He awoke to the sound of hammering next door. It was late in the morning and the sun had warmed his apartment causing him to soak his sheets in waking sweat. He rubbed his eyes and they made a squishing noise. He could smell the stale air sitting silent and intrusive. That’s right, he had forgotten to open the window last night. The hammering continued and light chuckling began a conversation with it. He sat up, his foggy eyes and stiff elbows a few steps behind him. Pressing play on the stereo, “Overseas” by The Tommy Flanagan Trio is halfway finished, it was a charming song and also ironic, he thought. There was a note on the coffee table when he reached the living room, “Rest Easy” is all that it said. The wood of the small oval table had multiple ven diagram stains from beer bottles left out too long. Franny wasn’t meowing and that was unusual. “Overslept like me,” he thought, shuffling to the pantry and grabbing the Meowmix. He at first had reservations about buying it. It was shit food, McNuggets for cats. He caved of course because Franny was very picky and also very overweight and almost always hungry. She was probably sleeping behind a couch or under a bed.
He shook the bag. That almost always worked. No response. “She will come out when she needs to,” he guessed. The living room was dark and that made him uncomfortable. Opening the blinds cleared the room like the shaking of an etch a sketch or the wiping of a scrawl-filled white board. The phone rang.
“Clayton, its Martin.” Martin was his best friend and his business partner. Martin never slept a minute past five a.m.
“Oh hey Marty, what’s up?” His words catching on gravel in his throat then shooting into the phone’s receiver.
“Did I wake you? You sound like shit.”
“Well are you going to make it in today? Should be a busy one.” It was going to be a busy one. The new collection of busts were coming in today. He fucking forgot.
“Yeah of course. Did you already put out the new shipment?”
“I just put out a few limited editions for display but I’m going to need someone’s help to get the rest out on the shelves. Is Sam coming in today? I couldn’t remember.”
He stared at the note, the ring stains on the table, the closed windows. He leaned back up against the south wall.
“No she isn’t.” His voice was sedated like a dial tone.
“Alright well then I am really going to need you to haul ass down here, the traders will be here soon.” Marty hung up. Franny wasn’t sleeping. She was gone. Sam had taken her last night when she left. Sam had left him and taken Franny. Sam had left him. He stared across the room at the front door as if it were going to suddenly evolve into a mouth of a vacuum and suck everything that was left out of the apartment. The phone rang.
“Hello.” His voice was hollow.
“Sam just called the store,” it was Marty. “She said she’s quitting. Did you know about this?” Marty wasn’t angry, he was flustered. Lots of things flustered Marty.
“Yeah, she told me last night when she left.”
“Left? Where? Did she go out of town?”
“She left me. She took Franny.”
“Jesus Christ. She took Franny? But Franny is your cat!”
“I will be down at the store soon.” He hung up. His chest was inflating. His right hand gripped the phone tight; his left gently rubbed the back of his neck. He was staring at a skeleton. The apartment appeared now as only early blueprints before the construction began, just lines and numbers on thin sheets of paper, an outline of what was and now wasn’t. Then, as if the universe had suddenly gave him a gentle squeeze in his side, Clayton laughed.