When a kitty’s eighth birthday comes around, one is obligated to attend the party, even if doing so may require that you call in to work with eye problems the next day.
Honestly, with the kind of hangover one is likely to have, you’re not going to be able to see going in.
That was Part One.
And when the party is at Nye’s, 30 hep cats drinking gin and tonics, snacking on pureed gerbil on toast points and song-bird terrine, and the birthday kitty’s ex walks in the door?
Well, that was Part Two.
And when Liza Bean is forced to deal with Fuzzwald T. Stripperson, formerly of the Hennepin County Lock-Up Strippersons and disgraced heir to the Stripperson foundation-garment industry?
That was Part Three.
Read on, won’t you?
“Hold on, Liza,” I whisper. “What’s going on here?”
Liza Bean smiles, a bright, gleaming-toothed display that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
She leaps to the ground, beckons Fuzzy to follow her.
I watch as Liza Bean leads him to the corner of the banquet room in the basement of Nye’s, parts the crowd of the mysterious cat’s admirers to introduce her ex to the beautiful Abyssinian.
She returns just a few moments later.
Our waitress, knowing an opportunity when she sees it, brings two fresh drinks. Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, symmetrically striped possessor of the only known picture of Marilyn Monroe flossing her teeth, accepts her drink gratefully.
She pulls another five from parts unknown and slips it to the waitress. “You’re a doll,” she says.
I watch as the cat squeezes one lime after another into the drink.
I lean forward, peer at her intently. I do not do well with confusion. “I don’t understand,” I say.
She smiles. “What’s to understand?
“He wants to meet someone – at your party – and you oblige?
“He stole $400 from you!”
The cat is unconcerned. “I managed to liberate several one hundred dollar bills from his wallet not long afterward, if you’ll recall.”
“He got drunk at last year’s Misfit Christmas party and did the most inappropriate impression of Helen Keller I’ve ever seen.”
“I sewed a deceased goldfish in the hem of his good jacket.”
“He got you drunk to break up with you and taped,” I counter, “your paws to the bar so that you, and I quote, “wouldn’t hurt herself if she fell off the stool.”
Liza Bean is dismissive. “I once lit his tail on fire.”
I bark gleefully. “Ha!” I sip at my gin and tonic and shake my head. “And now you’re introducing him to perhaps the most exquisite cat –“ Liza Bean narrows her eyes at me “—outside of you, of course, in the room. At your own party!”
Liza sits up very straight, smiles. I am suddenly reminded of the carvings on Egyptian tombs.
Frowning, I take a long sip from my drink.
“Ol’ Fuzz will get what is coming to him,” she says softly. “But not by me.”
I take another sip of my drink. Maybe if I drink more this will start to make sense.
There is a commotion in the corner, and we turn to look.
Fuzzwald T. Stripperson has succeeded in wooing the Abyssinian from the would-be suitors.
He is guiding her toward the exit. Her striped hips sway gently from side to side, her tail held high, swishing viciously.
“Well,” I say, “I never thought I’d see the day.”
“What day is that, Pearl?”
I shake my head, hiccup in what I hope is a discreet manner. “The day you introduce someone I know you still love to another female. That is just weird.”
Liza Bean chuckles. “And about to get weirder,” she says.
Liza Bean’s eyes glow with amusement, emerald green in the muted light of the banquet room in the basement of Nye’s.
“No one said that was a female,” she says quietly.
And Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, leans forward to take another drink. “Fuzzwald,” she says, her lips wrapped around the straw, “really needs to be more careful about who he trusts.”