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The Birthday Gift
by April Winters

I’d had my nose pressed against the window at Picker’s Corner for, apparently, quite some time. The owner’s wife came out and said, “Be a sport and raise your arms so I can dust your nooks and crannies, would ya Hon?”

In my defense, they’d put a Gibson Custom ES-335 Satin Finish Electric Guitar in their window display case. Who wouldn’t press their nose to get a better look?

That was a few months ago. Earlier this morning I counted and stacked my savings neatly on the bed. I let out a war hoop that sent my pudgy white feline, Fat Cat, scampering toward the aquarium. “Today is the day,” I said to her vanishing hind end, “that I buy my birthday present to me. Sure, Jittery Java’s sales took the hit, but now that I’ve stopped spending a fortune on their Early Grave Espressos, I have enough to buy my guitar!”

An hour ago I headed straight into Picker’s Corner, bypassing their window. Mr. Picker’s bushy eyebrows nearly flew off his forehead. His mouth opened wide, sort of like a baby bird waiting for food from its mama. I pointed to the Gibson and said, “I want it!”

“Um,” Mr. Picker said, shaking his head as if he didn’t know how to break it to me, “that’s a pretty pricey guitar.” I plopped my money on the counter. He looked at the wad, gave me a crooked-toothed grin, and made a beeline for the Gibson. I was right on his heels.

He was very careful getting that instrument out of the window display for me … well, until he raised the guitar too high off the stand and whacked the handle into the overhead light bulb. Glass went flying every which way. I don’t think it was the first time he’d done that. When he yelled for his wife to bring him a light bulb, she yelled back, "What, again?"

Later, inside my apartment, I couldn’t wipe the silly grin off my face. As I bent to plug in my prized possession, shards of Picker’s Corner light bulb sprinkled out of my hair like granules from a Morton Salt box. They landed on my always underfoot Fat Cat. She let out a startled meee-oww and went airborne. Paws flailing as if she was doing a quick calculation of how many lives she had left, she finally gained traction … up my arm and onto my face.

So here I sit on the sofa with my shiny guitar in hand, a pain killer sliding down my throat, and enough Charmin stuck to my face to look as if I shaved myself cutting. Ah, life is good … well, except for that yellow-eyed glare Fat Cat keeps tossing me from the depths of her Kitty Kondo.