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Mr. Paper had been running out of money for a few weeks. He tried to get more money, and he tried to stretch what he had, but now all the money was gone. The first morning Mr. Paper had no food for his pet cat, Marvin, he felt so badly about it he tried to share the toast and coffee that was his own breakfast. Cats don’t care for toast though, and they don’t drink coffee. That night Marvin ran away. Mr. Paper was sad about it—he liked having Marvin around—but he was also glad for the cat. He imagined Marvin being taken in by a kind, rich old lady that would love him and spoil him and feed him gizzards and fish heads.

Mr. Paper could get bread from the bread line, and he could swipe a bag of coffee from the grocery store every so often, and between the two he could get through the day, but he couldn’t pay rent like that. He came home from a long day looking for money and found his apartment key wouldn’t open the door. His landlord had kicked him out and sold all his things to cover a little of the rent Mr. Paper owed him. Mr. Paper could still get bread from the bread line, but without a pot he couldn’t make coffee, and now when he was stuck out in the cold and could use it most.

One night, the smell of bacon wafted into Mr. Paper’s dreams as he slept uncomfortably on a park bench, and the smell stimulated in him visions of Christmas mornings like when he was a little boy. A sharp sound startled him awake, and the dreams fled, leaving behind them no memories. Mr. Paper shot up, expecting to find a cop or someone trying to rob him. Instead there was a cat, a couple yards away, sitting under a streetlamp. The cat sat placidly for a few beats as Mr. Paper met his gaze. Then the cat meowed, an urgent meow, and Mr. Paper recognized the voice— it was Marvin! He got up and approached the cat excitedly. They met in the middle and exchanged affections, Mr. Paper stroking Marvin and Marvin snaking around his feet, but then Marvin suddenly broke off and trotted back to his spot under the streetlamp. Mr. Paper followed.

He found a dinner plate sitting under the streetlamp holding two slices of toast, one buttered and one with raspberry jam; two fried eggs; and five pieces of pepper bacon, thickly sliced. Next to the plate was a mug of hot coffee with sugar and cream, steam billowing from it into the cold night air in great curls. He pounced on the food— more food than he’d seen at one time in weeks. He offered the bacon fat to Marvin, but Marvin wasn’t interested.

Once the plate had been cleaned, and the mug had been emptied, Mr. Paper sat cross-legged under the streetlamp a while, with Marvin curled up in his lap, purring happily. But again, after a while of that, Marvin darted off, trotting a few feet away and looking back at Mr. Paper, beckoning him. Again, Mr. Paper followed. They walked a long time. Eventually Marvin led him to a nice looking apartment building in a nice looking part of town. The doorman let Marvin in— Mr. Paper blew in with the wind. They took the elevator to the eleventh floor, and Marvin let Mr. Paper into a nice looking two bedroom apartment, with central heating and air, and HBO, and good internet service— Mr. Paper’s new home.

From then on Mr. Paper had it easy. He’d wake up Marvin in the morning when he was ready for breakfast. Marvin would feed him before going to work. Mr. Paper would hang out at the apartment during the day, napping and watching TV and internetting. Then, in the evening, Marvin would get home from work and make him dinner and chill on the couch, curled up in Mr. Paper’s lap and purring happily until finally turning in for the night. Then Mr. Paper would sneak out of the house to roam the streets, fool around with women, get into fights with men… but he’d always come back in the morning, hungry for his breakfast.

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