Mrs Watkins walks into the room, followed by three of her five cats and smiles at Eli.
"Mrs Watkins, will you kindly remove your cat from my head?" He tries to push the moggy from its attachment of his face but the cat digs its claws into his shoulder and Eli abruptly stops. "Ouch! Smudge, stop that!"
Mrs Watkins rushes over, shooing cats away from every angle, and thankfully without tripping over one, she manages to reach Eli and carefully peels Smudge from his shoulder.
"Naughty, naughty cat. What has gotten into you, Mr Smudge?" She says tutting.
Mrs Watkins, or 'you must call me Anna' to all of her friends, is a woman in her late sixties and widowed. Eli has known her ever since he moved into his apartment building seven years before and just like Margaret from his office, she too tries to take care of him, especially over the past three years. She's thin but wearing well for her age, has a mass of brown hair always perched on top of her head - which Eli suspects is dyed - and round, gold rimmed glasses that seem to alert you to her presence in any room before anything else would; always glinting in the sun. The glasses somehow give her face the character her own features fail to, like a tie will complete a shirt; Anna looks unfinished without her glasses on. Eli loved these little things about people; take a simple thing away from someone, like glasses, and suddenly they seem a little less familiar to you, a little less trustworthy.
"I'm so sorry Eli; I don't know what's gotten into Mr Smudge."
"Hey, that's okay Anna. He was just trying to lick my wounds for me."
Eli pushes himself up from the sofa, slowly, and tries to feel
"I was so worried about you. I found you there," she points out towards the street, "just laying on the step. You could have been mugged, or worse!" Anna shifts Mr Smudge over to her hip and leans into Eli. She pats him on the top of the head and flattens his dark hair down for him.
"I'm sorry, Anna. I... I'm not sure what came over me."
Anna makes a little 'o' shape with her mouth and her deep brown eyes widen for a while. "Do you need a doctor?"
"No, no. It must have been the bottle of wine I had at the restaurant. Anyway, I'm fine now." He tries to give her his most reassuring smile but Anna is, unfortunately, as sharp as any Katana sword. She stands looming over Eli with her cat perched on her hip - like a collaborator of the feline kind, poised to assist her in all matters - and then Anna shows just how much she doesn't buy Eli's little explanation by her deep frown and the pursing of her homely, withered lips.
"Don't give me that, Eli. I know when someone isn't well; I have kids of my own, you know!"
Eli sits in a slit of sun, amongst several cats - spawn of the devil, for all he is concerned - and suddenly feels the tiredness, stress, illness of himself; it washes over his extremities all at once and so suddenly he nearly slumps back into the sofa. He swoons a little, raises a hand to his head; it's coming.
"Uh, I've just remembered I have to be somewhere, Mrs Watkins. Thank you for taking me in but I have to go..."
Anna startles, "Eli, you never call me Mrs Watkins; what on Earth is the matter?" She reaches out towards him but Eli avoids her hand altogether.
"I need to go."