Margie felt her sleeve catch along the windowsill. Splintered old windowsills in Illinois, getting warmer from the sun-heat. Gigantic moth and watermelon breezes sliding through the big house. Margie got down from her chair near the window and on her hands and knees, slid up along the sleeping cats in the hallway.

When Buster would come home, he"d pick her out of all the house pets and raise her up from the sleep she found on the plank floor for big hugs and after-work belly bombs. Margie was a little girl who pretended all day that she was loyal soldier to the feline clan of the household. When they prowled, she prowled. When they drank from their milk saucers, she drank on the floor next to them from her bert-n-ernie mug.

Tomorrow a big grand piano will arrive. Buster said that it was the crown jewel of the Steinway showroom. It will be Margie"s job to watch that the cats don"t make a scratching post out of it.

Color. Grain. Magnificent woods encasing a musical beauty.

These things, Buster theorized, would be lost upon the house pets.

A quietness settled up on top of the settled dust, which had settled upon the planks, windowsills, and evening emptied red wine bottles by the porch entrance.