This is my second short story, I posted my first one, Truffle Tuesday, almost two years ago, you can find it here. Now that I’m retired I hope to write some more. Let me know what you think!
Abbey awakens from a deep slumber at 5:00 a.m. to the Morning Edition headlines on her local NPR station. She rolls onto her back to enjoy a full body stretch, but her feet are obstructed by Chester, the family’s eighteen pound Maine Coon. She lies still for a few moments listening to her husband’s faint snoring, and thinks about the day ahead.
Theirs is a hectic household and each day is an adventure. Their first born, fifteen year old Ellie, is taking three honors classes as well as driver’s education, and the thirteen year old twins, Margo and Marco, are involved in many activities now that the school year is in full swing. Then there are the pets, Chappy and Chester. Chappy, a twenty year old African Grey they adopted right after they were married, talks incessantly and is quite demanding to care for.
Her thoughts are interrupted by Steve Inskeep’s reporting of the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, and the possibility of a blue wave. She glances over at her husband, Eric, still sleeping soundly; she increases the volume, hoping that Steve will coax Eric out of his deep slumber, as she shuffles into the bathroom.
Thirty minutes later she enters the kitchen, notices Chester sitting by the French door, and is instantly greeted by Chappy’s squawking with simple phrases mixed in.
“Chappy happy, Chappy happy, cat out, cat out.”
“Good morning Chappy, does Chester want out?”
“Cat out, cat out.”
Abbey opens the door for Chester who, in typical cat fashion, sits for a moment before moving, sniffing the air as if getting social media updates about the current state of affairs from other felines. She gives him a gentle nudge with her slippered foot, and out he goes.
“Want some fruit Chappy?” Abbey asks.
Chappy squawks excitedly and says, “want fruit, want fruit, Chappy happy, Chappy happy.”
She flicks on the coffee maker, and grabs a small bowl of cut kiwis, apples and melon from the fridge along with a variety of items for the kids’ lunches. Chappy climbs along the rungs of his large cage and looks at her with dark, expectant eyes, she opens the latch and sets the fruit bowl on the bottom. She gives him a loving stroke along his soft gray feathers as he moves down the cage to the fruit.
She walks to the kitchen island, pours herself a cup of coffee, and sets about her task of making lunches. A few minutes later Eric enters the room, kisses her lovingly and pours himself a cup of coffee. They stand arm in arm for a few moments, relishing the quiet, which is quickly interrupted when Ellie enters the room.
“Who’s taking me to driver’s ed? I have an early drive time today,” Ellie asks in that demanding tone that comes with being a teenager.
“Drive time, drive time,” squawks Chappy.
“First of all, good morning, and secondly, did you tell us about this? I don’t have it on my calendar,” Eric asks as he turns to face her.
“Yes Dad,” Ellie replies, rolling her eyes, “I told you last night, at dinner.” She crosses her arms tightly across her chest, lets out a sigh and flops heavily against the kitchen island as she stares at him.
Eric thinks back to dinner the night before and remembers mostly chaos. Three kids around the table, all chattering, arguing, debating, Chappy’s constant prattling, and he cannot remember being told about the early morning session. Arguing is futile; he grabs his car keys and says to her, “let’s go then”.
He turns to Abbey as he heads to the garage and says, “I’ll be back in time to make breakfast.”
Ellie grabs her backpack and lunch and follows Eric to the car.
“Have a good day sweetheart,” Abbey says to Ellie.
“Yeah, sure, thanks,” Ellie replies flatly.
Later that morning, with the kids at school and Eric at work, Abbey settles into her home office and begins her work day as a copy editor. Within a few minutes, she receives a call from her sister, Amanda.
“Hey sis, I’m so sorry for the short notice, but my mother-in-law is ill and we need to leave town for a few days. Are you available to watch Boomer?”
Abbey thinks of their hectic household with the kids, their friends and the constant activity, but Boomer, a big, lovable blood hound with droopy eyes that could melt almost anyone in just a few seconds flat, is pretty easy to care for.
“Sure thing,” she replies. “When are you leaving?”
“First thing tomorrow morning, so I’ll have to drop him off later today.”
“OK. I’ll be home all afternoon, but text me before you head out.”
“Sure thing! Thanks so much. I’ll see you this afternoon,” Amanda replies.
The kids are happy to see Boomer when they arrive home from school and want him to come upstairs with them to the family room. They stand on the landing, calling, whistling, slapping their hands on their thighs, tempting him with canine treats to encourage him to come up, but he will not go beyond the first step. He whines, spins in circles, jumps, barks, but he will not go past the first step.
Eric comes out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on a towel, “what’s all the racket out here?”
“Boomer is afraid of the stairs,” Margo replies.
Eric looks at Boomer who is wriggling all over and wagging his tail so fast that he looks like he’s getting ready to take off.
“Go on Boomer, go on!” Eric says, encouraging the dog to join the kids. Boomer, wriggles and whines even more.
“He seems to be afraid of the stairs. OK, we can feed Chester in the bathroom up there so Boomer won’t get the cat food. Better leave him alone now, he’s getting too wound up.” Eric calls Boomer who obediently follows him into the kitchen, flops down on his bed and lets out a loud sigh as he puts his head between his paws.
The next morning Abbey sleeps through the headlines, and at 5:10 a.m. is awakened to Steve Inskeep’s reporting on the probability of a blue wave in November. She showers as usual and heads downstairs. Chappy hears her coming and starts squawking and chattering even before she enters the kitchen.
“Chappy happy, cat out, cat out.”
She notices both Boomer and Chester sitting by the French door, “good morning Chappy, do Boomer and Chester want out?” she asks.
“Cat out, Chappy happy, Chappy happy!”
She opens the door and Boomer, before heading outside, lets out an ear-splitting cacophony of baying and barking when he spots a squirrel clamoring along the back fence. He tears off like a rocket, stepping on Chester’s tail in the process. Chester lets out a loud howl, hisses and runs up the stairs and dives under the first bed he finds. Chappy lets out a series of loud, long squawks. A few seconds later she hears thundering steps on the stairs as Marco comes running into the kitchen.
“What the f—?” Marco cries, out of breath and startled.
“Marco, please watch your mouth. It’s Boomer, he saw a squirrel in the yard.” Abbey replies as she turns away from her son and pours herself a cup of coffee.
“What the f-, what the f-,” squawks Chappy.
Abbey slowly turns to face her son and stares at him for a few seconds, her eyes say it all: this is your doing, Marco. He rolls his eyes, sighs heavily, and leaves the room.
A little while later the family is around the table having breakfast, Boomer approaches the French door and looks in expectantly. Marco gets up to let him in. Boomer enters excitedly as he wags his tail and tosses his head around while crunching on something.
“He’s got something in his mouth,” Eric says.
Marco bends down, grabs Boomer’s jaw and tries to pry it open. Boomer lets out a low growl and clamps his mouth shut. After a bit of a struggle, he manages to get Boomer’s mouth open and the dog’s prize hits the floor.
“What the f—-!” Marco exclaims.
“Watch you language son!” Eric says as Boomer makes a desperate lunge for his treasure. Marco manages to stop him before he can reach it again.
“AARRGGHH” it’s a chicken foot! What the hell? Where did he get that?” Marco cries as he keeps a tight grip on the dog’s collar. “And what’s that smell?” Marco asks, eyeing the dog suspiciously. He looks a little closer. “Oh gross!!!! He’s got cat crap all over his back, disgusting!”
Everyone recoils in horror. Chappy, instinctively recognizing the chicken foot as something of a kindred nature, lets out a loud and long series of squawks.
“Lovely, now I have to give him a bath,” Abbey says. “You get rid of the chicken foot and I’ll clean him up,” she says to Eric. She sighs with a grimace as she grabs Boomer’s collar and drags him into the bathroom. She forces him into the tub as he resists and whines. She quickly scrubs him clean, towels him dry and opens the door.
While Boomer is in the bathroom, Chester slowly and cautiously makes his way back to the kitchen, hurries to the French door, and waits expectantly to be let out. Eric gets up to open the door for Chester, and has his back to the table, when he is startled by screams, shrieks, squawks as they are all showered with canine smelling water droplets as Boomer, immediately after entering the room, shakes vigorously.
“He’s getting water all over my computer!” Margo cries.
“ARGH, my hair, my clothes!” cries Ellie.
Chappy lets out a long and loud series of squawks.
Chester, also showered in water droplets runs like the wind back up the stairs and dives under the first bed he finds.
After the water is wiped up, the chicken foot, after much discussion and speculation of its origins, is disposed of, and the kids and Eric are off at school and work, Abbey relishes in the quiet stillness of the house. She walks into the kitchen where Boomer is laying on his bed, watching her closely.
“If dogs could give dirty looks, I’m guessing that’s what you would be giving me right now,” she says to him, as she makes herself a pot of green tea. She gives him a dog treat, strokes his soft ears and notices that he seems to be pouting. “Poor Boomer, I’m guessing you’ll be glad to go home tomorrow.” Boomer lets out a long sigh and drops his head between his paws, eyeing her suspiciously as she leaves the room.
Later that afternoon, with the kids and Eric back home, Abbey asks Margo to feed Chester. Boomer, having spent all day on his bed, pouting, quickly perks up when she opens a pouch of cat food. He hops up, keeping the pouch in his line of vision as he follows her up the stairs to the bathroom where Chester is temporarily having his meals.
“Hey,” she hollers to anyone within hearing distance, “Boomer is coming up the stairs!” Marco sticks his head out of the family room and laughs as he sees Boomer on the landing.
“He’s so into the cat food smell he doesn’t even realize that he’s on the stairs!” Margo exclaims.
She takes the cat food into the bathroom where Chester is sitting on the counter by his food dish. She empties the pouch into the cat’s bowl as Boomer continues to keep his eyes glued to the pouch.
“Come on Boomer, let’s leave Chester alone so he can eat in peace.” She grabs him by the collar and leads him into the family room where Marco is playing video games. She grabs her iPad, sits on the couch and pats the space next to her. Boomer obediently hops up, circles a few times and settles down on the cushion next to her.
“He doesn’t even seem to notice he’s upstairs now,” she comments to Marco as she strokes the dog’s head and ears.
Just then, in the next room, the dryer lets out a loud, ear piercing buzz, indicating that the clothes are dry. Margo jumps at the noise. Boomer panics and flies off the sofa, races out of the room, down the stairs and heads straight to his bed in the kitchen, leaving Margo and Marco in the dust.
“That poor dog is going to be completely traumatized by the time Aunt Amanda picks him up,” Marco comments.
5:10 a.m. Steve Inskeep’s reporting is now predicting that the Democrats will take back the House of Representatives in November. Abbey rolls onto her back and enjoys an unobstructed, full body stretch. She wonders where Chester is.
She hears Chappy while she is still on the stairs but he’s only squawking, not chanting his usual mantra.
Uh oh, something’s not right, she says to herself. She enters the kitchen to find coffee grounds, cat food pouches and a variety of other garbage and compost spread all over the floor. Chester is sitting on the counter looking down at the mess, and at Boomer who is laying on his side, panting heavily. Chappy is squawking as usual.
“Oh no! Boomer, what have you done?” she cries as she surveys the mess on the floor. “And now you’re sick!” She sees the cat on the counter and waves her hands at him, “Chester, get off of there; shoo!”
“Get off, get off,” squawks Chappy.
“What the heck!” Eric exclaims as he enters the kitchen.
“Boomer’s sick. One of us needs to take him to the emergency vet,” Abbey says as she bends down to comfort the dog.
“I hate to leave you with this mess, but I think I better take him since he needs to be carried.”
“Okay. There’s an emergency vet clinic by the grocery store,” Abbey says.
“Right,” Eric replies as he scoops up Boomer and carries him to the car. Abbey follows him and opens the car door, “text me as soon as you know anything.”
A while later Ellie enters the kitchen and sees Abbey cleaning the mess on the floor, “Mom, what’s going on, and where’s Dad?”
“He took Boomer to the emergency vet. He got into the garbage and compost. He must have been looking for the chicken foot.”
“Oh no, I hope he’ll be okay!” Ellie exclaims.
“Dad just texted, they’ve pumped his stomach and the vet says he’ll be fine.”
“That’s a relief!” Ellie says as she opens the refrigerator to get some orange juice.
Abbey and the kids are sitting quietly around the table having breakfast when Eric returns with Boomer. Boomer heads straight to his bed and flops down. Margo walks over to him and sits on the floor next to his bed and gives him some loving strokes around his soft, silky ears.
“Poor thing, you’ve had a traumatic time here, I bet you’ll be happy to go home. When’s Aunt Amanda coming to get him?” she asks as she turns towards Abbey.
“This afternoon. We just need to keep him safe for another eight hours. Hopefully, we can manage that. But you all need to get going, or you’ll be late for school,” Abbey says.
Later that day, with the family home and getting ready for dinner, Amanda stops by to get Boomer. He jumps off his bed at the sight of her and runs to greet her.
“Boom Dog! I missed you! I hope you were a good boy while I was gone!” Boomer wriggles with excitement as she pets him.
Amanda looks at her sister, “so, how did it go? I hope he wasn’t any trouble.”
The family looks around at each other, the kids have quizzical looks as they eye their parents. Abbey winks at Eric and turns to her sister.
“No trouble at all!”
“What the f-, what the f-,” squawks Chappy.
I hope you enjoyed this story! It was fun to write and some of the events actually happened when we dog sat for friends and family over the years. One of the dogs that stayed with us while his pets were on vacation actually did find a chicken foot in our back yard! This was many years ago and we still talk about it at times. Thankfully, we never had to take any of the dogs we sat to the emergency vet.
I’ll end this with a photo of our sweet dog who went to doggy heaven 20 years ago; Bogey. He brightened our days for twelve years and will always have a special place in our hearts.
As always, please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.