Bad Kitty, very much on edge, couldn’t yet look at the magician beside her who didn’t say a word but once again just turned her hand over— another, somehow more feminine little wave, in reply to the trick question.
“Trick question”—Bad Kitty said abruptly, in almost a low bark, then, pulling in a chest full of air, she let it out laughing, repeating louder —“I asked an actual Trick Question!”
Everything in her that had been frozen relaxed, every part of her was laughing as if she’d finally gotten the joke.
The joke about everything —she laughed and laughed.
The mask had fallen off life itself and the old clown behind the hard mask laughed with her—she and life were in on the same joke!
Bad Kitty (still cupping the frog to her chest with one hand) was now red and crying with her hilarity—she was laughing harder than she had laughed in years.
And she saw the old lizard ladies had turned to look at her, looking like they could use a good laugh, too, even if somehow not quite approving, yet now they couldn’t help smiling.
The woman beside her however was not smiling.
Bad Kitty, mid-guffaw, realized in fact that the magician was glaring down at her drink. So she pulled herself together, in part because even in the rather flattering mottled mirror she realized her face was unattractively flushed and wet. Dabbing at her eyes with the cocktail napkin in her free hand, Bad Kitty tried to put a lid on it, and muttered that that trick-question phrase had just never revealed its full beauty before… and then she set out to be pretty again.
Snorting and guffawing were not becoming, she knew.
Yes she wanted to look good—her elastic feelings about monogamy were busy stretching around: somehow if the magician wasn’t actually a real woman, if this were just a magic trick, and he would be a He again, then where was the harm in just a little kiss?
Logic came flying in to help Bad Kitty—what seemed to her logic anyway. And anyway: Where was the harm in just making a little effort to make that scowl go away?
Though she wasn’t usually so free with the patting of strangers’ arms, she made the effort of trying to comfort the giver of the frog. And without turning her head, the magician pressed her hand, holding it there warmly, firmly against her shiny blue silken arm. Bad Kitty felt very far from laughter suddenly. She realized one of the old lizards was staring at them and she became aware that she was now blushing and, as her hand was being pressed even more warmly, that the noises of the bar had become distant and faint.
She had a desire to brush her hair out of her face but the magician had one hand and the frog was in the other. Bad Kitty looked down at her frog and was gently trying to extricate her other hand but instead now two hands held hers insistently and she heard a deep voice say: “You are so beautiful.”
“Oh,” was all Bad Kitty said.
She felt something major could happen—that something major was happening. She looked up from the frog and deep into the magician’s eyes. Yes. There was no bottom to the depths of the magician’s dark wet eyes, and her own light blue eyes gazed deep, kept gazing deeper, and then the bar was gone for her, she teetered and was gone herself. Yes, still holding her little white pet, Bad Kitty fell in. She vanished.
The magician sat beside an empty stool, and he smiled, his teeth movie star white.