Josh slammed through the door and flopped down on the couch, barely aware of the piles of sheet music and scraps of lyric scribblings that littered the floor and the couch and were crushed by the weight of his body. He was not entirely oblivious to the labyrinth of litter that passed for a two-bedroom apartment. Once, a long time ago, he had considered cleaning it up and trying to keep it that way, but considering his steady stream of temporary visitors, what was the point?
“Hey, Gilbert, come out here!”
The words were hardly out of his mouth before a grey and white bundle of fur bounded out of the bedroom and made himself at home on Josh’s chest. He looked at the mountain lion cub accusingly. “What have you done with Susie? Did you take another bite outa her?” He laughed as Gilbert covered his face with kisses. “I don’t smell feathers on your breath. You two staying apart, like I told you?”
On cue, the cockatoo landed on the arm of the couch beside his head in perfectly good health. “Guess you been behaving yourself, Gil.”
He took his cell phone out of his shirt pocket and, before listening to his messages, examined the healing cut on Gilbert’s leg. “I hate to tell you this buddy, but you’re getting too healthy to stay around here much longer.” He dialed up his voice mail and a woman’s voice reminded him, “Gower Towing calling again, Josh. We’d like your payment before we have to send the bill to a collection agency. Please call.” It was great how having money in your pocket could make even a bill collector’s voice sound friendly. He’d stopped by Stan’s bungalow that morning to update him on Lila’s progress and Stan had handed him an envelope with five hundred dollars in it. “Make it work, pal. Make my life easier.” Josh assured him he would and took himself and his money out of there, hoping against hope he wasn’t lying.
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