“What the world needs is a hard slap in the face. What do you think, Balderdash?”
A large grey cat leaped from the arms of Rennie Haran onto the floor. Its long fur dusted the dark wood as the cat scampered down the stairway.
The hard heels of Rennie’s boots banged down the oak steps of an old house until she stopped on a landing and stretched, producing a wide-mouthed yawn. She glanced outside to see the morning weather. Another yawn was captured in her hand.
“Uh!” she grunted, shaking her head. “Where’s the coffee? Balderdash! Did you make coffee?” She grinned.
Her hand flowed through her long, dark brown hair to lift it from under the strap of her courier bag. Two steps above the last step, she paused and checked her white satin shirt for dribbles of toothpaste. She shrugged, then she saw Balderdash rubbing back and forth against the corner of the last step.
“Hey buddy, good morning. Sorry I’ve been such a bitch. Do cats have bad days?”
She lifted him up in her arms and walked to the couch in the living room, letting him jump to the cushion and then to the floor. Dropping her bag on the couch, she stabbed her hand in it when a cell phone demanded attention.
“Okay, okay! I’m here! Hold on!”
Searching through the bag, she dumped the contents on the couch and grabbed the phone.
“Rennie Haran. Yeah, right. I don’t know. I’m leaving for the office now. I’ll call her when I get there. Thanks.”
She studied the phone and pressed the icon for text messages. Squinting as she read, her mouth and face twisted. She peered over the edge of the phone at a bookcase where there were family photos, stacked books, and a wrapped package. One photo shows a woman in her 50’s wearing a swimming suit and with a gold medal hanging from a ribbon around her neck. Next to that is one of a man the same age speaking at a lectern on which appears the seal of a university.
She dropped the phone on the bag and saw Balderdash on the sill of a window, studying something in the distance and flicking his tail.
“Hey, if you’re not busy today, call my mom and catch up. Also, read dad’s new book when you get a chance. You’ve probably wondered what ideas were shared by Buddha and Jesus.”
The cat twitched its tail but didn’t look back.
The phone chanted the arrival of another text message. Her nostrils flared as she checked it. She turned to Balderdash.
“Oh, and call scum-bag, and tell him I KNOW he messed up, like all over town! Tell him I’m busy for the next hundred years.”
Rennie stuffed the dumped goods from the cushion into the bag, flung the strap over her shoulder, and stuck the phone in her pants pocket. She grabbed her purse from the table and pulled the strap over her other shoulder. The heels of her boots hammered again on the old hardwood flooring as she walked to where Balderdash was viewing the world. She bent down and stoked his fur. His head tilted up as he pretended to meow.
“Hey buddy, you see squirrels out there? Stick with me. We only need each other. Okay? No more people. Just you and me.”
Her lips smacked a kiss in his direction as she stood and stormed out the door.