Chapter 9: Bad Kitty in the Dark


Bad Kitty was annoyed enough to get out of her hammock — her detested neighbor, a thug who ran the marina, had had the nerve to walk on to the pier again.
He had been told he no longer had any authority over the pier and to leave the homeowners alone.
She hated him.

Life is complicated when you buy a summer house —  a two-story survivor from the 1890s, an old fishing club that had survived many hurricanes —  but you don’t own the land underneath it.  In old-school fashion, the four pier houses (the last four of what had once been a colony of more than twenty-five old bungalows) rented “pier access” from the marina next door.
Bad Kitty had, without quite realizing it, essentially bought a very large piece of furniture. Unwittingly—which is always such a bitter pill to swallow—she’d gotten into a position of very limited power.
She hated that too.

The pier itself no longer had its own gate: the thug had pulled down the nice old wrought iron one (paid for by the pier association home owners themselves) and most likely sold it for scrap metal.
But his own gate—to the marina itself—was a separate, motorized rolling gate: Bad Kitty especially resented its grating squeak, opening and closing.

Aware that the marina manager had surveillance cameras all around his rat kingdom, which squatted on city-owned land and radiated his nasty bullying ways—he was the one who had smashed the pier’s water meter and then dropped a cement block over the water main, effectively making the effort to get the water restored after the hurricane several times more challenging—she knew she would have to make her move after dark. And on her way back to town. Whoever fucks with his marina gate is certainly not going to walk on to the pier.

Bad Kitty knew that she wasn’t going to accomplish anything more than seriously irritating him (all bullies resent any small trace of resistance), but she would inconvenience him.

And so, in a good mood, she went to the charming commercial stretch for the beach — first to the hardware store, the most respectable establishment on the street. A heavy-duty expensive big padlock and a foot of the heaviest chain they had: she got three of each. And a tube of superglue. She added a big bag of birdseed for herself and put all that in the car. She picked up the paper and a scratchy lotto card and some beer and then went to the Job Lot and found a hoodie sweatshirt for $9.99. Last she went to the pharmacy and bought some cheap foundation make up in the darkest hue —the Indian lady at the checkout didn’t raise her brow.

Her girlfriend was away and the cat was safe in her apartment. At about 7, on Sunday, as the twilight was gathering, Bad Kitty locked up the house just as usual and loaded the trunk with her tennis things, her overnight bag, and one extra heavy black canvas tote and drove off. A few blocks away she parked and took herself to the taco place for supper and read quietly for a couple of hours, nursing a beer. Then, back in the car, she put on another pair of pants over the ones she had on and, after smearing her face and her hands with the dark make up, pulled on a big sweater and then over that zipped up the hoodie and pulled tight the hood. She got the chains and locks organized so they could be snapped on at speed. Last she put on a pair of aviator sunglasses some guest had left behind and picked up the black tote.

Making her way back to the pier she walked a little awkwardly —she felt like the toddler of an overprotective mother, all overdressed for a snowstorm and wearing in a big diaper.

But approaching the gate itself she walked like a big man or an ape, legs spread, and quickly snapped two of the big locks, wrapped around the marina fence posts the heavy chains. Then she snapped the last one on the middle, where the fence hinges and rolls back. Last, and fast, she emptied the superglue into and all over his own smaller padlock. Then she turned and made off, spread legged and not too fast, in the direction of the projects.

In five minutes, she was cutting back to the car, with hoodie (smeared with makeup) and sweaters now in the tote, and she got in, stripped off the extra pants, and drove off.

Unfortunately, she hadn’t noticed that she had failed to get her face really wiped clean and a patrol car pulled her over in just a few minutes.

Looking up at the officers, her window down and the engine turned off and with her hands in full view at 10 and 2, and also, just as her AAA magazine had suggested, she waited for them to speak first. The little one leaned down, looked into her big blue eyes, and, seeming perplexed, asked her for her license and insurance card. She fished them up and saw her hands were very dark. She wiped them on her slacks but even so , when he came back, they were still a bit dark.

Bad Kitty got off with a warning to slow it down a bit.