Thursday, November 11, 2010
One afternoon in April of 1967, Mark was manning the checkstand when a suspicious-looking customer entered the market.
"Good morning, sir, welcome to Fitzmulligan's," said Mark. "Can I help you find anything?"
"Why yes," answered a six-foot three-inch black and white cat wearing only a red and white hat and bow tie. "Where do you keep your tuna?"
"Here, let me show you," said Mark, stepping out from behind the counter. "The canned fish are right over . . ."
That's as far as he got. Without warning, the cat clubbed the unsuspecting twin over the head with an umbrella, dragged him out to the street, and tossed him into a large wooden box in the bed of a 1962 Ford pickup. The cat closed the latch on the box trapping Mark inside. That's when Mike came out of the store, trying to figure out why his brother was no longer working the cash register.
"Excuse me, sir," he said to the cat. "Did you happen to see my brother? He's about four-foot two and looks, well, exactly like me."
"Why yes, he's standing right there behind you. I don't know how you missed him."
Mike fell for it -- hook, line and sinker. When he turned around, the cat whacked him with the umbrella and loaded him in the box with his twin brother. The cat climbed into the driver's seat and sped away.
For the next month, the felonious feline subjected the Fitzmulligan twins to various types of physical and mental torture. He dressed them in identical red jumpsuits, dyed their hair a hideous shade of blue, and fed them nothing but brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts and Jim Beam whiskey. To dehumanize the twins, the cat referred to them only as Thing One and Thing Two; if the boys dared to call each other by their given names, the umbrella came out and the beatings commenced. The two Things spent most of their time drunk out of their minds, and the cat only let them out of their box when he wanted to vent his anger, which often included playing a game he called "Hit That Thing".
In addition to being a violent psychopath, the cat was a petty thief and he often took Thing One and Thing Two with him on jobs, one of which has been well documented.
It was a rainy Saturday morning. Sally and Tommy McCrumm were left at home, just the two of them, while their mother Josie went to the store to do the weekly grocery shopping. Mrs. McCrumm was a single mother, and while she would have preferred to hire a sitter to look after her children (Tommy, the older of the two, was only eleven), her budget didn't allow for such luxuries. Most Saturdays this wasn't a problem, as the kids were fairly responsible, but on this particular afternoon some adult supervision would've saved an awful lot of heartache and paperwork later.
As Tommy would explain to the investigating officers, at around 1:25 PM something went "bump", and that bump made them jump. They looked to see what caused the noise, and that's when they saw him. They saw him step in on the mat. They looked, and they saw him, the cat in the hat. Tommy immediately told the furry intruder to leave the premises, as they weren't allowed to have visitors while their mother was out. The cat, however, ignored the boy's pleas and began to destroy the family's possessions. He started with a book, a teapot, a cake, a rake, and most troublesome of all, a glass bowl containing the family goldfish, Mr. Krinklebine. The cat later claimed that he was merely trying to juggle these items to entertain the children, but Sally insisted, "the cat wasn't juggling at all, he just tossed everything up in the air. The cake splattered, the coffee cup shattered, and if Tommy hadn't caught the fishbowl, Mr. K was a goner."
By this time, Mrs. McCrumm had finished her shopping and was about to return home. In a rush, the cat haphazardly straightened up some of the wreckage (though the plumbing and electrical work would require extensive repairs by certified professionals which created a financial hardship for Mrs. McCrumm, since her homeowner's insurance did not cover damage caused by psychotic cats and drug-crazed teenage Things) and fled the scene.
Mrs. McCrumm asked Tommy, "What the hell was going on here? This place looks like a bomb went off!" Tommy was an honest kid, so he told his mom an accurate, if watered-down, version of the day's events. Mrs. McCrumm immediately contacted the authorities, who questioned the children. Mr. Krinklebine refused to talk to the officers without his attorney present.
Meanwhile, the cat drove away at a breakneck speed and when he turned the corner, the box containing the Things fell off the truck and smashed on the pavement. Confused and injured, One and Two sat down on the curb where they were soon picked up by the police. Using information the Things provided, Officer Marvin K. Mooney and his partner were able to track down the cat at his home and launch an investigation.
As it turns out, the hat-wearing cat was much more than a petty thief and vandal. His real name was Skitch Morris, and the ransacking of the McCrumm home was but the latest (and least disturbing) of the cat's criminal activities. An extensive search of Morris's home revealed drug paraphernalia, unregistered hand guns, and an extensive collection of underground kitty porn on his computer. To top it off, buried in the backyard, crime scene investigators found the bodies of three Sneetches who had been brutally murdered a few months earlier. Apparently, two of the Sneetches had been tortured prior to their deaths because while one Sneetch's belly had not been mutilated, the others had scars upon thars.
Skitch "The Cat in the Hat" Morris was convicted on all charges and sentenced to death. His execution was carried out on February 7, 1978.
After six months in a drug rehabilitation facility and three more in a mental hospital, Mark and Mike Fitzmulligan returned home to their parents in the summer of 1969. Though not quite the same as they were before their abduction, both boys were able to return to Geisel High School that September and graduated the following June. Neither of the twins discussed the details of their ordeal ever again.
After high school, Mike went on to the University of Northern Michigan where he majored in criminal justice. He served thirty-five years with the Lansing Police Department, and retired in 2009. He currently lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan with his wife Mitzi. They have three grown children and seven grandkids.
Mark, on the other hand, spent his time redefining the word "lazy". Uninterested in attending college and unwilling to look for work, the disturbed twin never moved out of his parents' house. He sat around all day in his underwear, eating potato chips, drinking root beer, Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, and any other soft drinks he could find in the refrigerator. One afternoon in early '71, while completely hopped on pop, Mark stole the keys to his father's '69 Chevy Impala and went for a drive. He didn't make it very far. While speeding on the Interstate, Mark lost control of the vehicle and collided with an eighteen-wheeler transporting a shipment of Spaghetti-os to Pittsburgh. In a gruesome avalanche of twisted steel, burning rubber and neat round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon, the Chevy tumbled down an embankment killing Mark instantly. The driver of the truck was uninjured, although he could never quite get the smell of tomato sauce out of his trailer.
At the funeral, Mike Fitzmulligan spoke fondly of his twin brother.
"I loved him, man, we were two brothers sharing one soul. We looked out for each other, we took care of each other, we shared each other's secrets. As most of you know, we went through a terrible time together, but we were able to put that behind us and move on with our lives. At least, I thought we had, but it seems now like Marky needed me more than I thought. I wish I'd been there for him at the end. That's one Thing I'll never forgive myself for."