I found her perched at the top of the Christmas tree.
“I thought we discussed this last year,” I say.
Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, grins. “One can see so much more from atop something, don’t you agree?”
I pull off my gloves, my hat, my coat, my scarf, and my boots, but I leave my leg warmers on. No need to be hasty.
“I’m sorry,” I say, “but I was ignoring you. What did you say?”
“First,” she says, “shall we get the afternoon treat out of the way?” She leaps out of the tree, springboarding from my shoulder down to the couch and then down to the hardwood floor, where the sound of her soft, tiny paws fade into the distance as she trots to the kitchen.
Liza Bean Bitey gets a third of a can of cat food every day upon my return from work, and there’s no use arguing about it. She’s become quite fixated on this; and previous attempts to postpone it until, say, after one gets the mail have been met with raucous, yowling disapproval.
The kitty will not be denied.
A third of a can of Mariner’s Choice later, and there’s a knock on the door.
It’s not unusual for me to ignore a knock at the door. My modus operandi, then, is to walk into the second-floor porch and wait for the person to come out through the first-floor porch. If I know them, I will call out and run down to open the door.
If I don’t know them, they are free to move along and take their literature regarding corrective shirts for the chronically stooped with them.
“Who could that be…” I mutter, wandering toward the porch door.
Behind me, there is the small and unmistakeable sound of a cat clearing her throat.
I turn around, pupils expanding, the icy hand of inevitability crawling up my spine.
“That bit about an extra treat for Dolly last night,” she began.
I shake my head, and it just keeps shaking. “No,” I whisper.
“Now that wasn’t very nice, was it?”
“No,” I whisper, head continuing its dance of denial.
“We all suffer when you practice, don’t we? Not just Dolly?”
My mouth drops open.
There is another knock at the door.
I look toward the door, look back to Liza Bean. “Who is it?”
She yawns elaborately, a show of tiny, razor-like teeth. Raising her right paw, she flexes and unflexes her claws a number of times, gazes into its wee palm, revels in how small and deadly she is.
The blood runs out of my head, pools at my feet, and threatens to stay there. Ted is a neighbor, a man with notoriously bad breath and permanent spittle at the corners of his mouth.
“Ohhh,” she drawls. “He stopped last night while you were practicing. You didn’t answer the door, of course, so I called down to him from the porch. He wanted to know if we had a snow-removal service, but now he’s under the impression that you’re interested in video games. Don't know where he would've gotten that idea... Anyway, Call of Duty, was that it? I told him to come back today.”
I walk slowly toward the steps to the front door. At the landing, I can see Ted on the porch. One arm is holding his laptop, the other is holding a pizza box.
Ted really likes explaining stuff.
I look back up the steps, where Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, sits.
She is smiling. “You really can see a lot from where I’m sitting,” she says.