This precipitate drop in temperature does not entirely suit my character. I’m a lone wolf–or lone tiger, as it were–and cold weather really crushes any intrinsic motivation to maintain a healthy distance from the human beings I’ve allowed to spend their lives with me. Most months out of the year, I let them go about their days–leaving the house for eight or nine hours at a time; spending the evening glued behind that glowing box that seems to transmit signals (unintelligible, to me) from the humans’ leaders; bringing in small human beings who, while cute, cry a lot and want to pet me. However, I am getting too old to muddle through the cold weather, clinging to the hope that my fur will keep me warm, and I’m too smart to ignore the real usefulness of these human beings: they provide an excellent source of heat. And so, especially tonight, with the season’s first snow on the horizon, I have summoned my human being and requested that she share some of that body heat with her master.


I watched as Nora Channels brought the bill and a loose twenty up to the cash register. I held out a hand to accept the check and ring it into the register, but I didn’t say anything: I was sure she didn’t remember me from high school.

“Hi,” she said, and this was more than mere catachresis. This was utter inaccuracy. She’d barely said a word to me in high school, and now here she was, half a dozen years later, greeting me with a comfortable smile and an all-too-knowing eye. “You’re Florie,” she said. It wasn’t a question; it was a confirmation.

I punched the total bill ($15.75) into the register, and then jammed down the CASH TENDERED key (it stuck sometimes) with my right thumb. “Uh, yes,” I said, as the cash drawer shot open and I stopped it with my hip. I slipped the 20 she’d handed me into its slot and started counting out change.

Nora waved it off. “Don’t worry about it,” she said. “Tip. Keep it.”

“Oh,” I said. “Thanks.” I hoped I’d get to keep the change.