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A Happy Medium


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Mrrrow. Mrrrow.
A cold, wet nose pokes curiously at her cheek.
Mrrrow..owww. Owwww.
Mrrrow..owww. Owwww.

“Alright...alriiiiiiiight!” An exasperated tossing of blankets occurs. “I’m up. I'm up.”

Her hand fumbles at the buzzing cell phone, one open eye peeking at Pluto with much disdain. The look’s returned in spades. The black cat has major attitude.

“You hungry?” The cat simply stares an 'of course’ at the question posed. Even though it's an hour before the regular scheduled feeding time. “Five minutes? Can you give me five minutes of snuggle time?”

The side eye. A minute of contemplation. Pluto walks across the cali king bed, traverses a mountain of blankets to plop beside her and purrs loudly. She might get a whole half hour of snuggle time if she can convince him the bed is better than the cold tile his dish sits on.

Mrrowff. Mrrfff.
Belly rubs it is.

Anais’s hand gently rubs Pluto's belly, dark eyes fixated on the ceiling. It’s been six months since Marquis died. Wrong place, wrong time led to another South Central statistic. Her heart’s heavy still but she’d never tell anyone that. And though it takes everything in her to get out of bed each day- it’s getting better, easier. Especially with Pluto around. He’s a godsend; a gift bequeathed to her the night of her Love's funeral. Almost as if Marquis was making sure she was okay. Well not okay but watched over in his absence. He was always her strongest supporter. Her biggest fan. Her man. Gracious and kind. Her life isn't the same now that he's gone. Mahogany eyes brim with tears at the thought.

”Anais, you gotta be strong now. You gotta go on doin’ what you do. Tears won't change nothin' so there ain't no sense in cryin’ baby girl.”


Sudden bunny kicks from Pluto’s imparts the ideas he’s done with cuddles and now wants food. Melancholia dissipates, along with thoughts of the daydreamed voice, at the pain of hind claws scratching her hand.

“Was that really necessary?” She ruffles his fur until it's standing straight up in places and almost matted in others then tosses her comforter over him. Cats love that. “C’mon, dinner time.”

He beats her to his dish, acting like he hasn't been fed in days. Full of pretty meows and figure eights. She laughs and pours him a large bowl of food.

It's late afternoon, the weather is still cool during the day, chilly at night. Her shift at the palmistry shop starts at 8pm which leaves her enough time to eat, shower and dress then commute from east Inglewood to Hollywood. If Pluto cooperates. Sometimes he feels the need to take his time in the litter box right as Anais opens the door.

“Remember, we have work tonight.” She mumbles as she passes the cat on her way to the fridge to retrieve a small cup of yogurt, “This lady's husband died last year and she’s trying to contact him. Something about a lost bracelet. Can you believe that Pluto? A bracelet. She ain’t even trying to see how he’s doing. Crazy ass rich people.”

Something between a meow and pft escapes the black cat as he eats. At least he’s acknowledging and responding. Anais eats her yogurt in relative silence and goes over what she knows about the woman and her husband- gotta sell the dream to the fools- but she must be doing something right because her clientele list has grown exponentially in the last few months. She’s always had this, sort of, ‘gift’, as her mama used to call it but she’s never been this accurate. Maybe it's Marquis’s death that triggered something deep inside her. Whatever the reason, she’s been making a ton of cash lately. Soon she’ll be able to afford a better place for she and Pluto in Hollywood. Even if she feels slightly guilty about the hustle, at least she’s taking money from people that can afford to part with a few dead presidents.

“Okay, shower.” The yogurt cup finds the trash and she stoops to pet Pluto, “Don’t get into any trouble.”
May 13, 2018 06:20 am


Shower- uneventful.
Getting Pluto into his harness and seatbelted into the car- somewhat eventful.
The drive to work- crazy af.

The drive takes the dynamic duo north on Prairie Avenue, Anais’s thumbs drumming on the well worn steering wheel of the unassuming import. The plan is to catch Florence west to La Brea and head north into Hollywood. They’ll avoid the freeway because, let’s face it, 7pm on a friday is murder. That’s the plan anyways until Pluto starts to growl deeply. So loud in fact, Anais can hear him over ‘California Love’ playing on the radio. She’s halfway past the Inglewood Park Cemetery when she decides to stop. This isn’t normal- Pluto generally loves car rides. And who doesn’t love Tupac?

“What’s gotten into you?” She’s fiddling with the harness, thinking maybe it’s somehow pinching the cat but there’s nothing wrong with the harness. Meanwhile, Pluto’s growls grow deeper and he’s hissing now at the window. “Pluto, Sir, what’s up?”

“Ay, sweetheart, you got a light?” Anais’s gaze moves from the thoroughly angry Pluto to the voice, breath sucked from her lungs, she stares through large, now golden, eyes.

“For me and the homies.” The translucent figure holds a blunt up for her to see and tips his head to the side. Cat like eyes move from the ‘man’ to look at what he’s referencing; a bunch of figures standing individually besides headstones.

“Ay King..” she manages, “Yeah, take it. You boys look like you need it more than I do.” She extends a lighter to the ghost, he accepts. “Gotta run though, we’re on our way to work.”

“Thank ya pretty lady.” He winks and smiles. “Before ya go, Ima tell ya somethin’ about that bracelet ya lookin’ for. It’s behind a mask. One of those creepy lookin’ things. Got a beak on it.”

Brows raise, there’s an obvious look of surprise on her face as she watches the man walk back to his ‘friends’. Pluto is remarkably quiet and she runs a hand over his back to make sure she’s actually awake. A chirp from the cat, a bat of his paw, yup, she’s awake. Anais throws the car into first gear and merges back onto the road. This is her first encounter with a visible spirit. Normally she just experiences ‘thoughts’ when looking for an item; sometimes there’s a feeling. Most times though, people just want to know how a relative is; they want to know their relative is happy or at rest or they want closure. And that’s what she gives them. They’re paying her to absolve themselves of guilt or to reassure themselves their loved one is happy with them or out of pain. Ain’t no harm in doing that, right?

Anais isn’t so sure now.

The remainder of the drive to work is uneventful, thankfully, and quiet save the occasional rap song her momma used to play when she was a kid. Those she sings loudly to. Pluto glances at her from time to time, interested but not too interested. He would rather watch the birds than her crazy ass bouncing around the driver’s seat. Still, she’s thinking about the conversation with the ghost and the mask. Anais hasn’t heard of a mask with a beak. It sounds strange and creepy and completely interesting.

Pulling into the small parking lot behind the shop, Anais cuts the engine and grabs her phone. Quickly she searches ‘beaked mask’ and is surprised to find it actually exists.

“A plague mask, Pluto.” A brow raises as she reads the wiki, her fingers scratching beneath the cat’s chin. “These people and their collectibles.” She unbuckles the cat and tosses her phone into her bag. “C’mon, before we’re late.”

The small cat huffs a response then climbs willingly into the large beach tote. He actually enjoys sitting in her bag versus being buckled in. But Anais raised him this way and she takes him wherever she goes. Most people don’t mind it. If they did, she wouldn’t return to their business.

“Gurrrrrrrl..” Her voice is loud as she pushes the door to the shop open. “You ain’t never gonna believe this sh-t..”
May 18, 2018 10:13 pm
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