The room dark, the sound of my white noise machine pleasantly static-ing in the background, I have quite recently become aware of a weight on my chest and the sound of my name being whispered.
Am I dying?
I frown in my sleep. “Yes, Lord?”
There is the sound of light, tinkling laughter, the strong scent of limes in the area just north of my face. I open one eye. “Liza Bean? Why – Where – What time is it?”
She sighs. More limes. “Oh, Pearl,” she says, “does anyone really know what time it is?”
Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, her tiny paws placed just so, is sitting atop my chest. Symmetrically striped, meticulously groomed and possessor of both the World Record in the Domestic Mouse Dangle and a piece of the True Cross, she is no respecter of time.
I open both eyes. “OK,” I say. “Don’t tell me. I don’t care.”
She adjusts herself, now occupying an even smaller amount of space than before. “I just, uh, wanted to thank you for letting me use your car.”
My eyes widen. “Oh, no. What happened?”
Liza Bean’s eyes glint in the available light, the very essence of amused charm. “What makes you think something happened?”
“Well for one thing,” I say, sitting up and pushing the kitty to the bed, “You used the word “uh” just a moment ago.”
Liza Bean straightens herself defensively. “Can’t a kitty suffer a minor speech disfluency now and then?”
“Uhhhhh, you?” I say. “No.”
“Sarcasm,” she says, scandalized, “is no substitute for wit.”
Oh, this is too much. “You woke me up! You know I don’t sleep, and now I’m awake at –“ I lean over, grab my cell phone from the night stand. “3:22 a.m.! I’ll never get back to sleep. Ah, Liza, for cryin’ out loud, I’m doomed!”
I stop abruptly. There is naught but the sound of white noise and a small, striped cat clearing her throat.
I’ve gone too far.
Liza Bean reaches back, casually licks her shoulder blade. “We can forget it this time.”
The white noise machine hums.
“So what did you wake me for? Surely not to thank me for the car.”
“Actually,” and here the cat glances rather anxiously, I think, toward the front door, “If anyone, say a policeman or some other uniformed authority figure , were to ask you where I was tonight, I can count on you to say we were here, together, all night, catching up on Dexter, yes?”
I sigh heavily, close my eyes. “What happened.”
The cat chuckles, the sound of champagne being poured over ice. “Well,” she says, “I’ve taken a stand against baggy-bottomed youngsters and their center-of-the-road-walking ways.”
I can’t help myself. I open my eyes again, smiling broadly. “You didn’t.”
Liza Bean raises a paw, licks it thoughtfully. “I did.” She places her paw carefully next to its counterpart. “I tire of them, frankly. They wouldn’t move, despite my request that they do so immediately, and so I handled it.”
She smiles. “You know how every now and then you’ll see a pair of shoes strung over a telephone line in a bad neighborhood?”
“Glance upwards on your way to the bus tomorrow morning,” she says. “Three pairs of oversized drawers now festoon the lines.”
And with that, Liza Bean yawns, an elegant show of tiny, pointed teeth, and curls up next to me on the bed.
“We shan’t see them around here again,” she murmurs.
I run a hand down her soft, purring body. “You should run for President, Liza Bean.”
Eyes closed, she smiles as she visibly drops off to sleep. “I really should, shouldn’t I?”