MAD, BAD AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW

“So what are you saying, that he was some kind of libertine?”

She smiled.  It seemed a little feral.  “I don’t think he’d describe himself as such.”

“Why not?  You did.”

“He wouldn’t know what the word meant.”

She crossed her legs and leaned back into the chair.  It wasn’t a weary movement but a wary one, rather like a panther ready to strike.  Her eyes slowly swept the room before resting on her companion,  a mousy blonde clad in non-descript clothes.  The blonde seemed a perfect foil. 

The mouse conceded defeat without uttering a word.  She hung her head and fumbled with a notebook.  “If you’ll just… uh… describe the events as they took place… um…”

Catwoman blinked slowly and nodded.  “No doubt your readers will find it amusing.”  Her shoulders twitched almost imperceptibly.  “The misfortune of others often is.”

Mousy sniffed the air.  “So, you were hurt in some way?”

“Me?  No.”  The smile grew broader, revealing sharp white teeth.  “Just another adventure, really.”

“But you were involved, right?  I mean,  uh, you were there?”

“Of course,” she purred.  “I witnessed it all.”

The mouse jotted notes onto the pad without looking down.  “There were some differing accounts.”

“I’m not surprised.  Everyone wants to be heard.”

“So, there were others involved.”

The cat yawned.  “It wouldn’t be a story without them.”

As the mouse dutifully transcribed, the tale unfolded.  Catwoman was working for a conglomerate in Singapore when she met a fellow who played violin for the Melbourne Symphony.  The orchestra was in the last week of a grueling four-month tour of southeast Asia and its members were anxious to return home.  He was shopping in Lucky Plaza looking for a souvenir for his wife when he saw the cat peer into the shop window before slinking down the corridor.

He turned on his heel and pursued her, leaving behind a flustered salesman and a pile of costly gems.  He trailed her through the maze of mall shoppers to a tea shop where he introduced himself and invited her to the last concert, gallantly producing a pair of tickets to that evening’s performance.  She slipped them into her purse with an ambiguous smile, one which neither accepted nor declined the invitation.

She attended that night, and the next morning he resigned from the company and moved into her spacious apartment.  He ignored the subsequent calls and pleas from his wife and family, opting for an idyllic life with a woman who didn’t seem to care that he abandoned both social obligation and work ethic.  He spent his days in idleness, content to wait at home while she hunted corporate prey and to take the choicest pieces for himself.  Sometimes he frequented the brothels in Geylang while she was away, indulging in pleasures with minors of both sexes.  Other times he drank or gambled to excess, raging and slapping his feline companion if his losses were great; petting and spoiling her with expensive gifts if they were not.

Silent and obliging, her behavior never wavered.  She shared her largesse and endured his demands wordlessly until one day while shopping for another bauble with his winnings, he spied the shapely figure of a young French woman and followed her into a tea shop.  Despite all her frantic calls and attempts to track him down, Catwoman never heard from him again. 

She burned his clothes, books and violin on a pyre near the sea, saying goodbye in the only way left to her.  As she turned to leave, she noticed the lights from adjacent bonfires and heard their attendants’ cries.

“… and I realized there were others, many others, who had shared my fate.”

Mousy looked up from her scratchings, unsure whether or not to believe her.  “That’s a lot of ground for one man to cover.  Maybe those women were on the beach for different reasons?” she asked hopefully.

“Yes, for many reasons,” said the cat, “but the warning to those still at sea was the same.”

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