“What did Jerry say about the room?” asked Edith.
“He’s looking at the ceiling,” said Chicago. “I think he’s intrigued but wary.”
“Oh Scott,” said Edith brightly, “Hemingway is looking for you. How’s Zelda?”
“She’s fine,” he said. “She’s dancing in a ballet this evening. Is Hemingway in the Writer’s Room?”
“He is,” said Edith.
“Chicago, Edith,” said Scott politely. “Always a pleasure.”
“He’s such a sweet man,” sighed Chicago. “I like Zelda too, when she’s not drinking.”
“So true,” agreed Edith. “By the way you have two appointments tonight, a Mr. Ian Backster and a Ms. Mary Bell Moore.”
“I’ve read for both of them before,” said Chicago, nodding. “Nice people, difficult lives.”
“Yes, well, living can be difficult,” sighed Edith.
“Jerry is asking a lot of questions,” said Chicago.
“I don’t blame him. He floating in time, never knowing who he’s going to see or where he’s going to be. It’s exciting, once you get used to it, but it can be a little disconcerting in the beginning. I wonder if he has a girlfriend.”
“He did but they broke up three months ago. It was mutual but I think it was more mutual for her than for him, if you know what I mean.”
The door flew open and a young woman with short bleached white hair and tattoos running up her right arm, fell through the doorway. “Wow, what was that !” she shouted, getting to her feet.
“Can I help you?” asked Edith?
“How should I know? I was walking down the street and something threw me through the door. “I’m Tilly, by the way,” she said holding out her hand.
Edith made the introductions then she and Chicago watched as Tilly turned in circles, looking around.
“This is a totally cool place,” she said, rubbing her arm. “I feel like I just came home.”
Chicago and Edith looked at each other.
“Do you know anyone named Jerry?” asked Edith
“Uh, no, should I?”
“No of course not, I was just wondering,” laughed Edith. “What is it that you do?”
“I’m a photographer of strange places,” she muttered, reaching for the gray cat, who was busy shredding her tights. “You are a beautiful cat,” she said, kissing his face. “I bet you have a lot of stories to tell.”
“You have no idea,” said the cat.
“Hey, your cat talks,” laughed Tilly. “How cool is that?”
“Pretty cool,” said Edith, rather taken back by Tilly’s easy acceptance of the things that were going on at the moment.
“Why do you think I’m here?” asked Tilly, looking at Edith and Chicago. “This can’t be an accident. So what’s up?”
“They don’t always know what’s going on,” said the cat. “Sometimes not until the last minute.”
“That’s only true some of the time,” huffed Edith.
“So this is a strange and fantastic bookstore. I love it here and I’m ready to do whatever it is I’m supposed to do, we just need to figure out what that is,” she said, pulling a camera from her back pocket while putting the cat on the floor.
“You can’t just start taking pictures in here,” said Edith sternly.
“Why not?” asked Tilly, snapping away. “Oh this is great,” she whispered. “Wow! Look at that.”
“Ms. Tilly,” said Edith, moving to stand in front of her. “Until we know the reason you are here I wish you would stop taking photographs.”
“Yes, Why?” asked Chicago.
“Fine,” said Edith, going back behind the counter.
“Oh look, Jim Butcher,” said Tilly, jumping up and down. I love him,” she squealed, taking more pictures.
“It’s Urban Fantasy night,” sighed Edith, “Simon Green will be here shortly, along with a slew of other writers.”
“OMG, are you kidding me?” whispered Tilly. “I think I know why I’m here.”
“You do?” asked Chicago, Edith and the Gray cat all at the same time.”
“I’m going to archive your clientele. I’m going to organize the data you probably don’t even know you have and I’m going to publish a book of all the writers, painters, poets, well, basically everyone who comes in here, so they will be remembered forever, or until the sun turns into a Red Giant and everything’s destroyed.”
“You are?” asked Edith. “Red Giant?”
“I am,” said Tilly, ” I already started. I need a printer, and everything that I’ll put on the list I’m going to make. Where can I crash and put my stuff?”
“Follow me,” said the gray cat. “I might sleep with you some nights, but that’s okay,” he said, as they walked away. “I’ll just lay on your pillow, snuggle up next to you and purr. No big deal.”
“Sounds go to me,” said Tilly happily. “I’m a cat person.”
“Spotted you a mile away,” nodded the cat. “I can always see it in the eyes.”
“Our family is growing,” said Chicago.
“Who was that?” asked Edith.
“Someone who knows who she is and what she wants to do.”
“She didn’t even look surprised when the cat started talking to her.”
“She seems open to everything that comes her way,” laughed Chicago. “I was like that when I was young.”
“I’ll be interested to see how she gets along with Jerry,” smiled Edith.
“Poor Jerry,” snickered Chicago.
“Poor Jerry, indeed,” laughed Edith.
“I like her,” said the white cat. “We should keep her. Now will someone please feed me?”