The Priest hadn’t been stretching the truth. The house that was allotted to him was gigantic. Considering the Priest had no family, Barker wondered what he occupied the space with.
Barker had left the church and made his way straight to the neighborhood. Those brown hairs were not from the cat. That meant someone was in the room the night before.
At first, Barker thought the hairs could be his, but on closer inspection, they were far too light. That meant someone was there before him; someone he hoped that the cat knew.
Barker stepped from the taxi and paid the driver. “No tip?” the cabby yelled towards him. “Go back to school,” Barker said without turning around. He heard the wheels screech as the Taxi drove away. He paid it no mind.
The house was white with a grey roof. The church had a strange affinity with the color white it seemed. Barker moved towards the sidewalk and paused a moment.
He couldn’t be sure what he would find behind those curtains. It could be anything, or it could be nothing at all. He adjusted his collar and started the trek up the path.
Instead of barging into the residence, he gave the bell a ring. He half expected no one to answer. The Priest was clearly still at the church. Probably pacing himself to death; in that white, dull room.
The door latch clicked. The handle turned from the inside. A maid? Barker wondered. The door opened half way. “Can I help you?” came a man’s voice. Barker moved in closer. The man was clearly a cat as well. His brown fur struck Barker immediately. “A few questions,” Barker stated and flashed his detective star.
The cat opened the door to full mast. He looked around the neighborhood.
“About what?” he asked nervously. Barker motioned to be let into the house. The cat reluctantly moved to the side. With a second glance into the open world, he shut the door behind them.
“Somewhere we can sit and talk?” Barker asked. He wanted to scope the house a bit, but he could wait till later. “The sitting room,” the cat motioned to be followed.
The sitting room turned out to be a small cozy room. It was lined with cushioned chairs along each wall. Barker wondered at anyone having this many guests. Then again, this was the Priest guarding the most expensive gem in the world.
“You can sit anywhere you would like,” the cat said. Barker picked a chair overlooking the hall. The cat moved to sit as well but paused. “Would you like any tea?” he asked. An odd choice of beverage, Barker thought.
Tea was a southern appeal. He tried to locate a range of mountains in the south in his head. The cat stood nervously before him. “No tea,” Barker said, motioning for the cat to be seated.
“I understand this to be the house of…” Barker realized he never caught the name of the Priest.
“Tiam,” the cat said. Barker smiled and nodded. “Yes, the Priest.” Barker did not like to be corrected. “Yes, it is indeed the home of Tiam, the Priest,” the cat answered.
“May I ask what relation you are?” Barker flipped out a notepad. He didn’t need notes. He didn’t care what the cat had to say. He had other goals for this visit, but the book made for a good show.
“A friend,” the cat replied and shifted with a nervous tension. “A live-in friend?” the cat looked around the room. Barker noticed the lack of eye contact. Something was making this cat very nervous.
“A comfort from home is all,” the cat said. “I see, and what kind of comfort do you provide?” The cat stood. “I think I will get some of that tea. Are you sure you would not enjoy a cup?” Barker shook his head no. The cat slunk out of the room.
Barker stood and watched the cat from the doorway. He turned into a room further down the corridor. Barker turned the opposite direction. He had spotted stairs on his entrance to the home.
Taking them two at a time, Barker came to the landing. There were several doors to choose from; Barker did not know the layout of the home, so he chose randomly. His first choice was a poor one. A small single shower bathroom; he closed the door gently.
Moving down the hall he opened up three more room; all were bare of essentials. The fourth door though was something much better.
Barker peered into the room with a single bed. Along either wall was a small oak dresser. Barker moved in closing the door behind him. He moved closer to the bed. It was neatly made but was clearly slept in. The pillows were mashed by many nights of heavy heads.
Barker looked over the pillows. The revelation hit him like a ton of bricks. On one pillow was the white hair of the Priest cat. But on the other was the light brown hair of the cat downstairs.
This was more than a friend, Barker thought. An excitement he could barely contain crept over him. It was enough evidence to go on. He turned looking over the rest of the room. He paused on a single piece of folded notebook paper.
He unfolded it and read:
The journey will kill me. I cannot imagine a moment without you in my arms. A lifetime is not worth living if you do not follow me. I know it to be wrong, but what is right, if my heart breaks into pieces, I will not live a moment. You are the glue to my world. Please consider the journey.
Barker had found the pot at the end of the rainbow. He knew the story now. He tucked the note into his pocket. He closed the door gently and moved down the stairs.
The cat stood at the bottom waiting for him. He was holding a single glass of tea in his paw. “What were you doing, sir?” he asked, but never made eye contact.
“I had an urge to use the bathroom. I could not find one on the lower level,” Barker lied. “I will be going now. I have everything I came for.” The cat looked relieved. He dropped the worry from his face. “Oh, I am glad I could help,” the cat said. Barker shook his head and stepped back into the open world.
The sun still shone in the sky, and Barker again found himself elated by its rays.
The Canes Files