“You think this shit is the Lion King? Stop this nonsense and put me down.” Fat’s ears flatten with displeasure as I hold her up by the armpits so she can look out the glass door of the patio.
Instead of acquiescing to the feline’s request, I sling one arm around her and press Fat next to my armpit like a football. The talons of her back feet dig into my hip as I point out the window. Through the torrent of rain and just beyond the sidewalk on the other side of the street is a portly man scrambling after a French bulldog puppy. The little white dog’s tail wags as the man tries his best to catch him. A leash trails from the dog’s collar as he bounds across the soggy grass obviously delighted with the game he thinks they’re playing.
“You asked what made me laugh. Well, there you go.” My nail taps against the glass.
Fat’s back legs relax and she lets me hold her without a fuss. She stares, perplexed as the puppy outmanoeuvres the middle-aged man.
“Would you look at that little fucker bob and weave. You’d think he was part boxer.” Fat turns to flash me a satisfied smile, “See what I did there?”
“Dog joke. Clever.” I don’t smile back. She doesn’t need the encouragement. I have no connection to this man, yet I’m really rooting for him to snare that dog and get out of the rain.
Fat’s eyes are still on my face, “I’m not certain I understand or particularly enjoy the look on your face right now.”
“It’s called hope, Fat. I would really like to see him catch his dog. He seems nice.”
“Do you say that on account of the jolly Kris Kringle physique?” Fat’s grey head slowly turns to look out the window just in time to see the fellow’s foot stomp on the end of the leash.
You go, fifty-or-so-year-old-man. I’m proud of you. He bends and gets a good grip on the end of the leash and takes off, having to pull the pup along a few paces until the dog is made aware that playtime is over and it’s time to go.
“No. Because he’s a dog owner. That’s how you can tell.”
“…tell that he’s a nice person you mean?” Fat squints and watches the man and his pet briskly walk down the street, rushing to get somewhere dry. “Do you have any evidence to support this claim?”
“I have a dog. I’m a nice person.” Fat squirms until I release her from my grip.
She jumps up on the piano bench. “That solves the mystery,” She amplifies her sarcasm as though I’m slow and wouldn’t understand otherwise. “If anything it just proves that any idiot can own a dog.”
I suppose that’s… true? Though, in my own defense, I’m not an idiot I just make bad decisions sometimes. I draw the curtains and turn on the living room lamp. A warm glow takes over the room.
“Any other unfounded wisdom you’d like me to dispel for you? I have no plans tonight. Come on, boss. Tell me another.” The way she sits on the bench I expect her to lift her paws to the ivory keys and lay down some Chopin.
She has this weird power over me that I can’t help but do as she says. “Gangsters don’t drink cappuccinos.” It lacks a certain level of danger and undermines a tough exterior. Let’s see you prove that one wrong, kitty.
She turns to look at me over her shoulder, eyebrows arched in a way that makes me feel stupid. “Really? Who do you think invented them? Italian mobsters brought them to this country in 1868 because they needed a beverage that wouldn’t impair their judgement when it came to conducting business and,” her voice gets hoarse as she mimics the Godfather, “lookin’ out for the family.”
She came up with that far too quickly for it to be a lie – didn’t lose eye contact with me either. Fat does read a lot. It must be true. The look she offers invites me to challenge her history lesson or come up with another fact to convince her of any sound logic in my possession.
“The tell-tale sign of a pirate isn’t a Jolly Roger tattoo, a peg leg, or saying ‘Arr’; it’s a captain hook hand. The only people in history known to have hooks for hands are pirates.” My arms cross over my chest, challenging her to unravel that pearl of wisdom.
“Or serial killers.”
Damn it. I must be more stupid than I thought. I feel my mouth open with the intention to say something, but all my words have disbanded and I’m left in the living room looking like a guppy.
“I bet you thought of the two of us you were the creature of higher intelligence.” Fat turns back to the piano and her paws lift and fall on the keys, playing the familiar three-note tune of the plot thickening. “Dun Dun Duhhhhhh”
“Hearing you play the music was enough, Fat. I don’t need you to say it too.”
“Can’t blame me for thinking I have to spell it out for you.”