at all times. Monster seems resigned to it, and accepts this ultimate indignity with remarkable dignity.
Mostly, Monster sits by the door in eternal cat observation mode, with an added Confuscian look that says "I might lash you, fool." Carlos explains, his antique hispanic accent resplendent: "He's mean! You scratch his belly and then…" Carlos pantomimes taloned claws tearing into thin air. I sit with Monster for a bit, he on the concrete, me on a festive mosaic tile concrete bench, festooned with geraniums and other potted plants. (The bench is one of the many details telling me that The Sportsman is a venture long loved by its owners.) Monster's leash is inexplicably wrapped around the swimming pool fence in a way that seems impossible to have achieved. As a good faith gesture—my deepest desire is to pet Monster—I unclip his leash momentarily, quickly untangle it, and then clip it back. With this, Monster regains his purchase on the walkway, and slinks towards the outer reaches, his worn cloth leash winding out behind him like a drugged and starved anaconda. Not particularly interested in me, Monster settles at the end of his leashed kingdom, all attention on a Japanese beetle flailing around on the sidewalk, a couple of feet beyond his survey. I watch him watching, and—in an act designed to curry favor—walk off, kicking the beetle into his fatal grasp as I go.
The next time I come by, I get to pet Monster.