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BUT WHERE’S THE CAT?

by Philip K. Dick

“But let me tell you my cat joke. It’s very short and simple. A hostess is giving a dinner party and she’s got a lovely five-pound T-bone steak sitting on the sideboard in the kitchen waiting to be cooked while she chats with the guests in the living room — has a few drinks and whatnot. But then she excuses herself to go into the kitchen to cook the steak-and it’s gone. And there’s the family cat, in the corner, sedately washing its face.”

“The cat got the steak,” Barney said.

“Did it? The guests are called in; they argue about it. The steak is gone, all five pounds of it; there sits the cat, looking well-fed and cheerful. ‘Weigh the cat,’ someone says. They’ve had a few drinks; it looks like a good idea. So they go into the bathroom and weigh the cat on the scales. It reads exactly five pounds. They all perceive this reading and a guest says, ‘okay, that’s it. There’s the steak.’

They’re satisfied that they know what happened, now; they’ve got empirical proof. Then a qualm comes to one of them and he says, puzzled, ‘But where’s the cat?”’

SOURCE: Excerpted from The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich by Philip K. Dick.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. He is most well known for his short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep,” made into the film Blade Runner. He died in 1982, shortly before the film was released. Dick was a prolific writer with forty-four novels and over one hundred short stories to his credit. Other film adaptations of his work include Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, and The Adjustment Bureau.

PHOTO: Philip K. Dick and feline friend.

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“But let me tell you my cat joke. It’s very short and simple. A hostess is giving a dinner party and she’s got a lovely five-pound T-bone steak sitting on the sideboard in the kitchen waiting to be cooked while she chats with the guests in the living room — has a few drinks and whatnot. But then she excuses herself to go into the kitchen to cook the steak-and it’s gone. And there’s the family cat, in the corner, sedately washing its face.”

“The cat got the steak,” Barney said.

“Did it? The guests are called in; they argue about it. The steak is gone, all five pounds of it; there sits the cat, looking well-fed and cheerful. ‘Weigh the cat,’ someone says. They’ve had a few drinks; it looks like a good idea. So they go into the bathroom and weigh the cat on the scales. It reads exactly five pounds. They all perceive this reading and a guest says, ‘okay, that’s it. There’s the steak.’

They’re satisfied that they know what happened, now; they’ve got empirical proof. Then a qualm comes to one of them and he says, puzzled, ‘But where’s the cat?”’

From The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich by PHILIP K. DICK

Photo: Philip K. Dick and feline friend.