Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chapter One

Grover had just gotten out of bed, exhausted after a long night with Kitty. Kitty’s claim to fame is that she was once an Olympic class gymnast who, after she broke her wrist at the Olympic Trials, started drinking heavily. It was unattractive on a 14 year old, and just as unattractive now that she was 18. Grover was 40, a little paunchy, and had been “dating” Kitty for nearly two years now, despite that only being legal in states where they never resided. No matter, she was 18 now and that’s all that counted.
“Hey Grovey,” she practically screamed as she stretched, “What about breakfast.”
“What about it?”
“I want some. I’m hungry. You made me hungry from all that exercise.”
“Okay, let’s go to Nibs,” Grover smiled.
Nibs was a local joint that opened and closed early for the breakfast crowd and the senior citizen early birds. They both liked the place, and the coffee was pretty good. Not Peet’s, but pretty good.
Kitty dragged herself out of bed. At five-one, she was tall for a gymnast, and since she hadn’t been working out for several years, she didn’t squeak from the performance enhancing drugs, she wasn’t rock hard through the torso, and she had regular menses. In short, she was a living doll—an often drunk doll, but still a doll.
Maybe it was the Irish in her. She was intense, intelligent, and a hard liquor drinker. Her father, Cornelius Caboodle, was a hard-working, hard-drinking sort who died when Kitten—her given name, was just a wee tot. Mary McFadden McKenna Caboodle was a bright, cheerful woman who disdained drink and loved baseball.
“Oh, those Giants are playing woefully below their capabilities, even with that mountain of a Barry Bonds to bang out some homers and the occasional bingle on a rope,” she’d intone. You’d also hear some “good eyes” and some “way to looks” from her. Yes, she was a true Giants fan, and held no stock in the Athletics across the Bay. They might as well have been a Brazilian soccer team to Mary McFadden McKenna Caboodle. She had hoped that one day Kitty would grace a Cheerios box, but that would never happen, not since the wrist and the booze. Ah, poor Kitty, she thought as Bonds came up to the plate.
“Ready, Kitty?”
“Grover, don’t bother me. You know it takes women a little time.”
“Christ, Kitty, your hair’s short as mine and you don’t wear underwear, so what’s the big deal!” Grover knew what the big deal was. Kitty was drinking in the bathroom. He hated it, but where else was he going to find anyone who cared so much for him. He suspected that he cared a little, too.
“I’m coming, I’m coming! Gimme a goddamn break.”
She popped out of the bathroom, smiled at Grover, grabbed her bag, trotted to the front door, opened it, and ducked just in time to avoid the dead fish that was flung at her at high speed.
“Duck Grover!” she shouted, and just in time, too, for as he hit the carpet the lumbering carp went sailing through the door and landed smack in the middle of their sofa, where it bounced once and settled. It would have hit him without Kitty's warning! He owed his life to Kitty, for it surely would have ended had he been hit in the temple by the long, sharp, bony dorsal fin of that 17 pound aquatic throwback.
Once the shock was over, Grover jumped up and, when he saw that Kitty was safe, pushed through the open door only to see the rear taillight configuration of a 1961 Nash Rambler, the one with the flip down front seats admired by Grover’s old friend, Chuck Williams. But Chuck couldn’t have done this. There was no reason. They were old friends from Oakland going back almost 25 years. Chuck was back east governing the State of Pennsylvania, anyway--or was he. Perhaps Grover should make a call. There was something about a carp from his youth at Pymatuming that was nagging at him but he couldn’t quite remember what it was.
Grover and Kitty looked at each other knowing that Nibs would have to wait for another day. Today, they were having carp.


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