The following texts were exchanged last June between myself and Emily, a woman who stayed in my place and fed the cats while I was in New York, Paris, Cannes and Prague. Everything seemed fine at first, but all that changed when I got home. All texts are verbatim:

Emily [sent in late May]: “The cats really miss you! Aura meows no matter how much I pet her and Zac does too. They both accept cuddles but they know it’s not you. Last few nights Zack stays out so late that I fall asleep before I can catch him inside and lock the door. It’s a good thing you’re coming home soon, they sure miss you.”

Wells [a few days later]: “Margarita should be contacting you about coming by Wednesday morning or afternoon. My plane hits the LAX tarmac around 4 pm. I’ll be at the place by 6 pm or thereabouts.”

Emily: “Sounds good. I’ll be leaving Wednesday morning and heading to work so we will miss each other so Margarita will probably have to let herself in.

Wells: “Just remember to not lock the top bolt lock — lock only the doorknob lock — and remember to check under the [redacted] to make sure the blue doorknob key is still there. That’s the key Margarita uses.”

Emily: “Yes, I remember.”

Wells: “How are the plants by the way? Any Fed Ex or UPS shipments?

Emily: “Plants are kinda dead like. I watered but they didn’t really bloom. There are some packages. Large boxes and envelopes.”

Wells: “The plants are kinda ‘dead’?”

Emily: “No, I don’t mean dead. Like they’re not in bloom. I’m sorry, I just woke up. You’ll be home soon, all good. Yay.”

Wells: “A woman next door whom Zak always visits called three times yesterday to say Zac is hanging around her place and crying.  Something must have happened.  I’ll call her when she wakes up but I presume Zak hasn’t come home?”

Emily: “He has not. I was actually not there last night. I stayed at my friend’s place.”

I arrived home two days later. Margarita got sick and was unable to clean the place before I returned. I was shocked by the odor and appearance of the place.

Wells: “Just got back. Three loads of vomit or shit on the rug. A photo of my son that was on the kitchen wall was on the floor, broken in pieces. Smelly stinky food in the fridge. So you stayed once or twice a week, right? Towels in a heap piled on the couch. It’s like an animal broke in and rummaged around. Zak is a skeleton.”

Emily: “No. Incorrect. I didn’t use your fridge so I don’t know. I was just there yesterday and didn’t get a chance to do laundry to wash the towels. I didn’t see any poop or vomit. Excuse me. Thank you and goodbye.”

Wells: “Aura is okay but Zak looks like death warmed over.”

Emily: “I can’t control if Zack comes home or eats. I made sure they had food daily.”

Wells: “Three loads of vomit on the rug. You stayed here twice a week, right? If that?”

Emily: “That must have happened after I left. Don’t tell me what I did and didn’t do.”

Wells: “The cat water bowls are bone dry.”

Emily: “Stop texting me. You’re incorrect and you’re harassing me. I was just there last night. That’s bullshit.”

Wells: “You’re not very hygienic. How have I been rude the last few days? By telling you that the woman next door texted me about Zak? That’s ‘rude’? Seriously, it’s like a homeless person crashed here. You kept open bags of cat food on the counter because it was too much trouble to seal them and put them back on top of the refrigerator? How did you manage to smash my son’s photo into pieces? Do you have a drinking problem?”

Emily: “You’re insulting me right now by implying a homeless person crashed in your cluttered atmosphere. And you’re blocked. You don’t know how to be respectful or take people on their word. Your kitchen is not hygienic. So I didn’t eat there. I didn’t smash any photos! It must have fallen and I didn’t notice. I don’t even know where that is. I don’t drink.”

Wells: “The photo fell off the wall all on its own, eh? Maybe a ghost knocked it off. My place was not ‘cluttered’ when I left. Are you referring to Herbert Clutter, the Kansas family man who was killed by Dick and Perry in In Cold Blood? The place was tidy and clean with everything in order when I left. And the kitchen was spotless. Did you even water the plants?”