Wednesday, April 19, 2006

cleanup reprint: the sprizin power of wurds

note: this post furst appeared on 2/4/2005. i am deletin the ole one to git rid of the filthy lanks in the comments. i plan to do this fer a while till i git it all cleaned up. thankee fer yer indulgents.

i writ a story fer the group back in 1982 bout a talkin cat name of egger. funny thang is, whenever i read it to the group, thay wuz a feller who insisted twuz about him, that he wuz the cat name of egger, n ever after that he hated me, probly the one person in the worl who made shore i knew how much he dint lack me. twuz a rude sprize to have a enemy, speshly when he wuz thonly one, myself included, who thought i wuz ritin bout him. dint matter nun. he hated me ever after n wood attack ever chants he gut. twuz a odd proof of the power of wurds.

innywho, heres the story:


Jonathan Bixby was curiously composed when his huge black cat, Egger, at the age of eight months and four days, began to speak. Jonathan had spent uncounted hours watching, stroking, and talking to Egger, so he reacted with only mild surprise when Egger abandoned a fly he’d been torturing, looked up with his eyes begging, and said,

“Why don’t you get me something more substantial than a fly to play with?”

The nature of the request seemed more unusual to Jonathan than did the cat’s unexpected facility with the Queen’s English. What could Egger possible mean by “something more substantial than a fly”? Jonathan had already purchased Egger everything from a catnip mouse to a plastic ball filled with a silver bell, and the cat had reacted to each new treat with his usual snooty disdain. What, then, could the cat possibly want?

Jonathan scratched his head, stretched, and sat up on the couch. He looked at Egger very carefully. The cat sat motionless, his head tilted like a question mark, his yellow eyes reflecting the light from the lamp to Jonathan’s left. Jonathan fingered his own ear, rubbed his nose, and stood up, yawning and extending his arms high into the air as if trying to touch the ceiling. The cat arched his back and rubbed against Jonathan’s right ankle.

“Please?” he said, looking up at his master again.

“Well,” said Jonathan, too tired to guess what his cat could possibly want, “What did you have in mind?”

The cat looked down at Jonathan’s bare foot, licked the big toe, thrust his forelegs in front of him, and pushed his tail-end into the air.

“What I had in mind is strictly beyond either your means or your energy, Jonathan, but I could settle on something, shall we say, a little less exotic.”

“Why settle for less than the best? Just tell me what you want, Egger, and I’ll get it for you.”

“I hope,” answered the cat, “that I am not the first to point out to you that your imagination is decidedly deficient.”

“It is?” Jonathan asked, legitimately surprised. He had, in fact, always considered his imagination overactive. After all, he’d spent most of the past several months exercising his imagination, trying to picture exactly where Vivian could be and what she could be doing at any particular moment. He’d seen her making dinner for herself, crying as she stirred the macaroni, coughing uncontrollably as she added the cheese. He’d watched her looking over the rim of a wine glass filled with imported Liebfraumilch and winking at a rotund but remarkably rich gentleman of perhaps fifty years of age. He’d seen her lighting up a Marlboro cigarette, her mouth puckered and sucking on the filter tip. And sucking tips had led his imagination to scenes so vivid and terrible that following one he’d found himself standing in the kitchen over the broken and bloody looking shards that remained of a catsup bottle someone had thrown against his refrigerator. Wasn’t his imagination impossible to stop once it started?

“Yes, Jonathan,” Egger said, “it certainly is.”

“What?” Jonathan asked idly, wondering if Egger could also read minds.


“Huh? Oh, you mean my imagination. Now that’s where you’re mistaken, my feline friend.”

The cat yawned.

“Sit down, Jonathan.”

Jonathan eased himself onto the couch and crossed his legs. The cat crouched, shifted his weight from side to side on his rear paws, and then sprang into Jonathan’s lap. Once there he circled several times before biting the red plaid material of Jonathan’s Bermuda shorts while pressing against his master’s legs with his forepaws as if squeezing milk from a cat’s teat. Jonathan tapped Egger’s head lightly with his palm.

“Quit that. You’re too old to be nursing.”

Egger leapt from the couch and strolled about the small living room without looking at Jonathan.

“Now don’t sull up, Egger.”

Egger ignored Jonathan. It was a late Spring evening, and he heard a buzz against the sliding screen door that led to Jonathan’s terrace, so he began to investigate. Three slow creeping steps, each more tentative than the last brought him to within two feet of a fat, shiny blue bottlefly that struggled helplessly against the screen. Again, crouching, shifting his weight noiselessly on his rear haunches, letting his tail snake behind him, his whiskers twitching, Egger waited and waited -- Jonathan thought he’d give up on the fly after all -- and then shot forward against the screen door and trapped the innocent insect between his forepaws. The cat then lay motionless for perhaps ten seconds before opening his paws to let the wounded fly loose to buzz in circles against the floor. But when the fly made a sudden move back toward the screen, Egger trapped it again. This time he followed his ten-second pause with an attempt to eat his helpless victim.

Jonathan couldn’t help smiling as he watched his cat toy with the fly. Jonathan loved watching Egger. Cats, he’d come to realize, were better “livers” than people. They did only what they wanted to do. They did not set an alarm to interrupt their sleep, as Jonathan’s did every morning at 7:30, giving him only thirty minutes to shave, shower, dress, and drive to work. And no cat would go to a hateful job in a hateful little insurance office without even pausing for breakfast, but Jonathan did exactly that, his stomach growling like a lion, five days of every week. And did cats go to school? Did they wear neckties or long sleeved shirts or uncomfortable wing-tipped shoes? Did they buy term insurance, housing mortgages, cars that wouldn’t run for even three months without maintenance or repair? Did they fall in love and get married? Did they ever depend upon a woman for understanding, love, support? Did they ever let a woman badger them into abandoning their lifelong dreams to take a hateful job in a hateful insurance office?

No, Jonathan knew, no self-respecting cat would ever let any person, much less any woman, ruin his life. Egger, Jonathan knew, lay in bed -- or wherever else he pleased -- long past the ringing of the alarm. He lay there until he felt like getting up and doing something else. He ate when he wished, and he ate exactly what he wanted and nothing else. He cleaned himself, took care of his bodily waste in a manner utterly compatible with nature, and needed nothing from anyone else, neither cat nor human nor woman. And he had without a doubt a far more civilized sex life than any man.

Of course, Jonathan suddenly remembered, Egger no longer had much of a sex life. Jonathan had been unable to resist purchasing Egger from a middle-aged nurse who told him, as she filled out an insurance claim to cover a small automotive accident, about her cat’s delivering a litter of kittens on the very day Vivian had disappeared, leaving behind her only empty drawers and closets and an empty note that advised Jonathan not to bother trying to contact her. A lawyer named Lockheart would contact him and make all of the necessary arrangements. Jonathan, the note ended by saying, could have everything. All Vivian wanted were her freedom and her sanity.

So, of course, when the dumpy nurse with the wrinkled face suggested that a litter of cats had been born on the very day of Vivian’s cruel betrayal and departure, Jonathan knew he had to have the pick of that particular litter. The nurse at first resisted Jonathan’s offer of one hundred dollars for the cat, but when Jonathan intimated, his eyes bloodshot and wet, that his emotional well-being depended upon his acquiring the cat and paying for it, she gave in and accepted his money.

Egger was the obvious prize of the litter, being the only male, actively friendly, and nearly twice the size of the runt. What attracted Jonathan most about the animal, however, was its ink black coat. How perfectly appropriate, thought Jonathan, a huge smile splitting his leathered face, a black cat, a symbol of evil, or mourning, of the bad luck of that black day! Jonathan at first even considered naming the cat “Pluto,” after Edgar Allen Poe’s famous feline. One flight of imagination even tempted Jonathan to take a pen knife to the cat’s left eye, in keeping with the physical requirements of such a famous pet, but he finally settled for naming the cat Edgar Allen Poe, a name which innumerable repetitions had shortened to “Egger.” This name, also, struck Jonathan’s deficient imagination as appropriate for two reasons. To begin with, the cat loved beaten raw eggs. Secondly, the cat’s eyes were almost exactly the color of a pale egg yolk. So Egger became the cat’s name, and he and Jonathan soon became closer than Jonathan had ever been to Vivian.

Given the cat’s timely birthday, it’s no wonder that Jonathan soon began to link him symbolically with his own separation and eventual divorce. In many respects, he knew, the cat and the new Jonathan were virtual twins, born the same day -- for Jonathan knew he was not the same man who had so naively trusted, loved, worshipped the heartless cruelty named Vivian -- and they shared the same color, Egger’s coat and Jonathan’s life both being too black to reflect even the tiniest points of light. And Jonathan considered Egger a fine model for him to follow, so he did not mind in the least thinking of himself and his cat as essentially identical. Jonathan would do well, he knew, if he were half the man that Egger was.

Unfortunately, however, Egger had suffered a horrible accident at the tender age of five month, fourteen days. Jonathan had installed a private entrance just for Egger in his kitchen door so that the cat could come and go as he pleased. And Egger made frequent use of the small opening, arriving home every morning just in time to rub up against Jonathan’s bare legs as Jonathan shaved. One morning, however, Egger did not appear and when the length of his absence stretched into a week, Jonathan put an ad into both the Knoxville News-Sentinel and Knoxville Journal offering a reward for the return of the cat. He also posted some mimeographed notices of the reward on the telephone poles and bare trees of his West Hills neighborhood. Since Egger had been wearing his identification tag and flea collar when last seen, Jonathan expected a quick response. When none came, Jonathan went looking himself, ignoring the cold January weather. After a ten day hunt which grew more frantic, more desperate with each day’s failure, Jonathan finally spied Egger lounging in a basket on the screened-in porch of a house three doors down from Jonathan’s.

Cursing the people as he put away his binoculars, Jonathan marched right over to the house, pounded the front door, and demanded to inspect the cat. It was Egger all right, and even the distraught mother of three, who’d agreed finally to let her six-year-old daughter keep the “stray,” as they called it (they’d named it “Wildcat,” which proved to Jonathan that they knew nothing of the animal’s essential character) -- even Mrs. Kilroy had to agree that the cat knew and loved Jonathan when the animal greeted him by purring loudly and rubbing itself in a dignified manner against Jonathan’s sweatsock. Hadn’t they seen the ad in the paper? Had the notices Jonathan had plastered all over the neighborhood completely escaped their attention? And when the people had the bald-faced gall to assert that they’d seen neither the ads nor the mimeographed notices, Jonathan asked about the collar.

“Well,” replied the white-lipped and weepy Mrs. Kilroy, “when little Linda, she’s my youngest, when she found the cat it was half dead, and we didn’t see no collar nor nothing else either. It had been chewed up by the Dolmer’s dog, that big old German shepherd that they breed and sell the babies from, you know the one that’s eternally pregnant and meaner than a striped snake.”

“You mean Lady?”

“That’s the one. So we didn’t have no way to know the cat was anything but a stray --”

“-- Egger is not a stray, Mrs. Kilroy, and I resent the implication that --”

“Well, how was we to know it? It was wet and bloody and muddy when Linda found it, and it cost us over sixty-five dollars, money we couldn’t spare by any means, to get it treated and fixed.”

“Fixed? What do you mean, ‘fixed’?”

“Fixed where it won’t be no trouble when it gets older. Nothing worse than an old Tom cat for spraying your furniture and getting into cat fights and all sorts --”

“You mean to tell me you castrated a cat that didn’t even belong to you?”

“Well couldn’t you just get you a new cat, Mr. Bixby?”

“Lady, you don’t seem to understand. The animal you have so brutally mutilated is my friend. How about if I cut the . . . the . . . how about if I castrated your son and claimed him -- could you simply shrug your shoulders as if no harm had been done and go get a new one?”

Mrs. Kilroy slapped Jonathan, who grabbed her hand, stuffed it with a wad of bills he later estimated to be worth $116., and pushed the startled woman to the hard wood floor. Then, offering to slap little Linda if she didn’t shut her crying trap, Jonathan lifted Egger into his arms and began stroking his head.

“The next time you kidnap my cat,” he said as he carefully avoided stepping on any of the toys that were scattered all over the porch floor and found his way to the door, “I’m calling the FBI.”

Indeed, Jonathan thought as he sat smiling on the couch, Egger doesn’t have a sex life anymore, and it’s probably just as well. Jonathan, too, had no sex life, though he was occasionally bothered by wet dreams, usually of Vivian and the richly rotund bastard with the pencil mustache and the well-stocked wine cellar. Jonathan considered it somehow fortunate that he always played the role of the voyeur in these dreams. He’d be lurking outside the rich man’s bedroom window with Egger in his arms, purring and letting his head be scratched, when Vivian would stumble in ahead of the fat one, both of them drunk and, with the lights blazing, begin undressing herself and then her new man. Once naked she would lie on her belly and allow the huge fellow to sit on her buttocks and begin rubbing her back. He would massage Vivian, Jonathan would stroke Egger, and before anything else could happen, Jonathan would awaken, wet with sweat and sticky with semen.

“Jonathan!” Egger shouted after jumping up to the back of the couch and walking over to Jonathan’s right ear, “Are you asleep?”

“No, not at all, Egger. What is it?”

“I was curious about what specifically your imagination had conceived of as appropriate for me to play with. It should prove amusing to hear your list of possibilities.”

“Oh, Egger, I’m sorry. I forgot. Come here.”

Egger jumped into Jonathan’s lap, stood with his hind legs on Jonathan’s thighs, and sniffed at Jonathan’s chin. Jonathan kissed him.

“I hope you don’t mean that kiss to serve for entertainment, Jonathan.”

“No, not at all. To be honest, I haven’t the faintest idea what you could want.”

“Deficient,” Egger mumbled, turning to lick between the toes of his right rear paw.


“Nothing, Jonathan. It’s becoming rather obvious, however, that you are unable to cast yourself imaginatively into the role of a cat. If you could, you’d know that we crave a little live, warm-blooded game now and then, especially when it is our lot in life, as it has been mine for nearly three months now, to be confined to the safe but nonetheless boring quarter’s of a man’s house.”

“Oh,” Jonathan said, lifting Egger into the air and holding him over his head, supporting the cat’s belly with his broad hands. “You want something warm-blooded? Alive?”

“Put me down, Jonathan, or I shall be forced to draw blood from your left arm.”

Jonathan caressed the cat in his arms and kissed the top of his head.

“So what, exactly, would you like?”

“As I stated earlier in the evening, Jonathan, you do not presently possess the wherewithal to procure exactly what I’d like, which is a fledgling of some sort, preferably a robin.”

“Well, that’s not so --”

“Forget it, J. B. You couldn’t come up with a baby robin if you very salvation hung in the balance.”

Jonathan’s mouth dropped open.

“But I have come up with a list of alternatives, in case you’re interested.”

“I’m all ears, Egger.”

“A metaphor? Jonathan, I’m proud of you. Did you make it up yourself, or did you read it in a book?”

Jonathan cradled the cat on its back against his left arm and grabbed his head with his right hand. Egger kicked at Jonathan’s elbow with his back legs and lightly bit the man’s palm.

“You better watch your tongue, cat!”

Egger stuck out his tongue and began licking Jonathan’s right forefinger.

“Clever, Egger, clever. Now give me your list.”

“Well, though rather trite, a mouse might be nice. For a start . . . “

“Of course,” Jonathan said, slapping his forehead with his palm. “How stupid of me not to think of it myself.”

“Exactly, Jonathan,” Egger purred.

“Anything else? Is a mouse your top choice?”

“Apparently you have not been paying any attention to me, Jonathan. My top choice is a baby bird.”

“I know that, Egger,” Jonathan said with another squeeze of the cat’s head. “What besides an innocent bird would you like?”

“I will ignore, for the moment, your naive assumption that any bird could be innocent, Jonathan. Now, if a mouse is unavailable, too expensive, or too much trouble for you, I’d gladly settle for a gerbil, a guinea pig, a squirrel, a chipmunk or a hamster. You get my drift?”

“In other words, you want something small and helpless to play with?”

“Must you insult my intelligence, Jonathan? Do you expect me to request something large and vicious like the Dolmer’s German shepherd, the one that’s always pregnant?”

“Well, no, by no means.”

“Then consider my request when you get a free moment. Meanwhile I’m going to bed.”

“Good night, Egger.”

Egger waltzed off, not deigning to reply.

After calling in sick the following morning, Jonathan drove across town to Critter Kingdom, Home of Cuddly Curiosities. There he explained to the proprietor, a very tall man with cavernous eye sockets, fat black eye brows, and a bumpy bald head, that he was looking for a small but lively pet.

“May I suggest a Chihuahua? We have an excellent --”

“You may not suggest a Chihuahua, Sir. A Chihuahua is not cuddly.”

“But you didn’t say anything about ‘cuddly,’“ the man replied with the largest smile Jonathan had ever seen.

“I thought you guys specialized in cuddly.”

“Yes, well,” the man paused to cough into his hand, “perhaps you’d like a small rodent.”

“Yes, perhaps I would. Anything besides a stupid dog would do as long as it’s small and lively.”

The man directed Jonathan to the “Vermin Village, Home of Rare Rodents and Furry Friends.” Very carefully Jonathan looked over every species in Vermin Village, making the tall man free each furry friend so that Jonathan could test his speed and liveliness. After keeping the man in a squat position chasing rodents for nearly two hours, Jonathan settled on a female brown hamster that nearly escaped, dashing behind the counter and into a crevice from which he was coaxed by the aroma of some Hart’s Mountain Hamster Feed. Jonathan bought the cheapest cage and accessories to go with his new pet, placed the hamster inside and prepared to leave.

“Uh, before you go, Sir.”


“I’d like to suggest that you give your pet a name. That way not only will you grow closer to it, but you’ll be able to identify it to the vet if it should ever need any medical attention.”

“Don’t worry, Pal. The rat won’t live that long.”

When Jonathan arrived home, he found Egger asleep in the sun on the windowsill of the living room. Calling to his cat, Jonathan carried his new acquisition into the den and set it in the middle of the floor between the couch and the TV. He covered the cage with a towel and called Egger again. He heard a sharp plop, and soon Egger sauntered in, stiffly stretching his back legs as he did so.

“What is this, Jonathan, gift wrapping?”

“You might call it that.”

“That’s quite touching, Jonathan, though unnecessary. Could we unveil the little novelty now?”

“You just be patient. I went to a lot of trouble --”

“Jonathan, I hate to disappoint you, but I was in the middle of a fine nap when you so rudely barged in. Now either you undrape the little morsel, or I go back to the sill and let you learn about patience.”

Jonathan laughed, went into the kitchen and opened himself a beer. When he returned to the den, Egger had vanished. The towel, however, had been pulled from the cage, and the hamster was running around in circles.

“You little sneak!” Jonathan cried. He finished the beer and lay down on the couch to take a nap.

He awoke several hours later and found Egger sitting on his chest. The slant of light pouring through the sliding glass door told him it was late afternoon. He yawned and stretched, causing Egger to jump onto the floor. When he noticed the cage, he instantly became fully conscious.

“Well, Egger, what do you think?”

“About the hamster?” Egger asked, yawning himself.

“Yes. What about the hamster?”

“I think two things about it, Jonathan. First, hamster are easy -- not nearly as challenging as a squirrel or a chipmunk. Or even a mole. Second, I think you wasted your money on the cage. You should have insisted upon a small cardboard box. The cage, you see, will be superfluous very soon. How about opening it?”

“I guess I was a fool to expect gratitude from a cat,” Jonathan said as he undid the latch and fished out the hamster.

“You said it, J. B.,” Egger answered as he crouched and focused his attention on the squirming rodent in Jonathan’s hand. “Let it go.”

Jonathan sat the hamster on the tile floor. For a moment it did nothing but sniff the air.

“Give it a little push to get it moving,” Egger said, his tail beginning to twitch. Jonathan reached for the hamster, but it darted for the TV. Egger pounced, trapping the small creature in his front paws. Then, after holding it motionless for perhaps a full minute, he picked it up in his teeth and strolled toward the living room. The hamster squirmed, twisted, and fought, finally breaking free and dashing toward the couch. Again Egger sprang and caught it, this time drawing blood.

Jonathan watched in amazement as Egger repeatedly trapped, held, carried, let loose, and retrapped the helpless hamster. Finally he could stand it no longer. The next time Egger had the rodent in his mouth, Jonathan grabbed a fistful of fur behind his neck and paralyzed him. The hamster fell to the floor with a small thud and lay motionless. Jonathan picked it up and put it back into the cage.

“What’s the meaning of this?” Egger asked after twisting free.

“I’ll ask the questions, Cat. I thought you wanted something to eat, not something to torture. What’s the deal?”

“Deal? What deal? I’m going to eat the hamster in good time, but why shouldn’t I play with it first?”

“Because it’s cruel, that’s why!”

“Cruel? Don’t give me that cruelty mumbo-jumbo. The rat’s gonna die anyway, so what difference does it make if I get a little pleasure out of it before it gets too banged up to fight? It’s the way of the world, Johnny boy, the law of life.”

Jonathan sat back in silence. He knew Egger must be wrong, but he could think of no argument that would convince the cat.

“Well, I think we ought to let it recover, Egger.”

“I’ve nearly finished it off. Couldn’t you just get me another when I’m done with this one?”

“I’ll think about it. Right now, I’m going to take a little walk.”

“That’s all you ever do.”

Jonathan locked the cage in his bedroom before taking his walk. He’d been upset by his cat’s cruelty, but he couldn’t think of a good reason why cats shouldn’t torture smaller creatures. Hadn’t Vivian been torturing him for eight months and five days?

Jonathan came home late and drunk. Egger didn’t greet him when he came in, so he retired to his bedroom and locked the door. The hamster was injured but surprisingly fit. Already she’d begun moving around, as evidenced by her droppings. In fact, Jonathan decided, she probably had pretended to be dead since running from Egger did her no good. Jonathan filled her water and food dishes, ripped up some newspapers (as the tall man at Critter Kingdom had advised) and placed them into the bottom of the cage. Finally, setting the alarm for 7:30, he went to bed and fell asleep almost immediately.

Before long he found himself in the dream yard of the rich fat man, peering into the window. He watched and watched but saw nothing and knew something was wrong. Then he noticed: He didn’t have Egger in his arms. He looked around, expecting to find the cat nearby. Instead he heard Vivian’s drunken laughter and turned to see her enter the bedroom naked and lie on the bed. Then he saw Egger, huge, pawing Vivian. A long red wound opened up in her back. Jonathan cried out and awoke to find himself wet and sticky. In the cage he heard the hamster playing in the newspaper.

After turning on the light and cleaning himself, Jonathan went over to look at the hamster carefully. He was somehow relieved to see a red streak, small to be sure, on the rodent’s back.

“I christen you Vivian,” he said before returning to bed.

The next morning he again called in sick, as he did for the next ten mornings. Each day, instead of going to work he took Vivian into the den and let Egger torture her until she wouldn’t or couldn’t run anymore. Afterwards he dressed and disinfected her wounds, most of which, though they must have been painful, were superficial.

On the fourteenth day, he called in sick and learned he’d been fired.

“Hallelujah,” he said to his boss’s secretary, “I’ve been saved. Have a good day.”

Again he took Vivian into the den. Again he watched as Egger trapped, carried, dropped and trapped Vivian. He clapped each time the cat pounced and laughed each time Vivian, her pain and terror evident, tried to escape.

“Egger,” he said, “you’ve shown me the secret to life. If only I were a cat!”

“Spare me the humor,” Egger said, dropping Vivian to the floor and turning her over with his paw. She lay still but breathing. Suddenly Egger snatched the prostrate Vivian with his claws and broke her neck in his mouth.

“You murderer! What have you done?”

Egger turned his back, gnawing at the dead hamster and ignoring Jonathan.

“Why you, you killed Vivian! You killed her!”

Jonathan sprang from the couch to the floor and grabbed his cat. He lifted it by its neck, letting it hang helpless and paralyzed. He walked about distracted, first to the kitchen then back to the den, where he picked up the remains of Vivian, then back to the kitchen where he discarded the body in the trash. Finally he took the cat out to the garage and put it into his car.

“Where we going?” Egger asked the instant he was free.

“Don’t worry about that.”

Jonathan drove to Norris Dam, crossed it and took a dirt road that ran down by the lake.

“I hate water, Jonathan.”

“Don’t worry about that.”

He parked the car by the lake. A half moon was climbing into the sky above the lake.

“Nice view,” Egger said.


“Hey listen, I’m sorry about the hamster, but I just got carried away.”

“Don’t worry about that.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“You’ll see.”

Jonathan rolled down his window, and Egger balanced himself with his front paws on the window, standing in Jonathan’s lap and surveying the scene: pine trees, a garbage can that probably had something to eat in it, a large lake that was no doubt full of fish, a too bright moon but plenty of shadows. He looked up at Jonathan, who was crying. Then, after shifting his weight from one haunch to the other to test Jonathan’s reactions, he leapt onto the pine-needled ground. He stretched, looked back at Jonathan, then vanished without another word.

On his way home, Jonathan felt like celebrating, so he stopped for a beer at a the Dew-Drop Inn on Clinton Highway. He caught the prettiest waitress in the place giving him the eye, and he was pleased although he couldn’t smile back yet.

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