“Kittie, kittie” Jim continued. Still in the backyard he was getting tired of this story line. As usual whenever Jim was outside of his safe zone he felt paranoid. He did his best to get along but came off more awkward. He smiled to himself, not quite smooth and just a little creepy. Being in a stranger’s back yard, he realized he better move. He was trying to look around while not looking into windows, almost impossible for him. He did his best to keep his eyes pointed toward the trees, dumpsters, any location a cat may hide. “Kittie, puss, puss.” He muttered. Two random black and whites missing, could be a pattern. As he walked slowly like an outed stalker, his thoughts continued . What if someone was taking the black and white cats in Ann Arbor? Two missing cats. Just a coincidence. Two black and white cats missing? Not a conspiracy yet.. He made his way to a short alley, there were a few garbage cans, some boxes, no cats. Then he thought it might be trash day at the local restaurants. He decided to check their garbage. As he emerged from the alley he was immediately hit by a bicycle. “Dammit” he heard as the bike tipped onto the ground and a sixty year old hipster stared at him. “Man. I said excuse me. What’s your problem?” The hipster said. Always the quick wit Jim looked at him with the best dumb look he had. (Kind of his natural look) The hipster realizing he had a chance to speak said, “You should be more considerate of others. Luckily my bike’s not messed up.” Jim was thinking “Cats” while staring at the bike. The hipster entered his vision and “Fuckin jerk. What’er you, stoned?” The peace and love bicyclist was getting rather upset. He couldn’t figure out why this guy acted like a zombie. He was getting worried. Jim clumsily took a step right on to the spokes of the bike, still laying on the ground. The hipster started to shake and turn red. He was trying to say something when Jim fell the rest of the way onto the bike. Hate, disgust and terror colored the hipster’s face as he swooned and leaned towards the cinder brick wall. Luckily the wall caught him just in time, he just about fainted. Jim realized the absurdity of the situation, as he landed on the bike, he felt the pain from the initial impact. He smiled and almost laughed. The hipster was gathering his senses. He let out a stream of profanity that would make even the most jaded blush. The bike handle bar and one petal somehow attached themselves to Jim. Half way up Jim fell again and dragged the bike into the street. “Shit” He pushed up and he felt something on the bike give way. Okay this was no longer funny. The hipster was starting to scream in desperation. A few people stopped across the street and tittered. Jim knew he lost his bike wrestling debut. Once again he’d end up on Uboob doing something stupid. Breaking a couple of wires on the bike, Jim detached himself and stumbled back into the alley. The hipster pulled off his helmet and fell to his knees. “My Bike!” He whimpered. Jim continued his run, this was becoming a seriously painful day. He found himself back in the yard behind the building. He was ready to go home, enough. It’s time to take a break. As Jim started for home the woman from earlier was coming down the stairs. “Hey Jim, any luck?” She looked at him and thought maybe it wasn’t the same guy. Jim saw her and waived. He didn’t want to talk to anyone. “Hey wait. I appreciate what you are trying to do.” Jim stopped, he was ready to put a list of nonsensical statements together. The girl caught up and said, “Here it’s all I can do now but later I’ll have some more.” She pushed a twenty dollar bill into Jim’s hand. She continued, “My name’s Jen and I work at Dan’s Spoon, just over there. Stop by in a couple of hours, I’ll buy you a coffee.” Jim felt instantly better. He tried to refuse but couldn’t. He said, “Thanks. I hope to find your cat.” Instead of going home he now felt like looking around for a while. Jen said, “Gotta run, see you soon.” Jim watched her purposefully walk away, thinking about food. He thought about following her to Dan’s but decided to get a cheap sandwich breakfast. Dan’s was too upscale for him. He decided to walk in the opposite direction of the alley. He felt a little reboot from the act of kindness. He walked a couple of blocks without incident to Kelly’s Fryer to buy a deep fried cheese sandwich. He knew everyone at Kelly’s and usually got a little extra.
The restaurant was loud and smelly as usual. He was lucky Stimpy was working the grill. Stimpy is the best one armed line cook in Ann Arbor. He also had the best connection for non medical marijuana. Jim placed his order and went to talk to Stimpy at the cook’s window counter. But seeing the waitress traffic he knew he better just sit at the breakfast bar.
“Hey Jim. You look like shit.” Jim looked at the counter and only saw the dripping spatula Stimpy’s smile quickly filled the window. “What the fuck chuck? Ya fall of the roof or somethin?” … Stimpy trailed off intently reading another order ticket. Jim looked around and saw the cashier. The cashier looked at him and pointed to the coffee pot. Jim nodded. She brought the pot and a cup over. “How you doin today?” she said. She didn’t look at Jim she hardly looked at anyone. After so many years, she just scanned the room and looked for things amiss. She could zero in on an half full cup from across the room. She did this job at four other restaurants in the area. None of them would offer her a full time job. “typical restaurant” she thought. She loved the business and the people. It almost seemed like the customers followed her to whichever place she was working. From the corner of her eye, she saw the loner in number 6 leaving a tip and made her way to the cash register.
“Two on One and Tater Fries! Pick it up!” Barked Stimpy from somewhere in the kitchen. “Come on, people gotta eat!” Stimpy didn’t like the food to sit. One of the customers at the counter laughed. All of the sudden Stimpy was in front of Jim. “So what’s up buttercup?” Stimpy waived at the laughing customer. All friends here. Jim was going to start the list, but “Order Up!” A waitress, with a crooked smile came in close to get into Stimpy’s face. “Taka Taka” She chimed. Stimpy smiled and started to walk away, he pointed to the laughing customer. “Jim meet Phil.” They nodded at each other. “How ya doin?” “Fine.”
“Well..” Phil said. “I’m having a pretty crappy morning.” Jim could relate. Phil looked slightly disheveled. He nervously removed the top sheet from a stack of papers and slid it over to Jim.
The sheet of paper had a hardly visible duplicated photo on top with the lines below “Have you Seen Mittens? 2 year old black and white cat” with contact information below. Jim stared at the document and the noise of the restaurant became louder. He looked up and saw Phil’s hopeful face. Sinking a little, Jim looked away, praying for a diversion. “Sorry to hear.” Jim said. He pushed the paper back to Phil. Phil looked rather dejected and looked away. SMACK! the metal spatula hit the counter loud enough to quiet the restaurant. Stimpy looked at Jim and said. “You gonna help him out?” He continued “Hey Phil, Jim’s a bit of a detective. Maybe he can find your cat.” He looked at Jim. “What else have you got to do, huh?” Jim smiled but could get the words out.
“What’s up with the cats?”
Next week page 7