When I arrive home, all is quiet and calm. The master, his face still sporting an afterglow from the baths, is eating his dinner. Seeing me emerge from the veranda, he comments on my leisurely ways and wonders aloud where I've been. I see that his dinner tray, despite his meager means, hosts an assortment of side dishes. In their center lies a grilled fish. What kind of fish it is, I can't say, but as recent as the day prior it was no doubt swimming off Odaiba or thereabouts. Fish are a hardy bunch, as I've said before, but not so hardy as to stand up to grilling or stewing. Better by far to live out one's days, even as health wanes. Thinking thus, I seat myself by the master's tray, looking on while feigning indifference, hoping a bite might come my way. This is how the game is played, and those who know it not know not the taste of choice fish. The master pokes and prods at his fish then lays down his chopsticks, seemingly dissatisfied. The wife, who's attending on him from the opposite side of the tray, watches in silence, carefully gaging the rise and fall of his chopsticks, the working of his jaws.
"Say, give that cat there a rap on the head." The master, out of the blue, enjoins the wife.
"A rap? Whatever for?"
"Nevermind what for, just give 'im a little rap."
The wife raps me on the head with the flat of her hand and looks to the master. There's no particular discomfort in this.
"He didn't mew."
"Do it once more."
"However many times, what's the difference?" The wife acquiesces and raps me again with the flat of her hand. Thinking nothing of it, I don't bother to react. At the same time, however, well-learned as I am, I can't fathom the master's intent. Could I fathom his intentions, I might manage to tailor a reaction, but with nothing to go by but "try giving a rap," both the wife who's rapping, and me, the recipient of her raps, are equally lost. The master too, having failed to solicit his intended response after two tries, shows a touch of irritation. "Rap him so he mews," he orders.