|maxine_bastet (maxine_bastet) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-03-08 10:41:00
|Entry tags:||bastet, vainamoinen|
The World Keeps Turning
Who: Max & Brent
What: Max finds a kindred spirit on the first floor, and also bumps into Brent
Where: Pax Letale
Afternoons were often down-time for Max, as most of her clients booked her for evenings and weekends, though the occasional daytime outing did happen. Today was laundry day, as boring a job as she could think of, but it had to be done. She threw all of her clothes into the hamper along with a soap pod and her laundry card and headed down the hall to the laundry room. Only to find it locked with an ‘out of order’ sign on it. With an annoyed groan, she followed the instructions on the sign and lugged her clothes down to the first floor, treading the unfamiliar hallway in the interest of clean clothes.
Halfway down the hall she spotted something that gave her pause. A tiny brown calico kitten was roaming around the hall, passing frequently by one apartment door as if waiting to be let in. Her features immediately melted into a fond smile and she set her laundry down, cautiously approaching the adorable thing and crouching down to pet him. “Ohh, you’re so cute,” she cooed, scratching the kitten behind the ears. It gratefully responded by moving closer to her, purring loudly.
“Who do you belong to, huh?” she wondered aloud, looking up at the door she was crouching by. “Is this your home?” She picked the kitten up in her arms, weighing practically nothing, and knocked on the door.
Scattered sounds emanated from the other side of the door: first a loud banging, then the sound of something shattering. Someone swore, though it was not a word so much as an unintelligible scream. Then the door swung wide, banging hard against the stopper on the wall behind it.
The man's hand remained on the door. His bitten nails were crusted with what was either dirt or dried blood, and perhaps a bit of both. He looked down at the kitten, and his broad grin might have been pleasant, had his breath not been so offensive.
"I'm Brent. Who's that?"
Max smiled when the door opened, but she had to work hard not to grimace at the smell. If she wasn’t standing in front of the door of his own apartment, she would have pegged him as a homeless guy and given him a sandwich. Her smile faltered just a bit, but then she remembered why she’d knocked. She cradled the kitten in her arms, which was adorably starting to knead her arm with its tiny paws.
“Hi, I’m Max,” she greeted politely, “I..found this kitten outside your door and I was wondering if it was yours. It looked pretty anxious to get in here,” she said, glancing surreptitiously to the apartment behind him. She couldn’t imagine why the kitten would want to get in to such a smelly and disordered environment, but maybe it smelled something it liked. “Is it yours?” she asked. Part of her was hoping it wasn’t, she was already starting to get slightly attached to the little guy.
"She," Brent corrected. "Calicos are always girls."
He raised one arm and propped himself, elbow bent, against the doorframe. Already the wood surface of it was chipping in places, as though the door had already been slammed shut too hard and too often. Judging by what could be seen of the apartment beyond the dingy creature, hard use and little care were a common state of things in Brent's life.
"She's not mine. I don't have any pets. I can probably take her to the shelter if you want me to, though. I have a shift later today, so…" He turned to look at the clock on the stove, chewing his lip as he tried to determine how long he could still laze about his slovenly home. "Yeah, I could drop her off. They let cats on the bus, right?”
Without thinking, she held the kitten a little more securely, as if he would snatch her away. “Ohh,” she said, trying her best to hide her excitement. “If she’s not yours...she needs a home then. And I’ve got plenty of room.” She smiled widely at him, scratching the kitten’s head. She purred and lifted her chin, bumping Max’s jaw with her head and melting her heart. It was settled then, kitty was hers.
“So where do you work?” she asked. She wanted to go, to bring the kitten home and run out to buy kitten things for it, but she also wanted to know more about this guy. Something about him...she had an urge to feed him or something. Clean him up, help him out. It was an instinct thing that she couldn’t really ignore, despite the smell. Maybe they’d work on hygiene.
"The hospital," he answered. "LA County." This was strange for two reasons: The first being his obvious lack of care for himself, the second being the unmistakable stench of old booze that hovered around him. If Brent had ever noticed this oddity, he had never commented upon it, and he did not do so now. "I'm an orderly there? I take people places, basically. What about you, what do you do?" Barely pausing even for a breath, he gestured to the cat, still noticeably hung up on its well being. "You'll take care of her, though, right? Lots of strays around here lately, don't let her get clawed up by one."
Her eyebrows rose with his answer. A hospital? But he was a biohazard...how did they even let him in the building? Another smile broke out on her face when he shifted his attention again, as quickly as changing channels. She gently rested her cheek on the kitten’s soft forehead, enjoying the feeling her purring. “I will, I promise,” she said, “I’ve always wanted a cat, but never found the right one.”
She hesitated then, when he asked about her job, not wanting to freak him out or anything. “I...teach a self-defence class in the gym,” she said. It wasn’t a lie, it just wasn’t the whole truth. From the looks of him, he couldn’t handle the truth any more than he could handle soap.
He seemed to find both responses pleasing; or at least, enough to accept them, and move on without further question. He reached out and petted the kitten. It licked his fingertip and immediately drew away, as though disgusted by whatever it tasted.
"Self defense, huh? That sounds cool. You know, like, karate?"
She giggled softly, “yeah, something like that.” She watched the kitten’s interaction with him and grimaced inwardly, assuming he hadn’t washed in quite a while and once again wondering how they let him work in a hospital. But his concern for the kitten made her think of something...she didn’t really know how to take care of a cat, though she’d always wanted one as a pet.
“Do you know anything about caring for kittens?” she asked him, hopeful and yet a little nervous asking, since he obviously didn’t know how to take care of himself very well.
"Well yeah," he said. "Feed 'em and play with 'em, and keep their claws. Don't get them declawed." His expression seemed to suggest he would personally enact vengeance if she did; he peered intensely at her for a moment, his shoulders squared. But he relaxed soon after, whatever anger he had clearly felt passing as quickly as it had come. "Really she'll just wanna be warm, and around you, and she'll be easy to take care of. Let a vet check her out when you can. She'll be fine."
She listened intently to his suggestions, slightly taken aback at his insistence about not declawing. “I won't,” she promised, watching him relax a little after that. For some reason she trusted his word on animal care, despite the fact that he looked every bit like an unwashed vagrant. Instead of repelling her though, something about him pulled her in, triggering her protector instinct, making her want to take care of him and feed him or something.
She glanced back at her forgotten laundry and then at the kitten in her arms and back at him. “Look...I should probably get some supplies for her if I want to keep her…” she said, already regretting what she was about to say before it left her mouth. “Would you...do you want to come with me? I don't know what I'll need, and you seem to know how to take care of cats…” She winced in the inside, imagining trying to get that smell out of her car, but couldn't stop herself. And she did need guidance, that much was true.
"Well yeah, I mean…" He looked behind him, back into his dingy little cave. "I've got some stuff goin' on…" He had nothing going on, as was absolutely, perfectly clear. "But I could probably move some stuff around, make it work…" He turned, his hand on the doorknob making the door swing with the gesture. Then he changed his mind as quickly as he had made it, nodding vigorously as he stepped out into the hall. "Okay. Yeah. Let's go."
Brent rubbed his hands together, as though they were off on some grand adventure. Then he reached into one pocket, pulling out a frayed length of twine. "The pet store might not let her in without a leash," he explained.
Max frowned at the twine in his hands, thinking it would be rather cruel to tie up a kitten with something so rough. “I think I’ll just hold onto her really tight...we can get a nicer one at the store. Maybe a crate?” She didn’t know much about caring for animals, but she knew enough that they needed to be contained while in transit. She looked down at the kitten in her arms, and then glanced at her basket of laundry behind her. “Would you...could you hold her for a minute? I need to bring this back up to my apartment and get my car keys…” And breathe. Maybe she’d bring some body spray and try and surreptitiously spray him with it…
"Yeah, all right," Brent said, nodding enthusiastically. He took the kitten from her hands, plucking the calico up and handling her with the easy familiarity of an obstetric nurse with a newborn. "A crate, though, I don't know about that. She could get splinters, right, in her little pads..." Max snorted a little in suppressed laughter and rolled her eyes after looking away.
He put the twine back in his pocket, still cradling the kitten as he moved into the lobby. "We'll wait here I guess," he said, all the while meandering out into the warm afternoon sun.
Max watched him go, and then picked up her laundry basket, quickly taking the stairs up to the second floor and depositing it in her living room, grabbing her keys and her wallet and then heading back down to meet Brent outside the building. “Hey,” she said, realizing as soon as she stood beside him that she’d forgotten the spray. “Let’s go,” she said, petting the kitten a little and then leading the way to her black BMW in the parking lot.
Brent started to hand the kitten back to her, but realized at the last moment she was driving. He cuddled the kitten back to his chest, holding her close as he opened the door. He stumbled as he tried to get into the car, but a twist of his hand kept the kitten safe as he did. He shut the door too hard behind himself afterward. He forgot the seatbelt altogether, focusing instead on cradling the cat.
Max was about to pull out of the parking lot but then her car alerted her that Brent hadn’t buckled up. “Here, let me…” she said, since he had his hands full with the kitten. She leant over - a little too close and doing her best not to gag on the smell - and pulled the seatbelt over him, buckling him in for the ride. Then she pulled back, perhaps a little too fast, and started the car. “So I think I saw a pet store the other day down the street,” she said as she pulled into traffic. “Hey, I’m gonna need something to call her besides ‘kitty’,” she said with a grin, “any ideas?” She was so unprepared for this, but spontaneity was what made life fun, and she always rolled with the punches.
"Oh, no," Brent said. "I usually just call them 'cat.' They don't care what you call them and that's easier to remember." He let go of the kitten, letting her crawl across his lap as they wound through traffic. "You can call her whatever, though. She's yours. Maybe Mittons, though. Or Jane."
Max laughed at his suggestions, turning onto the main street and started keeping an eye out for the pet store. “That's kinda cute,” she admitted, and she watched the kitten pawing at Brent's stomach. “Or Cali...for calico?” she suggested. She spotted the store up ahead and turned into the parking lot. She smiled at him and turned off the car, noticing alarmingly that she was starting to get used to the smell. “So I'll need you to help me pick things out,” she said cheerfully, getting out of the car and locking it after he followed with the kitten.
"And for California," he observed, perhaps a bit too late. "I like it."
He shouldered into the store with all the confidence of a man who had been there countless times. The girl at the counter started toward him, already shaking her head.
"Oh no," she said. "Not again. The mice didn't calm down for a week after your last visit. You're banned, Brent, you know--" She stopped upon seeing Max. The longer she looked at the woman, the more confused she appeared to become. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't realize you were here with someone." Max smiled at her but shrugged and gestured incredulously to Brent with a little smile.
He waved her off, his nose in the air as though he couldn't deign to reply. He walked immediately back to the cat aisle, leaving the clerk gawking behind them. Max followed him, her eyes widening when she was confronted with a wall of all different kinds of food. “How am I supposed to know which one to choose?” she asked, looking at him with slight desperation. “And I need litter, right?”
"Yeah or you can just let her go outside," he said. "I mean, she'll still go in the house sometimes but you can just clean it up." He shrugged. He set Cali down, letting her meander as she wanted as he looked over the vast array of supplies available. "Litter is good. Clay gets kinda messy. And the food, just get the best you can afford. She won't be picky. Maybe get a couple little bags of different stuff until you figure out what she likes best."
Max looked at the different bags on the shelf in front of her, frowning and pulling one down to look at the ingredients. “I know cats need meat. She should eat meat.” The bag she was holding said it was for kittens, and the first three ingredients were meat. She compared it to a few others but then put them back. “This looks good...maybe I'll try this for now.” She looked up the aisle and saw Cali frolicking near the toys. “I'll definitely get litter,” she said moving further up the aisle, “ohh, so many kinds!” she whined, looking at Brent for guidance.
Brent laughed. He paid no mind to Cali, though she seemed to keep her orbit relatively close to her two humans; she pawed at a toy, small, razor-sharp claws hooking it and pulling it from the shelf. Brent, meanwhile, was hunched down on the bottom shelf, looking at the cheapest litters available.
"I like this one," he said, pulling a plastic tote from the shelf. "It's heavy, I can carry it. You can get her some toys or you can just make some. They like boxes and bags and shit more than anything you'll get here. Maybe a scratching post, though, unless you don't like your furniture. Then your furniture will work."
Max watched him pull the litter off the shelf and decided she'd do more research on the different kinds available later. Instead she considered the different kinds of litter pans, picking one she liked and using it as a basket for the bag of food. “I think for now I'll get a few toys here, and look into other things later,” she said, pulling a few little mice and shiny foil balls off the shelf and tossing them in the litter pan.
Cali was rolling around on the floor with a teaser wand she seemed to like, so Max laughed and pulled both kitten and wand off the floor, depositing both into her makeshift basket. “I think...hmm, food and water dishes...and a carrier. Maybe a collar?” she mentally listed for them. She spotted the girl at the counter watching them and smiled at her, and the girl smiled back, but warily.
"I don't like collars," Brent said, and it was unclear if he meant for himself or the numerous cats he seemed to consider his own. He followed her around the store, lugging the big box of litter along with him. It thumped against his thighs with every step. "She was born naked, you know? Let her live that way. I wish we could."
Max nodded, allowing the idea, “but if she gets out of my apartment I want her to find her way back to me, you know?” she said, chewing her lip. “But maybe I’ll wait on that at least for now. She will need dishes to eat out of though. These are cute,” she said, pointing at two ceramic bowls with cats and fish all over them. Cali started trying to climb out of the litter pan and Max had to guide her back in to keep her from falling out.
Brent watched her motions with no small amount of judgment: eyes narrowed, brow furrowed, lips pursed to a thin line. But he said nothing, instead moving past her to the counter, where he favored the clerk with a shaky smile. She wrinkled her nose, but allowed him to place the heavy box of litter atop the counter. He returned to Max and Cali in short order, plucking the kitten up from the pan and holding her once more.
"Okay," he said, "so dishes. And then I think you're good to go, you know?"
Max put her armload on the counter with the litter and smiled at the girl behind it. “Do you have any cat carriers?” she asked her. The girl’s face brightened.
“Yes, we have several...I recommend getting one for an adult cat, since they don’t stay that small forever,” she said, looking at Cali in Brent’s arms with a mixed smile. “Something comfortable too, maybe you could put a soft bed inside it for her.” She led them down the aisle with various carriers and Max chose one that wasn’t the cheapest but wasn’t the most expensive either. “Did you want to put her in it now?” the girl asked hopefully. Max glanced at Brent and then shook her head slowly.
“No, I think she’s fine where she is right now. I’ll need it for when I bring her to the vet though,” she added, more for Brent’s benefit than the cashier. On her way back to the cash she picked up the food bowls she’d spotted earlier and added them to the pile of cat supplies on the counter, nodding to the girl to start ringing up her purchases.
Brent watched the numerous objects as they were scanned, humming out a little tune to match the beeping of the scanner as it rang up each item. He watched the clerk with unsettling curiosity, leaning forward the longer he looked at her. It seemed he wanted to ask a question, but he held himself back at the last minute, biting his tongue instead. Then he gathered the kitten up closer to him, ambling over to where a few items had been bagged. He took up the bag, careful with the kitten all the while.
"I'll wait outside," he said, "since I'm banned and all."
And with that he was gone.