Chapter VI

“Ladies — ladies. Please. Have mercy on your own poor Mewsy. I haven’t been properly squindled since I don’t know when and I’m gummed inside, properly gummed with my own — pent-up… Release me — I beg you — release Mewsy into the night.”

She traces her way through the chinoiserie to the door and out to the musky hall. “I scent a male,” she slurs aloud, and chuckles at just how like herself she sometimes is.

“Which way did he get to,” she croaks, on her knees of a sudden with her nose to the carpet — in jest, of course, though no one is here to laugh.

“Mewsy, pet. I thought that was you.” It’s Finch-Marie Fung, who stands in her door at the top of the stairs. “You haven’t been in to see me for quite a time.”

“Oh, Finch, you’re a balsam to see. Why look —— here you are!” Mewsy rights herself carefully, coming up to a crouch with her hand on the wall for support.

“Tea’s brewing,” says Finch, “If you care to come up.”

“Oh, now, Finchy, I couldn’t intrude. And I shouldn’t and shan’t. Thanks ever so, all the same.” Mewsy teeters back up on her feet with an effort of cunning.

“Not to worry,” says Finch, “But do come and knock some time soon, y’hear? We’ll kibitz the same as we used to do.”

“Just so, and just so,” Mewsy mumbles, “And to all a good night.”

She wiggles her hand à la mode royale and sets off surefootedly toward her own flat.

At the keyhole she pauses to finger a thought.

Maybe I could use a cup of High Mountain. No harm in it — friendly. And one does feel quite fondly of dear Finch-Marie.

Mewsy cranes her head back toward the way she came.

But no, she thinks, fitting her key in, a bath and a jackoff will do just as nicely.

A lamp in the foyer’s been lighted. Bemusèdly, Mewsy deposits her clutch on the table and slips off her murderous heels.

“Sal,” she calls, rounding the corner, “Salvation?”

“In a way,” — a man’s voice hits her ear half a second before she can see him — “I am.”

Mewsy’s blood freezes, boils, and roars.


It can’t be, it just cannot be! Mewsy trembles and utters a fey little shriek.

And yet — there he is, all the same.