Parts One, Two, and Three? Do we have links? You bet your sweet bippy we do. If you need to go back – and each one is only 300 words or so! – you can do it now. We’ll wait here. Won’t take you more than 10 minutes, tops, to catch up.
I look down at my right hand.
Surprisingly, there’s a drink it: gin and tonic, four limes.
I frown briefly, then remember my vow to stop deliberately wrinkling myself. I take a sip and conscientiously unfurrow my brow. “How –“
Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, a smallish cat once linked romantically to Johnny Depp, taps the side of her nose with a delicate paw.
I laugh. “Oh, is that you telling me it’s a trade secret?”
And Liza, eyes twinkling like a third glass of champagne, taps the side of her nose again.
“Why you little…” I say.
“Why I oughta…” she responds.
We gaze warmly at each other.
“I do so love seeing you outside of the home, particularly when you are employed,” I say.
“And I do so love,” she says, “when you are about to have your second drink. It’s like Christmas Eve for both of us.”
We laugh. My reputation for being tightly wound, and then more loosely wound, is well deserved.
The cat takes a step forward, looks back and motions, with a subtle movement of her head, that I should follow her.
And so I do.
The Nip and The Saucer is quite large, really, an expanse of red carpeting and tiered seating with diamond-stitched upholstered booths in dark red leather. Cats in black-and-white berets rush from table to table, trays on their shoulders, balancing bottles of gin, bowls of quartered limes, and small, insulated canisters of ice.
In the far corner, a Chihuahua plays “The Girl from Ipanema” on the accordion.
I follow Liza Bean to the bar and settle on to one of the stools there. A large, U-shaped affair in the middle of the room, its center is glass and mirrors, beautiful bottles lit from below and gleaming with promise.
Overhead, a chandelier drips an expensive, ambient glow.
The cats directly across from me are lapping something from a shallow crystal bowl and laughing.
I carefully squeeze the limes, one after another, into my gin and tonic, take a sip.
“So what’s the plan, kitty-cat?”
Liza Bean smiles and raises one slender, expansive paw
“Another gin and tonic for my dear friend,” she says.
The bartender, a long-legged kitty with hazel eyes and a pink collar encrusted with glittering crystals, places a napkin in front of me; and I set my now-empty drink on it.
How did that happen?
The bartender winks at me. “Right away, Miz Pearl.”
I turn to Liza Bean. “She knows me?”
The cat leans in, eyes me meaningfully. “Sadie's going to keep an eye on you, as I shall. Pray do nothing imprudent.”
I pshaw at her, nod at Sadie, who has just set a fresh drink in front of me. “Pshaw,” I say, lifting the first lime. “I’m as right as rain, old bean.”
The cat backs away, slowly. “I’ll be about,” she says. “And don’t say “old bean”.” She wrinkles her nose. “It sounds wrong when you say it.”
Yes. Yes, there is.