When he came out into the blinding light of the new snow, he looked up and down the streets of Purgatorio and listened to the quiet. Even the gang bangers are silent today, he thought, then shook his head. No, they wouldn't be celebrating Christmas. Sleeping in, maybe, but not celebrating. He remembered a time when he made a point of working Christmas; it was a great time to serve warrants. Then he'd gotten soft and started feeling sorry for these low-lifes he was arresting on Christmas day. When had that happened? He couldn't remember exactly, but it must have been after he came to Denver.
He dusted the snow off the jeep, and thought for the tenth time since coming to Denver that he really needed to get a hardtop. He worked at the zipper of the cold, stiff vinyl door until it opened, tossed in a plastic sack, climbed in and coaxed the jeep to life. Spinning the tires several times on powder, he finally entered the street and drove away.
Burger King was open. It wasn't his first choice, but 'most every place else was closed on Christmas.
"Three sausage biscuits and some rolls, a large coffee and a bunch of creamers."
"Yeah. Two. And do you have any more a'them gold cards with Pikachu on 'em?"
"No sir, but we have Clefairy and Togepi left."
"Can I get one of each?"
"Yes, sir. Your total is $10.87. Please drive up to the first window."
He winced at the 'sir' then drove up to pay the young girl with the nose ring and collect his breakfast. He was having dinner later with the guys, but first he had something else to take care of. He was out early, since he didn't want to hang around the apartment, waiting for all the do-gooders who were worried about Vin Tanner spending Christmas alone to show up. Truth was, he really didn't mind being alone, he enjoyed it, but it drove everyone around him crazy to the point it was beginning to wear on him.
Pulling into the Federal Building parking garage 15 minutes later he was relieved to see no other vehicles he knew inside. He parked, reached in the back for the plastic sack, grabbed the paper sack from the front seat and stepped out. Cuervo pushed up against his leg even before he had climbed all the way out, and he transfered both sacks to one hand so he could scoop up the cat and drape him over his arm.
He carried the cat and sacks to the elevator, which alarmed the cat a bit, so he stuffed breakfast under one arm to grip Cuervo tighter. When the doors opened on the fourth floor, he dropped the yellow cat to the floor and walked over to his desk, tossing everything on top of the papers scattered there.
He cast a quick look around, got a plastic spoon and paper plate from the coffee/snack table and pushed enough out of the way on his desk to spread out his treasures. He pushed the monitor back farther and propped the keyboard beside it. He reached into the plastic sack and popped the tab on a can of Iams Salmon Special Dinner. Cuervo leaped up on his desk and began eating even as he scooped it out.
"Keep it on the plate, Cat, this stuff stinks." His voice seemed unusually loud in the empty office.
He got a plastic bowl and began to open the little creamers and pour them in. The cat went briefly to sample the creamers, then returned to the cat food. While the cat was occupied eating, Vin found a pair of pliers in Buck's desk drawer, attached a small gold heart to a simple leather collar, and buckled the collar on the cat. Cuervo gave a few half-hearted scratches at the collar, and went back to eating. If cats could read, he would have read:
If lost please notify
ATF @309- 555-8782.
Vin set one Pokemon gold trading card on Buck's desk, and one on JD's, pushed the trash off into the basket, sat down and opened his own breakfast, propping his feet on his desk to watch the cat enjoy dinner. For the first time today, he smiled.
"Like that, Cat? Man oughta have a place to go when he gets lost; someone to call, ya'know?"
The cat finished his meal, and strolled across the bridge created by Vin Tanner's legs, rubbed his head against the arm holding the cinnamini's and curled up for a nap.
"Merry Christmas, Cuervo," he said softly, leaned back and relaxed.
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