Part One was Wednesday.
Part Two was Thursday.
Haven’t read them? You go ahead – I’m just going to go get a cup of coffee. We’ll meet back in five, okay?
The cat laughs, her small, striped shoulders bouncing. “Oh, honestly, Pearl.” She lifts a tiny, pink-toed paw, wipes her eyes.
“You tax me, cat,” I say, half-exasperated.
“Our interactions are a high point in your day,” she declares. She sighs contentedly, closes her eyes, a small smile on her adorably black lips. She leans toward me, and I run my hand along the top of her head.
Liza Bean Bitey, door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman and professional hairball provider, straightens herself, reaches toward the coffee table for the gin and tonic – four limes – crystal-clear ice cubes slowly melting.
I lift my own glass.
“So,” I say, setting my drink down. “My car was taken last night. Can we both agree that that is the least of this story?”
Liza Bean extends one terrible claw, chases a wedge of lime around her sweating glass in clockwise circles. “He –“
“Yes.” The cat’s face softens. “Juan Diego de la Patas Oro.”
I sip at my drink. “Juan Diego of the Golden Paws.”
She smiles, sips her own drink. She speaks around the rim of her glass. “Yes.”
There is a moment of silence as both of our faces soften. Golden Paws.
I look down to discover my drink is gone.
And as I am noticing this, Pupples Old Bean comes trotting out of the kitchen, a fresh one in hand. Pupples, scrawny, vest-wearing toady to Porkmuscle J. Hamfat, can best be described as nervous. Physically approximating a cross between Art Carne and the Taco Bell Chihuahua, the cat places a coaster on the coffee table in front of me, sets the new drink down, picks up my old one.
He raises an imaginary hat. “Pearl.”
I nod briskly. “Pupples.”
Liza Bean looks at me pointedly. I refuse the challenge. If she wants to tell me why there’s a cat in my kitchen with a bottle of gin, well then she can just tell me.
Instead, she shrugs, and I pick up my new drink.
“Go on,” I say.
The cat smiles with the memory. “He contacted me,” she says, “via Pheed.”
“Oh, really, Pearl,” she says. “Do try to keep up.”
I make a note to “keep up”, a mental to-do immediately following “beat ungrateful cat”.
“It’s a social media site,” she explains.
Liza Bean looks at me as one looks at a clumsy, pudding-stained child. “And so,” she says, as if winding up a long story, “I took your car.”
I sip at my drink. Delicious. “We know that,” I point out. “Where did you go? What did you do?”
The cat shrugs. “My affairs,” she says, “are my own.”
I am about to protest when she laughs. “We went – “ she pauses. “Did you know, Pearl, that Minnesota has the largest ball of sisal twine, wound by one man, in the world?”
I laugh into my drink, set it down quickly. “You went to see the world’s largest ball of string?”
The cat sits a little taller, offended. “We certainly did,” she says.
“And then you came home and got drunk, right?”
The cat picks up her drink, smiles around her straw. “Maybe.”
There is another moment of silence.
“Wait,” I say. “That’s in Darwin, right?”
The cat nods.
“That’s, like, 60 miles from here! Are you telling me that you put 120 miles on my car last night?”
“Oh, no,” she says. “It was closer to 200 by the time we were through.”
I am struck by the vision of two cats in a car, heading west, fuzzy little paws on the steering wheel, that broom she uses on the pedals… I pick up my drink. I really should know better than to have set it down in the first place.
“So,” I say. “Do you think you will see him again?”
Liza Bean smiles serenely, pulls a wallet from somewhere under her left arm. “I should think so,” she says. “He’ll need his cash card at some point, don’t you think?”