Of Whiskey and Catnip by Chudley Cannon

Notes: Written for the 15minuteficlets livejournal community challenge with the book in mind, but works for the film, too. Written upon the assumption of another (fictional) falling out between the two of them sometime after Holly stops calling him "Fred" and takes up with José.


The latest I ever came over was sometime after two in the morning. I'd been lying awake for hours upon hours, just waiting for the inimitable sound of Holly's arrival, usually marked by loud shouting and a random annoyed neighbor, as she'd stopped, since our falling out, buzzing me to open the door for her.

It wasn't as though I was ready to make up or anything, but I realized that if it were coming down to who was a bigger person between Holly and me, I would have to step up and attempt to be that bigger person, to put it all behind us. It just seemed to be an impossible notion, asking Holly to be a bigger person about anything, because she just believed she was on principle.

Anyway, the reason I had waited so early in the morning (or late at night, whichever is your fancy) was that I had overheard tell of José being away on business, prompting Holly to spend the entire day with him and not getting in until well after midnight. It came upon me, then, that I should call on her right away because the idea was so persistent and niggling in my mind that I wouldn't be able to sleep otherwise.

At the door, Holly was in the process of undressing and waved me in, saying, "I can't say I thought it'd be you, darling, but it's all right and fine if you're ready to make up, I've just had the most ghastly awful day and I can't think of anyone I'd rather unload onto, if you'll just finish unzipping me?"

I did so, and then reached into my pocket and pulled out what I'd come to bring. Holly turned and her eyes widened in comical surprise, although she seemed to sense that this was a gesture meant to be sentimental rather than misguided.

"Well, don't just stand there," she said, momentarily disappearing into the bedroom, "give it to him and pour us a drink and we'll get the whole thing sorted."

I bent down to where Cat was entangled amongst the discarded clothing Holly had left behind and I offered him the catnip. He accepted, after a cursory inspection, with an efficient nod, taking off with it without so much as a nuzzle, but it was all right with me. For all of Holly's prattling on about the two of them not owning one another, they sure had a habit of taking each other's cues.

I poured her some whiskey and she returned to me, dressed for sleep and untangling her hair. At her assistance that I have some and my acknowledgment that I had to work in the morning, she pressed: "Have some, darling. It'll do you good, it's like you've never slept. Waking death, that's what you look like, like a vampire in one of those newspaper cartoons.

"'Course I don't usually skim the cartoons much," she went on, "for I think that sort of humor is a little bit above me, or beneath me, I can't decide which. At any rate, it's not something I've ever given much more than a glance because—well, that sort of humor, the non-dirty kind that's meant for everyone, it's always seemed as if it were trying to alleviate everyone's collective grief. The whole thing is—more, darling, pour just a bit more—who needs to be reminded of that sort of grief?"

"I don't know," I said, idly scratching Cat behind the ears as he came by looking for more catnip, "but you can't really fault people for trying."

"Oh, yes, I can. It's like I said to José, if you're going to run a country one day, it seems ridiculous to make laws upon laws all centered on making everyone happy. That'll just never happen! There aren't a lot of impossible ideas in the world, but that's one of them."

She finished another shot of whiskey and asked for more. I was good at recognizing exhaustion when I saw it and I obliged, wanting to get her there quicker, pouring her another shot, and then another, and another, until she was slumped into my lap, snoring quietly.

Cat joined us on the couch and I carried them both to bed. Now, years later, I wish that I had attempted, that night or any night, to understand her grief, to try and pinpoint it as easily as she had. If I had, or if I could now, I'm sure forgetting her would be attainable. But as it is, she was right about the impossible ideas in the world. I wasn't prone to puerile clichés, but it seemed to make sense, that Holly Golightly would be an impossible idea to me.

That's why I'll probably never forget her.