Cat Burglars
I called Noye. His first name was Abner, and sometimes I called him Ab-Noye-mal. It wasn’t far off the mark. I knew he’d be home doing something like building a model airplane, with painstaking attention to detail and authenticity, the only man over forty I knew who had the time and patience. He was known to duplicate the exact color scheme used by Junkers in 1936 on the JU 87 dive bomber.
“What are you doing?” I said.
“Thinking about my socks.”

Fucking Noye.
“They got holes?”
“What then?”
“I put them on this morning and they’ve been bothering me. They just don’t seem right.”
“Throw ‘em in the trash and get another pair. I’ll wait.” I knew Noye. He’d sit there half the day contemplating whether he should change his socks. Then if he didn’t throw them away he’d sit for an
hour turning them inside-out trying to find the defect.
“But they’re only a couple of years old,” he said.
“They’ve outlived their usefulness. Ditch ‘em before you waste any more time.”
“You’re right,” he said after some hesitation. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Noye’s main benefit to me was that he was tall and extremely skinny. A few inches over six feet and maybe one forty. He’d been a chimney sweep and also worked cleaning air conditioning ducts, so was comfortable in tight spaces. Plus, he had no vices and could keep his mouth shut. He also had the ability to pay strict attention to detail – when he felt like it. That was his drawback – inconsistency.
When he came back on, sounding more confident in his new socks, I told him I had something for us.
“Meet me at George’s and we’ll talk about it,” I said.
“George who?”
It was like starting over each time if you didn’t talk to Noye for a week or so.
“The bagel shop.”
“I hope he has salmon bagels.”
I didn’t tell him no one has salmon bagels. Even lunch had to be eccentric with Noye.