Part Three of Three. Haven't read One and Two? Oh, but you must! Click on the links. We'll wait for you...
Liza Bean, having squeezed four limes into her gin and tonic, takes a thoughtful sip. A look of satisfaction creeps over her face, and she continues with her story.
“So there we are. I’ve got a couple in the backseat, positively fetal in their outrageous youth. They are absolutely begging to be abused, so I look at them in the rearview mirror and I begin to speak. “Excuse me,” I say, “but on a night like this, I can’t help but be reminded of my old friend Pupples...”
“And why is that?” asks the pimp.
“And why is that?” asks the pimp.
“It’s your lady friend there. She reminded me of him. You see, poor Pupples has lost his mind. A tragedy, really. Thinks every woman he sees – and you do look a bit like her, if you don’t mind my saying! – is his wife Liza. Problem is, of course, that Liza is dead, isn’t she? Poor ol’ Pupples. All these years and still not over it.”
The couple in the backseat exchange glances.
“What happened to Liza?” asks our young ho.
“Oh, it was so many years ago,” I say. “Poor Liza won a trip to London through a radio contest. Was the first caller to correctly identify all seven dwarves or some such nonsense. Oh, she was so excited.”
“But on her second day in London she stepped off the sidewalk and head-long into a double-decker bus. Absolutely on the wrong end of that particular exchange. Crushed, she was, right there on the street.” Liza Bean looks into her rear view mirror, emerald eyes large and haunted. “Ol’ Pupples just hasn’t been the same. Wears his dead wife’s red velvet hat, the very one she was wearing the night she was killed. I hear he even sings a song about his Liza going off… ” Liza Bean shakes her head. “Problem is, of course that deep down inside, he knows she’s dead, and yet he also sees her on the streets…”
“But if she’s dead,” says the ho, “and he knows it…”
“Heartbreaking, isn’t it,” says the cat. “I’ve seen it twice, myself. The first time, the woman he thought was Liza, his wife, was alone in my cab. This very cab! Poor ol’ Pupples jumped in at a stop light, covered her with tearful kisses. But the second time – ” Liza Bean shudders delicately.
“What happened the second time?”
The cat grimaces into the rearview mirror apologetically, winces. “The second time, the woman he imagined was his wife was actually just some poor gal out with her boyfriend. Pupples leapt into the backseat, raked the man across the face quite dreadfully." Liza Bean pauses significantly. "They say the reconstructive surgery has done wonders.” The cat makes a tsk-tsk sound, shakes her head slowly. “I can’t imagine the next encounter I witness. There really is no way to stop a furious cat, is there?”
The line of cars in the downtown, Halloween traffic begin to honk, and the taxi inches its way forward.
“Haven’t seen him for quite a while now,” Liza Bean continues, “but I know he’s still looking for her. I just hope the next fellow Pupples attacks has the good sense to run…”
And Liza Bean leans over to lock the passenger door.
The story, of course, has been timed perfectly, and it is at this point that the taxi finds itself at the traffic light in front of the Pantages Theater, whereupon, as if on cue, Pupples Old Bean bounds from the sidewalk to the front of the cab, pulls the red velvet hat (with cut-outs for the ears) from his head with a flourish and bellows “Where O where has Liza been? Off! Off! To visit the Queen!”
The woman in the backseat screams.
“Where O where has Liza been?” yowls the cat, coming around the side of the car. He pulls on the passenger door, only to find it locked. It is at this point that the tanked-up, singing cat comes around to the back, where he opens the door, slides into the backseat and throws drunken, loving arms around the horrified couple…
“And that,” Liza Bean says, waving at the waitress for another drink, “is when the Pimp and the Ho decide that they’ve ridden far enough.” The cat leans forward, takes a healthy pull of her gin and tonic through the slender cocktail straw. “They may have even broken a record for fastest cab departure.”
Liza Bean raises a paw, signals our waitress for another round. “I didn’t get their fare, of course, but what I lost in revenue I gained in amusement.”
And here Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, gazes out over the river, the fading light reflecting in her pupils. “I do miss those days,” she sighs.