Makes a change from popsicles

Submitted into Contest #162 in response to: Start your story with someone looking at a restaurant menu.... view prompt


Contemporary Funny Fiction

Thirty-four-year-old Danielle yanked open the kitchen drawer and began rooting around amongst the motley collection of batteries, utensils, creased envelopes, and sandwich bags, until at the bottom, below the crumbs, paper clips, and tweezers she found what she was looking for. Triumphantly, she pulled out the Chinese takeaway menu.

Twenty-four minutes earlier, she had tumbled in her front door. Laptop bag in one hand, keys in the other, handbag over her shoulder. As she did so, her fourteen-year-old son, Matt, slunk downstairs.

‘What’s for dinner?’

‘Oh hello, Mum…How’re you? …What sort of a day have you had?... Would you like a cup of tea?’


‘Yes, so am I…tired and stressed too.’

‘You bring something in?’

‘Do you see anything?… Go and see what you can find in the freezer.’ As she slid her shoes off, Matt shoved past her, down the shabby hall with its dated, grimy wallpaper, through the kitchen, and out to the garage. She followed him as far as the kitchen, took the kettle filled it, and switched it on. Then, through to the living room where she dumped her bags. When the kettle had boiled, she poured hot water into her mug, and Matt reappeared.

‘S’nothing in there.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous, course there’s something in there.’

‘Nothing…‘cept next door’s cat.’

‘I’m not in the mood, Matt…get back out there and find something.’ He stood in the doorway, glaring at her back as she took milk from the fridge and added it to her drink. Without turning, she said,

‘I mean it…if I have to go and do it, I’ll ground you.’ With an exaggerated sigh, Matt disappeared again and Danielle moved to the dishwasher and started to unload it. Minutes later, he returned.

‘Still nothing.’

‘There must be!’

‘I’m not lying…only Boots…frozen solid.’

‘Matt…I’m warning you.’

Danielle gave in. She knew her son when he was in this mood. There was no use arguing and threatening, she may as well admit defeat now and go and look herself. Out into the damp dark evening, into the garage, she flicked on the light switch. She stood for a moment, allowing her eyes to adjust to the sudden brightness. She heard the familiar buzz of the fluorescent lighting tubes and glanced round at the jumble of her son’s bike, garden chairs, lawn mower, and other outdoor paraphernalia. She heaved open the chest freezer’s lid. The immediate cold blast made her hold her breath and blink, and then she peered in. Startled, she dropped the lid shut again. Matt had been telling the truth. Amongst a few frozen peas, the odd chip and a dried-out beefburger lay next door’s cat, Boots. He was in a curled position, eyes closed with a light frosting of ice covering the tips of his ears and whiskers.

A slight noise behind her made Danielle turn. Matt had followed her out to the garage.

‘How did that happen?’


‘Don’t!…you know full well what I mean…How did Boots come to be in our freezer?’

‘I put him in there.’

‘Oh my God…’ Danielle’s hand shot up over her mouth.

‘No…no…He was already dead…I went in to feed him…he was lying on the sofa…I thought he was asleep, but when he didn’t move…I went over to stroke him…and he was dead.’ Danielle notices a tear escape from the corner of her son’s eye. Immediately, she crossed the few paces between them and wrapped him in her arms. She kissed the top of his head, inhaling the smell of unwashed hair, with a slight underlying aroma of body odour.

‘Are you sure he was dead?’

‘Yeah…he was all stiff and cold.’

‘But why’d you put him in the freezer?’ At this point, Danielle felt her son’s body begin to shudder with sobs. He may be almost as tall as her, but inside he was still a toddler.

‘Because that’s what happens when the police find a body…and I thought Pete and Mike might want to bury him…have a little funeral service or something when they come home.’ Matt had reluctantly agreed to feed their neighbours’ beloved pet, whilst they were on holiday – for a fee, of course!    

‘Oh Matt…why didn’t you tell me?’

‘You went to work before I got up…then you were late home…and I sort of forgot.’ She wanted to say ‘too busy on the PlayStation more like.’, but realised that now was not the time.

‘What’re you going to do?’

‘We’re going to go in and order a takeaway…and I’ll have a think.’

Whilst they waited for their set meal for two to be delivered, Danielle considered her options. She had Pete and Mike’s phone number, ‘in case of emergencies.’, but it seemed a shame to ruin their holiday with bad news. After all, Boots had already been dead for more than a day. Matt appeared calmer now, he was moodily flicking through tv channels.

           ‘You did remember to feed Boots, didn’t you?’

           ‘Yes…went in every morning…gave him a pouch and some dried stuff.’

           ‘Did he seem ill at all?’

           ‘Nope…just how he always is.’

Danielle decided that she could wait until Pete and Mike returned before telling them of Boot’s death. Meanwhile, she needed to determine what to do with the cat’s body. In some ways, Matt had been right. Boot’s owners might have a special place in the garden where they wanted to bury him. But she couldn’t leave the corpse in her freezer until Saturday week when they were due home. She opted to call the local vet’s

           ‘Good evening, Watt’s veterinary surgery.’

           ‘Erm…hello…I wonder if you can help me?’

           ‘I’ll try.’

           ‘Bit of a strange question…my neighbours are on holiday and their cat’s died…’


           ‘Well…would you be able to store its body for me…until they come back?’

           ‘We could put it in our freezer for you…there would be a charge.’

           ‘How much?’

‘It’s a daily rate of fifteen pounds.’ Blimey, ten days at fifteen pounds a day. That’s one hundred and fifty pounds.

‘I see…Thank you for your help…bye’ Replacing her phone onto the kitchen worktop, Danielle turns to Matt.

‘After dinner, there’s a job we need to do.’


‘We need to get Boots out of the freezer and wrap him up in a bin bag.’


‘I know…but it needs doing.’

‘Let’s do it now…get it over and done with.’

As Matt, enthusiastically ladled seconds of chicken chow mein, prawn balls, and special fried rice, he asked,

           ‘They will still pay me, won’t they?’


           ‘Pete and Mike, they will still pay me for looking after Boots?’  


On the day that Pete and Mike were due to return, Danielle kept an eye out for them. When she saw their car on the drive, she immediately went out.

           ‘Good holiday?’


           ‘I’m sorry to ruin it …Boots died while you were away.’ Both men were upset. Danielle explained the circumstances, and where their pet’s body currently was. Pete said that he would pop round later to collect it.

Conscious of the jumbled mess in the garage, Danielle led Pete through the gloom to the freezer. She opened it, and they were hit by the escaping sheet of cold air. Leaning over and reaching in, she pulled out the crispy plastic bag containing Boots and handed it to Pete. The thin film of ice on the inside of the bag began to rapidly thaw. 

           ‘That’s not Boots.’


           ‘It’s not Boots…He has a white patch on the top of his head…this isn’t him.’

           ‘It must be…he was in your house…asleep on your settee.’

           ‘Must’ve come in through the cat flap…taken advantage of our absence…Another cat was being a bit of a nuisance before we went away.’ And then, Mike appears in the garage doorway, cuddling a purring black and white cat.

           ‘He just came in…miaowing like mad.’

           ‘He’s not even thin…’

           ‘Reckon someone else has been feeding him.’ Pete shoved the bin bag parcel of frozen cat back at Danielle.

           ‘What am I supposed to do with it?!’

           ‘Dunno…bury it.’

           ‘What if its owners come looking for it?’

           ‘Haven’t so far.’ Mike came to the rescue, passing the now struggling Boots to Pete, he said,

           ‘Give it to me, I’ll sort it.’

Later, as Danielle hands Matt his twenty-pound cat sitting fees, she says,

           ‘Made a change from last year’s popsicles laying around in the freezer.’ Mother and son catch each other’s eyes and begin to laugh.   

September 09, 2022 07:30

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