Deborah held Cuddles at arm’s length as she paid the cab driver. Cuddles the Persian cat was twelve pounds of soggy fury, each leg splayed out as far as he could reach trying to claw Deborah to death. Water dripped on the sidewalk. The cat yowled and spun but Deborah ignored him. She’d been clawed by cats that made Cuddles look like he was sedated on Valium.
She wrote down a twenty for a tip on the receipt. “You earned it, Charlie.”
“Damned right I did.”
“Pick me up in an hour.”
Charlie looked at a back seat that was covered with cat hair. “No promises.”
Deborah waved goodbye to him, twisting her arm gymnastically to keep Cuddles away from her. Two men in black suits wearing black sunglasses approached her. Deborah’s sweet smile turned to an expression that looked more like the one on Cuddles’ face. Before they could talk, she said, “Take me to see the Godfather.”
“Ma’am, there isn’t a—”
Deborah held Cuddles towards him. Both men stepped back. The speaker started to reach inside his suit coat. “Do you know who this darling kitty belongs to?”
Cuddles hissed at him. His fangs shone like a cobra’s. He had two more people he could unleash his rage upon.
The man nodded. He tapped the other guard. “Make the call. Keep that ball of hell away from me.”
The second guard spoke into an earpiece. He said to Deborah, “I’ll take you up. Isn’t there a cat carrier?”
“Mr. Scarzetti doesn’t believe in them,” Deborah said.
The guards turned green. They looked around for police officers. Apparently they weren’t allowed to use their boss’s real name.
They got strange looks from a family from Iowa as they crossed the hotel lobby. The staff knew not to interfere. The second guard cowered in a corner of the finely-appointed express elevator as it rocketed to the top floor of the building.
The cat knew where he was as soon as the elevator doors opened. Deborah let him down. The cat ran across the foyer into his owner’s arms. Mr. Antonio Scarzetti owned the building, and a third of the city. His room was the entire top floor of the hotel. He had hair the color of gun metal and marble-black eyes. He also loved his cat.
Scarzetti swore. “What is this? What did you do to Cuddles?” The guard gaped. He didn’t know what to say. He pointed at Deborah. He shrugged, his eyes begging for mercy. “Get the hell out of here! I wasn’t talking to you,” Scarzetti said. To someone else in the penthouse, he yelled, “Get a towel for Cuddles!”
The guard was happy to leave. Cuddles purred. He rubbed up against Scarzetti’s legs, getting soggy cat hair all over a ten thousand dollar suit. Deborah said, “Godfather, I need to ask you a favor.”
Scarzetti laughed. “It isn’t my daughter’s wedding day. You’ve got a lot of nerve!”
“I’m the only one in this city who can handle that furball and you know it.”
An even meaner-looking guard arrived with a towel. He handed it to Scarzetti without getting too close. Scarzetti snatched it from him. He waved the guard away. “I’ve got a dozen bodyguards and they’re all scared of cute little Cuddles,” he cooed. The cat let him dry him off.
“I had a friend named Kyle Mooney. He was my business partner. He would supply me with all the soap, shampoo, and tools I needed to clean and take care the animals at the grooming salon.” She indicated the former feline fury. “He took all the money in our account, blew town and left me with a garage full of counterfeit supplies. Worthless.”
Scarzetti kissed Cuddles. The cat hissed at Deborah as she walked closer. “It sounds to me like your problem, not mine.”
“If I go under, I move back to Tennessee and you don’t have a groomer. The counterfeits were filled with a solution of water and dish soap. It could have blinded Cuddles. That’s why I brought him over like this.”
Scarzetti became completely still. He pet Cuddles slowly. “Tell me where I can find this man.”
Today’s post was inspired by this prompt from The Amazing Story Generator: Enraged by a conflict with a former friend / a licensed cat-hair stylist / joins the mob.