He didn’t quesion how she felt about it. He always got his way. If it felt good, he did it. If he wanted it, he took it. When he was through with it, he threw it away. Or in this case, walked away.
The sound of her weeping followed him down the steps and across the lawn. She still wept when he slammed his Mercedes door and sped away. He wouldn’t come back.
Women, like shoes, squeaked when new and got comfortable with wear. In about three months, the shine wore off. Time to get a new pair. Jenny had been good for four months, almost a record, but it was time to move on.
Tom checked his reflection in the rear view mirror, ran his hands through his carrot-red hair. Jenny would be a little harder to leave behind, but why stick around? Women expected commitment and one woman wasn’t his cup of tea. Well, not to worry. Another would take her place, probably within the week.
Jenny clutched the pillow to her breast, and wiped tears from her cheeks.
“I should have known better. They’re all alike.” She picked up her coffee cup and sighed. “Lord knows, I’ve got enough already. I sure don’t need an orange one.” A faint smile crossed her lip. “Then again, perhaps I do need an orange one to go with the others.”
She reached across the couch and patted the black cat curled on the back of the sofa. He raised his head, blinked and yawned.
“Let’s get you guys a snack and then I’ll go shopping.”
She dried her eyes and headed for the kitchen, followed by the black cat. A brown Manx, a creamy white Persian and a mixed breed blue-eyed beauty that might have had a Siamese ancestor, tumbled down from the counter, the top of the refrigeration and out from under the table. The four cats arranged themselves around the Friskies bowl like the spokes of a wheel, each a different color, a different personality and a different story to tell…
“Yes, I think I could use an orange one.”
With only a few calls, Jenny learned that Tom planned to meet a friend for lunch at a little restaurant on Main Street. She began to gather the necessities for her shopping trip.
A box containing a black hat with a long red feather came down from a shelf in the garage. Jenny lifted the hat and ran her fingers over the feather from nib to tip. She blew, and a fine layer of dust caught in the breeze and wisped across the garage. “This will do nicely.” She carried the hatbox into her bedroom.
Next, she rummaged through her closet, searching for a particular outfit. She found it tucked between a tweed suit and a leather jacket. The black pantsuit had shoulder pads, huge buttons and bellbottom legs, all the rage in the 1970s.
She shook the outfit to straighten the wrinkles and checked the material. Her finger stuck through a tiny moth hole in the left sleeve. “Has it been that long since I got the last one? I could have sworn it was just a couple of years ago.”
Jenny put on the black pantsuit and big black hat, keeping an eye on the clock. Timing was the key to a successful mission. She added bangle bracelets and a pair of gold hoop earrings. Her reflection in the hall mirror confirmed just the look she desired.
At 1:00, Jenny parked half a block from the restaurant where Tom would meet his friend, next door to Marvelous Marvin’s Magic Shop. Jenny crossed the street and paused in front of the magic shop window. She saw Tom walking down the street toward her. He saw her and waved. She hurried into the magic shop. He trailed her through the door, as she knew he would.
“Jenny, is that you?” Tom followed her down the aisle, into a dimly lit corner stacked with boxes, capes, black lights and baskets heaped with magic paraphernalia. Eerie organ music and shrill screeches and shrieks filled the room.
Jenny turned to greet him, “Hello, Tom.” The feather in her hat drifted from side to side, caressed by the breeze from the air conditioner. Tom's eyes tracked the drifting feather, back and forth, back and forth…
“Jenny? What are you doing here? Are you having a Halloween party?”
“Would you like to come?”
“How did you know I’d be here?”
“Because it’s your time.”
She tapped her long red fingernail three times on the top of a stack of black shopping bags decorated with a Marvelous Marvin’s Magic Store logo.
“Dinkle, Dinkle, Catzenwinkle.”
With a poof, Tom disappeared. The top shopping bag beneath her finger now displayed the picture of a vivid orange cat staring out from a paper prison. An 89 cent sticker hung from the strap. She carried it to the register. “I believe I’ll take this one.”
“That will be $.95. Do you want a bag?”
Jenny shook her head and handed the clerk a dollar. “This one will do.”
Jenny stepped through the door of her apartment, “Come boys, I have a treat for you.”
They came from all corners of the apartment; from under the table, from the top of the sofa, from under the bed, down off the fireplace, stretching and yawning, until all had gathered around the shopping bag decorated with the face of the orange cat. The blue-eyed mixed breed cat pawed at the bag. Was he expecting to find a catnip mouse inside?
“This is Tom,” Jenny flipped the bag upside. A large orange striped cat with big round eyes dropped to the floor and looked frantically around the room. The four cats crouched on the floor, amused expressions on their faces as they stared at the newcomer.
“Tom has come to live with us.” Jenny folded the solid black bag and shoved it into the wastebasket.