I joke about the animal shelter, but I’m keenly aware had it not been for Angie, I might have died. Saving one as young as I was from death is no small thing. I would do anything for her. I would do anything for Ian.

Smooth talking Beau Gantry, with his tailored suits, his expensive bourbon, his genteel southern charm, out to dinner with Angie three times a week, leaving Ian with all the pizza he can eat, is no ideal. You don’t have to be anything more than a three-year-old orange tabby to know this. So, I have determined to find a way to see inside at all the things they cannot see. I will defend them.

A week before the move there was Chinese take-out spread all over the kitchen counters; smells of ginger, soy and fish sauce filled the room from paper boxes and plates littered with green pepper remnants and golden shrimp and chicken leftovers. Sapporo and Coke washed it all down, and after some debate, Ian was offered his first ale. “Beer is as American as Chinese food,” Beau decorously intoned. “And no American boy should be without it!” Angie, tucked snugly under Beau’s arm, wearing tight-fitting jeans with a western blouse, and not wanting to spoil the occasion, laughed along, and Beau poured the glass. We watched as Ian raised the glass, smelled the hops and took his first sip, licked his lips considering the taste, then drank the whole thing down.

Angie watched, mouth agape. “I don’t believe it!”

“Atta boy!” Beau cheered. “Want some more?”

“Sure!” The boy smiled with some bewilderment.

“I dunno,” Angie interceded, raising her hands between the two men.

“Aww c’mom! It ain’t gonna hurt him!” Beau demanded, pushing Angie out of the way, and holding the bottle out for Ian’s glass, poured again.

I could see Ian was cheered by the attention, as any schoolboy hungry to taste adulthood would be. But I sensed in Beau Gantry something I did not have a name for. I knew Angie sensed it, too. And I couldn’t figure out why she allowed it when its presence was as obvious as the smell of wonton soup and pork-fried rice.

I understood it later when I started smelling weed and saw Beau and Angie rutting like pigs in the navy-blue percale sheets on Angie’s bed. Between grunts Angie asked Beau what he thought about her saving money for a new car. She belabored, citing the low-down condition of her Honda – her obvious point being she would rely on him for other things, like rent. Beau agreed, obviously eager to get on with the fucking.

“I could buy it for you, of course, but then it wouldn’t really be yours, would it?” Angie grimaced at this, but Beau was too busy with his eyes closed. “And besides,” he continued, “I could help you out on night shifts and watch Ian, if you need me.”

“You’d do that?”

“Sure.” He moaned, jerking in her pelvis. Then he wrapping his arms around her and started kissing her cheek.

Some hours later Beau’s crotchy smell woke me as he sauntered past, fully nude, and reached into the kitchen cabinet for another swig of Maker’s Mark he’d left stashed there. He looked apish as he emptied his shot glass and set it down next to the bottle.

Now, Ian had fallen asleep on the couch from too much beer, and he had tossed off all his clothes while still asleep to escape the rising humidity. So, he lay bare-bodied, tangled in a sheet his mother had draped over him, his pale skin luminous in the dark. Beau caught a glimpse of Ian as he stood in the kitchen.

He padded across the room, and his dark frame hovered over Ian, until the light from outside caught one side of Beau’s face, and I could see him, dumb and drunk, admiring Ian with the sloppy melancholy of a hungry dog, weighing what to do next. Several uncomfortable moments passed, during which I felt that tingling sensation that made my tail twitch again. Finally, Beau Gantry squatted, breathed an egg-roll, pussy, bourbon-vanilla sigh into Ian’s face, then raised an index finger to slowly stroke Ian’s cheek.

A car arrived outside and the driver cat-called through the sticky midnight air at someone waiting nearby. This startled Beau, who looked out the window, shy of any lights, as the passenger climbed inside what looked like a Camaro, then spun away.

The sound caused Ian to stir. Beau Gantry rose and quickly tip-toed back into Angie’s bed.

Over the next few days I tried explaining all this to Ian. But I had difficulty getting my message through because of all the busy final packing for the move, which presented endless distractions and stress for yours truly.

We cats depend on consistency, on knowing where everything is. And you humans go and mess it all up with your insane nomadism. You make hiding anywhere out of the way for a nap nearly impossible, knowing I could be smashed any moment by a fifty-pound box.

My spotty messaging seemed to have some effect on Ian, but it was Beau’s constant presence that did most of the work to raise Ian’s level of unease. Ian was unused to working so closely supervised by someone so obviously interested in what he was doing, in what he was thinking, in what he wanted. Beau seemed like a genie sprung from a lamp, offering all the tasty treats needed to keep the boy motivated, and a paternal force that pressed close; for camaraderie, but also for a weird mutual reassurance.

For Angie, it seemed Beau and Ian were getting along, that all of Ian’s laughter and affected smiles meant he and Beau were developing a bond. Angie’s focus was on completing the move, to restoring some sense of normalcy, optimism, and brightness that had been missing ever since she and Johnny had fought and he had left suddenly and, seemingly, without a care to what happened to either of them. She was too fixated on her projections about the future, the farm house with all its rough-hewn charms and open rural wonder, and the new freedom and security she would obtain having Beau to help her, and the tantalizing possibility of being married to the new mayor. These images filled her with excitement and pride that so blinded her with hope, she didn’t notice that under Beau and Ian’s interactions slithered something that didn’t belong in her picture at all.

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