Chapter Eighteen

The pandemic has hit hard at many businesses, including the Zodiac Bistro.  It was shut down in many cities. No patrons.  It was quiet. Everyone was to quarantine indoors.


That includes BarCat.  Pete showed up every day to do some much needed maintenance and cleaning.  Pete was spending his time in the basement, doing inventory, scrubbing down the place, painting, and minor repairs.  Cook was in doing kitchen cleaning. It had been a while since he was able to take every machine apart to fine clean and do routine maintenance.  He ordered parts and scrubbed till the appliances shined.  Yes, the bar was getting a good going over. 


Pete had finished the basement.  New lighting so they can see the inventory better, shelving to separate, label and stack the goods.  The walk in freezer was emptied, most of which the staff was eating so it wouldn't go bad.  Cook made lunch and dinner most days for the three of them.  Yes, Missy was there, doing bookkeeping, paying the staff for their time.  While she was not in all the time, she did like the meals cook made.


The bar got some much needed attention.  Windows cleaned, blinds as well.  Light fixtures, new lights. Brighten the place up just a little bit, so people don't feel like they are fumbling around in the dark.  And intense cleaning.  The bar smelled of bleach and wood cleaner. Pete was even considering a coat of paint if the quarantine lasted long enough.


BarCat sat and watched.  He did point out a few holes that Pete filled.  Mouse holes, where they got in.  BarCat was tired of chasing them around.  Food on the streets was scarce with the them being empty as they were.  No tourists. And the locals were staying close to home. So the mice and rats were moving indoors, looking for food and shelter.  The staff made sure BarCat was fed and had plenty of drink. So why should he chase them?


Yea, the pandemic had clearly caused a kink in his usual routine of doing nothing.  Why didn't BarCat just wish this away?  After all, he has the ability to do that. 


BarCat had thought on this a bit, and this was not a man thing, really.  True, the carelessness that spread this was totally their fault, but the disease?  He figured this was nature taking its course, and it was not his place to interfere in what nature does.  So he did as all cats usually do.  Nothing.  Which is as it should be.


BarCat was sleeping on his freshly laundered pillow (it was about time someone realized his pillow needed cleaning) and a smell came from the front door.


Dogs.  Nor just any dogs, mind you.  Barghests.  At least two of them.  Demon dogs.  They were entering the bar.  That meant only one thing.  Someone was destined to die.  BarCat became alarmed.  No, no, no.  Not in my bar.  You are not taking any of my caretakers.  Shit, who would feed me?


BarCat looked around at who was present.  If anyone sees a barghest, that's who would die.   And there was Pete, in the kitchen getting some more coffee and setting up for lunch.  BarCat had to act quickly.


He jumped down off the bar.  The dogs were coming down the stairs.  He looked around quickly.  Pete was heading off to the can.  Great!  He will be in there a while, taking his morning dump.  BarCat went to the kitchen.  There were several raw steaks sitting on the counter.  Perfect!  He jumped on the counter, and pushed one, then another onto the floor.  It may have been intended for someone's lunch, but today BarCat confiscated them for a much more noble use.


He jumped down off the counter and looked at the two dogs.  They were vicious looking things, red eyes, nasty looking teeth.  They came at him, slowly, looking around the bar for a victim.  As they got closer, they started sniffing the air.  From behind him, BarCat stuck a claw in one of the steaks and dragged it around in front of him, first one, then the other. He let the steaks sit there in front of him.  These were the good ones, thick, red, raw.  The dogs smelled the meat.  They came up to BarCat and looked at him.


One dog put his paw out to grab the steak, and BarCat slashed his paw.  The dog growled.  BarCat hissed.  He thought Not unless this is all you take from this bar.  You will seek no other.  The dogs looked at each other. 


BarCat got the impression they wanted something to drink.  He jumped on the bar, and knocked a bottle on the floor.  A good Scotch. The way it hit the floor, the neck broke in one piece, and the scotch spilled out on the floor.  One dog licked, and it was agreed. The steaks and scotch and they leave.  BarCat jumped down off the counter, and went to the back, to the bathroom.  He knocked a large, industrial sized broom down, which caught in the handle of the bathroom door.   It wasn't going to opening any time too soon.


The dogs ate.  They lapped up all the scotch.  BarCat sat on the floor, at the end of the bar and watched.  He was making sure they went no further, as agreed.  Once they were done, they turned and headed towards the door.  BarCat though he heard a dog say Another Time. 

The pandemic had brought the hell hounds out in all the cities.  They were everywhere.  He was surprised they had not shown up before this. He will have to keep some supplies on hand in case others show up.


He heard Pete struggling with the door.  BarCat slowly walked over to the door and rubbed up against the broom and it fell to the floor.  Pete came out and looked at BarCat.  "Scratching yourself on the broom again, you silly cat."  And he scratched him on the head.  BarCat figured as soon as he found the broken bottle and the missing steaks he was going to be pissed at him, but it was worth it.  Maybe if Pete forgot he took the steaks out….


He got yelled at for breaking the scotch bottle.  But the liquid was gone.  Where did it go.  He looked at BarCat, picked him up, sniffed him.  Nope, he didn’t drink it.  Strange, it must have sunk between the tiles on the floor.  There was going to be a smell in the basement that he just cleaned and painted, maybe even a ceiling stain.  He would check later.  He picked up the bottle and tossed it in the recycle bin.  And he went and got his steaks out of the frig for lunch. 


"Missy is coming in this afternoon, I told her I would make some lunch.  She would like a nice steak.  You know, I wasn't feeling all that great this morning, thought I was feeling a bit feverish, but I guess i just needed to take a good shit.  I feel much better now."  Pete was really talking to himself, but because the cat was there, he could talk out loud and it didn't seem silly.  "Yea, some days that's all you need.  A good, healthy shit."


BarCat smiled.  The barghests had kept their word.  Well, let Pete think it was constipation.  Some days, all a cat needs is two fine steaks and a good bottle of scotch to keep death away from the door.

Copyright 2020 Boudica Foster and Tales from the Zodiac Bistro
All rights reserved.  No permissions to reprint or reproduce in any fashion