Two children, Hoyt and a small boy Arnold had never seen before, had led the older gentleman to the asylum. The last time the man had visited this city he’d had trouble finding the facility, but this time he’d been expected.
“Righ’ here misser!” Hoyt waved them inside while the younger one pulled on the mans free hand energetically, while the elder tried to keep up and explain he couldn’t go any faster.
The cat watched this frowning, and then turned to Hoyt who shrugged, “He’s a bi’ new…showing him fa ropes. I calls him Weasel.”
Arnold shook his head sadly, wondering if the boy would make it through the winter…
While Hoyt had come to expect the hard metal interior, Dr. Solsen and Weasel paused a moment as they entered the facility. The doctors face betrayed his dissatisfaction to the cat crouching nearby, who had prepared food and payment for whichever urchins helped the doctor.
“You can see why we needed you?” Arnold asked as he went to Dr. Maddox’s desk and picked up the files for the inmates, while the two kids took their bowls and started to eat hungrily on the floor, ignoring the table in the other room.
Dr. Solsen noted the cats lack of a warm greeting for a moment, and then walked forward, leaning on his cane more than in previous years. “I wish we could have met again under better circumstances, or at least sooner. But choosing a qualified replacement was…difficult.” Dr. Solsen looked about once again and then turned to the files on the desk and took a seat to inspect them closely, putting on his glasses.
He studied them for some time, growing even more apprehensive, and then looked up at the cat. “I have a lot of work ahead of me…this environment is not conducive to mental health. It will push the patients further away, not to mention the physical risks to both doctor and patient…”
The sound of bells ringing interrupted the doctor, and above there was shouting and howling. Weasel ran outside covering his ears, and Hoyt ran after him calling. Arnold shook his head and turned back to the Dr when things had finally quieted down again. “How long can you stay?”
Dr. Solsen looked at him surprised, lifting a single wrinkled eyebrow, “I thought you understood that I will be staying here. Permanently.” The cat stared at the doctor with surprise of his own, and the elder went on to explain, “I have been in regular correspondence with Master Canergak and Maddie…Dr. Maddox. I offered my services when she became indisposed months ago. They both accepted the offer.”
The cat wished that someone had bothered to inform him. He left the room and went after the boys who had run off earlier, carrying the leftovers they’d left behind with him. They were already on their way back inside when he found them and offered them the rest.
Weasel’s over-sized cap kept nearly falling into the soup, and none of his other clothes fit him either, “How old are you, Weasel?”
In between fighting to eat and keep his hat on the boy managed, “I’m frirteen!”
He looked more like he was eight to the cat, but he was sure the other urchins had already warned him about the coming winter…his own voice would add little to the reality. “Thanks for bringing Dr. Solsen here. Now, what about the other man? Has anyone given him the message yet?”
Hoyt shook his head, “Nah. Fhat blokes dead.”
“Emerson always says he’s dead,” Arnold countered, “I didn’t take him seriously.”
Weasel nodded along however, finally losing his hat to the soup. He put it back on his head and continued to eat after confirming Hoyt’s story, “Dwakins said he swa it wif his own eyes.”
The cat paused and then looked between them for a few moments. He’d had them, and many others, searching for almost a week and not one of them had seen him in the city. He was either dead or he wasn’t anywhere to be found…either way it was time to stop searching.