Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 25

They picked up Tim at the kennels. The introductions were brief and friendly, Tim reaching forward from the back seat to shake Craig’s hand.

“Good to meet you, Craig. Matthew Timmons, but everyone calls me Tim.” Tim had a naturally easy manner about him, and was effortless in making conversation. Cally had noticed it before. Soon he had Craig talking about the small one-man joinery business he’d set up.

“Once I’d finished my apprenticeship, I couldn’t see the point in working for someone else,” Craig told him.

“Pity I hadn’t known when I was setting up the kennels – I could have used you,” Tim said. “Mind you, I got hold of a guy called Jack Harman and he did a good job – do you know him?”

Craig was nodding.

“Jack has a good reputation. I worked on a contract with him and he’s a decent bloke.”

“I thought so. He’s become a good mate, actually, but you always like to have a guy’s work endorsed by someone else in the trade.”

As the two chatted, Cally found her mind wandering back to her own business troubles. But then they arrived at the pub, and again she was able to push them aside.

“You find a table and I’ll get the first round,” Tim said at once. “Soft drink for you, Craig? And how about you, Cally?”

“White wine spritzer, please,” she said.

At the table, Craig nudged her.

“Seems a good guy.”

“He is. I thought you’d like him.”

They watched him return, the three glasses carefully balanced. He placed them on the table, then produced some peanuts from his pocket.

“Not for me, thanks,” Cally said. “We’ve just eaten.”

“Oh, yes, you said, didn’t you? I forgot.”

Cally rolled her eyes and leaned closer to her brother.

“He has a memory like a sieve,” she said. “How many times now is that you’ve forgotten to phone me, Tim? And one night he even forgot we were going out! It’s not very flattering for a girl.”

Tim laughed, but she saw a shadow pass across his face and wondered about it before he changed the subject to get Craig talking some more about his work.

The pub grew busier, with the quiet hubbub of folks getting together for a relaxing evening after a hard day at work. Cally spotted Sheila’s husband Simon and it reminded her about the complaint about the garage.

“The mystery of our noise-hating neighbour continues,” she began, and told Tim the latest while filling Craig in on the story so far.

“Weird,” Craig agreed. “It could all be coincidence, though,” he suggested, and Cally laughed.

“Try telling Sheila that. She’s sure it’s all directed at her.” She raised her empty glass. “Your round, little brother.”

As soon as Craig had gone, Tim leaned across the table, his expression earnest.

“I’m sorry I’m so hopeless at remembering to phone you. I did warn you I’m not great at relationships.” It was true. He had, during one of their early dates.

“I’m not making excuses, honest, but being in the military, I never really made time for them. I had girlfriends, but none of them lasted for long or –” he squeezed her hand “– mattered as much. I’m trying, I promise.”

“You’re doing OK, Tim, honestly,” she said, and leaned closer to kiss him. “I was only teasing.”

It always surprised her when she got these insights into a more vulnerable side to his character. He wasn’t always the tough ex-soldier she might have expected.

As she drew back, a figure behind him caught her attention. It was her ex-boyfriend Ged, giving her a broad wink from behind the bar. She giggled, and Tim turned to see why.

Ged gave him a mock salute then turned his attention back to the pretty blonde girl leaning on the bar and gazing adoringly at him.

“His new girlfriend, or so I hear,” she told Tim. “See? I’ve moved on, he’s moved on, everyone’s happy.”

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”.