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September 26, 2022

Night Time 34

By Lydia Manx

Both cats were curled in the back of the station wagon completely ignoring us as we began to pull the luggage out of the car and set it on the now snow covered lot. Cinda was still running on about the oddities while she dragged the bags towards the lobby. I was bemused by the amount of energy she was expending while still talking. The cats finally became interested in the activity when Cinda came back asking, "So how exactly do we sneak the cats in?"

They knew she was commenting about them. I could tell by they way they were firing looks at me they expected some reply. Like I had any idea at all? I never owned animals yet instantly had two. Banshee purred loudly and El Diablo muttered in foreign cat swearing near as I could understand. I shrugged and said, "Can they each fit inside a duffle bag if we empty two of them?" They were the only things I could think of to smuggle both of them inside without exposing them to the elements or the innkeepers. The cats both now were purring their approval and commenting something to me I failed to get but nodded anyway at the two cats.

Cinda said, "Okay, I will dump out my stuff and yours in our rooms. I'll be right back." She quickly ran for the lobby snagging the necessary pieces of luggage as she flew past the doorway. Since she had two room keys in her hand already I had missed her palming them off the front counter earlier. I kept a smile to myself as I didn't notice anyone even at the door looking for her but she was happy to be involved in the secrecy. Misty was still hiding which given all the twists lately I was happy to see. The complication of a psychotic invisible being taking over my best friend still bugged me. No matter how much Misty liked me. Cinda was a known. Misty was definitely part of the twilight that was surrounding my life.

Cinda quickly returned saying, "Lynn, I will take the cats inside your room and meet you in the lobby afterwards, okay?"

Coaxing the cats carefully inside the bags with only a little attitude from the furry felines I handed them off slowly to Cinda. She gently put each duffle bag over her shoulder and went carefully back towards the rooms. I returned to the lobby in time to see Kitty and Art return from the store in back. Art had a few grocery sacks in his arms.

The winter snow storm blew me inside and right off I saw that Erika and Jasper were still talking about days gone by but a bit more off to the side of the counter. They both were smoking and the haze in the room floated up to the ceiling. I stomped off the snow and ice on my shoes and looked around for Harry. He was sitting in a chair in the far corner of the lobby flipping through an old magazine. It took me a minute to identify what he was reading then I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing aloud. Somehow I didn't see Harry wandering around fields much less meandering along the picturesque streams. He looked up and grinned. An eyebrow lifted quickly and I caught the smile dance across his lips. He was practicing the art of invisibility while still in view.

Kitty said, "Well, this certainly has been a full evening. Jasper, you need to lie down now." She was firm in her tone even with the glare he gave her. Whatever was eating away from his insides had dampened her spirit a little but she knew her mate well. She stood her ground and he slowly pulled up from the countertop. Not before a wave of pain washed over Jasper and he whitened again. He held himself straight but had to bow to his wife's command.

"Thank you for taking the time to humor this old man. As my little Kitty here pointed out I need to go now." His voice was taut and he shook a bit as he walked back to his room. Kitty was afraid her husband wasn't going to make it to his room without her help but at the same time she knew that he was a proud man and to assist him in front of guests would be bad. The notion of 'hell to pay' was largely in her mind. I found it feeding off her fears. Jasper didn't brutalize her. He simply just stopped talking to her. For a lady her age and so isolated that was as good as a thorough beating. Her fears kept rolling over me and I felt my knees grow weak. Harry jumped up and braced me with an arm and Cinda walked in the door just at that moment.

"Gee, I would say get a room," she snarled before catching herself. Thankfully both Jasper and Kitty were already past the counter and out in the hall going to their portion of the motel. I don't think they heard Cinda but then I couldn't be sure since I was too busy warding off the anger of Cinda. I watched Cinda slide the room keys back to the counter then Misty forced Cinda out with a shudder and said in her own distinctive Misty tones, "Erika, toss me one of those smokes. I am dying here." She gave me a slow wink and pulled Cinda's body forcibly further down the counter to join Erika at the ashtray. Erika had a cigarette ready and a lighter in hand.

Art looked at Harry and said, "I got what I thought would work. I had to buy a stupid can opener for the tuna since I don't think Kitty would understand my buying some Tender Vittles cat food on the market." It took me a minute to remember that new type of soft cat food. Even thought I hadn't ever had a pet I had watched a ton of commercials I wasn't completely ignorant but it took a while and the light bulb finally went off and I realized Art had thought to buy some food for the cats. Since I had seen the last meal the cats had I wasn't completely sure tuna was going to satisfy their appetites.

I was somewhat surprised to notice that Harry still had his arm around me. Misty was smoking and chatting with Erika in a soft undertone. I usually hated anyone touching me but Harry just made me feel safe. With that thought I pulled away slowly from him. That in and of itself was a bad thing add in that I was far too comfortable with a vampire FBI agent who was also my master.

"Well, I am going to try to get some sleep." Art took one of the grocery bags with him. There were two more sacks on the counter and Erika peaked inside the one closest to her and nodded at the contents. I figured that one didn't have the tuna inside or the can opener. That made the last bag mine pretty much.

"I guess I will go back to the room," Art said while looking at Harry oddly. Then it crossed my mind that Harry would be bunking with Art. I guess Art had begun to wonder how those arrangements were going work. It wasn't exactly like Harry had flashed fangs but Art wasn't quite sure what Harry was. So I had to think that maybe he was smarter than he looked. Nah, on second thought he was just crafty. He needed to be given whatever secret he was hiding. That is the only thing about Art that interested me in the least. Secrets coated in fear had a delicious flavor and something in the tension of Art's body fleeing the lobby made me taste that bit of him. I was getting hungry again for a real meal.

"That's a good idea. We should hit it." Erika stubbed out the rest of her cigarette and pulled the groceries with her. Calling out for Cinda to hurry up she rustled in the paper sack and pulled out a bag of beef jerky.

"Next time I am going for the food. Men buy the stupidest things," she sighed and Cinda called out bye to us while trailing after Erika.

"Well, I guess I should get going then." I wasn't even tired. Hungry but not sleepy I snagged my key off the counter where Cinda had left it after putting my bag and cats in the room. Everyone had been picking their luggage off the front walk while they exited and there was a small neat looking suitcase left. I figured that for Harry's since I didn't have anything so nice.

"Gwendolyn, there is more I need to tell you." Harry sounded serious.

"Sure, tell me tomorrow, okay?" I was pretty much done with people for now. What difference could a day make? I was restless and needed to get away from Harry. Reluctantly Harry nodded and grabbed the second key left for him and went outside. He picked the last piece of luggage up and went down the walk to his room. I looked at the last key and found my number was 218. Second floor. Joy, in the snow. The cats must have loved bumping up the steps with Cinda.

The bag left on the counter was heavier than I expected. There were over a dozen cans of tuna in the bag and some cheese snacks and the can opener. Art had also thought to put in some paper plates. That would come in handy since I doubted the cats would be thrilled with eating straight out of a can. Then I thought back to their slashing and tearing at Maria and doubted they were as choosy as normal felines were portrayed in those various cat food commercials. Bracing myself for the elements I went outside. The winds had picked up and there was more snow than just a half hour earlier. I slowly made my way up the slippery stairs to my room. I hadn't even thought to find out where the others were and now felt a bit lonely. The room was on the side facing the road. I guess thirty bucks didn't buy much anymore. As I turned the key I could hear the cats talking at me.

I was barely inside and both of them were pushing me and complaining. I went put the sack down and began to open up cans of tuna. They quieted down and waited for me to complete the chore.

Once I had two plates full I put them on the floor and they attacked the fish like it was still alive. It did nothing to remove the memory of their tearing apart Maria but they purred contentedly while they scarfed the meal. I filled a glass with water and set it next to them.

Pacing around the room I glanced at the two beds and saw that the cats had already marked one as theirs. The distinct imprints of two cat bodies in the middle of the pillows made the bed closest to the door the cat bed. Cinda had dumped my clothes on the other bed when she was smuggling the cats up and I began to pluck them off the bedspread and hang them in the closet. It wasn't like we planned on staying but it gave me something to do. Too soon the bed was clean and the cats were finished eating. They made some noise at the door. Giving it a thought I figured they knew how to handle themselves better than me. Slowly I opened the door and blustery snow filled wind pushed at me. I glanced up and down the walkway and didn't see a living soul.

"If you want, knock yourselves out," I said to them. They cat talked back and went outside. I didn't know if I was supposed to keep waiting on the doorstep or what. The icy breeze decided me and I shut the door. I figured they would be loud enough when they wanted back inside.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2006-04-03
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