Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 12

As Cally spoke, there was the sound of a car creeping over the gravel outside and pulling to a cautious halt outside the reception shed, and then doors opening and closing.

“That sounds like they’re here now,” Marna said.

“I’m so sorry,” the woman hurriedly apologised. “We got stuck at roadworks, and then poor Bingo was travel sick, so we had to stop until he felt better. And even when we could carry on, we had to drive here at a snail’s pace.

“Would you believe I’ve left my phone charging on the kitchen countertop?” she carried on. “I can practically see it sitting there!”

All this poured out in such a rush that she gasped for breath at the end of it.

Her husband arrived behind her, carrying a wicker basket with such a large ginger tomcat inside that the weight pulled the man over to one side.

“Margot explained, has she, Cally? Never mind, we’re here now. And here’s Bingo.” He hefted the basket. “I swear he gets heavier every single time.”

Marna stepped forward to relieve him of his load.

“I’ll take him. He’s just in his usual pen – I’ll go and get him settled in now. Has he eaten?”

Mrs Wilshire laughed.

“Oh, no! That would have been asking for trouble, given how car sick he gets.”

As Marna disappeared with the carrier, Cally checked the diary.

“So he’s here for two weeks. Off on holiday, are you? Somewhere nice?” she asked with a smile, and Mrs Wilshire blushed like a girl.

“Do you know, I haven’t a clue! It’s our silver wedding anniversary next week, and Richard is whisking me off to
a secret destination to celebrate.”

“Oh, how lovely!” Cally exclaimed. “But how on earth do you pack for a trip like that?”

The woman pulled a face.

“Exactly! That’s why I’m all over the place. All he’s told me,” she said, with a fond grin at her husband, “is to pack for sunshine, beaches and nice restaurants.”

“Well, you two have a lovely time. And don’t worry about Bingo – we’ll look after him very well.”

“Oh, I know you will. I wouldn’t take him anywhere else. It’s always so peaceful here.”

Cally hesitated, then, remembering her previous client’s words, felt obliged to speak up.

“Yes,” she said, trying to sound casual. “I was worried that when the kennels opened along the road, we might experience some disturbance, but hand on heart, I can tell you it hasn’t made the slightest difference.”

“Oh, yes, we heard about that,” Mr Wilshire acknowledged with a shrug. “But let’s face it, it would be a very unusual neighbourhood that didn’t have dogs and cats living side by side. We have several dogs living in our street. The animals just have to accept it and get along. People pamper their pets far too much, if you ask me.”

With that he held up the carrier bag he was holding in his other hand.

“I’ve got Bingo’s blanket here and his favourite toys, too. And I put in some special treats.

“We always feel so guilty about leaving him. Just put them here, shall I?” He propped the bag against the leg of the desk, and turned to his wife.

“I’ll just pop along and say cheerio to him, and meet you in the car, OK? His usual pen, you said?” he added to Cally, and she nodded.

Once he’d gone, Mrs Wilshire turned to Cally with a smile.

“He’s worse than me!” she said, and they giggled together.

A few minutes later Cally heard their car drive off, just as Marna returned.

“See? What did I tell you?” the American girl said, and Cally nodded.

“You were right.” She recounted what the Wilshires had said about dogs and neighbourhoods, too.

The trouble was, she had no way of knowing yet which kind of client she had more of: those who thought like the Wilshires, or those who thought like Mrs Robinson. And until she knew that, she could foresee a number of sleepless nights.

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”.