By: Barry D. Frisbee
He kissed the tears away one-by-one as they fell. "I'm sorry," he said. "I couldn't stay away."
She searched his eyes for signs of deceit, but found none. "So you're back . . . back to stay?" she asked, remembering happier times.
"Yes," he said. Pushing his haggard hair away from his eyes, he kissed her deeply, cradling the base of her neck in his right hand. The fingertips of his left hand caressed the contours of her jaw line, sensually feeling its curvature. Migrating slowly down the front of her throat, he stopped only to feel the thunder of her pulse racing through her. Softly he traced the outline of her collarbone, and then followed the breastbone to the fleshy soft area of her upper breast.
Sarah's breath became labored and more rapid. With each soft touch like feathers being drawn across her body, her heart raced. Every nerve in her body ached with pleasure.
Her hands began to move in much the same fashion as his. Taking in the tender and sensitive portions of his body.
His hand moved down the crevice of her soft cotton gown and cupped her breast, gently kneading it. Her moans amplified as his lips traced the same route that his hands had taken.
The distant sound of chirping invaded the solace of her dream. With the ferocity of a gladiator, she fought the intrusion, struggling to hold her peaceful fantasy world.
"No!" She threw her pillow at the bureau holding her cell phone and screamed in a frisson of anger, "it's . . . my . . . day . . . off!"
She buried her head in the pillows from the vacant side of the bed and counted each agonizing ring as they approached the magic number six, the point where voice mail would take over.
"Thank you, Jesus," she said as the phone fell silent, then "Jesus Christ!" when it immediately started again.
Throwing her legs over the side of the bed, she landed squarely on top of Diablo, the meanest cat this side of Hades.
Friend or foe, Diablo usually didn't care. Most who dared close enough, ended up scratched, bit, or both. But stepping on his tail almost guaranteed a permanent limp.
After shaking the killer cat from her feet, she hobbled across the room to where the phone once again fell silent.
Diablo leapt onto the bed, declaring it conquered territory. With no hint of remorse, he dared her to reclaim it. With his one good eye, he glared at her, the other, punctured in the jaws of a German Shepherd, sat milky and lifeless.
She pointed a gaunt finger at the tattered cat. "You think just because I promised my dying mother that I'd look after you, that you run the show around here, but I'll take one of these bloody stumps I used to call feet and kick your butt from here to next week."
She stepped toward the bed.
"Okay! I didn't want to go back to bed anyway. You just wait, hairball. Your day is coming. There's a restaurant down the street that specializes in Cat Chow-Mien, and I'm sure they would love a fat boy like you."
She retrieved the cell phone and inspected the numbers of the missed call. There were none she recognized and they didn't leave a voice mail, so she shoved the phone into her pajama pocket and left the room.
The state of the living room came as no surprise to her. Her once pristine linen drapes, now hung off kilter and in shreds. The arms of her designer couch had been reduced to scratching posts. Her potted palm tree, the only plant in her fifteen years of trying that seemed to ignore the absence of a green thumb, now held onto life by a thread, it's roots bare and scarred. Its dirt, what wasn't thrown out onto the white carpet, had been transformed into a litter box.
Her end tables, coffee table, and shelves all sat barren. What keepsakes and family heirlooms that hadn't been broken, had been put away until the blessed day that Diablo would take his celestial dirt nap.
"Why do I put up with this?" she spoke aloud.
The answer came in a tiny voice, "Mommy, I'm hungry."
She turned to see her sleepy-eyed, five-year-old daughter, Aubrey. "Okay, Honey. How 'bout some waffles?"
"Yeah," Aubrey quickly perked up. It'd been one of their favorite breakfasts, before her father had left for business in Europe and decided to never return.
The sound of Aubrey's voice brought Diablo running. For whatever reason, she was the one person the cat liked. Aubrey bent and lifted the cat with two handfuls of matted hair. Diablo purred with no sign of protest.
She sighed and moved into the kitchen to start breakfast, realizing a half second too late, as her feet slipped from beneath her, that Diablo had spilled his water dish again. Crashing to the tile floor with a deadening thud, she landed in a mixture of water and kibbles; Diablo would only eat the bits.
Brass gnats began to dance a ballet around her head, teasing her consciousness. The ringing in her ears was replaced with the chirping of the phone again. Digging it from her pocket, she paused to gather her senses, pushed the talk key and managed a quite, "hello."
"Doctor Tanner?" the voice asked.
"It's my day off."
"Excuse me?" the voice questioned.
"It's my day off. I'm not coming to work."
"Ma'am, this is Margaret, from the ASPCA."
"The animal shelter, Ma'am. You asked us several weeks ago to find a home for your . . . shall we say troubled cat."
"Yes, Margaret. I remember now."
"Well, we have a placement for Diablo, if you're still interested."
She shook her head, trying to chase away the brass gnats, felt the growing knot on the back of her head, and looked at her scratched feet."
"Doctor Tanner, did you hear me?"
She looked at her curtains, her furniture, her bare shelves and ruined carpet.
"Are you still there, Doctor Tanner? Is everything all right?"
Then she looked at the much-needed joy in Aubrey's face as she held the butt-ugly, disfigured cat. How would she ever explain it to her? Lastly, she looked at Diablo, and could swear that he winked at her with his bad eye.
"Yes, Margaret," she finally said. "Everything is fine . . . but I guess we won't be needing your help after all.