Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cat Scratch Fever

Sara took her dog to the vet and sat in the waiting room for half an hour. The dog strained forward on his leash every time someone new walked through the door. It was easy to tell the dog lovers from everyone else: they either smiled or stooped to pet Dixie. The non-dog lovers simply gave him a wide berth with a sour expression on their faces and sat across the room.

One woman walked in with a carrier full of cats that she'd rescued. She quickly moved out of Dixie's range and sat with her mewling box of kittens as close as she could to the examination room door.

The woman sitting next to Sara scowled at the kittens and leaned over to Sara. "Those are the nastiest animals in the world. That's what my doctor told me. The nastiest in the world."

Sara wasn't sure how to respond. She tightened her grip on Dixie's leash and gave the woman a half-smile, even though Sara had two cats at home.

"I got cat scratch fever last year and it like-ta killed me. Nasty." The woman shook her head and frowned at the cat rescuer. "I've had the worst year of my life. No, the worst ten years of my life. My husband got killed by a drunk driver. Then my son's apartment caught on fire. And his truck blew up. Then I got scratched by some cat he was trying to rescue and I nearly went blind. I can't even see! So I got these special glasses. $669. And then they were stolen out of my car. My phone charger and my glasses." She shook her head again.

"And now this one is about to break me." She held out the tiny chihuahua she's been cuddling to her chest. "He's having seizures. We've been in here twice already this week. I think I'm cursed."

Sara wasn't sure what to say. She shook her head compassionately and then concentrated on the words of the country music song playing overhead.

    Mama's addicted to Mary Kay.
    Brother's addicted to Maryjane.
    Daddy's addicted to Mary, two doors down.

"By the way, my name's Mary," the woman said and stuck out her hand for Sara to shake. Sara switched Dixie's leash to her left hand and started to reciprocate, but the woman suddenly pulled her hand away and held it close to her chest as she clarified one point. "You two aren't here with something contagious, are you? That would be my luck."

Sara shook her head and let the woman briefly shake her hand before the receptionist mercifully called Dixie's name.