Covid Lockdown ( Day 7: The Monopoly Game )
The mood in the house after seven days of lockdown has become sombre. Frank hasn’t come out of his room since yesterday and my wife has been watching reruns of Dawson’s Creek all morning in her underwear. She swears loudly every time Dawson comes on screen. Considering he’s the main character in the show, it’s a lot of swearing.
If we continue like this, who knows what kind of condition we will all be in by the time the lockdown finishes. I need something to bring us all together. Something to get us around the table without a fight. I rummage through the game drawer and find it.
“Monopoly! No one has ever fallen out over a game of Monopoly”, I whisper to myself.
“No alcohol remains.”
I put on my most dramatic voice and loudly profess. “Gather round family, for we shall embark on a journey together and travel down a road many have gone before, but few have mastered”.
My wife pauses the television and looks at her watch.
“It’s only lunchtime, are you drunk already?”
“Yes, but never mind that. Let’s all play a game of Monopoly. Go get Frank.”
I can tell she doesn’t want to play, but her interest in Dawson and his floppy hair has waned. She turns it off and calls for Frank.
“Frank! Fancy a game of Monopoly?”
A loud thump can be heard coming from Franks room. We can hear some heavy stuff being moved around and what sounds like a large door bolt opening, along with a series of intricate sounding levers and pulleys. As the door opens, a sound which can only be described as a sheep baaing, loudly escapes the room.
“Is he keeping sheep in there?” I ask my wife.
She shrugs her shoulders. Frank walks out to join us, his familiar back eye patch back on. He has a bit of a limp. I’m not sure what he got up to last night, but I decide it best not to ask. He never could resist a good old game of Monopoly. You might not think it to look at him, but he’s quite competitive for a cat. I take the board out and begin to set up. First, we need to decide who gets which piece.
“Right, I’m taking the car out of the game.”
“Why?” asks my wife.
“Because everyone wants to be the car and it always starts a fight”, I say.
Frank jumps onto the table and grabs the car. He returns to his seat and hisses at me.
“Right! So, Franks the Car. I’ll be the Iron and you can be Top Hat.”
Franks rolls first and lands on Kings Cross station. He immediately throws the money in to buy it. I see what his game is. Buy up all the railway stations, then shut them down so none of us can use the trains. Frank disdained public transport. He hated the trains and has been known to assault the occasional train driver.
It’s my wife’s turn. She picks up the dice and rolls a two.
“Yes! Community chest”, she says with excitement and picks up the card. “Go to Jail!”
Frank and I laugh as her happiness is quickly turned to misery. I grab the dice to take my turn.
“No!” she shouts. “I’m not going to jail. Why should I?”
Frank rolls his eyes and gives me his, “Have a word with your missus” look.
“What do you mean you’re not going to jail? You have to go to jail.”
“Because the card says so”, I say.
“Well that’s not good enough. I want a reason. What have I done to deserve three turns in jail?” she asks.
“Just go to jail will you and play the game”, I say.
“No, not until I get a good reason.”
I don’t want to give up on the game so readily. Family bonding must continue. I think up a suitable reason for my wife’s imaginary incarceration.
“Okay, how about the police have raided your house and found your fridge freezer full of severed heads”, I say.
Her mouth drops. Even Frank looks at me like I’m some sort of lunatic. He hops off his chair and heads to his room. He knows what’s coming next. As his door opens, the sheep from earlier lets out a loud baa. At least I think it’s the same sheep. He might have a couple of them in there.
I can feel my wife staring at me. A torrent of abuse usually follows such a stare. I close my eyes and await my punishment. This was not the kind of bonding I had hoped for.
No alcohol remains.
Covid Lockdown ( Day 8: The Monopoly Game 2: Return Of The Monopoly Man )
I arrive at the sitting room a defeated man. The monopoly board still on the table reminds me of the tongue lashing my wife gave me the day before. I enter the kitchen in search of coffee. Frank the cat is already sitting at the table reading the paper. I find it strange that he’s up so early. He must have a busy day ahead of him.
“Anything interesting in the paper?”
He doesn’t answer. He just sits there, sipping his coffee and reading the funny pages.
“How about we give that game of Monopoly another go?”
He turns and looks at me. I have clearly piqued his interest. He puts down the paper and brings his coffee into the living room. Now I just need to convince my wife that I’m not a crazy person and get her to play. I head into the sitting room and she’s already there, sitting at the table waiting to play. Either she’s reading my mind or the opposite. I’m reading hers. What? No, that doesn’t make any sense.
I take a seat at the table. Frank and her stare at me, waiting for me to take my turn. Somethings not right. They’re up to something. I just know it.
“I decide to play it cool.”
“What?” says my wife.
“Wait. Did I say that out loud? Am I saying this out loud now?”
“Yes”, she says.
“Oh. Ahhh………”, I say confidently.
“Just roll the dice”, she says.
The game is afoot. I roll, Frank rolls, my wife rolls. Hours pass and we play away in silence. I’m having the game of my life. It’s only a matter of time before one of them lands on my overpriced hotel on Mayfair and victory will surely be mine. It’s my wifes go. She’s three spaces away from my hotel. She rolls a three. One, two, three, Mayfair. Your mine now wifey.
“How much do I owe you?” she asks.
I check the card. I can barely hide my excitement.
“800 pounds and I believe that’s you out of the game.”
“No, I’m not paying”, she says.
“Let’s not start all this again,” I say. “It’s part of the game. Just pay it. You’ve lost. Just accept it.”
“You know very well I would never pay 800 pounds to stay in a hotel. And certainly, not one run by you.”
She scans the board and sees a hotel on Whitechapel.
“The hunger pains started early this morning. It had been at least three hours since last I ate”
“Who owns that?”
Franks puts up his paw and shows her the card.
“Twenty-five pounds a night. Why that’s very reasonable. I’ll stay there instead.”
She hands the money to Frank who then gives me the middle finger. I can feel the tears welling up inside but I’m not going cry. Not this time.
“Oh look, he’s going to cry”, says my wife. “Are you going to cry, little girl?”
“I’m not a little girl. I’m a big girl. I mean, a big boy.”
I flip the board as is traditional in Monopoly and run into the bedroom crying like a little girl. I can hear them laughing and high fiving outside. They have broken me. This was their plan all along. They knew my one weakness was my rigid insistence on playing board games by the rules. How could they?
If that’s how they are going to play it, then it’s time to play dirty. I take out my phone and scroll through the contacts until I find the name I’m looking for. Franks mortal enemy, “Mister Snuggles.”
Covid Lockdown ( Day 9: The Pawshank Redemption )
The hunger pains started early this morning. It had been at least three hours since last I ate, not including the packet of chocolate biscuits I had just eaten. I go to the fridge with dreams of ham and cheese sandwiches. I pull open the door and all I can see is the back of the fridge. I hadn’t realised just how filthy it had become. I look for a scrubber to begin cleaning but think better of it. My wife will enjoy cleaning that, why take that away from her. I’m such a good and thoughtful husband. I try to give myself a pat on the back but I can’t reach. I’ve really got to start exercising. I wonder does Jane Fonda have any new videos out.
The issue at hand still remains. There is no food in the fridge, and fridges don’t fill themselves no matter how hard I close my eyes and wish for it. I have to once again brave the mean streets and make my way to the supermarket. Only one person allowed at a time. Hopefully, the cops don’t spot me. They have been pretty mean to me ever since my wife chased them down and spit in their faces. She does that sometimes. I’m used to it, but the police here tend to see that kind of thing as a sign of aggression.
I go to grab my bag for life when I hear a gentle rat a tata on the door. I know that knock, I think to myself. “Oh no.” I’d completely forgotten about my previous days angry text to “Mister Snuggles”. Ominous music plays as I say his name out loud. I realize the window is open and it’s my neighbour Pedro playing his “Now That What I Call Ominous Music” album. I close the window and once again hear the sound of the door knocking followed by scratching sounds.
“Frank, hide”, I yell out.
I hear his door bolt unlock. A flock of sheep run past the kitchen door, followed shortly by Frank. I wait till the coast is clear before opening the door. Indeed, it was Mister Snuggles. His trademark miniature purple fedora placed neatly on his head. A large gold collar around his neck with diamond-encrusted lettering that reads “Snuggles”. He was the one who ran the kitty litter about town and didn’t take kindly to others trying to muscle in on his territory.
Behind him are his two heavies. Tomcats. One of them just got out of the cattery after doing a 10 stretch. 10 long miserable days. I had it on good authority he neutered a fellow inmate.
“Look, Mister Snuggles. That message I sent you yesterday. It was a mistake. He’s not actually here”.
I could tell he didn’t believe me. He gestured to his goons to search the house. They rushed past me. One of them had a cat box. I’d like to say I tried to stop them, but that would be a lie. Truth be told, I was terrified. Rumours of the what Mister Snuggles did to those that disobeyed him were the stuff of nightmares. I hear my wife scream from the bedroom.
“No, leave him. He’s done nothing to you.”
I turn to see the two goons dragging Frank out by his tail. They open the cat box store and stuff him in like a cat being stuffed into a cat box. My wife tries to pull him back out, but they simply swat her away. These are two mean kitties. They drag the box and its content out the door passed Mister Snuggles. He sticks a twenty in my top pocket and leaves. I don’t know what the police will think if they see three cats carrying a cat box with another cat inside. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Frank again.
Covid Lockdown (Final Day Part 1: Apocalypse Meow)
Cabin fever was now reaching its peak. I was starting to think that my wife was trying to kill me. I first became suspicious when she ran at me with a knife screaming, “I’m going to kill you”. I’m observant that way. I see the little signs that other husbands would miss.
It had been a few days now since Frank the cat has been taken away by his nemesis Mister Snuggles. In a way, I felt responsible. Probably because I was the one who had told Mister Snuggles where Frank had been hiding. The guilt was starting to sting a little. That and my wife was poking me with a hot needle which stung quite a bit more than the guilt.
I decided I needed to rescue Frank. Also, we had run out of booze. I could rescue him on the way to the shop or on the way back. They don’t usually allow cats into supermarkets. Not with protective masks anyway. Best to do it on the return trip.
Mister Snuggles ran a local Chinese restaurant so I knew he’d be keeping Frank in the back somewhere. I would have to pretend to be ordering Chinese food. I’d also have to eat all the Chinese food to keep up the cover story.
I grab my bag for life and suit up for battle. I’ve put on a little weight since the start of the lockdown so I get my wife to take out the trousers. I tell her to sow as fast as she can as Franks life depends on it. Three hours later I suit up again. The trousers are still a little tight so I ask her to give them another go. I don’t want my crotch to start chaffing mid rescue. Another three hours pass and I go back for a second fitting. They still weren’t great but I decided Franks life was more important than my crotch comfort.
I put the food order in by phone and tell them I’ll be down to collect it in twenty minutes. I head the back way to avoid any police attention. They were still pretty strict about not letting people out without good reason and they’ve put me on the most wanted list since my wife attacked them.
I arrive at Mister Snuggles Pickle Palace. The best Chinese restaurant run by a cat with two names on this side of the town. Meow Chows run by Will Feral on other side of town do an unbeatable Moo Shu pork. As I enter the restaurant, I can feel all the eyes were on me. There was only one person in there but they were looking right at me.
“I called in earlier”, I say. “I ordered the Duck fried noodle caboodle.”
The cashier nodded and disappeared through the two unnecessarily small flappy doors. I take this opportunity to search for Frank. I see a door off to the left which looks interesting. I go inside and see a urinal and sink. I should have seen the signs, especially the one on the door that said “Bathroom”. I go through four more doors, three of which were just more bathrooms. The other had a naked man tied to a chair. He looked like he needed help. I couldn’t be sure; he had a gag in his mouth. Also, I was too busy trying to figure out why this place had so many toilets.
I head on upstairs and continue my search. At the end of the hall was a big metal green door that said “Franks holding cell”. That must be where they are holding him, I cleverly deduced. I slowly open the door and peek inside. I spot him in the corner in a cage. I creep inside towards him and bend over to open the cage door when suddenly the door slams behind me giving me a little fright. I know because I remember remarking at the time.
“That door gave me little fright.”
It was then I noticed him sitting on the couch.
“Well, well, well”, said Mister Snuggles pointing a pump-action shotgun my direction. “Come back for your pet, have you? Well, I’m afraid I have other plans for your beloved Frank. Get in the cage.”
I look down at the cage which is just about big enough for Frank, never mind a fully grown man.
“Look, Mister Snuggles, I’ll never fit…”
He interrupts me. “I said……. Get in!”
To be continued.
Originally posted in mehoop.com