The recent arrival of a large number of packages, all in plain brown wrappers, has the mark of Liza Bean Bitey’s fine paw all over it.
“What is Zurich Exports?”
Liza Bean Bitey, suspected international thief, supposed possessor of a collaborative manuscript between her and the late Hunter S. Thompson and small-pawed feline looks up sharply from the watch she is working on.
“Why do you ask?”
“Because it’s on this,” I say, a medium-sized box in my hand.
“I’ll take that,” she purrs, padding smoothly by. The box leaves my hand with a swift efficiency of movement that whisks her past me and out of the room.
I call after her. “What’s in the box?”
“Hmm? I’m sorry,” she says, re-entering the room, “I didn’t hear you.”
I narrow my eyes at her. “What have you been up to?”
She smiles, an un-nerving and utterly charming thing in a cat. “I can’t always take the car,” she demurs, a reference to how often she borrows the Honda, “and I do have certain obligations, you know.”
I am stunned. Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys), while inaccurately described as “stingy” would nevertheless fall within the “thrifty” category. A failed investment in a Philippine oil rig a number of years ago put a sudden end to the high life she’d been accustomed to, and outside of insisting on the best gin available and a new dress collar every year, it’s a sad fact that she only half-reaches for the tab at the end of a night.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she says, almost gruffly. I hadn’t realized I’d been staring at her. She waves me away, returning her attention to the dismantled watch in front of her. “Anyway,” she says thoughtfully, lifting a tiny cog, “you’re not the only one on this year’s gift list.”
Again I am surprised. Who could she be buying for? I say nothing but raise an eyebrow.
The cat purrs. “I heard that,” she says.