I’m confused. “Where are you going now?”
I am sitting on the hamper while Liza Bean prepares for what appears to be a date.
She peers into the mirror, adjusts what appears to be a new collar, a black velvet affair with moonstones set in it, so that her tags (I’m Quite Busy. You Haven’t Found Me. Now Put Me Down.) dangle just so. “The Twins game.”
I frown, then consciously choose not to frown.
Dang cat is giving me wrinkles.
“Is that a new collar?”
We stare at into the mirror at each other.
“And since when do you like baseball?” I say.
From the other room comes a querulous mrrrrow? and Dolly Gee Squeakers, formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers shoots into the room. A cat with nothing but Daisy Duke shorts in her wardrobe, a cat known for her gambling debts, her souvenir ashtrays and her penchant for stealing my eyeliner, she jumps up onto the lid of the toilet and directs her bright blue and ever-so-slightly-crossed eyes at Liza Bean.
Dolly cocks her head to one side and stares pointedly.
Self-conscious of her lisp, Dolly can go days without speaking.
“No,” Liza Bean says firmly. “I will not place a bet on your behalf.”
Dolly sighs, whereupon she jumps to the floor and then flops, without ceremony, at my feet.
“I can’t believe you’re seeing this cat again,” I say.
Louis B. Mewling, rake, charmer, registered Libertarian, is as good-looking – and as slippery – as a cat can come. “Remember last time you saw him?”
The cat grimaces at me through the mirror. “He was under a lot of stress.”
“He was under the table.”
Louis, drunk and caterwauling, had stood under our porch, howling obscene love songs until I had thrown a bucket of cold water at him.
We had not seen his large, orange head since.
Liza Bean smiles into the mirror, checks her teeth, moves her head from side to side as she studies first one profile and then the next. Satisfied with what she sees, she grins at me from within the mirror. “I can’t imagine what you’ve heard about him,” she says primly, a half-smile playing on her tiny, fuzzy face. “Louis B. Mewling is a highly respected physical therapist with the Chicago White Sox.”
“What, like working with the injured?”
“Hydrotherapy, massage, those sorts of things.”
“What was in the boxes?”
“Gifts,” she says. “For me.”
I frown briefly. “I thought cats didn’t like water.”
“Well,” she says, chuckling, “not when they can get gin.”
And with that, Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, jumps from the sink to the floor. “Don’t wait up.”
I follow her from the bathroom to the front door, where my car keys jingle merrily from a front paw. “Call me after the game,” I say.
Liza Bean turns – and is that a wink? – “Don’t wait up,” she says.