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Black and Single Blues
by Dwight Hobbes

Part 56

Keith found himself outside his building. He went in, greeted Jesse at the desk and was headed to the elevator.

“Mr. Jackson?”

Keith turned. “Yeah?”

“Do you like cats?”

He thought of Bruno. ”Can’t stand ‘em. Why?”

“Uh…never mind.” Jesse looked sad, approaching pathetic.

Keith liked the guy. He walked over and leaned on the desk. “Why?” That’s when he heard the mewling and peeked behind the reception counter. Two mixed black, brown, grey and white balls of fur.

“Please, Mr. Jackson, don’t tell the manager. I just couldn’t stand to take them to the pound. But my boyfriend won’t let me keep them.”

Keith saw a furry little face, cute as could be, that soon as he looked at it started meowing its little butt off. The one next to it wasn’t as cute but cried just as pitifully. Turned out Jesse had managed to palm off most of the litter on other tenants and, before ending his shift, hoped to unload these last two. Keith shook his head, gave Jesse a look.

“You gotta be kidding.”

The plea in Jesse’s eyes was almost as heartbreaking as the crying kittens.

”Okay, gimme the damned cats.”

Jesse snatched the box up so fast the poor kittens got jostled and stopped crying for a moment. Keith hadn’t the first idea what to do with them. Box under his arm, kittens meowing, he continued on.

“Thank you!” Jesse called.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“I owe you, Mr. Jackson.”

He got on the elevator and, looking at Jesse as the doors closed, said, “Damn skippy.” Much as Bruno had got on his nerves, waking up earlier than a damned rooster and just as loud with his daily, pre-dawn demand for breakfast, which was reason alone not to let the woman move in, the big, furry fella had grown on him. He got off the elevator, walked down the hall, set the box on the floor at his door and got his keys out.

“Oh, for cute!” It was that dingbat down the hall. ”Are they yours?”

Without a backward glance, Keith slid his key in the lock, picked the box up and answered over his shoulder, “Yeah. Gave birth to them just this morning.”

He pulled the door closed. Stubborn as this door was, Lesli had to have been mad as hell to actually slam it. The thought gave him a little shudder.

The kittens would not shut up.

“Poor little guys. Scared half out of your wits, huh? Hungry, too, I bet.”

He went into the fridge, pulled out a fried chicken leg and, grabbing a knife, split it between them. Little rascals tore into the meat, growling like they really could hurt somebody.


He meant to go in and get some sleep but wound up flopping on the couch looking at the television. He woke up with the sun long gone, with both fur balls curled up on his chest, practically snoring. Paul Newman and Robert Redford were on, holding a belt, leaping off a cliff, yelling, “S***!” all the way down, landing in a river.

He looked at Newman and Redford, looked at the kittens. “Butch and Sundance,” he decided. Then nodded back off, thinking, Well, yeah, I’ll keep the little guys. Just to remind me of her. My new buddies, Butch and Sundance. He also decided what to do about Lesli. Keith then proceeded to the best night’s sleep he’d had in a long time. Probably since she’d left.


NEXT WEEK, Part 57: Keith's epiphany...


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