Mid-afternoon. A pile of clean laundry looms before me. Maybe if I stare at it for a long time –
“What’th goin’ on?”
Dolly Gee Squeakers, formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers, AKA Dahli Gee, AKA Get Down Kitty, steps into the room. A long-haired Siamese/Tabby mix, she regards me with brilliantly blue, slightly crossed, eyes.
“Nothing much,” I say.
“You wanna play cardth?”
There is a slight pause. “Sure,” I say.
We step into the kitchen.
Dolly takes her usual chair, picks up a deck of cards.
They’ve been sitting on a pack of Virginia Slims.
I give her a look.
“Three a day,” she says, frowning, a mixture of apology and defiance. “I get three a day.”
“Sure,” I say again.
“Oh, don’t you bother with that none,” she says. There is an ashtray in the shape of Itasca County, Headwaters of the Mississippi, in the center of the table. She moves it to one side, resumes the rapid card-shuffling she’s been doing since she removed them from the top of the cigarettes.
She collects ashtrays, you know.
That cat must have 20, 30 of them.
I asked her about it once.
“Well, then I can remember the day I bought it,” she had said, carefully – Dolly was teased mercilessly as a kitten for her lisp, and she chooses her words, time and temperament permitting, so as to avoid the use of the “s” – “I can remember the day: the weather, the people, the area. Not to mention they add clath to the room, don’t you think?”
Dolly Gee stops shuffling, leans forward toward her cigarettes, stops mid-reach. She looks at me, shakes her head. “Hmmm,” she says.
“Having a hard time sticking to the three-a-day?”
She continues to shake her head. "I make a lot of unintended movemenths," she says, "I can tell you that much.”
Dolly Gee places the deck in the center of the table.
“Cut to deal?”