The kid heard a sound in the back of the building and although the thought of rats crossed his mind, he turned the corner anyway – it was too early to go home because school didn’t let out for another hour and a half and he had gone truant at lunch.
What he saw crouched back against the all in a dusty shaft of sunlight was not a rat but a great big black cat with the bushiest tail he had ever seen.
He stopped, heart suddenly pounding.
Paulie, Can You?
This was a question which he did not dare answer. He bent over the keyboard again, and after a moment began to hit the keys… but more gently now.
It wasn’t a cat. Eddie Desmond had lived in New York City all his life, but he had been to the Bronx Zoo, and Christ, there were picture-books weren’t there? He knew what that thing was, although he hadn’t the slightest idea how such a thing could have gotten into this deserted East 105th Street tenement, but the long white stripe down its back was a dead give-away. It was a skunk.
Eddie started slowly toward it, feet gritting in the plaster dust
He could. He could.
So, in gratitude and in terror, he did. The hole opened and Paul stared through at what was there, unaware that his fingers were picking up speed, unaware that his aching legs were in the same city but fifty blocks away, unaware that he was weeping as he wrote.
Lovell, Maine: September 23rd 1984 / Bangor, Maine: October 7th 1986: Now my tale is told.