The Boarder – Eli Evans

Awakened by the racket, he abandoned his quarters, pulling a t-shirt over his head for the sake of propriety, and descended the stairs to the living room, where the child was smashing a wooden ukulele to smithereens against the masonry surrounding the fireplace. He located the child’s mother, the lady of the house, in the adjoining room, a kitchen, where she was otherwise occupied preparing victuals of a neither appetizing nor unappetizing variety.

– Your child, he informed her, is smashing a ukulele to smithereens against the masonry surrounding the fireplace.

– That’s not something I’m going to be able deal with right now, the lady of the house said, looking past him.

– And why not? the boarder demanded.

– Because my child is currently strangling himself with the strings from his broken ukulele, came her reply.

But by then it was too late; the child had met his end.

Only two weeks later occurred the incident when the boarder opened the icebox to discover, set atop a silver platter like a Thanksgiving turkey, the cadaver of one of the many cats that prowled about the property, some more fearsome than others.

– Yes, acknowledged the lady of house, now childless, when he found her in the basement, banging pots and pans according to her usual custom. That’s to prevent him from putrefying before the funeral the way he did last time.

– Last time? the boarder asked, furrowing his brow in the classical manner.

– And the time before that, for that matter, affirmed the lady of the house. You see, he has a nasty habit of dying, that one. I’ve tried talking to him about it, but after all, he’s only a cat.

That night, while her husband did something that made no sense, the lady of the house continued banging her pots and pans in the basement. The noise traveled up the heating pipes into the boarder’s quarters, where the boarder lay face down on the old swaybacked bed they’d provided for him, a pillow over his head.

– That’s it, he was saying to himself in a muffled voice, I’m getting out of this madhouse once and for all, and without delay set to thinking over how to do it.

Caught up in all this thinking, however, he forgot to remove the pillow from his head, and so it was by way of asphyxiation that he, too, soon became deceased.