cat-blonde went into the emporium for a piss and came out with a pile of laundry attached to price tags. she didn’t mean it, it was just one of those things, just one of those fabulous flings, a trip to the moon on credit card wings, just one of those things, but she was pretty sure big tony wasn’t going to see it that way, big tony being what you might call a bit of a stinge, or cheap, to use the vernacular (and why shouldn’t we? it’s as much ours as anybody else’s). so she went to another emporium and bought a plastic trash can. then she tore all the tags off the new laundry, threw them into a passing egg crate, and stuffed the now tagless new laundry into the trash can. when she got home, big tony was on the porch, sunning himself in the shade (big tony likes the idea of sun, he just doesn’t like the fact of it since he insists he has delicate skin that burns easy only nobody knows whether that’s true or not because nobody’s ever seen big tony go out in the sun long enough to find out), and he says, “what’cha got there, girl?” and she says, “nothin big tony. a trash can is all,” and he says, “whad’ja buy a new trash can for, we already got one.” and she says, “it’s got a dent in it big tony, i’m ashamed for the neighbors to see you carry it out when it looks like that. this one’s plastic and it won’t never dent.” big tony just shakes his head–wimmen–and goes back to sunning himself without taxing its strength by actually being in it and cat-blonde takes the trash can around the back.

now she’s got a problem, see, she’s got to get the new laundry with the tags missing out of the trash can and into the house without big tony seeing her and there’s no telling if big tony’s going to pick that very moment to decide he doesn’t want to sun himself any more and come back into the house where there’s a layer of brick between him and it, so she just leaves it there. which is a good thing because big tony picks that minute to come in after all and he would have caught her with her arms all full of new laundry with the tags missing and they would have had words and cat-blonde doesn’t like having words with big tony because he doesn’t have any and it ain’t a fair fight. so she leaves it there with the missing-tag new laundry in it and goes on into the house where she makes big tony his favorite meal–baked beans and franks with plenty of salted onions–and they watch tv and then after awhile, in the natural course of things, they go to bed and a little while later big tony is snoring like a moose and cat-blonde sneaks out of the house and downstairs to the kitchen and snaps on the outside light and goes to get her new laundry with the missing-because-she-threw-them-into-a-passing-egg-crate tags out of the trash can.

only when she comes out on the back steps she sees, froze there in the light like a scared baby rabbit is all her new clothes setting on a totally different female body other than hers.

“what’chu doin with my new clothes?” she says.

the rabbit says, “new? i found em in the trash can, i thought you was throwun em out.”

cat-blonde says, “i wasn’t throwin em out, you doofus, them’s my new clothes i just bought. i was hidin em from big tony, that’s why they was in the trash can.”

“o,” says the rabbit, “i’m sorry,” and she starts to unhook the long silver dress with the white pearl buttons down the back when cat-blonde sees the shopping cart on the sidewalk and the pile of rags kicked off to one side on what passes for a lawn in these parts and she says, “stop a minute,” and the rabbit does, and cat-blonde looks her up and down a good long time. then she says, “turn around”. well, the rabbit doesn’t know what to make of this–is this odd woman going to shoot her in the back or proposition her?–but she turns around–and around–and around–until cat-blonde tells her to stop, for ghawd’s sake. and then cat-blonde looks a good long time more with one eye closed, concentrating real hard.

“keep em,” she says finally.

the rabbit is suspicious. “you mean it, lady? i can keep these clothes?”

cat-blonde shrugs. “might as well. they look better on you than they ever will on me and who looks good in clothes is the one should have em.” then she turns real quick and disappears back into the house. she knew big tony would never look at the credit card statement–cat-blonde pays all the bills–and would never know about the money as long as she didn’t wear the clothes and all-in-all she thought it was an elegant solution to a sticky problem.

snake marchand