This is part on a short story, Too Many Bobs, for my short story book titled: Short Stories and Other Imaginings For The Reading Spot. © 2013 J.D. Holiday
Being another warm fall day following weeks of oppressive summer heat and leading into mid-October it seemed the uncharacteristic weather intended to hold off the cooler season indefinitely. Stephanie threw her coat in the backseat, cracked the windows to take in the pleasant early morning breeze.
The gates of the swanky red granite mansion high on the mountain above the city were open. The guard ‘phoned the house’ before letting Stephanie drive into the sweeping circle driveway with the cat she was here to deliver beside her in the carrier on the passenger seat. Bob was still groggy from the meds he was receiving for his wounded tail.
The massive mansion was three-stories with a wing on each side of it, and French doors instead of windows on an upper terrace; an ornamental railing expanded the whole second floor facade. It was like something out of a celluloid movie. The building itself was specifically built for a railroad baron with new money in the late 1800′s.
Visiting one of these historic homes today was one thing Stephanie never expected when she arrived at her part-time job with Dr. Lite this morning.
The animal hospital was in chaos. For apparently the second day, the computers were down. No one had called for the cat yet and Dr. lite handed Stephanie the gray cat with black and white markings, an ink smeared and coffee stained note plus the bill for services. The only things readable on the note were; the name Bob, and this address. Not one employee from yesterday was in today. All anyone knew was that the cat ran under a lawn mower, injuring its tail. Dr. Lite told Stephanie to deliver the cat, and while she was there, collect the money for treatment. Stephanie laid the sleepy cat inside a cardboard carrier and left.
“Well, Bob. I’ve brought you home safely,” she said, glancing down at the drowsy cat in the half opened carrier on the seat next to her in her ten year old Ford. Why would people who can live here name their cat, Bob? I would think, Percy or Rupert would be more like it. Bob, face it, you are a very ordinary cat. No offense. Really. Your not a Persian or Siamese, I mean, you could be my cat,” she finished, with a smile while noticing that no one was around the wide expanse of lawn and circular driveway. Several towering trees stood on the property yet not a single leaf lay on the well cared for lawns.
Closer to the house she saw behind a manicured bed of young fir trees a five-car garage. A beat up flat bed truck was parked there with landscaping equipment loaded on it.
“Do I pull up to the front, Bob, behind that Mercedes, do you think, or head around back by the landscaping truck?” Stephanie decided to park a good three feet behind the luxury car keeping her distance, as if parking too close might damage the luxurious motorcar in some way.
Getting out, Stephanie went around to the passenger side to grab the carrier. “Oh, you are one heavy cat,” she mentioned as she climbed the granite steps to the entrance and pushed the doorbell beside the double doors. Sighing, Stephanie thought, I could never see myself living in a place like this. Not that she wouldn’t want to, under the right circumstance. Maybe once she graduated college and had her veterinarian license and was making decent money—for a few decades. Even then, she didn’t think it would ever be a possibility.
Stephanie sat the cat carrier down, smoothed back her brown shoulder length hair and glancing down at her pink scrubs wishing at the moment she was better dressed when the door clicked open. A stern looking, elderly man in black suit, white shirt and waistcoat answered it. The butler.
At his questioning stare, Stephanie started saying, “I-I brought back the cat from the animal hospital.”
At that moment the cat popped out the open carrier, dashing through the open door, startling Stephanie and the butler. “Oh,” the butler murmured, looking after the cat.
In haste, Stephanie searched her purse for the note Dr.Lite had given her while adding, “We couldn’t reach you, I mean, this house…”
The butler interrupted by adding without glancing back at her, “Well, you had better come this way then.”
Stephanie stepped inside and took in the enormous marble floored foyer partially covered with a cranberry designed Oriental rug. A highly polished dark, clawed-foot table was in the center of the foyer under a dangling chandelier which had an arrangement of over-flowing flowers on it. A massive cascading staircase was located behind it all.
The butler led her to the left through a double set of white pocket doors pushing them open before ushering her into another huge room with multiple seating areas. Lush furnishings and dozens of ornate artworks filled the room.
“Please wait here,” ‘Lurch’ said, backing out of the room.
The butler’s steps receding to somewhere she suspected was at the far end of the house. Stephanie chose the closest seating area and sat on the edge of a maroon upholstered, gold framed chair to wait for who she suspected would be the cat’s owner.
Taking in the room Stephanie spied the dark floor to ceiling bookshelves at the far end. Another wall was filled with glass cabinets displaying decorative vases, and crystal and ivory statue. And above the five foot high marble fireplace was what looked like a painting by Matisse. She stood to have a closer look but Bob appeared and sat on the rug a few feet from her.
Stephanie smiled seeing the cat. “How are you feeling, Bob? Glad to be home?” The cat strolled closer and she bent to pat his head but he chose that moment to jump up and bite Stephanie in the leg.
“Shit!” Stephanie shouted, heedless of her surroundings. No sooner had he bitten her, the cat meowed and ran through the archway leading back into the foyer.
Hobbling around on one foot a few seconds Stephanie reached down and picked at her shredded tights pulling it away from the lightly bleeding wound. That was when an woman, elegantly dressed in a taylored green dress suit with blonde hair curled above her creased face came into the room. The woman raised her eyebrows in surprise as her eyes moved from Stephanie’s face down to her leg. “Yes? Who are you and who are you here to see? Robert?” the woman said in a cold voice, rivaling ‘Lurch’ without any curiosity as to why Stephanie would be favoring her bleeding leg.
Embarrassed, Stephanie grabbed her purse from the chair and fished inside it to find a tissue. She started to dab at the bite mark with it while keeping her eyes on the woman.
Stephanie frown. “Robert? Oh, I see,” she said. “Oh, yes. He was here, he bit me and left the room through that archway,” she continued, offering the woman a smile as if to say no harm done and then went on. “I think we can chalk that up to his injury. He’s in pain. When they hurt a member like that, and-and if it’s not kept still it would probably be sore, which could upset him, and-and making him strike out. I’ve seen this before, working part-time at the hospital. He’s had all his shots so there should be no problem.” Stephanie stopped there not wanting to babble anymore.
The woman’s now shocked and red face puzzled Stephanie. On second look, Stephanie thought the woman was angry.
“I’m afraid I don’t understand. You’re saying that Robert,” the woman emphasized the name and pointed at Stephanie leg, “Bit your leg? This is unbelievable… I have a garden party starting in an hour. And right here, in this room anyone arriving could just walk in!” the woman’s voice now reaching a feverish pitch.
Stephanie raised her leg so the woman could see the bloody wound which was beginning to swell. “Yes he did. There is a break in the skin as you can see. It is starting to get a little sore. Look, I was told to come here and get paid. That’s why I’m still here,” Stephanie finished, a little angry herself.
The woman stood up taller and her face grew redder, if that were possible, and pointed to Stephanie’s leg. “You are telling me that Robert bit you. I just cannot believe that,” the woman said, “I grant you, Robert has always been a little bit unorthodox, starting his own landscaping business and getting that
beat-up truck and mowing equipment when he has a perfectly good trust fund and money of his own. But are you trying to say Robert would bring you here to …and give you money. Oh, put your leg down, I don’t want to see it, and I don’t want to hear anymore!”
Something was wrong here, but what? Stephanie thought of more questions but only said, “Look, I was asked to come here to bring Bob-ah, Robert home.”
The woman shouted, “Bob! You’ve been calling him Bob? Oh, how could he dare to bring you into my house, and he’s injured? He-oh, oh …” that’s when the woman stopped and covered her eyes with a hand. “I have to talk to him. I’ll be back. AND don’t go into any other room. Just stay here,” she said pointing with force to the flowery Persian rug before poking the same finger in Stephanie’s direction and then sailing out the way she had come.
~ JD Holiday