Sunday, May 8, 2016

"There Was Something About This Particular Cat"

"Miss Paisley's Cat."
By Roy Vickers (1889-1965).
First appearance: EQMM, May 1953.
Reprinted in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (UK), May 1953 and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (Australia), July 1953.
Filmed for TV in 1957.
Short story (16 pages).
Online at SFFAudio HERE (PDF).
"It is true that Miss Paisley's cat was the immediate cause of that emotionally emaciated old maid reaching a level of perverted greatness—or stark infamy, according to one's point of view. But this can be explained without resort to mysticism. The cat's behavior was catlike throughout."
It's remarkable how animals can insinuate themselves into people's lives; different creatures they may be, and yet we still embrace them—love them—as fully as if they were members of the family. A lonely relic of the faded past, Miss Paisley, grudgingly at first, bestows her affections on a badly abused alley cat; they have their ups and downs, these two, but their bond holds, until their little idyll is threatened by cruelty . . . and murder.

Principal characters:
~ Miss Paisley:
   "How easy it was to be calm when you had made up your mind!"
~ The cat:
   "A wound from an airgun made one cheek slightly shorter than the other, revealing a glimpse of teeth and giving the face the suggestion of a human sneer. Add that it had a stiff left foreleg, which made its walk ungainly, and you have a very ugly cat . . ."
~ Jenkins:
   "Like most habitual liars, he was always excessively anxious to prove his word when he happened to be telling the truth."
~ Mr. Rinditch:
   "Miss Paisley knew that he was a street bookmaker, with a number of runners who took the actual bets . . ."
~ Man with a dog:
   "Get in under and strike UP!"
~ The boilermaker:
   "Someone cut 'is throat for 'im in the night."
~ The desk sergeant:
   ". . . in — in a state of trance you said, didn't you?"
~ Chief Inspector Green:
   "You knew you couldn't face up to a job like murder, especially with a knife. So you had a brainstorm, or whatever they call it, in which you kidded yourself you had committed the murder."
Resources:
- See Wikipedia HERE, the GAD Wiki HERE, and Classic Crime Fiction's Roy Vickers page HERE for data about our author.
- Along with an Americanized "Miss Paisley's Cat," two other Vickers stories were filmed for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series in the late '50s; their plots are described in detail on the IMDb, so BEWARE OF SPOILERS:

   (1) "Miss Paisley's Cat" (December 22, 1957) (IMDb HERE):
   (2) "The Crocodile Case" (May 25, 1958) (IMDb HERE):
   (3) "The Impromptu Murder" (June 22, 1958) (IMDb HERE):
~ ~ ~

The bottom line: "In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."
Terry Pratchett

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