The cat, uncharacteristically, is at the landing near the top of the stairs when I come through the front door.
“What’s going on?” I say. “Why do you look like that?”
Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, purported owner of a Nail of the True Cross, world record holder in the gerbil shotput and beauty school drop-out, smiles vaguely, her tiny black lips curling at the edges ever so slightly.
“Hmm?” she says. “Can’t a kitty await her favorite human?”
“That’s it,” I say, dropping my bag on the settee. I begin the task of removing the multiple layers of clothing necessary in a world cloaked in single-degree temperatures. “Everyone knows your favorite human is whichever one is holding the creamer. What’s going on?”
Liza Bean Bitey’s smile widens. “Too true,” she murmurs, “although you do have a way with it. Why, just the other day, I remarked to that other cat about the grace with which you deport yourself.”
I grin, pull the last of my woolens off, and climb the last five stairs to the apartment. “That other cat,” I repeat. “You mean Dolly Gee?”
Liza Bean and Dolly Gee Squeakers, formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers, have never truly gotten along. Dolly had been picked up with the thought that Liza Bean needed a companion, and a more muddled thought process has yet to have been recorded. Upon meeting, Dolly Gee had attempted to remove one of Liza Bean’s ears. Liza Bean had responded by taking out a full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune declaring Dolly Gee a “polyester-suited alley-strutting feline of the most common variety”.
Relations between the two of them have only marginally improved since then.
“Hmm,” Liza Bean. “Yes. The other cat – Dolly, you say?” She grins at me, taps the side of her nose with a striped fore paw, just to show that she’s made a little joke.
I move toward the kitchen, where Liza Bean leaps to sit atop the table and patiently await her 5:00 Friskies Classic Pate. “Just a little bit,” she always says. “I’m not sure I deserve too much more than that, after what I did…”
I fork a third of a can of Mariner’s Catch onto a tiny China plate, set it down on the large rag rug in the center of the room. She inclines her head just so, nods almost imperceptibly, a wordless “thank you”.
She continues to sit.
We stare at each other.
Her emerald eyes shine like freshly laundered lust. “Encontre un gato,” she says, finally.
“Tu sabes que no hablo Espanol,” I reply. “En Ingles, por favor.” *
She leaps to the ground, sniffs at the plate, then looks up at me and smiles. “I met a cat,” she says. “Last night, when I took your car.”
I frown at her, my go-to look of confusion.
“Wait,” I say. “You took my car last night?”
Come back tomorrow for Part II, wherein Liza Bean begins a story of passion and cat politics.
“I met a cat," she says.
“You know I don’t speak Spanish”, I reply. “In English, please.”