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Chapter 9

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Chapter Nine
-- by Deb Moran --

Stay Away From Strays–They Could Have Rabies

Stray blinked with supreme effort, slowly opened his eyes and saw stars. Not the ones that were banded together this night over the Museum rooftop to form constellations of mythological deities or blazed across the sky in fiery arcs. The stars he saw were of the head trauma variety. Stray painfully shook his head from side to side, much like a dog caught in a downpour, but still the fragments of concussion remained. He agonizingly remembered the last five minutes: gun; "Boom Boom" Willow; the Cat; and, of course, the diamond. The Diamond.

Stray frantically surveyed his body and the surface around him, hoping against hope (pardon the pun) that the Hope Diamond was still in his possession. Only tar paper and asphalt shingle as far as the eye could see. John must have reclaimed the jewel after Willow leveled him with the heavy door, he figured. The pair were nowhere to be seen. It was true what they say–there really is no honor among thieves.

Just as Stray considered that his evening could not get any worse, the door to the roof flew open once more, and there in the back light stood a familiar, haunting silhouette. Stray silently prayed that he was suffering delirium; otherwise, regrettably, staring down at him with the warmth of a rabid North Pole wolverine was his ex-wife, Domi. Stray closed his eyes, willing her disappearance.

"Well, well, if it isn’t Stray Catz, my devoted "‘til death or until he two-times me do us part’ husband. She spat the word "husband" out. "That was you downstairs with a mop, non? Why did vous come all the way up here, you mangy, Montparte mongoose?"

Stray groaned, rubbed his brow, the pain from the lump on his head paling in comparison to the pain of confronting Domi.

"How so apropos that you mop your forehead, you jackass janitor." Domi continued. What do vous have to say for yourself, or can’t a snake talk with a forked tongue?" Domi stabbed his side with her pointed toe boot as she spoke.

"Domi," he rasped through clenched teeth as he lifted his throbbing head from the rooftop. "What a surprise to see you. You’re looking well, cherie," he added.

"Don’t try to make love to me, you puny Pomeranian. If you followed moi to Caleefornneeah to try to win me back, you are more sttupide zan I remember. Your effort came too little, too late. But zen again, " she snickered, "you always did come too little, too late." With this last comment, she gazed with disdain at his midsection and looked away. Domi continued: "For your information, I have a new amour, you. Riviera raptor. He is so smart, handsome, purr-sonable and, by zee way, he adores my matzah ball soup. We are to be married as soon as I set zee trap, er date, I mean." You and moi, we are finis!" And with that, Domi turned on her black patent stiletto heels, and retreated back to whence she came. Domi headed to the Ball to find her soon-to-be-but-as-yet-unawares-groom who at that very moment was being collared at Precinct headquarters as a public nuisance.

Stray was again alone on the roof. He sat upright, painfully. Slowly, he staggered to his full height, grabbing the ledge railing for support. It was only then that he realized, still clutched in his right hand, was the pistol he’d threatened on John. "Should have used this little lady when I had the chance, " he lamented. But on John or Domi, he wasn’t clear.

His gait was unsteady, but Stray knew he had to get out of the there before the police caught him, or worse, before John did.. Fearing another rendezvous with Domi by the stairs, Stray opted for the service elevator, teetering on wobbly legs. The pounding in his head lessened, he discovered, if he closed his eyes, and so he felt his way along the ledge to the elevator, making slow progress. Eyes shut, Stray could not observe the abandoned handcart next to the ventilation shaft.. Tumbling over the cart, Stray somersaulted, and with a fatal thud struck his already bruised forehead on the concrete rim. Instinctively his fingers flinched, and the gun fired.

Stray lay motionless. The errant bullet, however, continued in a trajectory down into the duct, ricocheting off the tunnel, shredding the Academy’s mechanical intestines of pipes and wires, finally stopping halfway through the four-inch round cable securing the service elevator. As bad luck would have it, both the bullet and Stray’s heart stopped precisely at the same moment. Life can be dangerous as a stray, non?

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