Garfield was waiting for Jon as soon as he stepped in the door. Curled in a large, furry ball on Jon's sofa, he was purring noiselessly as Jon approached.

"You… You…" Jon gasped.

"Me, me." said Garfield.

"You ruined my date!"

"I did." grinned Garfield, flashing his long, pointed teeth.

"I hate you!"

Full of rage, Jon actually threw a punch at Garfield. With one lazy flick of the cat's claw, Jon's flabby arm was tossed aside and his knuckles were soaked in blood.

"Plenty of people hate me," Garfield replied calmly, as Jon clasped his bleeding hand. "I am… what is the word… an anathema."

Jon held his bloody hand tightly, cursing every inch of fur on that demonic cat's body. What should he do?

"I have been called many names over the course of history. Sekhmet, Cait Sidhe, Bakeneko, the Cheshire Cat…"

"Why me?"

Garfield paused, looking disappointed to be interrupted.

"My dear Jon, you are a lonely soul. I am a physical manifestation of your loneliness, your past, your…" Garfield looked Jon up and down, and Jon felt an intense desire to pull in his stomach. "deficiencies."

"But I've moved on! I'm dating Eliza!"

"You don't think you're still dating her after tonight, do you?" "But you… you caused it!"

Garfield laughed. An evil laugh, a laugh that made Jon's hair stand on end.

"You never wanted it to succeed. You just want to go back to your lonely, depressing life. Deep down you know you don't have the courage to step out of your shell and try anything new! Why do you wear those horrible retro suits? You live through your past because you know your future isn't going anywhere." Garfield ranted. Then he licked his narrow lips and said, in a lower voice: "You can't even get rid of your old teddy bear."

Jon's hard face suddenly softened. The thought of Mr. Snookums brought back memories of his childhood. A bear. A blanket. Candles on the windowsill. His adoring mother and father. A little boy on a big farm, with no one his age to talk to. Garfield's menacing voice broke his recollections.

"You keep animals as substitutes for friends, like you always did growing up. You're pathetic."

Jon's eyes were swimming. Suddenly, a face broke through his thoughts. Eliza. Eliza! Jon faced his enemy, eyes narrowed in destructive purpose. Then, abruptly, he ran out of the room.

"Running away?" the cat called after him, but Jon was already off. He raced to his closet and grabbed his bear.

"What are you doing? Stop that!" said Garfield, a note of panic in his voice for the first time.

"Odie!" Jon whistled. Out came the loping dog, excitement brewing in his naive little face.

"Get!" said Jon, pointing at Mr. Snookums. Odie enthusiastically began ripping the stuffing out of Jon's poor old bear.

"NO! What are you doing?" moaned Garfield from the other room.

"I can't let my past get in the way of the future." said Jon, calmly, as he watched his childhood being shredded by his best friend. Garfield howled in pain, and began lumbering at Odie. Jon stood between them. He wasn't afraid anymore. Garfield was disintegrating before his eyes. It was as though he was made of sand. Then, abruptly, he was gone. Jon sat down on the newly vacated couch, holding his head in his bloodstained hands, as a playful Odie finished gnawing the corpse of his old bear. Jon stood back up. He went to the sink and washed his hands. Then he grabbed the telephone and dialed Eliza's number.

"Hello? Eliza, this is Jon. Look, I'm sorry about last night. I was so afraid of commitment I just… freaked out. Please, please, please will you give me one more chance?" He could tell she was on the line because of her soft breathing. Slowly, the clock ticked away. Every second seemed an hour. Finally she said: "Okay."

And Jon Arbuckle was happy.

The En