The Glass Cat: A Detective Kevin Fowler Mystery
Sunlight slanted through the wavy, decorative glass spilling rainbows into a nebula of color across the tapestry of the camel-backed sofa. A lady of indeterminate years, well over the half-century mark—perhaps closer to the century—sat with her back to the door. She hummed a crooning sound of affection as she leaned toward her feet, which were out of sight of the middle-aged man standing in the doorway. He watched for a moment and then motioned to someone standing behind him.
    A woman of slight stature, with mousy brown hair pulled tightly into a bun on the back of her head, walked forward with keen curiosity and peered into the room. She held a small brown book in one hand and jotted notes with the other, pausing periodically to stare at the elderly lady. Neither spoke to the woman who continued to whisper softly and lovingly, an activity that absorbed her total attention.
    “You see, Miss Felly,” the man said softly, “she can’t hear a thing and her hallucinations are getting worse by the day. She’s talking to a glass cat as if it were the real thing.”
    Susan Michelin, wearing an old pair of jeans and a smock filled with a rainbow smattering of paint, ran lightly up the three steps and rang the doorbell before turning the knob and peering inside. She spotted her neighbor sitting snuggly in the front parlor in a rocking chair, her head nodding in the warmth of the sun, which lay in streaks of gold across her lap. Her gnarled hands were wrapped around a china ginger-colored cat that she cuddled into a light robe draped across her knees.  
    “Miss Harper?” the visitor called out, a bit too loudly, as she walked forward.
    The elder lady started and opened her eyes, smiling warmly at her young neighbor.  
    “Susan!” she exclaimed, making the beginnings of an effort to rise from her seat. “I didn’t know it was so late. It can’t be ten o’clock already, can it?”
    “Just a little before,” Susan said distinctly, speaking directly to her friend. She knew Miss Harper was hard of hearing but could understand very well if she could read the person’s lips.  
    “I’m a little early. Are you ready to continue?” Susan slid a chair closer to Miss Harper’s rocker and removed a book from her purse.  
    “I’ve been looking forward to it. Must have dozed off a bit, sitting here so comfortably, waiting for you,” she said. She shifted the glass cat forward and placed it onto the floor.
    “Run along, Ginger,” she said as she rearranged her robe. “Susan and I are going to finish the story today.” With a pleasant smile on her wrinkled face, she gazed intently at Susan, all the while rocking gently to and fro, hearing mostly through her eyes.
    A very loud knock, almost as if someone were pounding with his fist on the front door, startled Susan and caused Miss Harper to look up in surprise.  
    “My goodness! Who can that be? Probably that pesky nephew of mine. He’s been hanging around here lately, and not with any invitation of mine,” she grumbled as she left her rocker and walked slowly to the front door.
    Susan closed the book, keeping her forefinger inside to mark her place and watched curiously while Miss Harper opened the door.
    The murmur of voices drew her to them. The nephew, she guessed. But no, Miss Harper was smiling. As she came forward Susan saw with surprise a tall, good-looking, blond-haired man in casual dress chatting with her friend.  
    “Susan, come meet our new neighbor.” The older lady stepped aside, inviting the man in, but he insisted he needed to supervise his movers who were still unloading the truck. When Miss Harper mentioned cookies, his face brightened and he reluctantly agreed to come in for a short visit.
    “You’ve bought the house on the other side then?” Susan asked, eyeing the man with interest. She shifted the book in her hand and self-consciously pushed her hair away from her eyes, half wishing she had changed out of her work clothes.
    “Yes, moved

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