In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
August 26, 1993
With Lucifer lovingly shadowing his every footstep John roamed from room to room in his barren house. The gray Persian meowed at his bare heels but John had no ears for him, he was too busy trying to decide what to do next.
In spite of the lateness of the hour he'd immediately set off for the address Tom had gave him. It was a two-hour walk to the Willet Apartments Complex; a modest little affair that seemed more geared towards retirees than people Angie's age. Even though his senses told him she no longer occupied apartment twenty-one he still rang the bell. The man who answered the door had a thick Eastern European accent and seemed to take great pleasure in reading John the riot act for waking him up at one in the morning. John had asked about the girl who'd lived there previously, but the current tenant was lacking in any knowledge outside from an extensive catalogue of Russian insults. The commotion however, roused the people across the hall, a pair of sliver-haired widows and they were more than glad to take John in. Over a hastily brewed cup of tea they told him how the girl next door and her boyfriend had simply disappeared one night. Everything valuable was gone, all they left behind was some ratty furniture and a starving cat. Pets weren't allowed anyway, so the Superintendent put the animal out and had the apartment cleaned and made ready for new occupants. That was almost two months ago.
There was a flash of brightness that left John momentarily blinded. A trio of heartbeats later came the thunder. He approached the open window that faced out into his overgrown back yard. A cool breeze washed over his skin; after a long afternoon of broken promises, the thunderstorm had finally come. Lucifer stood between his bare legs as the downfall began, neither meowing or purring, just making contact. John had always considered cats unpleasant things with capricious ways and secretive glances. Somehow this one with its childlike devotion had won him over.
What was it Victor had called felines? “Four-footed wizards.” or some such nonsense, he'd believed that they possessed great wisdom- and power. Of all the things his master and father had told him, he'd believed that the least.
The wisdom of cats?
More lightning stabbed down to Earth, thunder following in its wake. The rain fell harder, transformed by high winds into a thick curtain of water. Cool liquid splashed against the screens. John reached down and picked up Lucifer, the cat lolled in his arms beginning to purr once more. “Is that why you came to me?” he asked as he stroked the animal's belly, “Because you knew she was in trouble and you knew I loved her too? Or was it just dumb luck?”
A fresh peal of thunder tore the night in half. Lucifer cocked his head and listened “Because, if you sought me out, you made a big mistake. They took my claws too.”
Something terrible had happened to Angie, he just knew it.
What am I going to do about it?
Nothing of course, she could be anywhere now. She might even be dead.
She was probably dead.
Lucifer meowed and twisted in his arms to give better access to his wide belly. John rubbed the cat's tummy absent-mindedly Victor's final words filling the void between the thunderclaps, “Everything you were- Everything you are- Everything you could have had- All of it gone!”
Looking from his ruined leg to his empty house, John had to admit that regardless of anything else Victor Kovach might have been, he certainly was a man of his word.