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“Marcus? Um, not sure what’s going on there but you need to return the cat.”
“Who is that woman?” he demanded.
“That’s Nicki, Cynthia’s partner. And she’s in a bad mood. If you don’t return the cat, she’ll call the cops.”
“If the cops come,” said Marcus, “I’ll tell them that she was a stray I found and I’ve had her for weeks now. What kind of cat owners go away for months and leave their cat behind? If I hadn’t rescued her, she’d still be out there and probably be dead by now. I say the cat is with her proper owner — me!”
“Marcus,” said Sophie. “Please don’t put me in the middle of this. Cynthia is flat on her back with a migraine, Tracy is acting up and Nicki can be scary when she’s upset. Please return the cat.”
He hung up.
How was he going to get Kahlua out of there? He had to think. They’d see him if he walked to his car. He stood in the center of the room, wracking his brains before madly pressing in Scott’s number. “You gotta do me a favor,” he whispered into the phone. “You need to come over here with an empty gym bag. Big enough for a cat!”
“What?” said Scott.
“Just do it. And park on the side street, not in the parking lot. Come to my side window with the bag. The one with the green window box. Whatever you do, don’t come to the door.”
Twenty minutes later, Kahlua was safely in Scott’s car speeding away. “You owe me, dude,” Scott said into his cell as he rounded a corner to the highway.
He allowed them all to search his apartment. A recovered Cynthia, glowering Nicki, disheveled Sophie and rudely curious Tracy.
“See?” he said. “No cat. She got out, plain and simple. Don’t know where she is. Just like that other time, eh Sophie?”
“What other time?” demanded Nicki, but Sophie caught his eye and minutely shook her head.
“I’m pressing charges,” said Nicki, but she didn’t look convincing. Rather like she was winding down. Jetlag maybe?
Marcus stood firm, mind racing. He’d have to find another apartment quick, one that allowed a cat, then he’d have to argue out of his present lease. He wasn’t sure how long Scott would keep Kahlua and on the other hand, what if Scott and his fiancée Karen ended up liking Kahlua too much?
Surprisingly, everyone seemed to lose steam and they filed out, with a lot of under the breath threats. Marcus locked the door behind them and felt terribly alone in the terribly empty apartment.
What was he going to do? Sit and stare at the TV by himself? Should he go out to some meaningless bar and meet some meaningless woman and start another pointless relationship that would soon disintegrate? Should he go visit Scott and see Kahlua enjoying herself without him?