Chapter 13

My head hurt so bad! I carefully rolled over again making the first move in the sitting up process,

A little, rough, wet tongue licked my chin.  I focused my half-opened eyes.

Stella, my mostly black Maine coon cat was up as well.  Up and sitting so close to my face that I could smell her fishy little breath.  Someone had already had breakfast this morning.

Stella was a little over a  year old.  After mom died and before Abby moved in, the house felt too empty.  So, I took the advice of my well-meaning friends and went to the animal shelter to get a rescue dog.  No $1,500 AKC pup for me.

I had great plans for that dog and me.  We would run together every morning.  I would eat a healthy breakfast…no more Mickey D’s breakfast bombs eaten while driving to work.

And then “Fido” (my as yet unnamed dog) and I would run miles together and she would become by best furry friend.

So, last year on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, I went to the Minneapolis Animal Humane Society.  It was a very busy place.  A lot of parents with lots of regrets at having bought a pet for their kid at Christmas.

I guess when two people work, it’s hard to raise a loving and well-behaved pet and keep it from destroying the gorgeous house that only two incomes could afford.

End result was a trip to the Humane Society with very little regrets now at giving said pet up.  Hey.  My gain.

So.  It was busy and I had to wait.  The incoming/receiving  area was packed so the adoption people were helping them out.  I was okay with that.

I was day dreaming of Spring and me and my furry friend walking around Lake Nokomis together.  No matter how I pleaded, I could never persuade either Abby or Hanah to walk with me on a regular basis.  I hated walking alone.  Someone was always trying to talk to me.

Chapter 14

An older man sat down by me and placed a pet carrier between us.  We smiled at each other…Minnesota nice at work.  He looked old enough to be retired but these days you couldn’t really tell.  Half the bag boys at Sherman’s grocery store looked older than him.

“Are you getting or leaving?”

His question at first confused me and then I realized what he meant.

“Oh.  I’m getting,” I responded with a grin.  “I’m getting a puppy!”

He nodded his head slowly and then put his hand on top of the carrier.

“I’m leaving.”  He spoke very quietly, almost a whisper as though he didn’t want the animal inside the carrier to hear him, if indeed it could.

“Ah.”  I said and looked down at the carrier to see if I could see any movement through the slots.  I could not.  So, I just smiled at the man again and then looked straight ahead.  So did he.

I suppose I should have asked a question or two.  I am a reporter after all.  But this did not seem like the time to question an elderly man who was either dropping off a sick animal or worse…a dead one.

Instead I just closed my eyes and waited patiently for my number to be called.

“NUMBER 44!”  My eyes shot open.  That was me!

I got up and hurried over to the desk. The girl looked over my shoulder and said, “You forgot your carrier, miss.”

I turned around and there was the carrier still sitting on the bench but the man was gone.

He must have gone to the bathroom, I thought.  I told the girl that the carrier wasn’t mine.  I was here to adopt a puppy.

She shrugged.  “Oh.  Okay.  Then fill out these papers and then come back up here.  You won’t have to wait again.”

“When do I get to see the puppies?” I asked eagerly.

“After you fill out all the forms, miss.  45! Number 45!,” she called and smiled at the next person coming to the desk.

I thanked her and as I walked back to my seat, I glanced at my watch.  I had been sitting there for almost an hour!  No wonder the old guy had to go to the bathroom.

I sat down and began to fill out the adoption eligibility forms.  Holy Mackerel, there must have been over 10 pages!  I stopped whining and began.

By page three the man still had not returned.  I looked around and then I bent over the carrier to look in one of the little openings.  I saw a very yellow eye looking back at me.  It blinked.

It actually startled me and I may have said, “shit”.  Okay, I did say “shit”.

Then I said in a very low apologetic voice to the little, yellow eye,  “I’m sorry.  You surprised me.  I’m just glad you’re not dead.”

“Me too, said a teeny, little voice.

 

Chapter 15

OMG!  THIS IS A STORY ABOUT A TALKING ANIMAL!

Nope.   The voice was my voice and I can assure you that I am not crazy.

I just have this nutty habit of giving a voice to objects that could not otherwise speak if I did not do it for them.  Mostly animals.  I do not speak for the refrigerator.

When I was a little girl, every one of my dolls and stuffed animals had a separate personality and a different voice.  My mom started this whole crazy thing after I had been sick for a couple of weeks and the whole staying in bed thing was getting really old.

She was always trying to find different ways to make me feel better.  This qualified.

One gloomy, Winter day she came into my bedroom and sat on the edge of my bed.  She pulled one of my brother’s white socks out of her apron pocket and put it over her hand.  And then she made it talk to me.  A puppet with no eyes, no mouth, no ears no hair.  Just a white sock.  Over her hand.  I loved it.

The sock’s name was “Tudy” as in “Judy” and she lived next door to us.  She was constantly getting into trouble and hardly ever went to school which is why she was always there when I was sick.

Both me and my mom would talk to her and Tudy talked back to us.  She was a polite little girl but always in trouble for one reason or another. She always had quite a tale to tell.

And this was the start of me talking for inanimate objects.

It drives Abby nuts.  So of course I do it whenever and wherever I can.  Hanah could care less.

So here I am, talking to and for some kind of animal in a carrier at the animal shelter.  But very, very softly.

I looked around and bent down to the carrier.

“Where is your owner?”  I whispered to the carrier.  I figured a soft, pleasant voice would make it feel better so I tried to speak softly and pleasantly.

“Gone.”

Chapter 17

Then I spotted an envelope on the bench on the other side of the carrier.  I reached for it and opened it without even thinking once.

Hey.  I was in this.  Whatever this was.

“Her name is Stella.  I adopted her from this place two weeks ago.  I did not know I  was severely allergic to cat hair until after I got her home.  I think she’s pretty smart.  She has been to a vet and she is completely healthy and has had all her shots.

“She is litter box trained already and she is very loving.  I am truly sorry.  And I am very sad.  Please give her back for me.  It’s too hard for me to do.  Thank you for your trouble.”

And there were two brand-new $100 bills inside the envelope.

“Holy Crap!” I exclaimed and looked at Stella.

“What?  What?  Am I dying?” asked Stella, ever so quietly.

“No, you’re fine.  Let me read this again.”  I patted her head as I re-read the note.

This must have been his plan all along.  Come to the shelter on a Saturday when they’re busy and just leave the carrier and the note next to someone who looks like a helpful person.

People have always told me I look very helpful.

Well.  Now I had a situation.  I was pretty sure that this kitten would never want to jog with me around Lake Nokomis every morning…or, let’s face it, ever.

I was also pretty sure that this kitten, now officially named “Stella”, was not going to be brought up to the desk and returned.

I looked around and everyone was busy doing their own thing.  Even my previous exclamation of surprise had not jolted them.  Perfect.  I too will do my own thing.

I gently pushed Stella’s little head back into the carrier, zipped it closed, tucked the note and the money in my purse and picked up the carrier and headed for the exit tossing the unfinished application in the trash bin by the door.

Well.  That was easy, I thought.  I didn’t even have to sign any papers  Plus, I vaguely remember reading somewhere that having a cat for a pet was much easier than having a dog.

“Welcome to our life, Stella.”  I said happily and pushed open the door.

“I think I’m cold.” said Stella.  “And really hungry.”

 

 

Chapter 18

So that was how Stella became part of my life.  And not so incidentally, how I was able to get a haircut, a manicure and a pedicure that week instead of having to wait until next month’s paycheck.  I also gave $20 to the Minneapolis Humane Society.  I am a nice person.

Stella licked my chin again.

“Hello my furry little friend.  I have a very bad headache this morning.”

“I waited up till all hours…maybe even till 9:00 to see if you would drag yourself home alive,” complained Stella in her best teeny complaining voice.

“9:00.  Wow!  Considering I left to meet Hanah at 8:30, it seems as though you didn’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about me.”

“It was quality time.”

Even though I had turned my cell phone to vibrate-only, I could now hear it moving on my nightstand.

I slowly reached for my glasses, settled them on my nose and looked at Stella who was still about one inch from my face.

She purred and licked me again.  Love?  Or leftover egg I missed with the wash cloth last night.

“Moving.”  I whispered to Stella.  And then carefully rose up on one elbow and grabbed my phone.

It was Abby, the cinnamon-roll getter.

“Why are you calling me?  Didn’t you just leave?  Is your battery dead?  Did you have an accident?”  I quickly shot questions by her not waiting for an answer that I was sure I wouldn’t like.  I ended with a terse, “What the hell do you want anyway?”

“I.  Am.  Fine.”  Abby said coldly and a little too loudly for my tender state this morning.

“They only have one chocolate filled eclair which I know is your favorite but since I am the one who has ventured out on this freezing day, I am getting it for me.  What do you want?  They are also completely out of cinnamon rolls.”

“Fine. A Caramel roll with cream cheese frosting will do.  And some of those mini donuts.”  I thanked her profusely and switched my phone completely off and then tossed it to the bottom of my bed.

“Abby?”  Stella questioned, her little black nose now up in the air as if searching for some faraway scent of goodness.  “Caramel rolls?  I love Abby.”

She jumped down and swished her way out of my very cozy bedroom, heading down the hall and into the bathroom and soon I heard the scratching of litter.

Stella was beginning her day.  It was time for me to do so as well.  Perhaps.  We’ll see how it goes.

 

 

Chapter 20

And with that little comment on my lifestyle, Stella was out the bedroom door, gone in search of breakfast #2 or possibly #3.  Abby is in charge of Stella’s meals.  I am in charge of Stella’s “after” meals.

Abby often forgot if she fed Stella so she just fed her again and quite amazingly, Stella continued to look like a teeny 6-month old kitten.

“Only dogs will eat more than they should,” Abby informed me one day as I commented on her opening a third can of Mighty Maus cat food for Stella’s morning meal.  “Cats know better and will space their food out.”

Stella spaced her food out all right.  As much as she could get whenever she wanted.

Since I had today off, I had no firm plans except to try to recover from last night.  And maybe think about where Hanah and I should go tonight.  I chuckled.  That was a no-brainer.  We always went to Doyle’s on Saturday night.    It was “amateur night”.

For the first hour they encouraged and even welcomed members of the early bird audience to come up on stage and sing with the band.

They gave you the words and let you sing your little heart out.  This was the real thing with a live mike and hopefully a real voice.

Hanah faithfully put her name in the wicker basket they had sitting on the tables for hopeful participants.  She had yet to be chosen.  Even after 2 years.  Personally. I think it’s fixed, but then I have heard Hanah sing.

“I don’t understand,” she would wail.  “I’m not even drunk!”

“I know.  I know.”  I was very sympathetic.  “Maybe next week.”  I patted her shoulder.

I was positive that someone from the band had somehow heard Hanah singing somewhere and decided that she was not going to ever appear on stage.

To be brutally honest, Hanah’s voice wasn’t very good.  It was in fact, horrible.  But it was the only thing about Hanah that wasn’t perfect.

Chapter 21

I bent over to pick up my pillow.  For some reason (insert Stella here), it ends up on the floor almost every night.  I grabbed it and my head began to seriously pound.  I quickly sat down on my bed.  The room was not exactly doing the “drunk spin”, but I felt better sitting down.  Crap.

I tried to remember…did I take 2 aspirin before I went to sleep last night?  Because if I did, I should not have such a bad hangover headache.  This was a classic  hangover prevention trick that one of the older reporters had shared with me one morning when I was miserable from a night of partying and he was not.  He swore by it and it actually worked…that is, when I remembered to take the damn pills.

“Maybe I have the flu. I muttered hopefully.  “Jeez.  Who hopes for the flu?  Someone who drinks much too much, that’s who.” I sadly answered.

“You are so pathetic,” Stella said as she jumped up on my bed.  “The flu.  Indeed.”

“You could be more sympathetic,” I challenged her.  “I take such good care of you.  And you are one of my best friends.”

“One of…?  Well, that’s nice.  I love…being qualified.”

I patted the little bit of golden hair on Stella’s head and then turned to look at my new hair cut in the mirror.  Back in the 60’s there was a geometric hair style called a “Sassoon” after Vidal Sassoon, the stylist who had created it.  Very short hair with sharp V sideburns and 2 deep V’s cut in the back.  Very radical back then and of course every one  loved it.  And it seemed that it was coming back.

My favorite stylist, Seth,  who has been cutting my hair for about 4 years, was not taking no for an answer.  I was getting this new cut.  I apparently had just perfect  “little sticky-out ears” that would look so awesome with this new cut.

“Fine.”  You just can’t argue with Seth.

Seth was cute and very persuasive.  And I loved him dearly.  Too bad he played for the same team.

I guess if a stranger were to look at me, their first impression might be, “Hey, she’s cute!  She looks like Anne Hathaway playing Audrey Hepburn.”  I was okay with that.

I heard the back door screen bang and almost felt the blast of freezing air that came blowing in when Abby opened the inside door.

“I have breakfast!” Abby yelled from the kitchen.

Stella’s ears shot straight up at the word “breakfast” and she jumped off the bed and raced through my bedroom door.

“You just ate!  You’re going to get so fat!  I softly hollered after her.

“I have a speedy metabolism,” she shot back as she rounded the hallway corner into the dining room.