Disclaimers: Nothing to really disclaim. These are my characters, and my story.
Damn it! Yardley grumped as she skirted around an alligator wearing a vest, proclaiming it to be the ‘World's Cutest Reptile'. But to her, the tiny shards of reflective glass that were attached to its scales made it look more like a shattered mirror than a cute reptile.
“I hate this time of year,” she complained. “Walls of people everywhere, crowding the sidewalks with their pets.”
It was difficult enough to get home under normal circumstances, but on Take Your Pet to Work Day, it was next to impossible to maneuver through the menagerie of animals that filled the streets. She often wondered why people spent their hard-earned money on the ridiculous items she saw on this day.
But the up side to things was, during this time of year, her day was fairly busy. Her veterinary clinic was located along a stretch of sidewalk that had a lot of foot traffic, and there was always several drop-ins. Ridiculous things like, cornea damage to a poodle when its owner put cat-eyed contacts in its eyes. Or a hairless dog getting overheated when it couldn't pant enough to cool off because of the fur coat it was wearing.
People are simpletons, she concluded as she expertly avoided a woman with a panther sporting a bedazzled muzzle and a matching tiara. Jeez, she thought. What next? A lion with hair curlers in his mane?
Being a vet, seeing the humiliation that the proud animals had to endure always made her want to throttle the owner. Her ire was raised again when she saw an elephant standing still, wearing a pair of sapphire-colored, clip-on earrings the size of bicycle tires, as its owner attempted to shovel up a huge pile of dung, using the biggest pooper scooper she had ever seen. Instead of standing there waiting patiently she wished the pachyderm would charge on the woman.
She couldn't stand how popular the holiday had grown over the years. There were specialty shops selling animal holiday wear everywhere. Salons that offered animal spa days. Haberdasheries that advertised tailor-made suits for your special pet. And to top it all off, businesses had been pressured into building special pens to house the exotic animals for the day, and kennels had to be erected for the more domestic pets. Thankfully she'd never had to make the modifications to the clinic. No one on her staff participated in the silly holiday.
She was angry. Most of the animals she was seeing were meant to roam free in their natural habitat, like the tiger she saw who's stripes had been dyed green. They were not meant to become house pets, or live in cages, or be led around by a leash. Taking away these animals dignity was unforgivable. Only the lowliest of beast, a creature beyond redemption should be forced to live that way.
When a man walked past her leading a horse wearing a full tuxedo with satin stripes that ran down the length of all four pant legs, all she could do was stare at the crisp, white-collared shirt, the diamond-like pin in the lapel of the black jacket and the four spats that covered the equine's stubbled hooves. She was about to wonder if there was a top hat when she noticed that the oversized head cover was being held in the owner's hand.
They don't have a choice, she fumed as she watched the approach of a beautiful panda bear cub with bright blue toenail polish and a shock of black and white hair extensions blooming from the crown of its head. She had to resist the urge to unhook it's leash and set it free.
Getting more and more annoyed by her surroundings, Yardley reprimanded herself for walking home, thinking that she should take a cab. But she knew why she didn't. It was standard procedure on this day for the giraffes, rhinos and hippopotamuses to take to the streets, sharing the road with the cars and buses as their owners led them back home. The traffic jam that it caused usually lasted until dusk. At least this way she could keep moving.
“Finally,” she sighed with relief as she approached the front of her building. Home sweet home. She road the elevator up to the third floor, and when the doors opened she headed to her apartment. Maybe I should move to the suburbs, she thought as the key slid into the lock. Something with a large, fenced-in backyard with plenty of green grass. I bet Denise would like that, she thought with a smile as the door swung open.
“Honey, I'm home.” She dropped her keys on the entrance table. “Sweetheart, you would not believe the sights I witnessed today, she announced. “I swear this holiday gets worse each year. I saw a horse in a tuxedo, and a German shepherd wearing two pairs of rhinestone roller skates. You would think the four paws it was born with would be sufficient enough.”
When she didn't hear any sounds or movement she walked further into the room. “Denise, did you hear me?”
A deep purr sounded from a cage on the far side of the room where a ceiling to floor enclosure had been built. The metal confine took up the entire area of the far wall, giving the inhabitant plenty of room to move around.
Inside paced a woman wearing a sarong that hit her just above the knees, and a matching swatch of cloth that covered her breast. The woman glanced at the veterinarian with interested eyes. This had been her daytime prison for the last five years and as she watched the vet approach she ran her finger over the scar at the base of her throat, and responded with a barely heard whisper. “Hi.”
“Oh, my,” Yardley enthused. “Look at you. When did that happen?” she asked with a smile.
Denise responded with a smile of her own. Excited that the vet was pleased with the new development. The woman had not been able to speak a word since her vocal chords had been damaged five years before, by the same woman that she was now excited to impress with the long absent ability.
At first she had loathed Yardley with a seething hatred. All she had done was cheat on the woman. Women got cheated on every day. Right? And most of them moved on, chalking up the experience as no more than a mistake. But not Yardley. The vet had reached her limit long before Denise had entered the picture. She was a woman that had time and time again been deceived by women who promised her a happily ever after, only to be avoided and ignored after giving the pursuers what they wanted.
Denise knew this after their first date, and she had been warned about the consequences. It had all been spelled out for her in plain English. But did she listen? Nooo. Denise ignored the warning, and made promises that she knew she would never keep. A committed relationship was the last thing she was interested in. So when she got what she wanted from the doctor she did what the others had done…she disappeared.
But, when Yardley called two weeks later, asking her to come over so that they could talk, and maybe find a way to become friends she felt guilty. She figured that the vet had every right to rail at her a little and get her anger out. And who knows? she thought. Maybe we can become ‘friends with benefits', after she gets everything off of her chest. That had been five years ago, and Denise had not left this apartment since that night. In her former life she had been a player. A loner really, with no friends, and no family to speak of. So her disappearance had sadly gone unnoticed. But, despite the drastic consequences of her womanizing ways, she had grown to love the woman beyond all reason or explanation. The lothario had been tamed.
Her eyes softened as she watched Yardley come closer. Damn, she sure is beautiful. She raised her nose in the air and pulled in her captor's unique scent. Having the woman finally come home made her want to rub herself all along the steel bars of her prison, anything to get her to come closer and make some kind of contact. Being left alone all day always made the doctor's arrival a sweet anticipation, and she wanted to show the woman how much she was missed.
“And how was your day?” Yardley asked as she unlocked the cage so the woman could roam around freely. She kissed her softly on the lips and handed her a pencil and a well used notebook as she went off to change her clothes. “I want to know everything.”
Denise greedily accepted the offering and began writing all that had gone on in the vet's absence. She knew that if she wrote an interesting retelling of her day, shared a few of her thoughts, and gave a rundown of some of the programs she had watched that a treat would be her reward after dinner, and who knew, maybe she would even be allowed to share the woman's bed that night. This thought caused a moist heat to rush to her center.
For the most part, life ain't too bad, she thought. After all, I could be a German Sheppard wearing a pair of rhinestone roller skates.