Story Go Round 1/25/2003, round 2, #2

"Quoth the Whiskers"

The black cat with the tell-tale heart mewed for its milk. Lenore rummaged around in the fridge to find it. "Oh bother, Whiskers, it seems we're all out. I wonder if our new neighbor, Mr. Poe, has any we could borrow." Whiskers cocked her head in feline cogitation, then trotted to the door. She turned and looked expectantly at Lenore.

Walking down the apartment hallway to 405 felt strange. She had never known anyone to live there. It had been occasionally visited by a sickly, feverish talkative man named Usher. The man always said she looked like his sister, a comment that made her uneasy. Her own dear brother - what was his name again? had been her best-friend, her staunchest ally, her bosom buddy, until she turned three. Then he had been kidnapped or something, she still had the milk carton photo in her wallet to remember him by. And his stuffed Orangutan named Rue.

She reached the door and paused indecisively. Then she paused decisively - was the milk really that important? Somehow, this was taking on the feeling of risk.

"Lenorrre...!" Poe breathed, opening wide the door. His pallid, cherubic face poked out of the darkness like a disembodied head.

Lenore let that one slide. She had firmly insisted on him calling her Miss Reubens, but he seemed like such a harmless old geezer, maybe she ought to humor him.

"Nevermore," Poe breathed again, and gestured for her to come in. Whiskers pre-empted her incipient indecision by darting inside.

"Now Raven!" Lenore Reubens chirped, "that's not polite!" And to Mr. (Dr.?) Poe she said "I'm sorry, poor Raven is asking for milk and I haven't any."

"I have a bird with the same name!" Poe said. Lenore looked and saw a ghastly, grim, ungainly, gaunt, and ominous bird perched upon the window lattice.

"You named your parrot 'Whiskers'?" Lenore asked in bewildered amusement, thinking she must have misheard something somewhere.

"What's wrong with the appellation 'Raven' for a dark bird of the night sky?" croaked the old man defensively.

At this point, she decided the old man was hearing things- like her dad, who after the war would bolt out to the barn whenever a car backfired in the lane.

"Milk?" she half-asked, half-demanded, having had quite enough of 405.

"would you ever be interested in visiting The Night's Plutonian Shore with me ... just the two of us? he asked, holding a crumpled brochure in one hand.

She left the door swinging behind her.

Amber is purple; John is pink; Alan is blue; Terry is orange