On The Roof

     Jimmy and his brother Ralph both lived in the same town. Jimmy lived with their 90 year-old mother, and Ralph lived across town with his 12 year-old cat, Silky.
     Ralph was obsessed with Silky and treated her like a queen. The two were never apart. But one day, Ralph learned he had to go to England on business. Cats had to stay in quarantine for two weeks in order to get into that country, so it was simply impractical for Ralph to take Silky with him.
     Ralph asked Jimmy to care for his cat, and Jimmy agreed. So Ralph brought Silky over, spent an hour explaining the nuances of servicing the aging feline, and departed for London.
     Every night Ralph would call and ask "How's Silky?". The first four nights, Jimmy, holding in his growing irritation at his brother's cat-obsession, answered, "Silky's fine," but the fifth night, in response to the question, he blurted out, "Silky's dead!"
     Hearing that, Ralph almost died of shock, himself. When he recovered, he said to his brother, "Jimmy, that's not the way to break news like that to someone. You don't just blurt out information like that. You have to prepare a person."
     " Tonight when I called," Ralph went on, "You should have said, 'Silky's fine, but she's up on the roof.' Then tomorrow you could have told me, "Silky fell off the roof and I took her to the vet's." Then, the next day, you could have said, "Silky didn't make it, Ralph, she's dead," and I would have been able to handle the news."
     "By the way, Jimmy," Ralph asked, "How's mom?"
     "Oh, she's fine," said Jimmy. "But she's up on the roof."


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