I'm sitting slumped in a chair, work clothes still on, with a beer in one hand and the paper in another. Catpants is whining. Favor-r-r-r-r.
"What? I'm reading the paper."
Favor-r-r-r-r. When she whines her meow takes on a gutteral quality, like when a slightly-crimped car door is opened. I turn the page with a theatrical flair. She knows the routine: dinner, the paper, then we play, even though I've broken the rules today and tossed her some cork-screwed twist-ties to chase across the hardwood floor.
"I'm reading." I turn another page, studiously examine the newsprint, though I'm not really reading it. I look at her out of the corner of my eye as she keeps it up, her creaky attempts to sway me to do her bidding. She's staring at the bookcase. Why?
Somebody has left the fish food on the top shelf. Catpants stares at the little plastic tub of flakes, turns to look at me, whines, her body rocking forward as she squeezes out the sound. Favor-r-r-r-r. Please.
The fish food is supposed to be locked up out of sight in a cabinet. This is in addition to the folded piece of paper wedge that prevents the cats from repeatedly opening the aquarium-stand door and letting it slam shut; the nailed-to-the-wall and off the-counter basket of tasty rubber bands; the plastic tarp that keeps the hanks of hair they pull off one another from adhering to the blankets; and the sports equipment stored high, high overhead.
Somebody left the fish food out last night, too, and 'Pants spent a long time incessantly whining and crying for somebody, somebody!, to please please please give her some fish food, by the gods of the little white bear Bimbo, anybody! The same somebody who left it in view to begin with broke down and did, and that stopped the fussing—until the lights went out and Catpants figured she could better make an assault on the fish-food tub under cover of darkness. Claws frantically scrabbling on plastic, imitation-wood veneer and books hitting the floor does not make it easy to sleep.
She doesn't do this for Fancy Feast or giblets or Tempations or even tuna juice. Sure, open the bag of corn chips and she's right there for her share, but the histrionics, my god, she saves that for the Spectrum and the AquaDine and the algae wafers that are supposed to be for the otocinclus.
Favor-r-r-r-r. Christ. I put the paper down and get up. As soon as she sees what I'm about she shuts up and goes rigid, staring staring staring at the promise in my hand.
"Here." I put a small pile of flakes on the table and pick her up to see. "Now let me finish my beer in peace."