My short story tribute to Pat Pollari

The phone was ringing.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.

Like some incessant church toll, declaring the increasing lateness of the hour.

John Raulton, who on bad days was an atheist and on good days was an angry agnostic, snatched the phone with a mind to give the witching spirit a good dose of hell.

He was instead startled to find that it was still ringing.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.

Perhaps it was another phone?

No, they were all on the same line, weren't they? It did not make any sense. It especially did make any sense because it was not making sense at 4 am. And his feet were cold. Slippers? No, they must be under his bed still.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.


The noise stopped.

It was replaced by an emphatic pounding at the door.

"Dang it John, let me in!"


"Let me in, you idiot! It's Kasey."

John waddled over to the door and fumbled for the lock. The clunk of the latch turning was followed by a rush of cold air as Kasey bustled her way in and slammed the door behind her.

"What wouldn't you let me in for? I've been out there half an hour!"

Not having yet reactivated his conscious vocabulary beyond the basic but versatile "What?" John remained silent.

Kasey began brewing a pot of tea, discarding her gloves and winter cap and pulling her matte black hair into a pony tail for whatever reason it is that girls do that sort of thing. John left his hair the way it was which happened to be a disheveled mess, but combined with his ketchup stained undershirt and blotched and frayed boxer shorts, it was what you could call "a look."

Now Kasey was searching for sugar and cream. John did not indicate that he observed this or that he had any idea where the sugar and cream might be because he was fairly certain this would involve showing his guest a dead rat.

When Kasey had finished ransacking his kitchen John made his first tentative start at asking why she had come by in the middle of the night, but he was interrupted by yet another clammer at his door.

"That's them!" she shrieked. "I have to hide!"

John nodded, but as Kasey dived for cover he remained still.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

There was no evading the sound. It washed over and through him, permeating every crevice of his apartment.

"Who is it?" he asked.

"It's Mickey the Nose" came a muffled voice from behind the couch. "He must have followed me here. I owed him money I couldn't pay. I'm sorry John but I knew you were the one who could handle him."

John nodded grimly.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.


There was a frantic rattling of the knob and the door burst open in splinters. Three large men poured through and grabbed John, pinning him up against the wall. From behind capered a tremendous nose, which was loosely attached to a much smaller gentleman in a dark pinstripe suit and matching homburg.

"I'm Mickey the nose" the nose intoned nasally, the face behind it scrunching up in undisguised horror as the nose took a whiff of the surrounding air, vacuuming up a few errant fruit flies in the process.

"What is that horrendous stink!"

"It's just my apartment" John replied, feeling it was probably best not to start off on exactly what it might be in his apartment.

Mickey took a moment to recover from his sense of nausea, and, anxious to leave, got to the point.

"Girl. Kneecaps. Pick one."

John looked confused.

"What do you want with her?"

"Lass owes me money. Hasn't paid. I'm not unreasonable, but she's going to pay up one way or the other. Business is business."

Mickey's eyes began to water.

"So where is she?"

John considered carefully. He was very attached to his kneecaps. They were practically part of him. But he also vaguely tolerated Kasey, sometimes to the point of not explicitly avoiding her company. And she was the only one who ever spoke to him. So he was probably under some kind of obligation to help her.

Mickey's cheeks began to swell, his nose turning a frightful shade of lavender.

John just needed to get them away from the fresh icy air, which was making venturous intrusions through the demolished doorway.

"Right this way," John indicated, helpfully demonstrating the route to his hallway.

He waited for Mickey to fall in line behind his goons before leading them on. It was only a few steps later that John started to change.

At first, it was not noticeable. A bit of fur around his belly. A claw, a nose around his right nipple. Another patch of fur along his back. But then, suddenly, the belly of his shirt sagged and he let out a roar, ripping away his clothes to reveal his spandex underarmor, emblazoned with the bright, fetid insignia of DEAD CAT MAN!

"Nooooooooooooo!" screamed Mickey and his cohorts, rushing for the door, now much too far away.

The gangsters collapsed to their knees, clutching wildly at their throats, trying miserably not to breath.

"Scratch and sniff!" shouted John Raulton, the latent Dead Cat superhero, as he rubbed his maggoty belly to release a puff of necrotic vapors.

Mickey began exhaling for breath--a feat of anatomy that few humans ever provoke the desperation to experience.

"Curse you Dead Cat Man! Curse you!" Mickey wheezed, struggling to take his final breath.

"My hero!" shouted Kasey.

She popped up from behind the couch and went to fling her arms around John, but then decided to go puke out the window instead.

"All in a days work, Kasey," said John, "All in a days work."