The cat lies in the shaded cool of the ferns, her eyes dreamily half-lidded. An hysteria of sparrows, commuting from one yard to the next, pass overhead, just feet from curved-claw death.
Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) yawns elaborately, a show of white teeth and curled, pink tongue.
“Silly birds,” she pronounces.
Liza Bean blinks lazily against the dappled sunshine, a study in nonchalance.
Apropos of nothing and seemingly directed into the air: “Will the car be available this evening?”
I set my book down, stare at her until she meets my eye.
She is smiling. Times are tough, and her habit of returning the car with a full tank of gas does not go unnoticed.
And she has noticed this.
Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) rolls on to her side, stretches luxuriously; and, in what all the world would perceive to be a casual manner, licks the inside elbow of an extended front leg.
“Why,” she repeats, the word rolling around in her mouth. “A child’s question,” she pronounces.
I sigh. “What time do you need it,” I deadpan.
She smiles. “Ten-ish?”
“Ten-ish?” It’s my turn to repeat. “That’s a little late, don’t you think, for a Sunday night?”
Liza Bean first widens – then narrows – her eyes. “Such manners,” she murmurs.
“Fine,” I say, retrieving my book, first-hand narratives from the Great Age of sailing. “Don’t wake me when you come back.”
She smiles. “Mmm,” she says, in a tone of voice to which I cannot ascribe an emotion.
Liza Bean stands, stretches, sticking one hind leg out stiffly behind her, then the other. “You know,” she says thoughtfully, “it’s been ages since we had a drink together. You busy after work Monday? Outside of yoga?”
I shake my head in the negative. “What do you have in mind?”
“Welllll,” she says, “I’ve not been to Psycho Suzi’s since they moved it to the river. I hear delightful things.” She pauses. “My treat.”
Now it is my turn to widen, then narrow, my eyes.
Liza Bean holds up a paw. “I’ll hear no more about it,” she says with a small, dismissive wave. “After yoga it is.”
If anyone is looking for me later, I’ll be at the bar.
With a cat.