UKArchive ID: 19361Ryan and the lion by chrissytotoro
Originally published on May 11, 2007 in Fiction

Shorter than the last one.(Under 2000 words according to my word counter) Not strictly drama. If there had been a fiction choice in the genre selector I would have chosen that. A bit humorous. Any comments/constructive crit welcome


RYAN woke to a primordial scream that tore through the dark night, penetrated the double glazing and thick curtains of his bed room and hammered repeatedly at his sleeping brain. He sat up, knowing that his hated adversary was only a few feet below his window on the low wall that separated Ryan's once neat and well planted garden from that of Mrs. Doonan next door.
Leaping from the bed like a sudden hot coal had been introduced he crossed the room to the window. Jerking aside the curtain, he banged on the window.
"Go back to hell! Ya demon!" He knew that his tirade went unheard by the cat or anyone else and slowly he sank in to the chair where his jacket and trousers rested.
How in the name of reason, did such a sweet gentle person as Mrs. Doonan come to be possessed of such a monster?
He knew the physical how. Hadn't it been himself who had climbed up on to her roof , to rescue the ungrateful beast when it was just a kitten? And hadn't it almost taken off his left hand as a thank you? What foxed him was how it could have become such a renegade when it's owner ---if you could say the thing was owned --- was so near an angel. It should have grown in to a sweet, home loving creature that accepted a fond stroke and a saucer of milk from time to time. Some how, perhaps it was genetically modified, crossed with some thing Jurassic, it had managed to evolve in to the monster that now paraded along the wall, spraying it's foul smelling scent over every living plant there and causing almost instantaneous death and decay.
In the village it was known variously as an excavator of newly planted things, an exhumer of lovingly buried and treasured small pets, a slayer of any thing that walked or crawled or flew unaccompanied by a platoon of SAS, and the sire, on any hapless female that crossed it's nocturnal path, of the ugliest kittens ever brought mewing in to life. It begot the impossible to home, so that it's progeny were turned loose to fend for themselves and mercy on them if they ever came across their father.
The cat was a rogue, a diabolical throw back to what cats had once been. A sabre toothed only semi-domesticated moggy who had a desire for world domination.
Ryan was not given to anthropomorphism but it seemed to him that his dislike of the cat was reciprocated in full measure and purposefully by the animal.
He made his way back to his bed. He had to be up early, had a lot of work to do before he went in to school. Soon, he would give up the teaching and start his own computer business. He was almost there. He lay down and closed his eyes. Out side, there was, for the moment, silence. Ryan started to drift off back to sleep.
The hellion screamed again.
Not long after his mother died about three years ago, Ryan had taken to popping in to see Mrs. Doonan. The old lady lived alone now, her husband, the village post man had been dead some time and her only relatives lived in England.
It didn't take much of his day and he could make sure the old dear wasn't up to any thing silly, like leaving on the gas cooker or airing clothes too close to the fire.
Looking around him as he went out of his back door to see what devastation the fearsome feline's nocturnal roamings had wrought, he was fairly relieved to see that only a small shrub seemed to have caught a blast of the radioactive urine or what ever it was the cat emitted. The stench was appalling.
He made his way down the path to the little gate that led in to the neat, easy care garden next door and not looking down, stepped in to some thing soft and dead.
He was still cleaning his shoe as he got to Mrs. Doonan's back door.
"God save all here, barring the cat," he said as he went in.
"Is that you, Mr. Ryan?" the old lady called from the lobby. She was just coming through to the kitchen. "I was going to call you on the telephone." She was clutching a long manila envelope in her arthritic, liver spotted hand. "I've just had this come and I'm out of me mind with worry."
"What ever is it?" He went to the kettle, filled it with water and plugged it in.
"I've to go in to the hospital," she said. "They say for tests."
"Then for tests it'll be," he said confidently. "You don't want to be frightening yourself."
"Oh, I'm not. It isn't that that worries me. It's Leo."
For a moment Ryan's mind played him false. Did she think her husband was still around to worry about or did she want some one to visit the grave? And then it hit him. He remembered her husband, flaming red hair and a temper to match. She had called the cat Leo.
"Did you not put him in the cattery when you went to your daughter's."
"I did. And they won't take him back."
Ryan thought, that doesn't surprise me, but he managed to keep the thought to himself.
"He disgraced himself by abusing the owner's Yorkshire terrier."
"I see." Ryan said and could not think why, when he knew exactly what she was going to say next, he did not immediately invent some story about having to spend the next few months in a monastery.
"I was wondering ... I don't like to ask ....but he likes you, Mr. Ryan. That's why he's always bringing you what he catches. He likes you." She paused then said; "All you would have to do is put his food out."
Ryan thought, and do I kill the sheep first or simply tie it to a stake.
"I wouldn't expect ya to clean out his tray or nothin'."
Just then, the cat insinuated itself around the kitchen door and came softly towards Ryan. With back arched and almost on tip toe, it rubbed itself around his legs, leaving a fine coating of red fur on his dark trousers.
Ryan heard his own voice say; "Don't you worry, Mrs. D. I'll look after him."
And so the school teacher became zoo keeper, for a day or two or three at least.
On the first day he had placed the cat's food on the back step and then shrunk quickly back to his own side of the fence. At precisely seven ten, the cat showed up, ate the food and took off again like the devil himself was after him. Perhaps the new human scent had upset him. Spitefully, Ryan found himself hoping it had.
The cat was to get a full tin of the foul smelling, fish dross a day and that to be divided in to two meals, morning and night.
On his return from work on the second day, he noticed the morning food was still there. No neighbouring cats would think themselves possessed of their right senses if they ventured in to the lion's den.
As he ate his solitary evening meal, Ryan acknowledged an unease. If there was one thing the cat loved better than tormenting the life out of Ryan, it was his food.
The feeling grew when he went out to put out the cat's evening meal.
There was no sign of the animal.
The morning of the third day, Ryan risked sharing his concern with a neighbour.
"Good riddance to it, I say," said the neighbour.
"Ah but I promised I would look out for him and with her being in hospital."
The postman caught the end of their conversation and it was he who confirmed Ryan's worst fears. "If it is the beast of Bally James Duff you're looking for, I think it is dead by number seventeen's fence."
Ryan dashed in to his own house and through to his back garden. He brought a pair of old gardening gloves and a cardboard box from the shed and then ran up the road in the direction of number seventeen.
The cat was lying against the bottom of the fence, it's nose bloody, one leg screwed under it obviously broken. There was blood matted in to the fur on it's rear end but it was not dead.
Muttering a prayer to Saint Francis, Ryan donned the gloves and carefully placed the unresisting cat in to the box then fled back to his car. The neighbour and the post man watched, no doubt commenting on Ryan's insanity, as he drove very carefully out of his drive and off towards town and the vet.
She was a young woman, Canadian, pretty but her face held nothing but concern as she viewed the damaged cat.
Ryan could see the hopelessness of the situation but still he said; "If there is anything to be done for him, do it. I'll pay."
"It looks pretty bad but I'll clean him up and we'll see what the damage is. Call back around five. I'll be able to tell you more."
She'd given him a paper to sign so that the cat could have an anaesthetic and he had left it there. It was a tough cat, it might make it but he had to prepare the old lady for the worst.
Ryan was totally unprepared himself for the grey faced doctor who told him that they were very sorry but Mrs. Doonan had passed away early that morning. Nothing anyone could have done anything about. She was well in to her nineties. They had notified her family and they would be coming over as soon as they could.
Ryan's heart sank to his boots. That was such an unfair thing. Still, at least it had relieved him of the obligation of telling her about the cat.
At five o'clock precisely, Ryan presented himself at the vet's office. If there was to be more bad news it was best all over at once. There was a few moments while he read the notices about sheep worrying and having your cats and dogs vaccinated, castrated, micro chipped and then the vet was poking her head around the door and smiling.
He went in to the small consulting room.
"Well," she said. "You'll be pleased to know that it wasn't quite as serious as it looked. A little longer before you got him here and it would have been a different story. He's lost a leg and we've wired his jaw and I'll keep him till Friday at least. He may need a little more surgery then but at the moment he's stable."
Ryan nodded and then said; "His owner died this morning."
"Oh, I am so sorry."
"She was an old lady." He looked at her. "I'll still pay for the bill. In fact....I'll probably keep the cat my self." A malicious look came to Ryan's eyes. "Can you tell me, would it damage his chances at all if, while you have him unconscious on Friday, you were to ...castrate him. I don't mind taking him on but I don't relish having a tom cat around the place."
"I can do that for you Mr. Ryan, no problem. It should have been done a while back."
"Ah well, better late than never."
"Would you like to see him."
He followed her through to the back room where cats and dogs lay in various stages of recovery.
The cat, conscious now, looked at Ryan through watery green eyes. It mewed, pathetically and Ryan couldn't resist poking a finger through the bars of the cage to stroke it's bald face.
"You and me'll be fine now," Ryan said.
The cat purred.

© chrissytotoro (chrissy on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 19361
Archived comments for Ryan and the lion
SugarMama34 on 11-05-2007
Ryan and the lion
Hi Chrissy,

A really interesting story, that I have enjoyed. I found I had to read on until I had got to the end. You keep the reading guessing about the cat. I thought at first it was going to be some kind of weird creature and Ryan would have to fight it to the death or something. I also liked your choice of words and descriptiveness throughout the piece, it projected good imagery for the readers mind and I thought the characters were convincing. I laughed at the part about the yorkshire terrier. An entertaining story.

Author's Reply:
Lis', many thanks for taking the time and trouble to read and comment and for the generous rating. Much appreciated.
I'm glad that you enjoyed the story.

Gerry on 11-05-2007
Ryan and the lion
chrissy, do you realise that you are taking all my time up 😉

This was original and very clever IMHO. I enjoyed it...

Gerry xxx.

Author's Reply:
Glad you enjoyed, Gerry and thank you for stopping by to say so.

jay12 on 11-08-2007
Ryan and the lion
That is such a twisty story. Entertaining to the very end. I love the way that he loves the cat at the end and hates it at the beginning. A really enjoyable piece of writing.


Author's Reply:
Jay, much thanks for reading commenting and rating. I thought this little effort had sunk without trace ages ago. Nice that people still read my stuff even when I'm not around much.
Glad you enjoyed.