“I saw Cuddles two days ago. She was there when I went to work but wasn’t when I got home. I looked around the neighborhood and…” the manager seemed to be getting a little misty.
A quiet moment. Jim considered the manager’s story. He said
“Do you think she went out for some…”
“No she’s been fixed.” the manager anticipated that question and started to consider his choice of “detectives”. He said
“She never goes out. She’s been fixed and I didn’t leave the door open. Next!” The manager’s temper was rising and the fixer was starting to resemble consciousness and getting ready to make another 75 dollars.
Jim was starting to panic. He needed these two outta here. He didn’t like the landlord and liked the fixer even less. Whenever there was a problem with the apartment, he would call and be verbally abused by anyone who picked up the phone. He didn’t want to be around them. But two months rent would be nice, he really needed cash. Jim tried clear the fog from lack of sleep and being slapped repeatedly.
You got this old bastard and his only friend is a cat. The cat is gone, now the old bastard is miserable. Jim knew he couldn’t say no. If he found the cat he could get two months rent and these two off his back.
While massaging his hand the fixer was slowly coming out of his haze. Jim needed to shock them quick.
“How long have you had Cuddles? What’s she look like?” Wow, shocking questions big shot! He always let himself down first. At least the fixer appeared to go back to his ever important dream. The manager didn’t say anything, he just stared at the indoor outdoor carpeting. He got a great deal on that about 10 years ago. The carpeting was used to hide poached, South American animals from all sorts of government agencies. They were then transported in containers aboard a freighter and around the world. The animals, driven to a state of insanity let loose with every thing. Needless to say the manager got a great price at a federal seizure auction. He was able to carpet most of the apartments in this building and another. That thought made him feel a little better.
“I’ve had her for a couple of years, she’s a black and white with a red collar.” He said. “I’ve known her a long time. She’s my ex’es cat.”
That brought the fixer out of his daze. “ex’es?”
The manager ignored the fixer and said “The worst thing is she could be dead. I’ve got to know. I want her back.” The fixer detached himself from the wall and started to lean toward the door. Watching him, the manager, struggled to his feet and looked at Jim. The fixer turned and awkwardly, rolled toward Jim and said,
“Confidential.” And rolled back.
Jim rubber the side of his face and said, “got it.”
The manager lead the way to the door and stopped to look into the bathroom. “How’s the toilet working for you.” More like a reminder then a question. “See you in two days, dick!”
“Thanks yeah” Jim nursed his wounds while the door slammed. He listened to the bruisers walk down the hall. He checked the ashtray for the last little bits of his medicine. Sadly the day got worse. Jim left the apartment. He thought he should take a look around the manager’s building. It wasn’t a house, it was a cinder, block box in a part of town where you only went if you were drunk or lost. It was just a few blocks away. Passing through the houses, Jim saw the usual faces. He was looking around hoping to see the cat, maybe just a little luck. This town is full of cats and these people are serious about their pets. Jim liked pets but didn’t want the bother. He kept walking and looking at the street. He didn’t really hope to see Cuddles on the side of the road but it would make for a quick day. Actually he was thinking about food more than the cat. After he walked around the block a couple of times he’d get some breakfast. He did his best to stay away from the management of the company. The manager always made him nervous. He rarely saw that fixer character. This was the first time he had any kind of contact with the goon, hopefully the last. He looked insider a dumpster or two. Getting pretty discouraged he was ready to head back.
“Boots. Boooooots. Here Boots.”