The piles of cardboard boxes in the kitchen have attracted the cats.
A part of Willie’s father’s estate and having sat on the second-floor porch since June, the porch has been emptied to make room for the New Year’s Eve party smokers.
The boxes now occupy precious square footage in the kitchen, a room roughly the size of a nice walk-in closet.
Outside the kitchen window, the sky is a startling blue, a bright and vivid contrast to the overwhelming whiteness of the rest of Minneapolis.
“Liza Bean! Kitty-kitty! Over here!” Across the table, Willie, a steaming cup of black coffee in front of him, takes advantage of an errant sunbeam, a strip of precious, golden light already foreign to our December-weary, winter-fied eyes. Hands in the mid-air stream of warmth, he bends his fingers.
“Woof! Woof!” he says. A shadowy dog’s head, cleverly created and thrown against the kitchen cabinets, barks. A tiny tongue lolls from its shadow-mouth.
Liza Bean Bitey, tiny, symmetrically striped animal, former holder of the world’s record in the Long Distance Gerbil Chase and Chomp and regular prank caller on the Rush Limbaugh show, narrows her eyes at him from atop the boxes.
“Very nice,” she says drily. Her green eyes sparkle. “Now can you do a disinterested cat?”
Willie, bless him, tilts his head, ever-so-slightly, gazes into the distance as he considers the contortionism that would go into creating such a thing.
“How long,” I interrupt, “will those boxes be in the kitchen? Just, you know, conversationally.”
Willie takes a sip of his coffee. “Well,” he says, thoughtfully, “the kitties do enjoy the stacks, and they ask for so little.”
I look at Dolly Gee, our long-haired, speed-bump-impersonating cat, a cat with an affinity for Patsy Cline, short-shorts, and liquid eyeliner. She smiles at me from atop a box full of yearbooks and newspaper clippings.
“Dolly,” I say. “What do you think? Should Willie bring the boxes to the basement?”
Dolly Gee Squeakers, formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers, blinks a slow, sapphire-tinted blink.
Willie sighs. “I thought she’d say that,” he says, rising. “Dang cat. Make another pot, will you?”