Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday Tales: Canvassing the Neighborhood

Michael could hear the doorbell reverberating to the back of the house, and he waited for someone to answer the door. This was the last house he had to solicit for donations before his shift was over.  His foot tapped in mild impatience.

Finally, the door opened to reveal the cutest little old lady. Her hair was pulled into a haphazard bun on top of her head, but only half of it had made it there. The rest sprung out in every direction. None of the pieces of her outfit matched and her glasses sat crooked on her nose.

Michael smiled his winningest smile. "Good afternoon, ma'am. My name is Michael, and I'm here from the local homeless shelter..."  He launched into the speech he'd already given a hundred other times that day.  He wasn't even paying attention to the words that came out of his mouth anymore.  He put on his best puppy-dog eyes look and ended with "And I was wondering if you could possibly spare a donation for the cause?"

"Well, of course, young man. Of course I can."  Her voice was old and thin, like a sound of an old gate, rusty on it's hinges.  She opened the door wider.  "Please come in while I find where my son left my checkbook."

He protested, "Oh no, ma'am.  It's alright, I can wait--"

"Nonsense!" she fixed him with a look that would not be defied.  "You'll come right inside and sit down."

Michael reluctantly followed her into the living room and settled into the vinyl-covered loveseat. She tottered into the kitchen and called back, "Don't mind the kitty, now.  His bark is worse than his bite."

"It's alright. I have a cat of my own at ho-- Oh god."  He hadn't noticed the cat when he'd come in the door. He couldn't un-notice it now.  There he was, sprawled out on the windowseat -- the lion.  The animal opened one eye to look at the new visitor, and Michael couldn't help noticing the size of his paws or thinking about how easily that animal could jump across the room and bite the head off of his neck.

"Oh now, sonny.  Don't you worry.  He's just a big softie..."

The lion stood up on the window seat and stretched. A softie?  Michael didn't care if it was the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It was a lion, and he preferred his wild animals to be outside of... killing distance. His eyes widened as he watched the lion jump down and pad softly over to him. "Ma'am?" he called. "Ma'am, help?" He couldn't move.

The animal shook his mane and then sniffed at Michael's hand.  He looked up and almost seemed to smile at his prey.  The lion knew. Michael knew. They both knew who had the upper hand. The giant cat yawned, taking his sweet time, letting Michael take a good look at the size of his mouth, the sharpness of his teeth. Michael sat frozen and helpless as the lion looked him steadily in the eye, licking his chops.

He heard the woman came toddling back into the room, check in hand. "Oh Daniel, you've met our guest.  I hope you've been good!"

The lion almost winked at Michael, licked his hand, and then made his way back to his bed at the window.  Michael grabbed the check from the woman, mumbled his thanks, and practically sprinted out the door.  He was completely out of breath by the time he made it back to the car, his partner leaned up against it waiting for him.

"You knew, didn't you?" Michael demanded.

Tim chuckled.  "About Crazy Mrs Gunderson? Maybe.  Nice cat, eh?"

"You are so dead."




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