think that it would be better if I accept your offer. -I said walking to her. -Leonie! Would you mind please putting me up for some days?
-Yes. Certainly!  Come on! The tea is ready.
 
I grabbed the suitcase again with the cat on top, and so I went to Leonie’s house. The cat jumped down onto the floor as soon as we had entered. Leonie brought two teacups and we sat opposite one another.
 
-Leonie, first, I want to thank you for putting me up in your home. What you have done for me is priceless. I am more grateful that I am able to express.
-Do not worry about that. -said she.
-Leonie, the question which beat my brain is, how did the cat know that the skeletons were there? If it had not been for the cat, I would have been living at my house peacefully for years to come.  And what reasons would he have had for discovering the skeletons just now? I had been living there for just one week.
-Well, -She said- whilst I can´t pinpoint a reason why the cat has done. What he did, there are loads of legends about a cat’s intelligence. Let’s see if time could give us the answer!  So… fine! Going back to the point. Did I tell you that I am also writing a book?
-No, no you didn´t, actually we didn´t have time to talk, but… I’m sure it would certainly be a gripping book. – I answered.
-Well, in my book of course I want to tackle the same matters as you wrote on your draft reminder notes, but I also want to focus the book in giving a boost to current philosophy. It has been losing ground for many years in favour of science. I think that philosophy still has a lot to say. For instance, many centuries ago, Plato addressed the meaning of justice in the ideal state, in his book “The Republic” and this question hasn´t been solved yet.
-Yes, this is true. Well, scientists have made great achievements, their advances have allowed us to improve the quality of life, prolong life and so on. But yes, this problem remains unanswered, I mean how to apply justice in an ideal state it can´t be resolved in a lab. I think -I continued- that philosophy teaches us how to look beyond what our senses show us. For a philosopher being alive is not enough, but they want to know why and for what they live. For me philosophy is a matter that helps us to seek the truth with natural reason, being our only tool. I recall a statement made many years ago by a well-known philosopher, I mean Bertrand Russell, who said: Philosophy, from the earliest times, has made greater claims, and achieved fewer results, than any other branch of learning. 
-Yes, I know this statement. -Said she getting up from her chair. - Come along please!
 
I followed her along the corridor and she led me to her library, in which at first sight I could see that she had many books sorted into subjects and a large table next to the window.
-Here you have the book you mentioned by Russell. –Said she pointing out at “Our knowledge from the External World”.
We continued walking around the library talking about some of the remarkable books on the shelves, and then she invited me to sit down at the table opposite her.
-Let’s get down to business. –She started looking at me-.
At that pretty moment, I was ready to lift up my hands with palms open telling her that -the fees for my stay here are no problem, I can pay you in advance-. Fortunately, she spoke before I’d made a move and said:  could we write a book together?
 
-Yeah! Certainly, we can. Two heads are better than one. For me it would be a pleasure to write a book together with you. –I answered.
-Here we have everything we need, -Said she pointed at her library, -This is a large quiet room, where we can go calmly through each topic, and add up what we take into consideration.
 
                                            That is how we agreed to write the book together, starting from scratch. Since then eight months have passed, as if they were seconds. I can tell you that during this period, we had a whale of a time, discussing and talking about each topic, and bringing up and adding new arguments, matters and issues, while the cat was going back and forth along the corridor doing somersaults. He is always willing to make us laugh and be happy. Or rather, he looks like the cat that got the cream.
 
And about Leonie, she not only is head and shoulders above me around the topics we addressed and has a good brain for reasoning and argument, but she is also a kind of woman that always packs a punch wherever she goes. Moreover, she will go the extra mile to make everything possible, if it is needed. We are on the same wavelength and we really enjoy getting our teeth into each new subject we added to our book. Now we are making a good headway, since we have stepped up a gear, and are putting our heads together.
 
The icing on the cake is that she is a kind of being whom you feel you have always known since forever ago, or maybe you have known them in another better world. If so, then you have not lost your entire memory coming down to this world.
 
                                            About the book, we have divided it into 32 chapters and we have already finished the first one. Moreover, as we have been writing together, we have fallen head over heels in love with one another, as loving couples of literary inclination do. In addition, we have started to write poetry together, and usually we go out on the tiles at least once night per week. We have also booked a Hotel -Animals allowed- for one month in Athens, where we have the intention of finishing the Second Chapter of the book and plans visit the ancient Agora, where Socrates used to spend his time, asking his philosophical questions to the Athenians.
 
                                            So, about superstitions, I really think that such things are nonsense, no truer than old wives’ tales. I reckon that it would be better, when faced with a problem, not to dwell on the negative, but the other way around, looking on the bright side, knowing that every cloud has a silver lining.
 

 

 

 

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of José Álvarez.
Published on e-Stories.org on 09/12/2016.

 

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