Aubrey leans back in the high-backed antique chair he's sitting in at the desk,
"So this lady at work today, she always has a glass of wine by herself and today she had this like, bag with all these kittens in it.
He pauses as Shenise and I laugh
"All these," he continues
"What!" Shenise interrupts.
"Kittens!!" I say, pulling the afghan covering Shenise to lie over my legs. The air pulled into the room from the window by the fan is chill and carries the call of crickets.
Aubrey huffs and continues, "They were all gold and there were all these purples and teals . . ." "Wait wait wait," I exclaim, waving my hands, "so the pattern on the purse was kittens?" "Yeah."
“I thought you meant the purse was full of the animal.”
Shenise begins to laugh, the mattress carrying the shake of her body to where I sit at the foot of the bed.
“I wouldn’t have been attached to it then,” Aubrey says, cutting his eyes from the embroidery hoop he’s working on to glare at my stupidity.
“But when I complimented it, she said she had eleven cats.”
“Ohhhhh, she’s a crazy cat lady,” Shenise groans
“Yeah, eleven does put you in crazy territory,” Aubrey agrees.
“Is she married?” Shenise asks
“I don’t think so,”
“I don’t think soooooo,” I say overlapping Aubrey’s facts with my conjecture.
“And then she told me about this puppy someone had - a Chihuahua”
“Now, she was watching it. And she wore it. At the bar. Under her blouse. It’s little head would poke out here,” Aubrey sets the hoop down and grabs the neck of his t-shirt, pulling it down and flapping it.”
“Ahahahaohmygod,” Shenise says, rolling from side to side, tangling the afghan around her. “Are you serious? And you listened to her?!” Aubrey sighs and begins stitching again.
“You’re way too nice.”
“She’s ollld,” he chuckles, “I don’t know. I was like, waiting for my tables to finish eating. Everything was done. I kinda wanted to hear what the crazy cat lady had to say. She’s hilarious. She went on forever. And she told me if I ever. I told her that there’s cats. That the neighbors let their cats run wild. And she said ‘You should go play with them. You know what you should do? Get some catnip and rub it all over your body. Lie on the ground’ . . .”
Shenise bursts over Aubrey’s story, hooting
“. . . and they’ll come play with you!”
We all laugh, Aubrey setting his head on the desk. My eyes water and in the tears the lamplight sets his hair on fire.
“I’m serious,” he continues after catching his breath.
“There’s. no way. that’s true,” Shenise punctuates her sentence with chuckles.
“I’m so serious. She told me to do that. And I just thought about claws like,” Aubrey swivels the chair to face us and rakes at the air, a feline snarl pulling his lips back from his teeth, “cats jumping on you . . .”
“Rubbing on you,” I add.
“. . . she had this look of ecstasy.”
“Wow, using herself to get her cats high,” I say
“Yeah, but it’s just like, ugh, something about. There’s something crazy cat lady - there’s something about the physicality of it . . .”
“Yeah,” Shenise agrees.
“on her,” Shenise finishes my sentence.
“. . . all over her. It’s like making love to a pack of cats.” Aubrey rubs his hands in a flourish across his chest, the movements growing more exaggerated as our laughter grows, the fan blowing it out the door where it spills into the living room and fills it.