I went to visit my friend, Mich, the other day. Since we live far apart, I try to visit her at least once a month. Whether she wants me to or not.
We have a terrific time each time. This trip, we started off getting full body massages at our favorite parlor in New Jersey: the basement apartment in a townhouse. Above harbors a nightclub which exclusively plays 1970’s disco music that carries a strong beat. It’s a terrific counterpoint over the Zen-like music playing in each room below. I’m convinced it’s a whorehouse run by the Yakuza.
The massage parlor has always been empty except for the staff. Lined up in a row, they seemed pleased to see us. We usually share a room where, side by side, they pummel us within an inch of our lives. This time was different: Mich had a male masseuse and I had an 85-lb woman with steel instead of hands. She must’ve indented my cranium. Most importantly, the place was packed with real customers. It was a first.
Afterwards, while dressing, a feat because I could barely move as my muscles seized up, I whined to Mich, “Great. The magic is gone.” I alluded to my fantasy that the massage parlor was a front for drug runners, prostitutes and a protection society and we were the only people courageous enough to get full body massages.
She pointed out, “Not entirely. Listen to that disco beat. Who in their right mind would hang out in such a place?”
We staggered to Mich’s brand new sports car that helps with raising my naturally low blood pressure and drove to a nearby Italian restaurant. I pigged out on three-meat lasagna with a side of meat whereas she took the high road and had spinach ravioli in vodka sauce with a side of chicken. When we were handed the bill, Mich blanched.
“Oh shit, I forgot this is a cash only restaurant.”
We pooled all our cash including change and found we were two dollars short of the bill.
“Listen, I’ve my ATM card, but forgot my password,” she said. “Also my iPhone battery is dead.”
I handed over my phone and she said, “Let me talk to them outside.”
At this point, the nice waitress got suspicious. Trying to act nonchalant, I pulled out Cheri Blossum’s Secrets & Seduction. As publisher, I made a decision not to sell the soft cover version online. The only way to purchase it is through me and my publishing company (WinSPublications@gmail.com). I convinced Cheri that this is the new wave of publishing and we’re trend-setting. Since she’s still in the “thrilled to be a published author” stage, she hasn’t challenged my lackluster marketing strategy. Besides, I think I’m onto something. Sales have been solid.
The first thing I found was a typo. I called the waitress over. “Can I borrow a pen? I just noticed a minor typo.”
She swooped over the book. “Is that for sale?”
“Yes! This is what I do.”
“What is it about?”
“It’s an erotic parody of 50 Shades. It’s quite dirty."
She pulled out the money, put it on the table and snatched the book. Then, I had to wait for Mich to return. Moments later, she went to the waitress and started to explain her predicament.
I trotted over. “Wait - Mich - it’s all settled.”
On our way out, the waitress hugged both of us. I never met someone before who was so thrilled to purchase Secrets & Seduction. That made my day!
Later, at the ranch, Mich and I discussed her cat, Sniffy*. He was on her lap, purring while she petted him. “We call him the Twenty-four thousand dollar cat. That’s what I spent on vet bills over the years with this cat.”
Sniffy, with all his medical ailments, has out-survived her one year old cat, Pip. A year ago, she found Pip dead. Sniffy sat, big and contented, and gave me that arrogant look of his.
After he tired of us and jumped off Mich’s lap, she picked up her new cat, Mouse. I like to call Mouse, “Mousifer.” We’ve a solid relationship - each time I visit, Mousifer sleeps with me. I would like to think it’s a nice bonding gesture, except I believe that cats are perverse creatures; I’m highly allergic.
Mich whispered to me once Mouse sauntered away, “I believe Sniffy might have something to do with Pip’s death.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the night before Pip died, they got into a bad fight. Sniffy’s very strong and bit me once before years earlier. It hurt because he has strong jaws. I got so angry at him, I shouted, ‘That’s it, you’re out of here.’ I threw a blanket over him and tossed him out the front door. Then, I threw out his toys and his cans of cat food.”
She laughed. “An hour later, he cried in front of the door. I let him in and he never bit me again. But he goes for the jugular when he played with Pip and Pip’s neck was so small... I noticed after Pip died that Sniffy had a chipped front tooth.”
I burst out into laughter. “Great. You’re harboring a criminal.”
“Well, he out-survived Harpo and Chayna, two other cats I had.”
“Wonderful. You got a serial killer here. What are the odds that Mousifer will have a long life?”
Mich got up, agitated. “Don’t say that! Sniffy’s an innocent animal! We have no proof!”
“How many dead cats would it take for you to realize that you spent twenty-four thousand dollars on a homicidal maniac? I can even draw a parallel with our penal system!”
Disgusted with me, she left the room. Sniffy got up on the seat that she vacated and stared at me complacently.
“Psst, Ted Bundy,” I stage-whispered. “I know all about you.”
Mich laughed from another room.
“Charles Manson, we got your ticket.”
After calling the cat several other notable names of serial killers, Mich stopped me. “It’s not right to insult my cat in his own home.”
“You’re right,” I said.
Later, I went on a tirade against Sniffy when Mich turned to me and said, “You know, I can’t tell you anything.”
I slept that night with one eye open.
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*Names were changed to protect the guilty.