Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 20

Already Tim couldn’t imagine his home without Annie. She had fitted herself effortlessly into his routine. Even the comings and goings of so many other dogs as they came to board didn’t seem to faze her, and now she had had that magical effect on poor, distressed Chap.

“I knew you were special, girl,” he said, tipping her food into a stainless steel bowl and placing it on the grey quarry tiles of the kitchen floor.

As she delicately nosed at it, the metal ID disc on her collar clattering against the metal, Tim’s thoughts flitted back an hour to Cally. Another special girl, he couldn’t deny it.

He’d been keeping his distance, giving any dust from her break-up with Ged time to settle. But seeing her today had been good.

An idea popped into his head. He squinted at the clock. She’d said she would be working alone at the cattery. He’d never been much of a cat man, but surely cleaning pens and dishing up food was much the same whether you were dealing with cats or dogs.

Ten minutes later he had allowed the impulse to take him through the open gates of Cally’s Cats’ Hotel.

He found her hurrying along one of the paths that connected two of the animals’ runs. Her steps faltered when she saw him.

“Hello! What are you doing here? Did I manage to mix up some of my mail with yours?”

“No. I just thought you might be glad of an extra pair of hands. Tell me what needs doing.”

Her smile was instant and melted his heart.

“Really? Oh, you’re a star! Come with me.”

It took no more than an hour of working steadily. Tim was used to following orders, and her instructions were clear and concise. He enjoyed watching her work, her natural methodical way of doing things matching his own.

When she locked up the last pen for the morning, she blew her hair back from her forehead and gave him a grateful smile.

“Thank you so much. You’ve saved me hours of extra work. I’d offer you coffee, but . . .”

“But what? Doesn’t a guy get a coffee break after all that?”

“Of course, but I assumed you’d have to get back.”

They had turned towards her office and were walking side by side, her head bobbing along at his shoulder, the perfect height to put his arm around. He fought the urge.

“I can certainly spare ten minutes – I’ve a new client coming in at eleven-thirty. Another poor dog with behavioural problems.”

He glanced at his wristwatch. Forty-five minutes.

Cally bustled about, pouring coffee from a jug on a hotplate in the corner of her office, questioning with her eyebrows before tipping milk from a carton kept in the small fridge below.

Finally she placed two mugs on the desk and gestured to him to take the other chair.

“Thanks,” he said, blowing across the surface of the hot liquid. “All this needs now –” He broke off as she produced a tin of chocolate biscuits from her desk drawer, her smile impish and enchanting.

“You read my mind,” he replied, hoping she couldn’t. “So, how are things?” he asked, keeping the conversation bland.

“Fine, thanks. You?”

He shrugged an OK.

Her eyes were casting around the room, and came to settle on the phone on her desk. He saw her think of something.

“Remember the bell-ringers? No-one’s got to the bottom of it yet, but Sheila – remember her? Well, she phoned last night with another mystery.”

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”.