I walk into the living room to find Dolly Gee Squeakers, formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers, on her back, limbs akimbo, her bright blue and slightly crossed eyes staring blankly at the far wall.
Dolly Gee, part Siamese, part long-haired tabby, part badger, has been in that position – outside of frequent snack breaks and brief stints of sitting in the window, jaw-bouncing chatter directed at unsuspecting birds on the roof next door – since the Michigan State Spartans’ loss to the Louisville Cardinals.
Once again, the cat had bet than she could afford to lose. I glance at the coffee table: her pack of Virginia Slims has had three lonely cigarettes in it since Thursday night.
I sit on the floor next to her, a comb in my hand.
“You know,” I say, running the comb down her belly, “I wouldn’t be against loaning you a small sum. Just enough to tide you over.”
Dolly raises her head, a gesture that makes her look to be a small and rather un-seaworthy canoe. A cat of few words – primarily due to the pitiless teasing she received as a kitten for her lisp – she purrs momentarily, a brief attempt.
She sits up, wraps her tail around herself. “I really thought they were going to go all the way.”
I nod. I find, at these times, that it’s best to say nothing.
I stand, walk into my bedroom, open my sock drawer. Behind me, I hear Dolly sigh.
When I return, I am carrying the can of albacore tuna I had been saving. I had hoped we would open it in celebration.
I walk into the kitchen. At the sound of the silverware drawer being opened, Dolly, out of habit, trots in, hopefully, and sits at my feet.
“Dolly,” I say, forking the contents into a small china dish, “we all have our faults.”
I set the dish down in front of her. Surprisingly, she doesn’t move.
“I have to tell you,” she says.
I tilt my head in her direction: tell me.
She looks down at her paws, looks back up. “I won’t be able to pay my thell phone bill thith month.”
“The tuna’s a gift, Dolly.”
She looks at the dish.
“I can cover your cell phone bill,” I say.
Dolly Gee smiles up at me, a thoroughly enchanting vision, and then settles down in front of the dish. Suddenly she looks up.
“Would you like thum?”
I lean over, scratch behind her ear. “I’ve eaten,” I say.
Dolly grins. “I jutht love albacore,” she says.