A huge black Tom, post-boxing career, works the door at a Vegas casino.
His name is Mao.
“Welcome,” he says. “Welcome.” It sounds an awful lot like he’s saying “Meow. Meow,” but that’s to be expected. He’s a cat, after all, and he’s taken more than one blow to the head.
And the drugs, of course.
Linguistics were never his strong suit, anyway.
“I been here since, what?, oh-five? oh-six? I can’t bemember.”
Mao can’t bemember because the catnip that ended his career – the explosively addictive “Meowie Wowie” – has reduced this hulking, semi-literate knuckle of a cat to a hulking, semi-brain-damaged knuckle of a cat.
Mao rocks from one hind leg to the other, thoughtfully, his eyes on the front door. His front paws dangle heavily as a smile passes over his lips.
“Do I regret the drugs? No – I mean, yeah,” he sighs, wistfully. “I miss them old days.”
Plucked from the parking lot of a convenience store on the outside of Las Vegas in 2005, the sympathetic owner of Satellite Simba gave Mao a job, a small room off the kitchen, and a tux.
Mao has never looked back.
“I can’t undo what’s happened, ya know? I can only live for – Welcome! Welcome!”
Mao has not missed a minute of work since his first day on the job and can now say “welcome” in several languages.
“Selamat Datang!” he exclaims, reading from where he has the word inked onto his palm. “That’s my favorite “welcome” word. Those Malaysians, they heavy gamblers, man. I like them. They look for me.”
Mao smiles sweetly.
“You come back, any time. I’ll bemember you ‘cause that’s what I do – I just bemember the customers. Welcome! Welcome!”
A Meeting in the Meeting
10 minutes ago