The first time he saw her, he was kicking an already crumpled package in his usual routine on the way to a new target when he spotted her up ahead. She was long and tall and dressed in a black trench coat that swirled around her legs. Her flame red hair hung behind her trench, and the late winter wind whipped it this way and that as she walked. He forgot, for a moment, what he was supposed to be doing as he watched her for her walk reminded him oddly of a cat stalking its prey. What Ace found most intriguing by far, however, was the scraggly tabby cat perched on top of her shoulder. His human looked to be on a mission, and the cat seemed to be sitting at full alert like a Captain at the helm of his ship.
He shook himself as she started to turn a corner and quickly resumed kicking the package. He continued his game, providing both the roles of the players and the narrator as he headed quickly after the redheaded woman. He continued until he was just behind her, then whirled with the package held high and began looking wildly around. "Uh-oh, he's getting cornered now!" he exclaimed for the narrator as he went through the motions of trying to dodge other players. "He's not getting out of this one, but oh, he makes a wild pass and . . . "
The woman never looked up as he threw the package at her, but her fist shot out sideways and right into the box whose contents were already well smashed. The box slapped Ace back into the face. He caught it, held it to him, and just stared at the woman for a moment. She still made no further sign of recognition towards him or the box as she continued on along her business.
He shook his head as he gave himself a mental pep talk and then went after her again. This time, he fell into a brisk pace beside her. He grinned from ear to ear as he began his sales pitch. "Congratulations, ma'am! You are the 100th person to walk by this store without going in, and you've won the prize." He held out the box to her with a huge, silly grin.
She knocked the box out of her way again and still did not bother to look at him. Her voice did finally grace his ears, however. "Whate'er disease ye have, I din't be wantin' it so get the Hell away from me."
"It's not a disease," he countered with what he hoped was a smooth grin. "It's a zest for life, a love for the world around us . . . "
"Good fer ye," she remarked irritably, "but I'm tellin' ye gi back tae whate'er flea-infested hole ye came out o' 'fore'n I send ye straight tae Hell."
He paused for a moment and blinked before looking at her in complete surprise. "How did you know my apartments got fleas? You know, I'm thinking of making a circus with them . . . I love animals, just like the cat on your shoulder there! He's a handsome boy, aren't you?"
The cat's head swiveled so that he was looking at Ace over his shoulder. His green eyes glared fiercely at the Pet Detective. "Get lost, idiot," he snapped, his tail striking the air with the same irritability that his owner had displayed, "before she does send you to Hell."
Ace was so shocked that he stood staring at the couple with his mouth hanging open until they were well out of sight.