As always, the cats were sure of themselves. What else could I do but obey?
There was also the promise of beer, though where exactly the cats were planning to find it was not clear.
But first, there were necessary chores. I hadn’t finished documenting our last trick, one that had involved the transformation of a white tiger into a black panther during a levitation. While I enjoy the thrill of pulling off something like that the first time, it is important to have all the details clear so that we could bring it back into a future show without re-inventing the whole thing. Writing it all down takes time, and I’ve never enjoyed that part.
Hence the scheme that the cats worked up amongst themselves.
They promised me a night out. And beer.
But only when I turned in my homework.
Clearly they were not in the mood to accept the old saw about the dog, especially since in this household the dogs all knew who was in charge and would never dare cross the old lioness.
When the door opened and Michel came in carrying a bag, I deduced who they had recruited to go shopping without me. Besides, there were few people in the world willing to open that door uninvited and risk what might be lurking in my shadows. The cats may order me around mercilessly, but they were also fiercely protective, and would gladly order the death of an intruder. It turns out you only need to have one intruder eaten to get a reputation in amongst the thieves. He wasn’t even actually eaten, merely shown more teeth and claws than he realized could live in one old dark building rumored to be occupied by an elderly recluse.
Turned out he was wrong about the recluse part. Or at least not entirely right. I do prefer the company of the menagerie to most mortal folk. So there aren’t any mortals living in the building. Michel, of course, is exactly as mortal as I. That is to say, not apparently mortal at all.
So I suppose the would-be thief was right about the elderly part, while at the same time completely wrong. I’m far older than he was imagining.
In the end, the thief escaped with a wild story and a few tooth marks in his boots and gloves.
A short time after that incident, the menagerie and I began public performances. That gave a public excuse for why there might be a large cat or two in my building. We let the public assume that I am the magician and trainer, and that the cats do my will. They are wrong about that, but it doesn’t matter because the cats and I generally agree on most things. Including a willingness to scare would-be thieves.
Michel had joined us without realizing he was part of my menagerie, as sort of a pet of the rat colony. He wasn’t always paying attention to the present, preferring to dwell on the future. Today, though, the present seemed to be accessible, and the future seemed to be pleasantly signaled by the bag.
With the added incentive of the carrot cake that came out before the bottles, I wrapped up my notes and turned my attention to my friends of all species.