Wizzy Wig is finally out! I cannot tell you how happy I am about that. On the 14th of November I’ll be at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park for a reading. But I’m not reading anything about Toesy though so I figured I leave a bit about him here, in case you couldn’t wait…
Clydesdale Manor (Horsey House to the Locals)
Thanatos, Dark Lord of the Underworld, was not all that dark. He was more of a stripy grey color with patches of white on his back and legs. Neither did he reside in the depths of Hell. In fact, he lived in a third-floor apartment with the Mistress of the Can Opener, Delilah Pelham.
It was a source of endless frustration to Thanatos that, although he was an evil demon who quickened every heartbeat with fear as he walked past, Deli still insisted on calling him Toesy. So did all the other humans. This was because they still thought he was a cat.
Oh, he had been a cat at one point, but that was before he’d eaten the little metal bean. Toesy had no idea that he’d eaten a prototype nanobot designed to enhance the human body. To him, it was just a metal bean. But after he’d eaten it, Steve had appeared.
The advent of Steve had been the best thing to happen to Toesy, ever—and that included the time he’d found half a broiled salmon in the Dumpster in back of their old apartment building. Steve was a bona fide miracle. When Toesy got shot, Steve healed his wounds. When Toesy was stuck, Steve gave him answers. And when Toesy needed to open a door, Steve had given him thumbs. Toesy had finally reasoned that Steve was a manifestation of the Universe choosing him for spontaneous deification.
And why should it not? Had he not pledged his life to the Mistress of the Can Opener? Did he not defend her temple from all foes? Had he not sacrificed his life to save the Holy Man from the rabid Sock Pants monster?
Indeed, the Universe had made the right choice to give him the metal bean. And after he conquered the bean, he had become a demigod. Now he was Thanatos, Dark Lord of Clydesdale Manor, Defender of the Afternoon Napping Couch, and a scourge to all vermin within a twenty-five block radius (songbirds excluded).
If one considers the definition of a demigod to be a living being with supernatural powers then Toesy’s theory was pretty much bang on. Cat or god, the fact remained that Clydesdale Manor hadn’t seen the slink of a rat tail since he and his mistress had moved in. Even the cockroaches had decamped. Eventually, Toesy had to resort to moonlighting at an apartment building three blocks away just to keep his skills sharp. Last week, he spotted a mouse in a natural foods store near Broadway. He’d chosen this morning to do a little reconnaissance because the Tall Man was still around.
The Tall Man went by the name of Carl Sanderson, but Toesy always thought of him as the Tall Man because that is exactly what he was: tall. Carl the Tall showed up every Saturday afternoon, sometimes as early as morning, but usually not until after the birds had fled the window from the heat of the afternoon sun. Even as Carl knocked, Toesy’s mistress would be shooing him out the door.
Toesy hated the shooing part. One time he refused, then later that night, he’d had to shoo himself out the window in a hurry. It had not been a good night. Since then, he’d found ways to busy himself on Saturday nights, and he never returned before dawn on Sunday. Still, he hated the ritual of it.
He followed his secret trail around to the front door. He had thought to check in on the Holy Man, as way of buying himself more time, but for some reason the door was locked. Even with his new thumbs, keys still gave him trouble. But the front porch was dry and sheltered and he didn’t mind a little porch nap.
Toesy stretched out his paws in lazy fashion and turned a bored eye to the man at the front door that had just woken him from slumber. He carried two paper bags of groceries which he set carefully on the stoop next to him in order to pull a slim billfold from his pocket. From it he produced a fat square of white. He pushed his glasses up before unfolding the square.
Meerooww, said Toesy as he stretched in the man’s direction and surreptitiously tasted the air around him. The man smelled like shoe polish and bar soap.
“Don’t think you are waiting for me, Mister Cat. Unless you live here, I am not letting you in.”
The security keypad beeped as the man fed it the numbers he had written down on his square of white. Twice he hit the wrong button but only shook his head and tried again. On the third try, the security door buzzed its approval. The man held the door open with one shiny shoe, as he leaned over and snapped up his grocery bags.
Toesy did not want to seem overly eager, but something about this man called to him. Perhaps it was the groceries. Who could say? Toesy did not question divine intuition.
He gave the man a generous head start before slipping in the door and following him up the first flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs, the man turned right. Toesy stayed hidden behind the banister and watched him walk down the hall.
Huzzah! He opened the door to 2C!
Connie Caulfield lived in 2C, and she had a little fluffy squeaky thing that was neither a squirrel nor a rat. Toesy dearly wished to know what it was, but he’d only gotten one good look at it before Connie had come in the room and screamed at him to get away from her sugar glider. He’d been so affronted that he left immediately and hadn’t bothered with her since.
How dare she judge him so harshly? Toesy wasn’t a senseless killer. He had no intention of eating it—whatever it was. With markings like that, it could be poisonous.
Was it really made of sugar? If so, did it have icing? Toesy liked icing, especially the kind that came on those chewy ginger cookies his mistress loved so much.
The man wrestled the key from the lock and stepped inside the apartment. Thanatos, Dark Lord of the Underworld and Grade-A Nosey Neighbor, waited until the door was almost closed before darting inside.