Saturday, May 24, 2008

BIG MONEY, Chapter 42

The little girl is not so little. She asks Max to call her Elizabeth, not Beth like her daddy and mommy call her. And the little girl has some things growing under her shirt. Not a woman yet, no. And Max is no pervert. But Elizabeth not a little girl either.

“Why are you mad at cats, Max?”

Max pushes the edge of his shovel into the soft ground, slicing a tuft of new grass, the big man wishing he didn’t have to dig a hole, but glad the rain made the bad job easier. “Not mad at cats. Don’t like them,” he says. “Is big difference.”

“How is it different?” Elizabeth says. “How, exactly?”

Max smiles. “Being mad at cats is emotional. No thinking involved. I know cats all my life and do not like for many good reasons. Is opposite of emotional. For Max, it is completely logical. Cats are mean and selfish. If they need, or just decide for any reason, they will kill and eat things. Even people.”

“Those little cats you drowned couldn’t eat anybody.”

“Little cats grow into big cats. They eat pretty birds, torture their prey after catching. And cats do not always eat what they kill. Cats are very mean.”

Elizabeth gazes at Max like she knows more than him. Superior airs, Max’s mother used to say. Some women look at Max this way all his life.

“My freshman psychology book would say you might have another, even bigger reason for not liking cats, Max. Something that happened when you were a kid?”

Max stops his digging. He leans on his shovel. “Is true what you say, Elizabeth. Did your father tell you I used to be in circus? Travel all over Europe with animals and crazy peoples?”

“He said you’d been in the circus.”

“When I was little boy, lions got out of their cage and killed my father. Ate most of him before we find.”

“Oh, my God, Max. That’s awful. I’m so sorry.”

“Lion tamer Frederic say it was accident that cages got open, but lion tamer Frederic marry my mother next month in Budapest. Then lion tamer pretend to be my Daddy. Only mean. He made me sleep outside with his smelly lions.”

“The same ones that ate your real father?”

“Same ones.”

“Oh, my God. That’s the worst story I ever heard.”

Max smiles. “I got even.”

Elizabeth stare at him a long time before she asks. “What did you do?”

“I tell you later. First, you tell me something.” Max starts digging again, but slower than before. Bluefish call him soon. Maybe this hole is not needed. “Tell me a story about your mother and father.”

“My mother and father? Why?”

“Max like stories about love. You ever see them doing it?”


Anonymous said...

Missing you at Erlanger, Jano!

Jano the Viking said...

I'm in Los Angeles for some signings and BookExpo--and being punished for missing WRW.


Can you believe it? Not a ray of sunshine. The Gods of Erlanger are wrathful.

See you next year, I hope.