by Tony Brown

My neighbor across the hallway knocks on my door at half-past midnight. Her cat is lost, and without it, so is she, she says. Margaret�s fat and ugly, but her boobs are enormous and very inviting, especially this late at night. I am very lazy, you see, so she is like manna from Heaven. Besides, it�s too late to go out hunting for a cat of my own that would soon run from me just the same way hers has.

It's been a while since I’ve taken the trouble to find a woman to test the softness of my new bed, but I try to not stare at her chest, which is threatening to burst her blouse’s buttons. If I play my cards carefully, the dry spell I’ve been suffering will end without me having to step outside my apartment. I’m lazy about coffee, too, and when she asks for some, instant it is.

"I don't have deep pockets like McDonalds," I warn her, "so be aware of the fact that hot coffee is hot."

She laughs in a dry way, throaty. Cali is her cat's name, she informs me, and it’s a calico cat if I happen to see it anywhere. I wonder what kind of cat it is if I don't see it anywhere. Her cat is her life, she says, and please call me Margie, because we are close neighbors.

Nodding, with nothing but sympathy showing on my face, I wonder how to go about getting a Margie's mind off of her lost cat--and her body into my bed. Grief-stricken women welcome comforting, I know, so I hand her a tissue and put my arm around her shoulder.

"Don't worry, Margie. I had a cat once that was gone for a month and suddenly just reappeared one day." I neglect to mention that I was the one who had dumped it several streets away from my house because it wouldn’t quit screeching. I've hated cats ever since.

It's not the first time her mangy cat's taken off from her place, either. I've heard her calling the eternally-meowing creature into the wee hours of the night when I was trying my damnedest to sleep.

Margie takes a big sip of coffee and the caffeine tranquilizes her enough to make her smile.

"She's really a good kitty," Margie says, wide gaps showing in her jagged teeth. Yellow-stained, almost a mustard color, veined with copper and black streaks. "She loves it when I feed her a little steak every Thursday, well-done of course. I can't understand why I can’t find her. I put it outside my door about two hours ago and it’s gone, but Cali’s not to be found anywhere. My newspaper's missing, too."

"I'm sure she’ll turn up, and I just happen to have today's paper and you’re welcome to it." Silently I am thankful that newspapers aren't addressed to the subscribers.

Margie shakes her head and says she hopes so; she doesn't know what in the world she'd do without that cat; it's her "soul mate," and the last present her husband gave her before he threw himself in front of a semi after the market tanked in '09. To top it all off, she says, someone's green car is parked in her space and she had to park far away and carry her groceries to her apartment in the pouring rain.

I frown again to show sympathy, trying not to stare at Margie's ample breasts, ripe for milking. I nod toward my dining table, enticing her to stay a while with food that she obviously enjoys so much. Luckily, I’ve cut it in into unrecognizable shapes.

"There's a little bit of steak I just picked up tonight that I'd be happy to share with you, Margie. Would you like some?"


"Of course," I reply, and Margie smiles again and takes hold of my hand.

My tactics should be enshrined in the Lover's Hall of Fame.

I start to ask her if calico cats have orange, black, and white blotches like the one I ran over this afternoon with my green Jeep and threw into the dumpster, but Margie has ample breasts, ripe for milking.

BIO: USAF veteran Tony Brown, from Greenville, N.C., is a graduate of East Carolina University’s journalism program and is a former writer for numerous North Carolina publications. He is also the former editor/main writer of Rock & Roll Monthly.

He won contests by Art Forum and Union Writers and received honorable mentions from Writer's Digest and Writer's Union. His work has appeared in Leodegraunce, Sleeping Cat Books, Foliate Oak, Vapid Kitten (UK), The Write Place At the Write Time, Short-Story Me, Gemini, One Forty Fiction, Down in the Dirt, Midwest Literary Review, Blink Ink, Postcard Shorts, Whortleberry Press,The Storyteller, and Righter Monthly Review.