“You can never tell when you’re bewitched though, Josie” my superstitious friend told me one day. “Everything will be normal and when you spot something weird, you’d pass it as if you are sure you are only seeing things, or hearing things. There are reasons that something becomes a legend”

I have had my share of spooky things, but I think the reason that something becomes a legend, is the macabre happening, and a very good story teller.

The reason of that short conversation, however, is Phantom. That old king of the strip of the road who is now entering retirement. Part of his kingdom is now taken over by Sibylle.

The abdicating king now waited across the street until I am gone for the colony, then go into the house to get his dinner and lounge at the top of the stairs watching the other outdoor cats come and go. Those who belongs to The Whiskers’ Syndicate, will frolic and chase and play down on the carport (now front garden).

When I come home, he will watch me, well hidden in the night. I can’t even see his bright, yellow eyes, I can only spot his bulking back near one of my pot.

He is a lot better since he retirement. He gains weight. He is not sick anymore, and he is stronger, now that I noticed he took longer stroll on his way up and down the hill. His discolored black fur is now more black than reddish brown, and when he does look at me, I can see it in his gem eyes that although he is retired, he is no less of a conqueror than he was.

One day, last week, however, it started to change.

Like, for example, he came from the opposite way of where he used to enter.
He does not jump through the opening on the front wall, but slip in from under the fence, like Tabby.

And he is a lot lot, LOT more cheerful. Like kids.

And he meows at me.

I thought he bumped his head on something, and that he will be back to his cool ex-king soon.

But no.

One week and I start asking neighbors if one of them lost their black cat.

No one. I answered those who asked how I can be sure it’s not one of my own who ran away long time ago, and I told them about Phantom.

Every lady here in the block knows Phantom. He lives in this area for a very long time and while others fell sick, he survived, others got culled (gathered and dumped on the market) he survived as well. No one can get near him, and the cat loving ladies dare not stay too close but throw food at him.

Then at the end of the story that one superstitious woman, who still believe that black cat is some sort of witchcraft.

So yesterday I pretended I went out for the colony, and saw Phantom came walking from his usual direction. Jump through the opening on the front wall, walk up through the stairs, eat, drink and lounge on top of his new throne.

I took picture, and then I left.

When I came home three hours later, the same Phantom, running toward me from the opposite direction from that in the evening, and meow at me, as if we’re friends since our baby days.

I stopped and although I can’t go nearer than about two feet, I was sure it was Phantom.

It’s just that it’s impossible.

Instead of giving him food, like usual, I opened the fence and rush upstairs.

And almost tripped on sleeping Phantom.

I looked down and there was Phantom, bewildered, peeking from the wall of next door house.

I turned around and I saw Phantom peering at me from his spot.

Yeah, right, I must be bewitched.

I gave the King emeritus his share of Whiskas pouch, and go back down to the fence and watch the other Phantom chatting with Tabby.

Tabby slip from under the fence, and the other Phantom slip under the fence.

Tabby asked for food, and the other Phantom waited at the corner of the garden. For food, of course.

“You bring a friend home Tabby?”

Tabby just looked back to her friend and meow for her whiskas.

After two Pouches of Whisklas, he was gone.

Gone, as in with the wind.

I didn’t know where he is going, I didn’t know where he came from.

I can do nothing but shrug and move on.

Sometimes the opera has a twist ending.

~ Josie

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Josie And The Whiskers' Syndicate

The first and only cat refuge in Bandung (West Java - Indonesia) a capital breeder of a nation without animal welfare law. We care for Bandung's unwanted animals, operate a TNR as much as our budget allows, and continue to educate people about compassion to animals

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