Dan walked home, considering his options about Cassie and what to do about her cat. Poor Bobby, being deaf and all. She must be worried sick about him, he thought to himself.
The slight fog had cleared now, revealing the rooftops of houses in the near distance, and the top of the co-op sign poking out between them. Dan headed off in the opposite direction towards his house.
When he got in, his mother was almost asleep, watching tv on the sofa. The evil bottle was tucked sneakily under her arm, half-concealed. He frowned, but didn't comment, as his mind was full of things he needed to do.
He rushed upstairs, into his dad's old office, and up to the desk. He grabbed a pen and sticky-note pad, and scribbled down a few notes. 'Cassie - Lost White Cat, Bobby' he wrote. Then he threw down the pen and ran to his room.
Sticking his note on the back of his door, he knew that he would see it the next day and remember to look for the cat, and possibly tell his friends to help too. Just as he was about to reach for his book, his stomach growled, reminding him that it was now the time for eating, and not thinking. He resigned himself to the fact that he would have to venture downstairs and get food.
Just as he got to the kitchen door, his mother shouted to him.
"If you want something to eat, you'll have to go and get some bread from the shop. We've run out." She called.
"Fine. Want me to go get some more suicide-juice while i'm at it?" He replied, hateful criticism etched in his voice. Mum didn't respond. He smiled, knowing that she would remember those words for quite some time after. Hopefully they would someday make her give up on her disgraceful hobby.
Dan paid for the bread with the little change he had, angering the shopkeeper, who was the one who had to count all the pennies up. As he waited for the all-clear, he watched the villagers walk by outside, studying them and their appearences. As soon as the transaction was complete, Dan saw a small blonde head walk by the window, and nearly cried out in surprise. Had it been Cassie?
He grabbed the bag of bread, ignoring the complaints of the elderly man at the counter, and pelted outside. He looked around. Even though the village had a low population, it looked almost impossible for him to find her in the crowd of shoppers and visitors. A bright head of hair caught his eye, and he pursued with all his might.
Just as he got to being a fraction away from her, a burly, tall man knocked him aside and shouted about Dan's manners. This caught him off balance, and sent him spiraling into another shop. He grabbed onto the doorframe and launched himself back out. He could just spot her, sitting down on a box outside the grocery. Now it would be easy to catch up.
But something caught his attention. Cassie had her left arm propping up her head, and her right in a bag next to her. The bag clearly wasn't hers, but yet she still had the motive to search around in it? After a moment she pulled her hand out and concealed whatever she had within her coat.
Dan's mouth dropped open. Was she stealing? If so, why? He stood up, preparing himself to lecture her, pushing his glasses further up his nose as usual. Then he stopped. The large man from before had joined her. He partially hid himself and watched them.
The man seemed to know her pretty well, yet they were somehow distant in the way they stood, and the way she never looked into his eyes. He gave her a sharp tap on the side of the face. Dan was horrified. Perhaps to others it looked as if it hadn't hurt, but he could see it had been enough to leave a red mark on her cheek.
Then it struck him. Had he caught her stealing?
No, he decided. he must have a different reason for hitting her. His reaction would have been considerably different if he was a stranger that had caught her stealing something. His hit had almost seemed like a steely form of encouragement. Almost.
Dan watched them walk away, eyeing the two suspisciously. What was going on? He had to find out.