Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 08

Tim was whistling cheerfully along to the car radio as he neared the junction, but the music faded to a soundless exhale as he recognised the car coming towards him from the opposite direction.

They met at the T, both indicating to take the main road into the village. Cally.

He hadn’t seen her since receiving the e-mail of complaint from the council, the one he suspected she had instigated. Who else could it have been?

She had told him herself that she’d been against his kennels, submitting protests at every stage of the planning process.

Yet she had been so open and honest about that, he found it hard to believe she would go behind his back to complain again now.

True, their acquaintance so far was very brief, but even in that one meeting at his open day, she had struck him as the type simply to pick up the phone and dial his number if she had an issue.

And Tim felt he was a pretty good judge of character. It was something he had learned in the military: get the measure of your men as quickly as you can. It might save your life.

Cally flashed her headlights and gave him a carefree wave of recognition as she took the turn. As he followed along behind her, Tim resumed his whistling. No point in stewing about it. He’d find out one way or the other soon enough.

They parked alongside each other in the small car park behind the village’s one row of shops.

“Hi!” she called as she clambered out of her car. “How are things?”

“Pretty good, thanks. You?”

“Great. Enjoying this weather,” she said, indicating the blue skies and sunshine around them. “Makes working outdoors a joy.”

“Have you been through a winter at the cattery yet?” he asked as they locked up their respective cars and fell into step together, taking the narrow path that cut through between two adjacent buildings to the main street.

“Yes, but it was last year’s mild one, so I haven’t had to fight my way through blizzards or snowdrifts yet!”

As they chuckled, he decided just to tackle the situation head on.

“I had a letter from the council a few days ago. Someone’s complained about excessive noise from the kennels,” he told her, glancing sideways to watch her reaction.

The surprise on her face was unmistakably genuine as she stopped to stare at him.

“Really?” That surprise was instantly replaced by indignation. “And you think it was me?”

He shrugged.

She started walking again, more quickly now, and he strode along beside her, doing his best to keep up.

Now that most of the reconstruction had been completed and the kennels were up and running, he’d had time to take better care of his leg, doing his exercises and resting when necessary. Even so, her rapid anger-fuelled pace was punishing.

Suddenly she stopped again and he almost over-balanced in his effort to halt with her.

She had the grace to look concerned.

“Are you OK? Look, I know I went to the council to start with, but now you’re actually here, I’d be more likely to drive straight over and tell you to your face if something was bothering me,” she said. “Going behind someone’s back isn’t my style.”

Her gaze was unflinching, and he knew she was being straight with him.

“Fair enough. I apologise for thinking anything different. We OK?”

She nodded briskly.

“Of course. I can’t say I blame you. I’ve hardly been aware of any noise coming from your place. It surprised me, to be honest. How many animals do you have boarding just now?”

“Nineteen. I’m really chuffed. It’s taken off better than I hoped.”

They were moving again, and soon emerged into the village’s main street. She turned left and indicated the newsagent’s, the first shop they came to.

“I’m heading in here. I need a birthday card for my mum.”

“Me, too. I need to get some stamps.”

Inside, he glanced around, and muttered to Cally.

“I’m also hoping to speak to someone called Imogen – she contacted me about her dog Chap. Is that her standing behind the counter?”

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 tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.