With their purchases in swung from plastic bags, Fritz and Zooey made their ascent back to the apartment to consider how to solve the coffee mug issue. When they reached their door they could hear faint crashing sounds from inside. Fritz quickly fumbled for the keys.
“Oh no, I left Mr. Williamson roaming free in there!” Zooey said disdainfully. They had to push the door with blunt force due to the hinges being old and were thrust head first into the apartment hallway, landing on top of each other. Mr. Williamson, covered in old Christmas tree tinsel and spaghetti sauce, scurried into the hall jumping on top of their heads and leaped out of the door into the landing and down the stairs.
“Get him!” Fritz cried wildly. Fritz and Zooey threw everything they carried onto the floor and ran after the kitten stomping madly down the stairs in pursuit. People in the apartment opened their doors and stuck out their heads to figure out the commotion.
“Come back here Mr.Williamson!” They cried simotaneously.
The halls and stairways of the apartment building became a war zone. Mr. Williamson, thinking he was playing some elaborate game sped up as fast as his small, furry legs could carry him. Fritz and Zooey, weighted down by their coats, scarves, and boots began to shed their clothing to keep up with the kitten. Neighbours came out to stand on the sidelines, arms folded, watching this better-than-daytime-tv event.
Fritz and Zooey panted heavily calling after the kitten, lagging far behind him and they went up and down stairs, to the lobby, and back up to their landing. Mr. Williamson swerved and bounded into an open door availble. People screamed at the sight of two half naked people chasing a sparkly kitten as if it were some kind of comical tv show.
Mr. Williamson stopped abruptly in front of their own apartment, tired and bored of his made up game. Fritz and Zooey slowly walked up the stairs, gasping for air to the sight of Mr. Williamson napping in the doorway.
Fritz and Zooey paused with shocked expressions for a brief moment before breaking out into a fit of laughter. Their neighbour Nancy was heard yelling from the door in vibrant Chinese.
“Oh no, it’s Nancy!” Zooey shrieked, “Hide!” Zooey lurched to grab Mr. Williamson and she ran with him into the apartment shutting and locking the door behind her.
Fritz pounded frantically at the door,”Zooey, let me in!”. Nancy came out with a questioning expression. She looked at Fritz who stood frozen on the landing with tinsel in his hair, his face smudged with a mixture of marinara sauce and cat fur. He stood still under Nancy’s skeptical gaze as she advanced towards him.
“Zooey help!” Fritz shrieked, as Zooey opened the door to yank in a bewildered Fritz inside before slamming the door shut. They could hear Nancy retreat back into her apartment cursing loudly and they let out a breath of relief. They lay in the hallway on their backs, and Mr.Williamson retreated under the couch.
Zooey blinked down the hallway. Fritz lay stunned next to her, propped up against the door.
“Fritz,” she whispered, “we’ve been blitzkreiged.” She pointed down the hall into the main room which had become the battlefield of Mr.Williamson and his imaginary war on the apartment.
“Fascists?” Fritz said delirious as he squinted in the dim lighting, “Where?!”
“Did you hit your head?” Zooey said. She stood up trailing tinsel on the floor as she walked. Chewed up newspapers lay strewn as if they were carpeting on the floor, and the curtains hung limply to the floor, dangling precariously from the windows. Vinyl records lay scattered in heaps under the shelves next to the sofa which was plastered in the remnants of a cheap Oriental vase.
Zooey decided not to look in the kitchen because she feared the worst. She noted that the only thing untouched in the apartment was Fritz’s dirty coffee cup collection. Fritz walked up behind Zooey clutching his head.
“Look,” he said, “The clock stopped ticking.”
Mr. Williamson made pathetic mewing sounds from underneath his sofa fortress. Zooey tried to coax him out but failed miserably after he bit her left hand.
“I think there is something wrong with Mr.Williamson,” Fritz said curiously, “Should we get him some aromatherapy?”
“I know just the therapy,” Zooey said, making her way to the rack of cds and smiling as she selected a Charlotte Gainsbourg album and put the song 5:55 on repeat.
“Just help me clean this up,” she directed Fritz, “He will come out soon enough.”
Fritz cleared out the linen closet in the hall and filled it with his coffee mugs, stacking and stuffing them into every crevice. When he ran out of room, he used the cupoard under the bathroom sink and the blank spaces under his bed. When he finished, he noticed that Zooey had brought the living room back to its original grandeur.
Zooey sat with her feet up on the sofa, drinking a cup of coffee and listening to the music. Mr. Williamson quietly emerged from his refuge in awe.
Mr.Williamson walked up directly to the speakers where the music magically poured out in a sweet and sultry addiction. He gently pawed at the speaker with a sad expression in his eyes as if he were desperate to find the voice that enchanted him so. He climbed on top and curiously looked around for some hint that he wasn’t imagining the atmospheric effects that held him entranced.
Fritz and Zooey watched curiously as Mr.Williamson rubbed his body against the speaker, leaving trails of orange fuzz on the sides. Even over the volume the stereo, they could hear his excited purring.
Fritz laughed, “Someone actually likes your Charlotte Gainsbourg cd besides you.” Zooey glared.
“The cat has better taste in music than you. And just so you know, Jarvis Cocker wrote the lyrics,” Zooey defended. Fritz stopped laughing, realizing his faux pas.
“This is the first time I’ve seen Mr.Williamson act like a normal kitty, or a semi-normal but culturally infuenced kitty,” Fritz said changing the subject.
“He is quite unique, I must say. I just think he was stressed from escaping from Nancy’s and adjusting to our witty and delightful selves,” Zooey said matter-of-factly.
“Well,” Fritz said, “You got him to calm down and stop destroying everything.” Fritz looked around.
“I’ll go finish cleaning the kitchen,” he called as he walked back down the hall. Zooey made her way over to the window and looked out dreamily, letting the afternoon sun stroke her face. It was a good kind of feeling, a small moment that made everything else feel insignificant.
Zooey dragged herself away from the window and realized she had dried spaghetti sauce on her cheek and frayed bits of tinsel clinging not only to herself, but on Mr. Williamson as well. She picked up the dozing kitten, who clawed and hissed at the thought of being torn from his musical outlet. She drew him a small bath in the bathroom sink, struggling against his unexpected strength as he struggled against the water and cried out for that soft, comforting voice.
Zooey swaddled Mr.Williamson in a bright yellow bath towel, and held him as she wahed off the layers of tomato sauce from her face. Mr. Williamson dried off into a much cleaner, fluffier version of himself. He gave Zooey a dirty look as she set him down, and he scurried down the hall and back to his hiding place under the sofa. She could hear Fritz calling her from the front door.
When she entered the hall, she could see Fritz’s arms were full of their discarded belongings from their rendevous with Mr.Williamson.
“The neighbour’s brought back our stuff,” he said happily, “And here I was worried I’d have to go find it all.” He threw the scarves and mismatched shoes into the hall closet and quickly shut the door behind it, to disguise there being a mess.
Zooey picked up the scattered bags of groceries from the floor and took them to the kitchen, trailing fruit behind her.
“Oh, this is disgusting,” she said, holding the bags which had been squished and mangled, “Now I have to go shopping again.”
Fritz and Zooey scurried to get dressed into something other than the mess they had adorned themselves with. By the time they were properly dressed they could hear a knocking on the door.
“Oh no! Nasa! He’s here!” Zooey cried, running around the apartment distressed.
“Shhh!” Fritz waved frantically, “Act natural!” Zooey jumped for the couch, frightening Mr. Williamson who flew out from underneath, hissing and clawing.
“Ah, perfect,” Fritz said happily as he went to answer the door. Nasa came in, looking around curiously. He smiled at Zooey, who sat uncomfortably on the sofa with a look of distress.
They shared an awkward moment of silence before Zooey made the first move.
“How about some wine?” She said, heading to the kitchen.
“Sounds wonderful,” Nasa said.
“Oh no,” Zooey said from the kitchen sounding distressed.
“Were out of merlot, hey, I’ll be right back. I’m going to go get some,” she called as she headed to the door.
“Are you sure?” Fritz asked, but she was already gone.