Tall, dark and handsome, Maxwelle Smarte and his equally pretty, fair skinned brother, Morrie Amsterdam, moved into the condo when they were but wee little, nameless, lads.
For ten years they brought tears of joy, screams of "Ouch!" and howls of laughter to their new mom, who was my mom.
The three lived the good life over there in that condo where they hosted many a gathering, including Christmas Eve celebrations, Easter Sunday fiestas, world class Condoween parties and our weekly BS Club get togethers.
It was the BS Wednesdays that truly brought the boys out of their shells.
Max was never in a shell.
If Max didn't show up for company it was only because he was seriously napping. Not because he was cowered behind the furnace like his best friend.
If a worker man rang the bell to fix something at the condo, Max was right there to help the worker man with his whiskers in the guy's tool kit and his paws on the rungs of the guy's ladder.
Max was a natural entertainer.
A remarkable pin ball player.
And he could climb most anything.
Which he did.
But what he was most famous for was his most famous trick.
He would drag his cube up all the stairs from down in the family room. And then pull it into the living room, which is where he would spit the mouse, that was tied to a string, that was tied to the cube, out.
And take his bow.
The BS women and their wine or whatever the hell was in their cups that made them so enthusiastic, would holler, clap and cheer.
Then somebody would toss his cube back down the stairs.
And the black flash was on it. Ready to show off his magnificent trick again and again, while Morrie would sit on top of his favorite purse of the week looking slightly embarrassed about his brother's rather pompous and ridiculous behavior.
Max loved his aunt, Yours Truly.
He and Morrie are front and center on my Millie page and they have been featured in many a Millie story.
Max and I also co-wrote an article on how to decorate for the holidays a few Christmases ago.
We also collaborated on a Dear Millie and Maxie advice column.
He had a lot of very good ideas.
Although Max was a super star, he never let it go to his head.
He wasn't out there with celebs doing lines of coke and partying all night.
Max was a bit reserved.
Maybe just a dab of some nip here and there was good enough for him.
Morrie on the other hand made up for his tea totaling brother by rolling around on the floor in the pile of stuff making a fool of himself.
Max was more likely to go all gaga over a stalk of celery.
Something about that aroma made him high.
He would rifle through my mother's mail on the countertop.
And that used to piss her off.
"Maxie! Get out of there!" She would yell. "Stop it!"
Max was a lover of bread.
A connoisseur of treats.
And a mama's boy.
He did steal a loaf or two.
And yeah, the treats did have to be locked up.
It is true that if you were his mom and if you sat down, you were going to be there for a long, long, while.
He was a gentle soul.
A deep thinker.
And a brave guy.
He walked like my father, slow and steady.
Even the late night that my Sweet Sven and I had to drive over to the condo to cut a hole in my mother's drywall to save Max from turning into a skeleton between some two by fours, he casually stepped out of the wall and sauntered over to his dish, like nothing had even happened.
It was tough for all of us last year when we lost our mom.
But thankfully, Maxwelle Smarte and Morrie Amsterdam were swooped up by my sister, their Aunt Louisa, because Louisa drew the short straw.
Somehow our mother managed to eliminate Louisa's two cats in the nick of time, from the other side, where she conveniently still resides and still denies the whole thing.
But of course, she knew what was best for her boys.
She was right.
They eased right on into their new lives.
Other than the ride over in the car, moving in with Louisa and Pierre did not deter Max from just being Max.
The guy was always confident inside his fur.
So, while Morrie spent the first month hiding behind the new furnace in their new place, Max jumped right in and helped out with the kitchen remodel.
What a nice job he and that worker guy did.
It is absolutely gorgeous.
Once all the pounding and racket was over Morrie ventured up the stairs too.
Even though the location of Louisa's staircase to her living room was not the most convenient layout for Max, he still performed his most famous trick that made him famous, for all the BS Cub women who were able to cheer him on once again, while his brother sat on his favorite purse of the week, rolling his eyes and shaking his head.
And then, last month the good lord decided to take Max.
As you can imagine it was a sad day for all who knew the big black show off.
Once upon a time, long ago, I asked him, "So, what life are you on, anyway?"
He said, "You know what Millie? I quit counting after five. I am not really sure anymore."
He was a wise cat with an old soul.
I wonder if he showed up at the top of all those stairs in the sky with that mouse in his mouth, tied to that string, tied to that ratty cube hanging on the end of it.
I wonder if he spit that mouse out right there in front of the pearly gates and took a bow.
I wonder if Saint Peter said, "WTF?"
And I wonder if my mother screamed from over on her puffy cloud, "Oh Maxie!"
For all of you that are wondering how Morrie Amsterdam is doing.
Per Louisa, "Morrie Amsterdam is doing just fine."