When old people get bored, find a spell book, and use it.
You’ve never seen comedy until you’ve seen an entire busload of assisted living gamblers trying to get off of their bus, find their luggage and get inside the casino.
No, really. Either they can’t hear or they can’t see. Or both. It’s inevitable that one of the men will be trying to impress one of the ladies by shouting at her to find out which bag is hers.
And why is it that except for the one suitcase that’s glittery red, they all have black bags? Not only that, they somehow all bought the same bright yellow luggage tags.
Usually I sit and watch them come in. The best are those who are return customers. They think they know what they’re doing, but they usually forget an important step. Like pants, or their oxygen tank.
I do have a favorite couple. He’s hunched over and walks with a cane. He always wears a different plaid suit. His wife of something like sixty-five years, holds on to his arm as they shuffle up the handicap ramp for ten minutes before reaching the hotel. She’s always got a huge hat on, that he makes fun of her for. She laughs, pats his hand and tells him someone has to compete with his suits.
Today’s bus pulls up, and the door pops open with a hiss. The assisted living center director jogs down the stairs and the driver follows. It will take another couple of minutes before the first patron makes it down.
I lick my lips, wiggle my whiskers, and shift my weight. It’s blazing hot out, and I’ve taken refuge under the steps to wait for my prey.
The last thing I thought would happen after I got squished by a farmer with his shovel was waking up again. Not only that, I was sentient.
I tell you what, old people have too much time on their hands. My masters—the Underground Geriatric Bingo Mobsters—had brought me back to life as a joke. Just to see if they could do it. The spell caster said she got the book for her granddaughter because it had pretty pictures in it, then realized it had spells in it, and she started to dabble.
I’m the only undead in their arsenal, but they’ve got plenty of other tricks up their sleeves. Or, more appropriately, in their walker pockets. One man has every single herb needed for ever spell in that book in little plastic bags in his walker.
Can he read the labels on them?
Can he get them open?
But he has them, which gives him some sort of power, and he really likes power.
The other men say he never wore the pants in his family, but not when he’s around.
I narrow my eyes and the bus empties, and droves of old people walk back and forth trying to remember what their luggage looks like.
There he is.
The man my masters had told me to trip up.
Apparently he’d somehow cheated their precious bingo game—not idea how anyone as idiotic as this guy could do that—and they wanted him gone.
If I don’t obey they’ll burn my heart and kill me…blah, blah, blah. I’m not sure that would actually work, but whatever. They feed me and I do what they say. Better than my first life.
I keep telling my masters that I’m a gopher. I dig holes. But the parking lot is solid asphalt. Sure, I could get under it and dig out, but it would take a while, and the hotel people keep it nice and smooth, to avoid something called getting sued.
So I have to improvise.
I wait until they’re all milling about and the director begins rubbing the bridge of her nose, before I slink out from below the stairs.
The sun is high, so I’m quite visible, but their blindness works against me, and most of them think I’m a cat.
“Oh, look at the kitty.”
“Good kitty, come here.”
Hands reach down to pet me.
Someone offers me a dog treat. I take it. Why not.
“What is that?” the director asks.
“The hotel’s cat.”
I stay near the middle of the pack, avoiding the director, until I reach my target. I rub up against his leg, pretending to care.
He wiggles his leg. An indication I should leave him alone.
As any self-respecting cat would, I go for his other leg.
“Get off,” the man says in a grouchy voice.
I grin and go between his legs, pushing him a little as I do so.
He leans, and stumbles a bit.
I press harder, and I’m about to go through his feet again when something hard and flat smacks me on the back.
“Get away!” a woman shrieks.
Pain doesn’t register like it used to, but I felt something. I turn to hiss at the woman, and find a blubbery arm holding a flat spatula with three lines cut out of it. The woman glares at me in righteous anger.
“He’s allergic to cats. Get back!”
Allergic? Seriously? The spatula comes at me again, but I dodge. And I hiss.
The man shrinks back.
I ram him with my head, taking a glancing blow from the spatula, and then dart off.
The man finally falls.
The woman glares at me.
I smell burning, and look at my back. My fur is charred in three perfect stripes. I glare back at the woman. Only magic can hurt me.
Looks like the Underground Geriatric Bingo Mobsters have some competition.