I had just moved into the place on Berry Street with my girlfriend and her two cats. A very old lady lived in the apartment behind us. She came out to the dumpster while I was breaking down boxes and throwing them in. “Can you take those out?” she asked in her creaky voice. I explained I had nowhere else to put them if I did. “But it gets filled up and I can’t get anything in there,” she complained. I said she could come knock on our door if she ever had to throw something in the dumpster and it was too full. I’d help her.
A couple nights later, just as we were about to go to bed, my girlfriend asked me to tell her a story. When we first started dating, I would improvise elaborate stories at her request—to impress her and because it was fun. I hadn’t done it in a while.
“There was a couple who just moved into a new apartment,” I began as we climbed into bed.
“Uh-huh,” she said, already amused.
“And this apartment was at the front part of a really old house, and there was a really old lady who lived in the apartment behind theirs. Well, they got all their stuff moved in and they thought their place was really awesome and everything was going great. And the old lady liked the couple a lot… She liked them because she liked their cat.”
“Oh, they have a cat, huh? You didn’t say anything about a cat.”
“I just did.”
“What color is this cat?”
“What happened was that one day the cat went missing and it turned out the cat had wandered to the old lady’s porch and she let it in her apartment. And she really liked it. But the girl was like, ‘Where’s my cat?’ and she went looking for it and got all worried. Finally, she knocked on the old lady’s door and asked if she’d seen it.
“The old lady invited the girl in to give her her cat back and while they were talking the old lady was thinking, wow, I really like this girl and she has a really nice cat and I liked having the cat over here. And the old lady had grown up in New Orleans, so she and her sisters were all into voodoo and hoodoo and spells and stuff. They were witches.”
“Yeah, so the old lady was a witch. And since she liked the young girl so much she decided to do something for her, so while she was talking to her she had something in her hand. And she held up her hand and blew it in the girl’s face. It was like water and ashes or something. The girl had no idea what it was and she was really weirded out and like, ‘What the hell did she do that for?’ But she figured it was no big deal. The lady was really old and probably a little dotty she figured. But she still kind of hurried up and got her cat and went home.
“Well, everything was normal until the boyfriend came home, and then the girl was all crazy and had to have sex with him immediately. They ended up having sex all night. And from then on it was like whenever they saw each other they couldn’t help themselves and they were just having sex all the time.”
“Eventually, it was getting out of hand because they were both exhausted all day and they never talked to their friends and they started missing work and stuff. But they were really happy. It was great. So the girl started wondering if maybe the old lady had done something to her when she blew that stuff in her face. And then she thought maybe she should go and ask her, the old lady, if that’s what had happened. And if it was she thought, you know, she should thank her. She thought about all this for a long time, but then she would see the boyfriend and of course after that she would forget everything and eventually she just stopped thinking about it.
“Then one day their cat went missing, their other cat.”
“What color is this one?”
“Black. And, since she found the other cat at the old lady’s before, the girl thought maybe she should go and ask the old lady again. So one day when she was getting home from work she saw the old lady sitting on her porch and she goes up to talk to her. And she’s trying to make small talk and tell the old lady about the cat and ask her if she’s seen it when the old lady turns around and, like, squints and wrinkles her nose and kind of goes like this—looking back—and says, ‘You didn’t even thank me!’ before walking away and going in her door.”
“Yeah, and the girl’s all freaked out by it too.”
“Oh!—I’m gonna have to roll over and make sure she’s not out there.”
“Okay… So the girl’s all freaked out, but she’s still like, ‘Where’s my cat?’ So one time after they just had sex for like the umpteenth time she tells her boyfriend we gotta find the cat. And the boyfriend is like, ‘All right, I’m gonna go talk to this old lady and find out what the hell happened to our cat.’”
“Oh! What did you do to Mikey?”
“I didn’t do anything. Just listen… Anyway, he’s determined to find out if the cat’s in this old lady’s apartment. So he goes and knocks on her door and is all polite and everything. But the old lady just says, ‘You didn’t even thank me!’ and slams the door on him. He doesn’t know what else to do at this point so he calls the police, and he tells them that their cat’s missing and the last time, when the other cat was missing, it turned up at the old lady’s house. And he told them the old lady was acting all weird and stuff too.
“But of course the police can’t really do anything because there’s no way anyone knows the cat’s in the old lady’s house and they tell him to just wait and see if maybe the cat ran away or whatever. And the girl’s all upset and the guy’s getting all pissed off and trying to come up with some kind of scheme to get into the old lady’s house.
“–But they never actually get around to doing anything because they’re having so much sex and, even though they still miss the cat and everything, a lot of the time they almost forget about it. And it just goes on like this for a long time with the couple suspicious of the old lady and wondering where their cat is but not being able to do anything.
“And this goes on until one day—when the old lady just mysteriously dies. When the police get to her apartment, sure enough there’s the couple’s black cat.”
“So the police come and tell the guy, you know, hey, we found your cat, just like you said. And the guy goes and gets the cat and brings it home. But while he’s in the old lady’s apartment he’s wondering the whole time about the spell she put on him and his girlfriend, and he’s a little worried that maybe since she died the spell might be broken. But he gets the cat and takes it home. And when his girlfriend comes home it’s like she gets all excited to see it, but only for like a minute, and then it’s like before and they can’t help themselves. They have to have sex.
“Well, this goes on and on and things get more and more out of hand until both of them lose their jobs, their friends just drift away because they never talk to them, and eventually they can’t pay their rent so they lose their apartment. So they get their cats and as much of their stuff as they can and they go to this spot they know by the river where some of their hippie friends used to camp. And they just live there like before, with their cats, just having sex all the time.
“One night after they just had sex again, they’re sitting by the campfire and the guy says, ‘You know, we lost our jobs and our friends and our apartment, and we’re living in the woods here by the river, and you’d think we’d be pretty miserable. But I think I have everything I need right here.’ He’s thinking about having sex again even as he’s saying this. And he’s like, ‘Really, I’m happy as hell. I don’t remember ever being this happy.’
“And the girl is like, ‘Yeah, me too. I actually kind of like living out here with you.’
“So they’re about to start having sex again when the black cat turns and looks at them and says, ‘And you didn’t even thank me!’”