Mrs. Jones nearly tripped over the cat again. She clutched at the counter to stop her fall. “Frank,” she said loudly, “We need to talk about the cat.”
There was a creak from the other room as Frank stood up. He shuffled into the room. “I thought you loved the cat, Mary?”
Mary Jones huffed and poured a glass of lemonade for her husband. She set it down at his place on the table. “Sit,” she said. “This isn’t about whether or not I like the cat. It has problems. We need to take it in to get it looked at.”
Frank sat. “But it has a lifetime guarantee and we’ve only had it for two months.” He gulped his lemonade.
Mary poured herself some lemonade and sat down in her chair. She stood up, moved the cat, and sat down again. “I love the idea of a lifelike robot cat. I’ve always wanted a cat, but my allergies prevented it. It was a very thoughtful gift.”
Frank smiled. “I’m glad you like it. I knew you would. Can I have some more lemonade?”
Mary rolled her eyes and got up to get him another glass. She handed it to him and sat down again. “I like the idea of the cat. The cat itself has problems. It keeps chewing on the bars of soap in the bathroom.”
“So those were bite marks! I thought they were, but they were too small to be your teeth marks,” Frank said. “Your jaw is a little bigger than that.”
“You thought I was eating soap?” Mary asked. “And you didn’t say anything?”
“Well, I knew it wasn’t me. And I was pretty sure it wasn’t you, jaw size and all, so I thought I was mistaken. I didn’t think about the cat. Pretty funny, right?” Frank laughed.
“Frank, the cat shouldn’t be chewing on the soap at all. It will mess up its insides,” Mary said.
“You’re probably right. I’ll go look that up in the user manual, and we’ll see if we need to take it in. I’m glad we had this talk,” Frank said. He started to stand up.
“Wait, that’s not all,” Mary said, holding up a hand. Frank sat down again. “It keeps hiding under the dirty clothes. When I walk past the basket, it jumps out and the laundry goes all over the place.”
Frank laughed again. “That’s great! I need to see this. Where is the cat now?” He looked around. “Here, kitty kitty.”
They waited a moment. Nothing happened. “Is it supposed to come when you call?” Mary asked. “I don’t think that real cats do.”
“Of course they do. I had a cat growing up that would show up whenever we started opening a can, just in case it was something for her to eat,” Frank said.
“That’s not calling her at all,” Mary said.
“Same idea,” Frank said. “Maybe you should unwrap another bar of soap.”
Mary laughed. “Be serious Frank, I bruised my elbow when I jumped back the last time the cat exploded out of the laundry. It’s not safe. Besides, what if it shut down for sleep and I accidentally put it in the washing machine?”
“That would void the warranty,” Frank said. He looked a little worried. “Make sure to check the washing machine before you use it. And the dishwasher too. And maybe the bathtubs and sinks.”
“I think sometimes it’s trying to trip me,” Mary said. “I know it sounds a little paranoid, but it just happens so often that it appears where I’m not expecting it, just in front of my feet.”
“Maybe it’s lonely and you need to cuddle it more,” Frank said. Just then, the cat ran through the room, dragging a blue silk necktie. “That’s my new tie!” Frank frowned. “Maybe there is something wrong with that cat.”
“It’s been eyeing your baseball card collection,” Mary said. “I’ve had to chase it out of your study and shut the door several times.”
“My baseball cards?” Frank scowled. “That’s it. I’m taking the cat in tomorrow to get it fixed.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” Mary said. “Would you like some more lemonade?” Frank handed her his glass. She got up and nearly tripped over the cat again, catching herself on the table with her elbow. The cat ran off again. Mary sighed.