A Few Surprises

With a nod of Mr. Johnson’s head, the man carrying the valise with Patches’ payment left the room as quietly as he had appeared.

“I believe our transaction is complete, then,” Patches announced.

He stood on his hind legs –  most unusual for a cat – and to Mr. Johnson’s shock, grew to five times his original size. His tabby fur receded with every inch until a thick haired, mustachioed man appeared. Patches now sported a neatly pressed herringbone suit and matching bowler hat.

“I…I do say…my word!” Mr. Johnson stammered, his squinty brown eyes becoming orbs. His right hand, which had been toying with a fountain pen, quivered and splattered ink all over the blotter.

The former cat bent to pick up the valise, chuckling “My word indeed!” As he walked swiftly toward the door, he called back over his shoulder, “We’ll be in touch, Mr. Johnson.”

Patches didn’t really like having outsiders understand his ability to metamorphose, but he less enjoyed the prospect of Mr. Johnson’s cronies delivering a sackful of cash to his residence. So far, he’d been able to keep the location completely confidential from any employers, and this decision had served him well. None had ever been able to locate him after he completed a job. Tabby cats appear on every street corner in the urban world, and thick-haired, mustachioed men in herringbone suits and matching bowler hats were even more ubiquitous.

After a labyrinthine course through the city, certain no one followed him, Patches unlocked the rickety street-level door and lit the gas lamp. Setting down the valise on the chair by the door, he unclasped it and scanned the contents. Satisfied that he had not been had, he removed the bowler and unknotted his neck cloth, walking into the cramped drawing room where he had laid out the plans earlier that morning. Throwing his jacket on the threadbare sofa, he bent over and examined the hastily written instructions, the detail devoted solely to the representations of the building. This would be the easiest of all jobs, and really, he had perhaps been overpaid a bit for such a basic theft. Not that Patches lost a moment to remorse over this…

Gathering up the plans and tucking them back into the dossier he’d received yesterday afternoon, Patches stuffed them amongst a pile of neglected correspondence, and walked toward the tiny garret at the back of the apartment. As he walked, he shrunk back down and resumed the comfortable feline gait. He found he slept much sounder in this form.

He had no sooner nestled on the pillow of the small bed than his ear cocked at a sudden, sharp pounding on the front door.


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