"Why don't you stay a little while longer, Thomas?" her voice said softly, huskily. I could feel her eyes on me while I dressed, pulling my pants up over the slight ridge of my hips. I stuck the old .38 in its holster by my side, just under my arm, and started doing up the straps and buckles that kept the whole contraption on. Ti laid sprawled out in glorious naked beauty, perfect olive skin and perky little boobs that were more cherry red nipples than anything else, a teal silk sheet covering her from the slight outward curve of her bellybutton down. Such a pretty little thing, with dark rich brown eyes and mahogany highlighted straight black hair that spilled out over the pillows around her on the floor.

Her hookah stood at the ready nearby, closed off for now, the opium in the huge vase like bowl still contained. That perfect little rose tinted mouth would be fixed around it soon, as it always was when she didn't have a trick around. I liked to think that I was the only guy fucking her sometimes, but I knew it wasn't true. She was owned, tits and arse and everything, by the fat guy in the lobby that looked like he could chew me up and still have room for a nice seven course meal. Min. Asshole.

She smiled at me as I tossed a well worn Hamilton on the bed, and lifted her tiny hand to tuck it into a jar that resembled a pot bellied cat, its paws around its huge midsection, a satisfied grin on it's stretched face. I thought the thing was hideous.
After a time, I found myself back out on the street, with the hustlers and the two bit hoods and the Irish Mobsters that patrolled the borders of Chinatown, waiting for the shipments to go through. A whole fucking mess. They normally tipped their hats at me as I walked by, smiling at the red haired cop they all knew, but today they didn't even look at me, my friends and neighbors, my relatives from the Emerald Isle. I was moving into the realm of Little Dublin. The Italians didn't move in here, not where Detective Bairn walked, one of the boys in...well, not blue, but a dusty, tan, heavy coat and a nice shirt and tie and sissy glasses. My glasses have never looked too dignified, thin things of wire and convex lenses, the guys at the station say it makes me look a little bookish. My wife picked them out.

I climbed the steps to the old ball and chain, and I felt the rising sun picking out my slightly overweight body, my haggard face and unwashed hair. It was the eye of God. There was nothing that could escape it. Bloody mess.

She was sitting there, by the window, her hand tucked under her chin, that far away look in her dark green eyes, red rimmed from a recent bout of crying. I looked down from her to the floor, ashamed, screaming at myself that I had no reason to fuck around on her. She never said a word. Never asked where I'd been, took it all cause she was a good little Catholic girl, with nearly blazing red hair and perfect white skin that was only barely dotted with freckles at this time of year. She was tragic. An angel.

"Good mornin' Thomas," she said quietly, her knees tucked up under her thin frame, the bones of her wrists painfully large from an early onset of arthritis. Three words could make me feel like shit. Complete and utter shit.

"Mornin' Moira," I answered. She winced.

"Your breakfast is on the table, Thomas. Eggs over easy, orange juice, and a little toast. Lightly browned, just like you like it, love. Ye'll be late for work. Your clean clothes are on the bed," her voice said ever softly, though her lips barely moved. She wore no make up. Perhaps thinking, rightly, that it was a futile endeavor anymore. Forty years could make or break someone, and she'd been broken. She placed an almost unnatural emphasis on the word bed, and I looked at her, puzzled. I trudged towards the bedroom, and the door shut behind me.

My clean clothes were there alright, along with a picture of the Virgin Mary and my grandmother's rosary beads. The silver and glass looked as cold as I felt right then. There weren't even sheets on the bed. Just a phone. The front door slammed, and I raced out to see an empty room, the chair where my wife had been sitting only a few minutes before a mute testimony to just how much my life sucked at that moment. I moved the old lace curtains out of the way of the window just in time to see her climb in a cab, suitcase in hand, and the taxi haul ass down the street.

I couldn't do anything but flop down in that chair, my feet and legs sprawled out in front of me, my crumpled tie and wrinkled shirt filling my vision. I felt sick. So, so sick. I brought a shaking hand up to my forehead as the first big fat tear rolled down my cheek. I cried for about an hour.

God may forgive ye, Thomas, the note that was spelled across the picture of the Holy Virgin said, but I won't.

I looked up when Old Tom hit the window ledge, his one eye staring at me accusingly, his white fur streaked with what could only be tar.  He stunk to high heaven, which was the usual state for the ancient tom cat, going on his twentieth year of life minus three toes and one eye, all lost to cat fights.  That remaining eye was piercing, though, sapphire blue and always darting around as if to compensate for it's missing partner. 

I reached out and ruffled his fur.  It should've been coarse with his age but it wasn't.  The black streaks made him look awful though.  He bent down to lick some of his belly and I swatted at him, he in turn swatting at me.  He hissed and made to jump back out the window the way he came, working down the fire escape, but I snagged him and shoved him onto the kitchen counter while I hunted through the drawer underneath him for a pair of scissors.  When none made their presence known, I went into the bathroom for the electric hair clippers my mother in law gave me last Christmas - as a hint, apparently, to get a haircut.  Old bitch.

Tom was having none of it as I flicked the clippers on, the low electric buzz like some sort of Super Fly right by my ear, and it was worse for Tom, I'm sure.  But I shaved him.  He dug his claws into my arms, into my chest, and into my dick, and even into my fuckin' face, but all that fur went bye bye.  Down into the trashcan in the hall after I was done, and Old Tom sat in the middle of my floor looking like a very pissed off chihuahua getting ready to go on a tear.  I was bleeding from about a half a dozen gashes and scratches, the worst a trio of claw marks across my left cheek, one so close to my eye that it made me wince to look at it.  Which just made it bleed more, of course.  Of all the fucking luck, huh?

I shut the windows before Tommy boy thought about going out again, and looked at him squarely, before I turned my head back to that terrible briefcase on the stripped down bed, the note on the Virgin's picture still there, not going away just yet.  I growled at the cat and he took off into the kitchen, like a bat outta hell.  I slipped back into the bedroom, and took a long hard look into the mirror on the wall, the flowered wallpaper peeling from the wall around it, and saw the bags under my eyes and the dark circles, the shock of red hair that was shot with pepper, the slow waves pulled back with some Beryl, giving me a slightly greasy look.  Fuck, I looked greasy.  Like some I-talian mobster.  Hello, Vinny.  Christ.

I ran my hands through my hair, messing it up, and took a long hard look at my options.   I was without wife, my marriage was over.  That was my fault.  This was my last week on the force for a while, I was going on suspension for beating the utter shit out of a guy that was into punching his wife for fun.  Women aren't punching bags.  I think he learned his lesson.  But that didn't help my job situation any.  Forced vacation ain't my idea of fun.  So I was on vacation, had a nice paycheck in the bank, I was freshly fucked, my cat was hairless, and I had no wife.