There is a knock on the door.
Lulled into a half-lidded stupor by an afternoon of Celebrity Bowling – a game show from the 70s on just one of the nine fabulous channels received at Casa del Pearl – I rise from the couch.
“Well, look at you,” she says.
Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, steps forward, dragging a brown paper bag. Former-roommate-now-cat-next-door and current holder of the world’s record in the mouse steeplechase, she leaves the parcel at the door. Sitting down, she cocks her head, studies me.
I frown. “What are you doing?”
“Hmm?” She looks at the bag. “Oh, this.” She chuckles. “Sunday Funday, ol’ bean.” She twitches a delicate whisker, shifts her head to stare at me from another angle. She sniffs the air. “You’ve been laying on the couch all day, haven’t you?”
“I resent whatever it is you’re saying,” I say. I take what I imagine to be a surreptitious sniff at an armpit.
She wrinkles her nose. “We’ll ignore that.” She nudges the bag to one side. “I came bearing gifts, but now that I see you,” she says. “I’ve changed my mind.”
I bend over, pick up the bag: a bottle of gin, a bottle of tonic, roughly two dozen limes. I look up at her. “I always wonder. Where do you –“
“Are you wearing that?” she interrupts. “I’m going to need you to change.”
I look down at the flannel pants. “Change?”
“Pants,” the cat says. “Shirt. Jacket. Perhaps a scarf.” The cat rises, leaps to the back of the couch, where she checks her reflection in the mirror on the wall.
“I know what “change” means,” I say.
“Oh, Pearl,” she says. “I cannot, in good conscience, let you sit here looking like that.” She places a thoughtful paw on her chin. “There’s the drunken spelling bee at the 331. There’s karaoke at the Vegas. “ She stops. “Oh, I know. What say we go up to the Spring. We can watch the people sing along to the jukebox. Maybe that guy with the Tom Petty fetish will be there again.”
“Or the guy that does all that AC/DC.”
“Better yet,” she says, eyes sparkling. “We go up to Jimmy’s. We’ll aim for the corner booth, we’ll eat that three-dollar shrimp cocktail they serve. We’ll catch up.” She abruptly stands.
“I’ve decided,” she says. “It’s decided. Go get dressed. We’re going to Jimmy’s.” She jumps to the floor.
And you know what?
The cat is right, dammit.
The cat taps the side of her nose with a paw. “We’ll text your boss on the way to the bar. You might as well call in sick now.”