Sven knelt down beside Violet.
“Vi, you know that was one brave cat. She…” Violet glared at him through the tears. Sven looked down and picked at the sleeve of his filthy lab coat.
“Sven, how could you? Junior Mint meant the world to me…” Violet began crying again.
“Whoa! Hold on there a minute Vi, throwing your overweight fuzball over the collider wasn’t my idea! You seem to be forgetting that I have spent my entire career fine tuning this,” Sven gestured toward the collider “and that I have not only lost my job, but I have inhibited the progress of science!” Violet jerked her head up again. He was turning rather red in the face.
“What did you say?” her eyes were growing wider.
Sven thought it touching that she was so upset about his unemployment. “Did you really think I could keep my job after causing a billion dollars worth of damage?”
“Not that! What were you saying about Junior Mint?” Violet had locked eyes with her brother and wasn’t even blinking.
“Seriously Vi?” Sven looked incredulous. “After all we’ve been through do you think I’d do something like that to you on my own?” He sighed “she told Billy that she wanted to be the ‘monkey wrench’” Violet gasped. “I told Him you’d hate me if I hurt her, but he said you’d understand…”
“Oh Sven, did she really say that?” Violet looked more like a proud mother than a broken hearted cat owner. Sven nodded. She threw her arms around Sven again
“She was so brave!” Violet murmured. Sven patted her back, hoping she would finish with all this emotion soon. After all, they had already hugged once that day. Finally he worked up his nerve, “How about we go look for her? She might be waiting inside.”
“Do you really think so?” Violet looked hopeful again. “I don’t see any reason why she wouldn’t be, it’s not like there were any portals left,” Sven winked at Violet “and if there were, we could always send Billy after her.” Violet laughed, “Why didn’t I think of that sooner?”
Sven and Violet began walking around the collider to the main entrance. Sven was muttering about the collider and Violet’s eyes darted everywhere looking for traces of her beloved feline. Both siblings had forgotten their friends.
Dr. Vanderslice was frantically writing on the back of his Red Lobster receipt as Junior Mint looked on and Sylvia sat smoking next to Billy. Of the four friends, the casual observer would have only seen two; Billy and Junior Mint had nearly faded away.
“Okay,” Dr. Vanderslice stuck his pen behind his ear and twirled his moustache. “I think I’ve got this. Now you two run on into that Collider.”
Sylvia looked up at Dr. Vanderslice, slowly exhaling a cloud of smoke. “Do you really think you can do this Dr.?” Dr. Vanderslice glanced at the hazy figures flitting across the grass and into the collider then rose to follow them. “I don’t have a choice.” Sylvia sat alone on the curb. She pinched the filter off her cigarette and took a long drag, “Well, it looks like I don’t have one either. I was so hoping to find a rich man.”
“Hey Violet, guess what I just did?” Sylvia rested her elbows on the checkout counter and grinned.
Violet barely looked up from the book she was rebinding, “What now?”
Sylvia put her hands on her hips and her chin held high, “I see how it’s going to be ‘Miss My-Cat-Saved-the-World- and- I-Helped’ now that you’ve seen the future you think you can just ignore me.” Sylvia pretended to walk away.
“Come on now Sylvia, you know I didn’t mean it that way. That blasted doppelganger screwed so much up. This is the fifth book I’ve had to rebind because she decided just to give patrons only the chapters they needed.” Violet shook her head in frustration.
Sylvia stifled a laugh when she thought of the patron’s faces when they thought Violet Mahoney had just cut a book. Violet looked suspiciously at Sylvia, “You know I’m still not convinced you tried to stop her!”
Sylvia put her hands on her chest and looked horrified, “who, me?” Violet rolled her eyes and Sylvia continued, “So do you want to hear my good news or not?”
“Of course, what is it?” Violet hoped Sylvia wasn’t about to tell her something about one of the workers that she didn’t want to know.
Sylvia straightened her back like a contestant for Miss America, “I have now shifted every damn book in this library.” Violet dropped the book. “Seriously?”
“Every last book.” Sylvia glowed with pride.
“Sylvia, that is amazing! How did you- well I mean, thank you.” Violet hadn’t thought Sylvia would’ve worked while she was away, but the world is full of surprises.
A man in dusty coveralls came up to the desk. “Excuse me, Miss Mahoney?”Sylvia shot a glance at Violet and mouthed “too dirty.”
Violet stood “yes?”
“I just wanted to let you know we are finished with the renovations and you can start moving your books back in the morning.”
“Thank you!” Violet’s eyes light up as the man walked away. She turned to Sylvia, “Do you know what this means?”
“Yes,” Sylvia was visibly depressed, “That I have to shift ALL those again. I think I need a smoke break.”
“No!” Violet grabbed Sylvia’s arm so she couldn’t walk away.
“What the –” Sylvia looked at Violet like she was crazy.
“I mean this means we are going to Red Lobster tonight to celebrate! And in the morning I will move that Young Adult fiction section again.” Sylvia gaped at Violet for a minute. “I’ll go call Sven and Dr. Vanderslice so they can meet us there.” Violet walked back to the phone and Sylvia walked in a daze to the door.
Sylvia and Violet arrived at Red Lobster before the two men. Sylvia had found a lawyer who was serious about her. She tried not to look at the waiters. Their waiter came and Sylvia asked for something fruity and alcoholic.
The waiter fixed his steely eyes on Violet, “and what can I get for you?”
Violet could hardly tear her eyes away from his. “A margarita. That is unless you can suggest something better…” She glanced at his name tag and gasped, “Billy?”
The waiter laughed, “It’s a common name you know.” Violet laughed but felt her ears turning red.
“Hey, what about me? I’m here too” Sven had come in while Violet was ogling the waiter. “Forgive my foolish sister, she doesn’t get out much. Ah, I want a glass of wine.” Violet kicked his shin, “it’s good to see you too, Vi!”
“Sven, Violet, Sylvia it’s so good to see you all!” A young woman came in with Dr. Vanderslice. She was leaning on his arm and had an engagement ring on her hand. They sat down with Sylvia and the Mahoney’s and began perusing the menu.
“Ah, Sven I nearly forgot to tell you, they have decided to call the boson ‘the Mahoney-Boson’ in honor of your discovery.”
Sven smiled, “really? Why that’s amazing, especially since all my time is spent keeping them from restarting that collider!”
“I’m so proud of you Sven, you’ve really made you mark for science,” Violet grinned. “I knew you’d find a way to keep that job!”
A different waiter came with their cheesy biscuits. Violet knew she’d been too forward. Billy returned to take their order though and Violet chose the Admiral’s Feast.
“Very daring of you Vi” Sven laughed when the waiter left.
In the parking lot Violet found a number scribbled on the back of her receipt. Sylvia peered over her shoulder “Oh la la! Violet got a number!”
“Violet, I think for your safety’s sake you should let me have that telephone number” Sven said with mock concern. When Violet shook her head he reached to snatch it from her hand.
Violet stopped laughing, “I think I hear something.” She looked across the lot and saw movement in one of the shrubs. She ran forward and Sven followed close behind. When they were a few feet away Violet screamed. An animal had emerged from the bushes. It was ragged and rather thin but Violet knew at once, “Junior Mint!”
The young woman on Dr. Vanderslice’s arm looked up inquisitively, “But I’ve been here all along.” Dr.Vanderslice smiled and began explaining.
Violet had taken the frazzled and dirty cat into her arms and was crying again.
“I told you there was no reason for her to go through a portal,” Sven said. But Violet didn’t hear him over her kitty’s roaring purr.
They walked back to their cars, Sylvia blowing streams of smoke, Dr. Vanderslice with his fiancé, Sven laughing at his sister, and Violet with Junior Mint on her shoulder.
From the window of Red Lobster Billy was the only one who noticed the faint purple glow around the cat.