Because his wife had fallen for them, he had bought the two kittens. One a ginger tom, the second his smaller, scrawny grey-white tabby brother.
And, because he was a writer and insisted on naming them, they became Esau and Jacob. So, when Esau began bringing home kills and expecting more attention, he found the humour and tickled his chin and forgot to chide him. And when Jacob tried to assert himself he laughed and let them chase and playfight under his feet in his messy writing den. Invariably Esau would end up with the reading chair, licking his tail and turning to stare, while Jakey rolled on his back and teased the curtain with his claws.
The nights were always the best time to write. The cats kept him company too, occasionally curling on his lap or nosing into empty mugs. Deep in the quiet dark, the rattling purr of a happy cat kept him going when the ideas were thin. His wife was far better than he was at the feeding and cleaning out, but he was the first to notice that Jakey had gone missing. Esau of course wasn’t for telling why. He’d always been that more aloof and hated sharing in any case. So when, one night in the winter, only four ginger paws crept into the warmth of the den, he looked over his glasses and scratched his head.
The ideas didn’t come so well that night. Even in the morning there was no sign of Jakey and the writer’s wife said she’d ask around.
There was nothing.
Missing Jakey impacted on him more than he thought it could. Esau grew fatter, and redder. The words he wrote each night weren’t funny any longer. The muse had gone and his imagination started playing tricks on him. Could he have been hit by a car? The nights were not as friendly, not as productive, sometimes even painful, so he considered stopping.
His wife encouraged him. They hadn’t heard anything or seen a body. Sometimes cats just go off wandering. Perhaps he should write about it. Or go for a walk. Or have a nice hot bowl of soup.
The soup was tempting.
It was some time later, during a night of slow words, that he heard the brawling, the breeowling, the hhhreow of the brother cats in the garden. The ideas he had been wrestling over for hours were gone in a moment as he rushed to open the back door, looking out to see exactly what was going on. Esau had his back to him. Jacob was there, alert, devious. Both were singing now, arching and staring at each other, tails flickering. Claws were out, paws extended. The writer stepped out, called out. A moment of contact, a chase, and then Jacob ran through the open door, straight into the den and on to the chair. It was his. He sat licking his hip as the writer returned with a chuckle and sat to write.