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Chapter 10

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Chapter Ten
-- by Deb Moran --

Pussy Willows Perish Without Sunlight and Water
(or Puh Si Fall and Go Boom Boom)

After narrowly avoiding Strayís traitorous acts on the roof, John and Puh Si escaped down the small accessory stairs to Level 4, cautiously entering by the seismology exhibit on the north corridor. Still holding her hand tightly, John quickly tiptoed towards the center bank of public elevators, looking back over his shoulder several times for Stray whom he still believed had a heartbeat and a gun. Past the glass enclosures shielding recovered bits of Pompeii pottery from further decay, the pair stopped in front of public elevator A. As John repeatedly pressed the "down" button, it suddenly occurred to him that being seen with "Miss California Cantaloupes" would most assuredly draw unwanted attention to him. He and "Hope" could not afford the sudden popularity.

John quickly surveyed his options. "Willow, dear, you depart without delay."

She still held on to the Catís paw. The elevator arrived, but Puh Si stood still, not understanding his cryptic instruction. John thrust her into the empty cabin.. "Make your mark on the mezzanine. Iíll meet up with you momentarily," he said.

"But, Cat, where are you going? D.K. is waiting outside for us. And, why are you talking so strange?"

"Agitation affliction," he alliterated with annoyance. Taking a deep breath to stop the same-sound-speech-scenario: "Iím just going back to lock the staircase. It will keep Stray off our trail at least for awhile.. Take the cab and meet me back at Eddies as weíd arranged." John pushed the button on the inside panel. The doors started to close. "Now do as I say. Thatís right. Down you go." The doors shut with a thwump.

John turned away toward the south wing and the public stairs. He patted his chest, the lump of jewel under his sweater providing a measure of security. "Hope," comfort and joy, indeed, he thought.

What was unknown to both John and Willow was the cat-astrophic fact that the stray (literally) bullet from Catzís gun had partially severed the cable to the elevator in which Willow was riding. The strain of her descent completed the cleave. As the cabin hurtled downwards to the basement, on the main level the Cardinal Sins were just sounding the second refrain of their latest hit, "Winter, Spring, Summer, and Iím Falling for You" and the purr-cussian arrangement drowned out the screams of terror from inside the elevator. As the trumpeters landed the final note on D flat, there at the bottom of the Museum lay another D Flat, or more precisely DD flat. The hat check girl had permanently checked out. In a twist of delicious revenge for all small-chested women everywhere, Willowís autopsy would read "death by suffocation." The coroner determined that the velocity of descent had flung her bosoms upward, completely and fatally covering her airways. As Bob Hope might say to Willow if given the chance, "thanks for the mammeries."

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