Her home, a place that perpetually cheered me whilst I still lived within the Then, was exactly as I recalled it, here in the Now.
Set beneath Paris, and having its rather unique entrance accessible only via the surprisingly clean sewer system. There were, however, a variety of other far lesser known points of egress running labyrinthine from within her apartments through to the outside world. Some were fortifications, others designed specifically for flight from whatever dangers had skulked their way into her home. Priest holes could be found in abundance, and there was even an elevator of sorts to be found secreted behind a large stuffed crocodile Cat had hanging from a corner ceiling. And then there were the internal security measures. With the pull of a lever cages would drop from the roof, turning the front entrance into a gaol for anyone unfortunate enough to believe they possessed a level of stealth greater than that of a centuries old, highly paranoid, freak of nature. We even, in a moment of inebriated clarity, had dug a tiger pit in front of the guest toilet, especially for those more discerning house guests that had proved themselves wanting in the late night absinthe consumption department.
The enormous interior was easily an acre in size, and housed the most alluring and wondrous things. Beautifully appointed and subtly restyled in a more homely ideal than the garish pre-Napoleonic manner it was originally designed for, Cat had taken possession the year of France’s glorious revolution. Her acquisition being as a direct result of a particularly singular and well known lady of the time, and the effect she had on those of nobility. What Madame Guillotine did for Parisian, and slightly later, the French and Burgundian real estate market was profound from the viewpoint of those without the need to flee, or at least those terminally slower in reading the writing on the wall of aristocracy.
Cats personal touches, as is the very nature of those long of life, consisted primarily of items collected or rather more pilfered throughout the travels and the length of their lives. Like my own apartments, she had magnificent rugs, rare and beautiful watercolours and oils littering walls. The array of weapons and trophies was utterly breathtaking. However, it was her walk in liquor cabinet that stole the show. Cat had extremely old and rare whisky’s, cognacs, multitudinous varieties of absinthe, and wines from no longer existent regions of the world.
Gas light and candle lit her fabulous rooms. A huge fire was roaring within a fireplace easily the size of an ox cart, creating a sense of long forgotten Norse revelry, and oddly, although far from unwelcome, something of an immense homeliness about it.
“Drink?” said she?
“Do Catholics like a good bonfire?” said I.
Over the next day and a half, soaring through various states of minimalised sobriety, Cat and I roamed the histories of our minds. Heartily regaling shared tales of daring-do, wading through the miasma of recent individual memory, reliving the one hundred plus years of activities as found on either side of the death inspired void between Then and the Now.
It would seem, once more like myself, Cat had the devil’s own time of finding a place to settle and belong, after severing the necrobilical apron strings of Then. She too had returned to our very Alba, finding nought more than dirt and poverty. Broken hearted, Cat went to Prague, what she found was genocide, regicide, and personally spiritual suicide. There she had hoped to find her 10th century lover and confidant, Vaclav. Again, with a metaphorical kick to the teeth, the same man, also known as ‘Wenceslas’, spoke a language familiar to the ear, but totally escaping her tongue. As if that hadn’t been bad enough, her revisitation to 929 AD had landed her at the time of his death, as he had been making his way to church.
Understanding the true enormity of the task before her in unearthing a time and a place to call home, Cat did something that I had not thought to do. With her brain hardwired for fun, Cat changed tack, and went to places throughout histories that she has never been a part of, rather, she ventured off into the world of personally piqued curiosity. She toasted marshmallows sourced in 1951, at the Great Fire of London in 1666. Cat sauntered into Mitre Square, witnessed the gruesome murder of Catherine ‘Kate’ Eddowes, and subsequently solved the ‘Ripper Murders’. As with those of the 18th and 19th century, Egyptology had been the rage amongst greater western society. Hence, and as such, Cat went along to the 2541 BC laying of the golden capstone a’top the Great Pyramid of Giza, and as an unexpected result, got blind drunk with the alien contractors that build them. As an added bonus to an already exciting and monumental, ha ha, trip, she bumped into a fat, white jumpsuit wearing chap in blue suede shoes with a genuine ‘hound dog’ on a lead, who proceeded every every sentence with ‘Uh huh’, and when she eventually parted his company all he had said was ‘thankyouverymuch.’ He had told her he was part of the race that had indeed built the pyramids, and that his hamburger loving cousin was the site foreman.
Adventures complete, she settled on, and into the home she had created immediately prior to her demise, 1897 AD.
Like life, the absinthe we pair consumed by the bucket, flowed, well like absinthe being tipped from a bucket. We were drinking it poured over cocaine laced sugar cubes, with the whole sorry concoction heated over a flame of white spirits, allowing for everything to dissolve prior to drinking. By the time her vegan vampiric manservant ‘L’brat’ returned home from his journey into town, he had been time flitting whilst he did so in the undertaking, securing food stuffs for the evening’s repast.
What he encountered upon return, after closing the front door behind himself, with a large round of 7th century cheese tucked under one arm, with a vigorously alive 4th century goose struggling to escape from his other, were two very feminine, magnificently proportioned, entirely naked young women. Both either in the middle of changing shape between that of lass and an enormous cat, or with wings popping in and out of a spectacularly alabaster coloured back. Had men not been his preference, he may well have stood and gaped at the sheer sensuosity of the sight. However, as men were the thing that rocked his tofu sucking socks, all he managed was “Oh dear.” Laughter, like syphilis, being the ultimate leveler, L’brat went off to pluck his bird with a grin from ear to ear.
My hangover the following day was the largest I had had in centuries, and my life in the Now had finally begun in earnest.
Click the picture, are you ‘Up for it?’. Henry is.
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