Our Cats in Amsterdam – Part 4

By the time I wake up, John and Mary have already left for the airport. I walk around the house looking at how neat and tidy they’ve left everything. They did a lot of washing yesterday including their bed sheets and our cat blankets, so that Gemma and I would have clean bedding for the two weeks they’re away. This is very kind and considerate of them and shows me they love us and want what’s best for us. I go into each of their bedrooms and smell their scent on their clothes and belongings and find it very reassuring.

Mrs Elkins our cat carer arrives at 9am and it appears a normal visit. She feeds and cleans up after us and then departs but not before leaving two copies of a 3-page-long dossier all printed on one side of the page. We have to memorise this information and not bring it with us. Mrs Elkins will recycle the paper during our absence. She will be staying in our house for a few hours each day to make sure that no one breaks in and steals anything. She will also spend the occasional night there too for the same reason.

“They seem to think we live in an area of high crime,” says Gemma staring at the first page of the document, which explains Mrs Elkins’s role during our absence.

“They’re just covering themselves, Gemma,” I say, “it would be embarrassing if they had to explain to the police that someone had broken into the house and stolen us, but left two toy cats behind that look similar to us, wouldn’t it?”

“It would, Freddie, in the event that happened I’m sure we could get back quicker than the humans, so we’d be here when they arrived. Sometimes though I wonder what we’ll be up against in Amsterdam, what kind of organised crime it might be, because it appears they’re concerned that those people could find out where we live somehow and target the house.”

“I do hope not, I really do, because we might never be safe. Mary and John shouldn’t be placed in danger because of our escapades. Anyway, let’s not think like that, let’s look at the rest of the dossier and see what we’ll be doing in the city.”   

“It seems like we’ll get the exact details each morning from this Henk character who is a crow who works for the government, but it doesn’t say which government, but I presume it will be the Dutch government.” Gemma started to flick her tail slightly as she didn’t like not knowing things exactly.

“I think it’s more likely Henk will work for Europol, the European Police, who I presume will be able to work across borders without any issues, unlike government agents who aren’t supposed to operate on another nation’s territory.”

Gemma twitched her whiskers – “Yes, I think you’re right, I should have thought of that myself. I wonder if we’ll be inducted into the organisation and get paid a wage of some kind or are we working for free? Is there a union I wonder?”

“I don’t think humans regard cats as employees, Gemma, after we’ll be getting board and lodgings for free won’t we?”

Gemma flicks her tail a little more quickly – “We should receive some recompense for our labour. This stinks of the gig economy Frederick, we’ll be run into the ground if we’re not careful. We have to be organised and stand up for ourselves. We should let this Henk know we won’t be pushed around.”

“I wonder if we’ll get a badge to wear to show we’re working for a large organisation?”

Gemma almost gives me a Sneer Level 3 for being an Ignorant and Stupid Cat, but contents herself with banging her tail up and down on the floor – “You want a deputy badge like they have in the Western films?”

I smile because I suppose I did, but I’m not sure how they’d attach it to my fur especially if I were disguised as a ginger cat – “I suppose some recognition that I’m part of the Pussy Posse, yes, we’re after the bad guys.”

Gemma stops thumping her tail on the floor : “We’re going to be following people around from one address to another and making sure the crows know which house the person has gone to and that’s about it. I suppose it’s up to us to make the assignments more interesting, you know, stare in the window, and see what they’re up to without being seen.”

“We also have to talk to the local animals and see if they have any information about the places we’re going to.”

“It doesn’t say that in my dossier, Freddie” says Gemma, “have we got different versions?”

“No, it doesn’t say that in my dossier either Gemma, but it makes sense to do that, because I’m sure the animals will know. I think we should work to our strengths, don’t you?”

Gemma looks a little askance – “Freddie with all due respect that is more your strength than mine. I’m less at ease talking to creatures cats are normally expected to attack and eat for food. It still doesn’t feel right talking to squirrels without chasing them up trees where they belong.”

“Well, Gemma, who knows in the way of karma, you might have reason to thank a squirrel for an act of kindness sooner than you expect.”

“We’ll see about that; I mean what can a squirrel do for me that I can’t do for myself already?”

“Who knows what situations we’ll find ourselves in – let’s wait and see. Do you have any questions – it seems clear to me although I’m not sure why I’m the one who will have to undergo a change of fur colour?”

“Yes, perhaps your markings stand out more and are more likely to be observed by the people we’re following. Or perhaps they’ve heard about you and not about me?”

“Oh I wonder if it’s the videos from the park when I was on the swing and the slide. The city warden took pictures of me with her phone when I was going down the slide. I wonder if they’ve been shared with people?”

“Oh, now he says.” Gemma places a paw on her head. I look on the bright side, it’s a lot better than a sneer of any level, which shows things are continuing to progress.

All in all, I get the impression that our time in Amsterdam will be mainly trotting along by the canals under the elm trees as we keep someone in our sights. There won’t be much time for sight-seeing which will disappoint Gemma as she was hoping to go to The Anne Frank House and also the Van Gogh Museum as she likes his paintings a lot. There seems to be a common feature between her choices namely suffering during their lifetime.

“Is everything clear to you?” I ask.

“I think so,” says Gemma, moving one of her pieces of paper out of the sunlight which had crept through the half-lowered blinds onto the floor, “I’m more concerned about what they’re not telling us, Frederick, in terms of whether these people could be dangerous. Arms dealers and drug people could be rather nasty, don’t you think?”

“They’re more likely to be angry at humans than us,” I reply, “I doubt they’ll notice two cats trailing them, especially if we’re on different sides of the street.”

“Yes, but they’re already telling us that you’ll probably have to be stained ginger during our time away, almost as though when they see you, they’ll recognise you. Whereas with me, they’re not expecting that to happen. I’m a bit worried about you really.”

“Thank you, Gemma, that’s why I wanted you to come along with me, so you can look out for me and make sure I’m going to be OK.”

“Yes, well I will do my best, Freddie, I can do nothing against guns, bows and arrows, and knives.”

“But we’ll see those weapons before they use them, you can’t really hide them, can you? If we see them carrying something, we’ll scamper off and hide.”

“There might be snipers though or big dogs with sharp teeth.”

“I think you’re worrying too much, Gemma, you just have to accept what’s thrown your way. You can only deal with what you encounter at the time you encounter it. Fears are always about the future and not about the moment we’re in.”

“Right, thank you Freddie, I will try to remember that. Why will we be on opposite sides of the road, by the way, why not the same side, the side the person we’re following is on?”

I nod to myself as that’s a fair question – “I was thinking we should do that in case the person we’re trailing suddenly moves from one side of the street to the other to throw us off the trail.”

Gemma twitches her whiskers – “I hadn’t thought of that, again, you are quite cunning in your own way, aren’t you?”

“I try to do my best at all times, Gemma, I think through the problem and contemplate the best way to act that reduces the amount of suffering I inflict, both on myself and other sentient beings.”

“They have trams in Amsterdam, Freddie, do you think we can use those to tail people?”

“That’s a good point Gemma, we will have to know about the trams as someone could hop on the tram and leave us trying to catch up. I’m not sure if cats have to pay on trams, so we should ask Henk about that. We could lose someone that way.”

“Perhaps we should have communication devices?”

“Those could be tricky to operate. I presume you’re referring to times when one of us can get on the tram but the other can’t, so we arrange a rendezvous?

”Yes, something like that, Freddie,” replies Gemma, “we might have to adopt a ploy where we wait outside for someone, one of us on the left side of the entrance and the other one on the right side of the entrance and then we can follow them whichever way they go. It will involve a lot of scampering to catch up.”

“Yes, it will be a good exercise in teamwork, Gemma, we’ll have to cooperate in order to be a success. It should keep us fit and healthy and that’s something to look forward to.”

“Anyway, I’m going to have a sleep as I think we might be travelling for some part of the night, and I’d like to be awake and feeling refreshed when we arrive.”

“That’s a good idea, Gemma, I’ll have a snooze too until Mrs Elkins comes back for us.”  Gemma walks off and goes downstairs and I retire under the couch. I read some more of Whose Body. I have to say I find Lord Peter Wimsey difficult to understand as he misses the letter ‘g’ off the ends of words, for example gettin’ rather than getting and comin’ instead of coming. It’s a verbal tic, I think it’s called, but it’s affectin’ my understandin’ of the book I’m readin’. People who do that are really fake in my opinion even if they are fictional. Hercule and Jane didn’t do that in their books. Wimsey also has a servant and I thought slavery had been abolished before the 1920s. Still, when I reflect on these things, it’s better to know than not to know and that’s one of the reasons I read books, I find I like some authors and not others, and I don’t realise how good a particular author is until I read another author in the same genre who isn’t as good and then I appreciate the first author even more. Life is all about finding things out and understanding why things happen in certain ways. After 20 pages of high-falutin’ descriptions, I’m still not sure who committed the murder and why the naked body was dumped in someone’s bath, so being inquisitive by nature I want to find that out. Anyway, I fall asleep and dream about meditating on a tram as it rattles through Amsterdam by canals full of barges with windmills in the distance and people wearing clogs as they eat Edam and Gouda sandwiches. I hadn’t realised dreams could be so stereotyping, I thought they were always imaginative, but obviously not. That says a lot about my subconscious mind

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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