This is Part 2 of a Series. Click here for Part 1
Morgan Henry stepped out of the car backwards. He figured if he blocked the door with his body, he could restrain Otis from making a break for it.
Given the slobber up and down the passenger window after Otis saw the cat at the entrance to the Hemingway Estate, he knew there was going to be a fight.
Using his best alpha dog voice. Morgan tried to keep Otis pinned to the passenger seat. With one quick motion he backed out the car door and slammed it shut as Otis jammed a lugubrious face into the window, painting it from corner to corner as he barked and yelped for freedom.
Cursing the fact he forgot Otis’ leash, Morgan circled back to the trunk in the hope of finding a spare. Rummaging through a box of used books, some spare bike parts, and a handful of sandy towels from their last trip to the beach. The trunk came up empty.
Without a leash, the entire trip was on the verge of disaster. At last count there were around forty cats on the Hemingway estate. Some were even direct decedents of the six-toed felines that graced the grounds while Hemingway was alive.
Pet store. Morgan thought of the only logical solution. But when he reached for his phone and grabbed nothing more than the lining of his short’s pocket, the dread to set in.
Closing the trunk he walked toward the driver’s door to find Otis perched in the seat, tongue out in full pant,paws posted on the door ready for action.
Morgan fired off his alpha dog voice, “Get Back.” The last thing Otis needed to see was weakness. It would only fuel his ambition the moment he saw daylight.
“Get Down! Back off!”
Morgan got Otis to retreat. Now he was straddling the console where Morgan left the phone. Reaching a hand inside the door he was able to push Otis into the passenger seat.
“Listen buddy. You gotta work with me or we’re going home.”
Otis watched and waited. Using his body to block as much of the open door as possible, Morgan leaned in to grab the phone. With his feet planted outside the car, the bend at his waist made perfect table top. And that’s when Otis saw it. Daylight!
In one thrust Otis was airborne threading himself perfectly between the roof of the car and Morgan’s back. In the fraction of a second his legs gained purchase on the table top, and he was gone, darting around the back side of the car barreling down the sidewalk with the chest high brick wall.
By the time Morgan got out of the car, Otis was halfway to the cat at the entrance of the estate. With forty pounds of fur closing in at mach two, the old tabby jumped a good four feet in the air before disappearing onto the grounds behind the wall .
The chase was on.
Morgan hadn’t even reached a full sprint by the time Otis hit the entrance. With a mix of anger and embarrassment Morgan darted onto the grounds nearly ten seconds down. And as he made his was past a through of visitors making their way to the main house his worst fears were realized.
Desperate. He looked for a face in the crowd that told him they knew he was the idiot who let a dog run loose in a fenced in property with forty cats.
With furrowed brow and a scolding look an otherwise nice looking couple pointed toward the side of the house. Morgan barreled around the corner of the house where staff were setting up for a wedding at the arbor.
Morgan sped past the rows of white chairs and took a turn down a gravelly trail that went through dense vegetation and palm trees only to stop dead in his tracks when he saw Otis sitting calmly next to a wrought iron bench as a cute girl with blonde hair and a flowy, floral print halter dress rubbed his head
Sitting, tail wagging, Otis turned his head as Morgan approached. Then turned back to the girl.
“I’m sorry miss, he got away from me in the parking lot and…”
“It’s no problem.”
Without the alpha dog tone in his voice, Morgan pleaded for Otis to leave her alone.
“Come here buddy, lets go.” But Otis didn’t budge.
Embarrassed Morgan kept his gaze on Otis than the girl. He didn’t want yet another scornful face turning the fiasco into a walk of shame.
But as he snuck a look at her face, he could see she was smiling at Otis as she continued to pet his head. Clearly Otis was more interested in the girl than sweaty, breathless Morgan.
“How did you get him to stop?”
“I didn’t. When he came around the corner he seemed shocked by so many cats laying around and when the cats made a run for it, I don’t think he could figure out which ones to grab first. So he just ran in circles. And after they left, he just came over here and sat down.”
Morgan didn’t know what to think. Forty cat’s would seem like a dream for a chase-loving dog. But in the face of too much of a good thing, he must have shut down.
Looking from Otis back to the girl, Morgan felt an urge to keep the discussion going. “I think they call that flooding.”
“It’s a type of therapy when you expose the subject an excessive amount of something in order to change their behavior.”
You sound like an idiot, Morgan thought. “My Mom was a therapist.”
Morgan thought it odd that she picked up on the passed tense. But her disarming smile made him feel like it didn’t matter. Not only was she beautiful, her extraordinary mix of confidence and calm made him want to sit down and talk. And it didn’t matter what about.
“She passed away.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Now you look like a needy idiot, Change the subject.
“I’m Morgan and it looks like you’ve already met Otis.”
She turned to Otis, petting his neck then cradling her hands around his jowls and rubbed his ears with her fingers. “Well hello Otis. Nice to formally make your acquaintance. I’m Sigrid.”
Otis entered a state of suspended animation.
“I think you’ve made a new friend Otis. May I sit down?”
Morgan sat silently as she continued to pet Otis.
Breaking the silence he asked, “Are you from the area? From the Keys, I mean?”
“No, I’m from Seattle.”
“Wow. That’s a haul. I don’t think you can get further away from Seattle and still be in the United States.
“That’s why I picked it.”
“Not really. I just needed to get out of Seattle and this seemed like as good a place as any to start a year’s journey?”
“A year’s journey?”
“Yup. That’s about how long I have.”
“For a sabbatical or something?”
“No. That’s how long I have to live.”
Morgan caught himself before his facial expression or demeanor changed.
“You sure about that?”
“That’s what They said.”
“Well maybe you need to find another They.”
Segrid looked at Morgan and smiled a calm, confident smile. He caught her gaze and returned the the same, noting the nearly imperceptible crack in her secure veneer. He continued.
“Anything can happen over a year’s time.”
Turning to look at Otis, who still hadn’t moved from his spot at her feet, she said, “You may be right.”
This is Part 2 of a Series. Click Here for Part 3
This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Nicholas Brack…
Ubble (or UK Longevity Explorer): A website that predicts the risk of dying within five years men and women living in the UK.
Scientific research carried out by Andrea Ganna (Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University) and Erik Ingelsson (Uppsala University)
These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Sundays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.