Welcome to the final installment of my latest foray into the seedy, underhanded world of Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys). We’ve pondered the appearance of a number of packages from “Zurich Imports”, we’ve agreed to lend the cat the car, we’ve caught the cat primping before a meeting with the mysterious Louis B. Mewling, and we’ve been silly enough to get out of bed and join the cats at a party.
We’ve gone this far…
“You must be Louis.”
In response, the large orange cat in front of me pulls out a chair, sits next to Liza Bean. “I love the new collar,” he says to her.
To my horror, Liza Bean Bitey, the cat who once dismissed a suitor with words “You ARE the weakest link. Good-bye.”, wrinkles her nose at him coquettishly. “As beautiful as the others,” she fawns.
He turns his gaze to me. “Have you brought them,
“Me?” I say. “Brought what?”
Louis leans back in the club chair, turns his attention to his paw, where he casually examines his claws one by one. “Four collars?”
I look at Liza. What?
Liza Bean leans forward, lays a cool and striped paw atop his. “Tonight, Louis? I thought tomorrow would be best.”
“I wanted,” he says, slowly, tiny, sharp teeth exposed, “to see you in them tonight.”
I frown. I’ve just barely started my second drink – delivered by an underweight cat with a chewed ear – but surely I’m not drunk. “Them? Them collars? What are –“
And that’s when the doors burst open.
The crowd turns, momentarily stunned, by the sight of two police officers ducking through the low door. “Drinks down; hands in the air!”
You would think the police would know better.
What follows is a cacophony of sound, of cats yowling, of chairs being scraped back on a hardwood floor, the sound of 30, 40 cats without regard for authority high-tailing it for the exit.
In the background, the
Chihuahua with the accordion begins to howl.
The police, however, have eyes for only Louis and Liza.
“Louis B. Mewling? Liza Bean Bitey?”
Louis puts both paws in the air with a defeated sigh.
Liza Bean, however, merely smiles. “Officer?”
I step forward, heart pounding. “What’s going on here?”
A tall cop with a cheesy moustache directs a stern gaze at me. “Who are you?”
“I’m Liza Bean’s own–“
Liza Bean clears her throat.
I correct myself. “I’m Liza Bean’s companion animal,” I say dryly. “Can I help you?”
Officer Cheesy smiles. “We’ve reason to believe that Louis here has been shipping stolen diamonds to Liza from
Switzerland. Louis, you’re under arrest.”
My mouth drops open.
I shut it.
“I – I –“
“Officer,” Liza Bean. “I believe I can help you.”
Now Louis’s mouth drops open.
He fails to close it.
Liza reaches under her left arm, produces three small velvet collars bristling with kaleidoscopic light.
“Liza Bean!” I blurt.
“Jig’s up, Louis,” Liza Bean says sardonically. “That will teach you to leave me stranded in
Louis’s mouth remains open.
“Cuff him, boys,” says Cheesy.
Liza Bean smiles beatifically up at the officer. “Am I free to go?”
He grins at her. “Until next time?”
The cat touches the brim of an imaginary hat. “Always a pleasure,” she says.
And we step through the door and out into the night.
By the time we reach the car, my heart has slowed to a light gallop. “I don’t understand,” I say piteously.
And Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, a cat listed in The Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland and a
silver medalist in the long distance slink, removes her collar, twists it, and
puts it back on.
And the diamonds that stud it sparkle under the parking lot lights.
“The fourth collar,” I whisper.
She nods, pulls a pack of menthol cigarettes from under her left arm.
“You work for the police?”
She taps the side of her nose.
I start the car, put it into reverse, then think of something else.
“Why did you ask me here tonight, Liza?”
The cat lights her cigarette, tosses the spent match out the open passenger window.
“Well you didn’t expect me to drive home drunk, did you?”