“They want to kill me, Milla.” Todor wallowed on his back in bed, his bulging eyes misting over. The boom box ranted at vodka bottles sprawled on the cheetah-spotted rug. Slender Milla emerged from the bathroom, saronged in a “Victory Palace” towel:
“What did you say, my darling?”
“Pavel’s bastards are gonna get me. I didn’t pay them back their money.”
“Nothing to worry about, darling. You need money, I will lend you some.” Now banging began next door, like demolition work. “Maybe we should turn the music down a little?”
“No,” he groaned. “Let me listen while I still can!”
“You are ridiculous, Todor.” She patted his greasy hair.
Next door, Mrs. Harrington Richardson set down her thick-soled walking shoe. “Bloody Bulgarians.” She shook her firm, grey curls. “Reception won’t even answer the phone. And those soccer hooligans last night, yowling around the pool like cats. Is this your idea of a wellness vacation, Diddles?”
Nested in a tiger-striped easy chair, Mr. Richardson peered up from his crossword puzzle, his half-moon glasses slipping down his nose. “Well you must admit it’s cheaper to sun ourselves here than stew in the London fog.”
The music escalated like a Mideast war. “I say, I’ll just march next door and tell those yobs to turn it down.” Mrs. Richardson donned her navy flannel robe and belted it tight.
“Now, Peaches, don’t you go making a fuss. We can stay up and read till our neighbors drop off…”
An hour later, at around 3 AM, a cat came gliding along the Victory Palace’s rusty railings, his whiskers twitching and bristling. He stopped and snuffed the air, and then leaped down softly onto a balcony. Padding over to a wire basket filled with fragrant wrappings he knocked it over.
“What was that?” Mrs. Richardson whinnied, poking her curled husband in the back. “Somebody’s on our balcony, man.”
“They’re here!” Next door, Todor grabbed his gun.
“What are you doing?” Milla tugged at his pajamas, which tore. Meanwhile Mr. Richardson struggled with his own balcony door. The heavy drapes had caught in a corner, and he pulled them down.
“You blithering fool,” brayed his wife as he stumbled out, curtains on his head, and broke through the lattice between balconies. Todor fired a shot that grazed his thigh.
“Help, I’m killed!” the Londoner cried, and his wife broke a chair over Todor’s head — who flailed through the railing, and down two storeys, into the floodlit swimming pool with a splash that spattered the palms across the street.
“Help, help!” yelled Milla in Bulgarian. “English hooligans are attacking us!”
As stout Mrs. Richardson brandished a chair, Todor spluttered deliriously from the turquoise swimming pool:
“What did I tell you? It is Fate.”
Several balconies away the black cat with white feet crouched over the meatball he’d carried from the scene of the crime. He watched the wailing ambulance arrive, and then three police cars. As the sun crept over the low, green mountains, the Black Sea rippled like a fabric on which to try his claws…
Peeking through curtains, a shaggy toddler confidently called out, “Meow!”
“How sweet.” A plump woman pulled open the balcony’s door, and the cat gazed up expectantly. “You always find a cat, André. Let’s see if there’s any milk left in the fridge. You may serve a saucer to your friend.”
Anna Sykora has been an attorney in New York and teacher of English in Germany, where she resides with her patient husband and three enormous Forest Cats. To date she has placed 47 tales in the small press or on the web, and 80 poems. Writing is her joy.