Ex Chapter 3
Jonah shared the cafe with a cat of indeterminate age and origin called The Treatment. The first thing he did when he entered the cafe having just inherited it was scrape his head on the low ceiling, causing a gash which bled copiously, an event observed by the cat with an expression which combined practiced indifference with poorly suppressed incredulity at the human condition. The second thing Jonah did was pick the cat up from the armchair where it passed it’s time with a view to violently terminating this expression and the cat attached to it.
This was a mistake.
Jonah realized that this was a mistake because as he grasped The Treatment in his arms he saw the turbulent hatred for all of mankind which dwelt deep within The Treatment’s black, black eyes; a hatred that was gothic in its intensity. What helped Jonah to concentrate on The Treatment’s eyes were the claws from the cat’s front paws which were imbedded in his eyebrows. Jonah was attached to his eyebrows but so, in a literal sense, was the cat. On reflection he returned The Treatment to his armchair and the cat, in turn, returned Jonah's eyebrows to his face. It was the kind of primeval trade off which was to be often repeated in their relationship over the years.
It was when visiting The Hatred Cafe (for such was the somewhat commercially naive name bestowed upon it by Jonah) that Daniel had his first encounter with The Treatment. The invitation from his grandfather had come as something of a surprise to Daniel since he had had been under the impression that his grandfather was dead until his unheralded arrival at their home on an otherwise morose Sunday afternoon in October. “This is your grandfather Jonah” his father announced with a dismissive flick of the wrist, breaking the news to his son with his usual delicacy "he's not dead- I just wish he was."
Jonah transported Daniel to the Hatred Cafe in an aged Zephyr with plastic bench seats and a passenger door which was held on to the body of the car with masking tape. Every time Jonah took a corner at speed and he took every corner at speed, Daniel slid down the bench seat towards the broken passenger door clinging to Jonah's headrest maniacally for lack of anything else to cling to maniacally. Jonah did not believe in braking because he considered it to be a sign of weakness and because the car did not technically have any brakes.
Once deposited in the cafe, Jonah left Daniel in the “dining” area - an array of truly random tables and chairs which would have embarrassed a school jumble sale, clustered around an ancient armchair. Daniel was transfixed as much by the pitch and yaw of the day as the way the soles of his shoes had stuck to the slick of green and orange patterned lino which covered the floor. He picked his way over to the armchair and gingerly sat down. The ambience in the cafe, dependent as it was upon a single apologetic ceiling light had an almost viscus quality.
The Treatment, who had been on a rare foray into the outside world to fulfill toilet and mouse related obligations, stopped in his tracks and stared at Daniel in disbelief.
“get out of the armchair now” said Jonah so loudly that it made Daniel shrink back into it.
A bead of sweat had trickled down between the eyes of the Treatment, along the rift valley of scars that traversed his nose and on to his chin where it hung like a flawed diamond before plopping onto the floor. His eyes were visceral pools, every sinew tensed to strike.
It took fully 10 minutes to unpick the claws of The Treatment one by one from Daniel's chest and all the while the cat emitted a low almost imperceptible growl.
“That will teach you to sit in another man’s chair” said Jonah.
When Daniel had recovered from the shock to a reasonable extent - he never did fully recover, Jonah settled down at the least precarious of the tables in the cafe and beckoned Daniel over to join him. In the semi darkness, Jonah’s face gained an etherial quality reminiscent of a slightly moldy halloween pumpkin.“I am going to explain to you why your father told you I was dead."