Mr. Piffington

I clutched a large grated box belonging to the woman sitting beside me as I stared out of the window into the overcast sky, mildly annoyed at the two hour delay caused by a malfunction in the train’s plumbing system. I returned my attention to piercing gaze of the woman sitting next to me, and I groaned inwardly as I tried to tell my newly met acquaintance of the benefits of technology.

“Look,” I said exasperatedly. “I’ll just type in the searchword ‘pet friendly beaches’ to find a place for you to teach your Siamese cat how to swim”

The old lady with the odd Soviet-esque fur hat next to me responded by looking back intently at a map from the 1940s. Suddenly, she stood up and yelled, “Enough of your generation and your new-fangled ‘World-wide web’ gadgets. This map functions just as well in finding this beach, and I fully intend to use it!” She sat back down in a huff and began to caress her hat. I yelped in surprise as her hat suddenly shrieked and jumped into her lap.

“Calm down Mr. Piffington,” the woman swooned as she gently smoothed back her cat’s ears. “You have to behave yourself.”

Still pressing my back against the window in partial terror, I manage to ask her, “Why do you wear you cat on top of your head?”

“Mr. Piffington is terrified of water, and on rainy days, he refuses to be anywhere in the vicinity of the puddle. So I have to carry him on top of my head to comfort him”.

As she was finishing her sentence, the train ventured onto a bridge overlooking a wide expanse of the emerald-grey ocean. Suddenly, her cat shrieked in terror and dashed into a latrine at the back of the train.

“If your cat can’t even bear the sight of water, then how do you propose you’re going to teach it how to swim?” I asked.

“Don’t you ever call Mr. Piffington ‘it’,” she replied in a huff of forceful indignity. “I have my ways of doing so.”

Suddenly, an infuriated man emerged from the latrine with a terrified Mr. Piffington clinging to his face. He wildly swiped at the cat with his hands, vainly trying to dislodge it from his face. My elderly companion jumped out of her seat to Mr. Piffington’s rescue and tackled the man to the wall. In the ensuing struggle, Mr. Piffington went soaring out of the old woman’s thrashing arms and it hit the emergency stop button in the back of the train.

The train abruptly jolted and a unsettling tremor shook throughout the cabin. A loud bang assaulted my ears, and suddenly, the box sailed out of my hands and smashed through the window. In the resulting commotion, Mr. Piffington was somehow sucked through the window from the vortex.

The old woman turned around in slow motion as she realized her cat had just been violently ejected from the train into the water below. An expression of indescribable agony crossed her face, and she screamed at the top of her lungs, “MR. PIFFINGTON! NOOOOOOO”. She abruptly threw herself through the window after the cat.

I ran to the back of the train car and peered down. I saw the old woman and Mr. Piffington swimming in the water below. Utterly flabbergasted at the recent turn of events in the last five minutes, I sat back down into an empty seat.

“Well,” I thought to myself. “At least she got her wish of teaching her cat how to swim.”

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