‘You want me to add some vinegar to this water?’ I asked. ‘For old time’s sake.’
‘Nah, just give it to me straight.’ He tried to raise His head, but with the crown of thorns it was easier for me to duck down and put the cup to his swollen lips.’
He gagged as He swallowed.
‘Sorry,’ I apologised.
‘Nah, it’s no’ your fault son, whenever I touch water it turn to wine. Hazard of the job, but that stuff wiz vile. Cheap and nasty.’
‘That’s Loch Katrine,’ I said. ‘Usually it’s no’ bad.’ I whiffed it and pulled my nose away. ‘Don’t know how that happened. Smell like cat’s pee.’
I looked up at the kitchen sink. Satan was on the windowsill beside it, tail swishing, looking out into the inky night.
‘I’ll go upstairs and see if I can get a claw hammer.’
‘Nah son, turn the other cheek. It’s just a cat, he knows not what he does.’
‘No, to get you aff that big lump of wood.’
‘Oh, well, if you put it like that son, I wouldnae mind too much. But then you’ll betray me.’
‘I wouldnae dae that Jesus. I swear I widnae. That’s no’ the kind of thing I’d dae. I swear on Satan’s life I wouldnae.’
Just at that point the cat meowed. And I knew I’d betrayed Jesus. ‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘I feel bad about it but I’ll need to put you down the ditch. It’s nothin’ personal, but if the housing find I’ve got the Messiah in the house they’ll likely stop my Housing Benefit because they’ll think you’re workin. And it’ll take ages to sort out, because agnostics will say you’re no workin’. And atheists will say you don’t exist. Think of all that paperwork. I could be in limbo for years.’
‘It’s alright son, every minute of every day somebody is always crucifying me and I can assure you I’ve been in worse hell holes than that.’
I went upstairs and got a blanket from my bed to keep Him warm while I was wheeling Him down the back lane to fling in the ditch. It was the least I could do. He sung ‘Faith of our Father’s Holy Faith,’ in Latin, to keep his spirits up. He toppled down the slope but only reached halfway down.
‘Just leave me in the common muck, son, that’s where I’m happiest’ were the last words I heard Him speak.
I wheeled the trolley back to the side of the house, low in spirit and feeling a bit guilty. Satan sat on top of the gatepost watching me. I went to stuff the bloodied blanket into the bin at the back, but when I unravelled it Jesus’s bloody outline stood out in daguerreotype and I wept.
‘That’s it Satan,’ I looked up at the cat. ‘You’ve done your worst. You’ve killed the Creator. You can go rot in hell now. No more sardine treats for you.’
Cats were inscrutable, the Egyptians knew that. The following night I kept the windows locked and the doors locked and I carried the claw hammer as a deterrent. But cats weren’t always scaredy cats.
I looked over the glare of the computer screen, Satan was looking back at me and purring. He sharpened his claws on the robes of the Prophet Mohammed, his face clawed and obviously dead.
‘Shit,’ I said. ‘I don’t know if I can put Muslims in the ditch with Christians and pagans. I’ll need to ask British Rail to put up another fence, in between the fence they’ve put up, but then I could get done for fly tipping of foreign bodies.’
Then I had a Salman Rushdie moment. I would be on the jihad list, I’d be number one, like those playing cards that were issued to Unites States troops during the Gulf War to identify the leading lights in the evil axis. The only place I’d be able to hide in the world would be in Donald J Trump’s tower, or in his cabinet, and I’d need to lie about my links to the Muslim world and join the Russian Mafia.
The cat fled out the window as the front door was blown in. ‘Police,’ shouted an officer, holding a rifle up to my head. There was a flash and I found myself falling.
Three months later I was sitting in the communal area in Barlinnie Prison with other terrorist suspects drinking a cup of tea. ‘I don’t want to make excuses,’ I said to Robert Golpie, aka the Mad Mullah, ‘but it wisnae my fault. One night I was in the house and this house cat came in the windae. It was a scraggy looking thing with a banded tail.’
Robert choked on his tea, spitting it out. ‘No,’ he said, ‘it was a white Persian cat.’
Driss, across from him, waved his hand in a derogatory gesture. ‘a cat black as the night’.
Ahmed sneered, ‘only a fool wouldn’t know a Bengal cat when he saw it.’
Just then a clowder of cats of all colours and sizes appeared and behind them a guard waving his nightstick. He pressed the emergency alarm. ‘Riot,’ he shouted.