“Alas, nine lives vanished.”

  My fingers turned the dead leaf note but it said nothing else. It came soundlessly under my apartment door in the night, and made no use of the letterbox that cried like a tortured hinge with every courier. 

  I hated this door for its ceaseless correspondence. Gas or electricity bills or notices that both were going to be cut off unless I paid. I settle things on a rolling deadline of finality. My job didn’t permit many advances. The memo was happy news. 

I looked to my workbench, its snow coat of fertilizer, the pale weedkiller granules in lidless jars. Silver salts and bottles of moonshine. I took a final glance at the list of names and the note and set them smouldering. Black rings fluttered up. Lapped impotent at the dormant alarm.

 The hands on the clock had barely moved before my suitcase was full again and another name I’d made was on a landlord’s list. This time they could cut the utilities off for good for all the difference it would make.

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