There was a man on my front stoop. A stale cigarette stub hung at his lip; he had stubble like an unmowed lawn and he stank predictably, which was to say like a hairy fat man on a hot day; he was wearing a greasy wife-beater and fuzzy orange cat ears; and he was meowing loudly.
Oh god I’m not awake enough for this, I thought. Mental facepalm.
“Ugh. What.” I said.
“No. Who are you?” I asked, unable to prevent a note or three of exasperation from flitting into my words.
“Meow,” he said. “I’m Miffy, dumbass. Let me the fuck in.”
Literal facepalm this time. He was not a cat, let alone my cat. (Don’t know what clued me in.) Miffy had been missing for two weeks. I had put up posters. Maybe I shouldn’t have.
“Look,” I said. “I had a late night. There was a party…”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Tell it to my arse. Meanwhile, let me in and feed me. I been on the road, I need breakfast.” He pushed past me and headed straight into the living room, where he stopped, stretched his arms up, and sniffed the air bit. “It’s good to be home!” He sniffed again. “You have a lady in this place? Good job, mate!”
“Get out of my house!” I said.
Instead, he moved around the room, leaning down to smell specific bits of furniture or floor, each time commenting on some aspect of my recent life: “Some party! That pot I smell? My man! Hey, smells like that chick over here. Did you two do it on the coffee table? Niiiice.”
“What. Are. You. Doing.”
“Hey, you got some sorta bug up your arse or something? Relax, mate. I’m just taking stock.” He moved on, to the other side of the couch. I followed him.
“Ok, I don’t know who the fuck you really are, but you need to get out of my living room and let me go back to sleep before I call the cops.”
“My living room,” he corrected. “I let you stay here.”
“What?!” I was pretty much screaming at this point. “I live here. It’s my apartment. I pay rent!”
“Yeah, you’ve got your uses. Speaking of which, where’s my breakfast? I’m fucking starving.” The man disappeared into the kitchen.
“Hey!” I ran after him. He was rubbing up against the cabinet door like some creepy pervert with a furniture fetish. As soon as he saw me again, he started pawing at it. “You got any of that Super Seafood Supper shit in there? I could really use some tuna and salmon.”
I grabbed the keys off the counter and hurled them at the man, who ducked with surprising agility and took off past me toward the stairs. I could hear his feet pounding down the upstairs hall and disappearing into the vicinity of my bedroom. Shit.
Following in his wake, I counted to myself, thinking about the relaxation training class I had taken back in community college. I hadn’t done that well in it; thankfully, the instructor was hot, and I got to bang her for a better grade. Anyway, the one thing I remembered was some sort of numerical mantra that the lady probably made up herself, so I started reciting, 1 breath, feeling tight, 2 breaths let go of fight, 3 breaths made of light… I imagined my rage slipping away like fluff on a breeze, but every time I saw some sort of release, I remembered “Miffy” and felt myself tense up again.
I got to the door of my room and looked in. No one. Wait, no—under the bed. Fuck. How did he get under the bed? Dunno, but he was there, squeezed in like an overstuffed pillow.
“You hairy motherfucker,” I said. “Get out from under my bed and get the hell out of my house or I’m calling the goddamn cops. You’re fucking trespassing, and I don’t want you here.”
A muffled “Meow” filtered up from under the bed. WTF?
I sighed. “Look, buddy—“
“No. No, I’m not calling you by my cat’s name. You’re not fucking Miffy. I don’t know who the fuck you are, but you’re not my goddamn missing cat. Now listen—“
“—Fuck. Look, I don’t know who you are. You just show up out of nowhere—
“I’m your fucking cat, doofus.”
“—out of nowhere saying you’re Miffy. You’re a fat, hairy, grown-ass man, dude. WTF?”
Silence. Then a noise that sounded like a plunger being used on a sink without the emergency overflow being stopped up. Repetitive. Violent. And after a few seconds—
“Oh, no. No! No no no no no! Don’t you dare throw up under my bed! Get out from under there right now! Miffy!”
I dropped to the floor, flattening myself as much as I could, and reached into the dim cavern under the furniture. My fingers closed on something loose and hairy, and I pulled. The plunger noise ended abruptly.
I had been expecting a fight, especially given the size of the man, but he slid out surprisingly easily. My hand gripped flaccid skin on the back of his neck (ew), and he was curled into a fetal position as I dragged him out from under the bed. As soon as he was out, I let go. The asshole uncurled and looked around a bit startled.
“What the fuck, mate?” he said, and made an expression like he was going to turn inside out. His jaw dropped open, his body bunched up and released almost like it was doing the wave, and with one last plunger thrust, a pickle-sized packet of brown gunk ejected from his throat and flopped onto the floor next to me. It was slimy and hairy and cigar-shaped. I retched.
The man was now sniffing delicately at his ejection.
“Oh jesus fucking christ, man!” I yelled. “What the hell?”
He looked surprised. His eyes wide, and I swear, if his ears had been pointy, on top of his head, and able to swivel, they would have been facing straight backward. His body was tensed up and he looked ready to bolt again. Dammit. I took a breath, let it out.
“Ok,” I said, more calmly. “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. But you just vomited all over my floor. Not cool, man. Not cool.” I was getting tense again.
The man relaxed enough to shrug. “Never bothered you that much before.”
“What? You’ve done that before? Do you—do you, like, sneak into my house and throw up on a regular basis? Fuckin’ nasty. No. No, no, that’s not possible. I’d have found it. One way or another.” I stood up.
“You always cleaned it up before. What’s the problem now?”
“The problem is that you’re a crazy, sweaty, pot-bellied stranger who pushed his way into my home like it belonged to him—“
“—and then ran rampant around it before vomiting on my floor.”
“Mate, I don’t know what’s with you, but I haven’t done anything different than usual. …Are you pissed I went away? Is that what this is about? I came back.” The man got up and walked out of the room, rubbing against the doorframe as he left.
I suppressed an exasperated cry. “Look, I’m about done. You do whatever the fuck you want. I’m going to clean up your vomit, and then I’m going to call the fucking police.”
“Suit yourself,” I heard from the other bedroom. “Your life.”
Downstairs in the kitchen, I went looking for paper towels and some cleaning supplies. I had just stood up from foraging under the sink when I heard a noise and caught movement out the back window. I looked and almost dropped the latex gloves I had just retrieved. Near the back of my yard, an absolutely gorgeous woman, like sultry, stunning, top model. Crouching, as if she had just jumped down from—the fence? As she stood up and started to stalk across the yard, a low whistle escaped my lips. Fuck. But what was she doing back there? And, come to think of it, why was she wearing cat ears?
A crass chuckle startled me. “Miffy” came up from behind and leaned against me. “Heh. Yeah, Ginger always has been a looker. The minx.”
Comments: I think this one was a response to some writing prompt, but I can’t remember which one, so…tant pis. The idea wrote itself pretty swiftly, then got interrupted. In the process of coming back repeatedly to it, I also wrote a couple other snippets of scenes between Miffy and his “owner”. Maybe they’ll be turned into sequels later.
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