By the time I get to Psycho Suzi’s, the cat is half-way through her second drink.
“Pearl!” she bawls.
I smile. Pink-faced and sweating under the hooded sleeping bag I appear to be wearing, I slide into the booth next to her.
“That,” she says emphatically, “is simply a tragic coat. Why don’t you have a fur? They’re fabulous.”
“I would,” I say, trying to catch the eye of the waitress and unzip my coat at the same time, “but the money’s all gone to the Sheikh Zayed International Camel Endurance Race.”
Liza Bean perks up. “Really?”
“No,” I say.
Liza Bean, of the Minneapolis Biteys, four-legged symmetrically-striped animal of the cat persuasion and serial lime abuser, fishes one of four limes out of her gin and tonic. “Droll,” she murmurs, a slight smile on her face, “very droll, Pearl.”
She winks at me, holds up a paw – the one with the mostly-squeezed lime in it – and a waitress appears. “Nikki, honey,” Liza Bean drawls. “Would you get Pearl here a gin and tonic? Heavy on the limes, please.”
Nikki, bless her little tattooed legs, beats a mini-skirted dash to the bar. Cats, while they can be demanding patrons, are substantial tippers, and the servers in the know are extravagant in their desire to please.
“So what’s this all about,” I say. “You pop in in the middle of the night, and – hey! I want my key back!”
“Look at you,” she chortles, “all indignant. I rather like that look on you. It says, I’m irate, I’m righteous, and I’m ready for my gin and tonic. And here – thank you, honey – it is! Bottoms up, old girl!”
I quickly squeeze all four limes into my drink, give it a try.
“I do love a gin and tonic,” I say.
“As well you should,” she croons.
There is a momentary silence as we consider the beauty of a well-made drink.
“Bottoms up,” she purrs. “You’re going to want another.”
I raise my eyebrows.
“Yessssss,” she says. “And raise them you might. I ran into Fuzzwald last night.”
I slam the rest of my drink. Fuzzwald Tiberius Stripersson, one-time heir to the Stripersson foundation garment dynasty and recently released of the Hennepin-County jailed, is Liza Bean Bitey’s ex.
“Nikki!” I holler. “Two more gin and tonics, please!”