Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 02


Cally had been single-minded in her pursuit of it, too. She had worked hard at school, then gone to college to do business studies, and then she’d worked around the country for a range of businesses, large and small, building up her experience, knowledge and savings.

Now she was back on her home turf, where her parents still lived. It was them, with their contacts in the property market, who had tipped her off about a smallholding for sale, and when she saw it she had come up with the idea for a cattery.

On the edge of the village of Oakenfold, which was near a small town, which in turn was within driving distance of two larger towns, the location was perfect with the added bonus of a great nearby source of potential clients.

She had applied for all of the necessary licences, ploughed her savings into setting it up with backing from the bank, and it was beginning to go very well. At least, it had been, until Mr Dog Kennels had put a spanner in her smoothly operating works.

She parked and opened the back door to fetch Jessica, using both hands to steady the box as she carried it to the reception shed.

Her colleague Marna popped her head out the door.

“Is that Jess? Her pen’s ready for her, and I’ve put out some of her favourite crunchies, too. I’ll take her round.”

Marna took the carrier and Cally smiled as she went off murmuring soothingly to Jess.

Marna was as nuts about cats as Cally was, and every day Cally thanked her lucky stars that the American girl had pitched up in Oakenfold on her round-Europe tour and that it was here she had decided she needed to earn some more cash before she could carry on.

That had been nine months ago and fortunately Marna showed no sign of moving on.

Cally gave the Cats’ Hotel one more satisfied look round, then went into the reception shed to phone her mum.

****

“Natives look friendly.” Matthew Timmons raised an eyebrow as the two men flinched from the scattered gravel kicked up by the car that had just passed. He’d caught the briefest impression of a young woman at the wheel, scowling.

“One of your new neighbours, Tim?” his contractor, Jack, asked. Everyone called Matthew Tim, a nickname that had come from his surname when he was in the military. “Doesn’t look like she’ll be laying out the welcome mat. Maybe she’s not a dog person.”

“Maybe.” Tim rubbed a hand along his chin. He was aware of all the objections that had been made over his development, but he hoped to win the locals over when they knew more about his plans for the kennels.

“Anyway,” he said, mentally moving on, “are we done here?”

“Yes. I’ll get the direction sign ordered and have it in place here by the end of the week.”

“Thanks, Jack. Give me a lift back to the office, will you? My leg’s giving me gyp today. I guess I’ve been overdoing it trying to get the place ready.”

Tim knew he was lucky to have come out of his Army service with nothing more serious than a limp that bothered him when he was tired and a weakness in his left hand – the lingering after-effects of a roadside bomb that had claimed the lives of two of his best friends.

“Cheers, mate!” He slapped the roof of the Range-Rover as Jack sped off, then returned to the office that he’d set up in the old house at the centre of this building site.

The whole site had once been a dairy farm which had fallen into disrepair. The house was the old farmhouse, and one of the most positive points in its favour when he’d viewed the property had been its many outbuildings.

Although the place needed massive amounts of work, that was something he’d never been afraid of. Most of the old house was barely habitable, but he’d set up an office, a makeshift kitchen and a bedroom of sorts on the ground floor in the least neglected living quarters.

To a man who had spent nearly 20 years living in basic barracks and dangerous war zones, it was quite the home from home.

The office had a desk made from an old door mounted on breeze blocks and, in contrast, a luxurious swivelling leather office chair, scavenged from a skip by Jack.

“I saw it and I thought of you,” Jack had said when he produced it from the back of his Range-Rover.

“Just what the doctor ordered!” Tim had agreed. “Cheers!”

Jack had become a good friend over the last couple of months, and Tim knew they’d still go for a pint together even when all the work was done.

Now he threw himself into the chair with a grateful sigh, and winced – his leg suffered when he neglected his prescribed exercises, which he’d been doing lately.

But there weren’t enough hours in the day to get this place ready by the deadline he’d set himself and pander to a few aches and pains.

Tim sometimes wondered if he was punishing himself for having survived when so many of his comrades hadn’t.

Shaking himself out of introspection, he started up his laptop and opened up the document where the schedule for this whole operation was laid out.

He smiled to himself. Old habits died hard: he still treated every activity like an Army exercise, relying on detail, tactics and planning for success.

He only hoped it worked as well for him in civilian life as it always had in the military.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.