By: Jamie Schlosser

A Romantic Comedy


To Dad—the best storyteller I know.


Two Years Ago


“Emery! We need you in exam three.”

I lifted my head out of the cage I was cleaning and glanced at Christine.

Ignoring her panicked whisper, I asked, “Who put the regular cat litter in Fritzy’s box? The note specifically says he likes the newspaper shreds.”

Wide-eyed, she anxiously tugged at the hem of her zoo-themed scrub top. “I’m serious. Doctor Carson is about to blow a gasket.”

“See, the problem is,” I continued, wiping down the stainless-steel cage, “he won’t go to the bathroom in there. So he pees outside of the box, then sits in it. Now he needs a bath.”

“We can get to that later.” Swiping the frizzy hair away from her face, the middle-aged woman huffed. “We’ve got bigger problems right now.”

I let out a sigh. “All right. What’s going on?”

“It’s Arnold Miller.”

Ah. That explained the terror-stricken look on Christine’s face. She’d been a vet tech for decades. She knew all the ins and outs of this business, but no one put the fear of God in her like Arnold Miller.

The cat was hostile. Vicious. A pain in everyone’s ass.

Arnold was a cat whose full name was actually Twinkle Star Snowy Nose Tickle Toes. I had no idea where the hell that name came from, or why his owner called him Arnold. But his unfortunate title had nothing to do with the fact that he was an asshole.

Honestly, he was just misunderstood. I wouldn’t want to get shoved into a crate and brought to the doctor against my will either. Being aggressive was a natural fear-based response.

A low howl escalated to a high screech, and Christine shuddered as it echoed through the building. I sighed before quickly placing some fresh newspaper down for Fritzy, then I moved toward the awful sound coming from the exam room.

Christine didn’t follow.

When I got inside, there was a man I didn’t recognize in the far corner. Dressed in a sleek black suit, he looked extremely out of place among the linoleum floors and the cute kitten posters tacked to the wall. A hairball lingered near his shiny shoes. He glanced up from his cell phone with a bored expression, then went back to typing over the keys.

Next, my eyes went to Marty Miller, Arnold’s fearless owner. With his long gray beard, shaved head, and leather biker jacket, some people found him intimidating. But in the four years I’d worked at Remington Animal Medical Center, I’d gotten to know him pretty well.

Marty was a big softie who loved his asshole cat.

“Hey, Emery.” He gave a tight smile as he struggled with the angry animal on the metal exam table. “This tough guy got into a fight with the neighbor’s cat the other day. He’s got an infected bite on his hind leg.”

“Is he limping?” I asked.

“No. But he won’t stop licking at it and it’s oozing now. Probably got an abscess. You know how it goes.”

I nodded. This wasn’t the first time Arnold had been in here for this, and it wouldn’t be his last.

Doctor Carson cleared his throat. He was a few feet away, armed with the protective gloves. That was a mistake on his part.

“You won’t get anywhere near Arnold with those things on,” I told him. “He hates the gloves.”

He gave me an annoyed look. “I can’t risk getting injured.”

Going over to the cabinet, I pulled out an old towel and slid it across the table to Marty. Knowing the drill, he unfolded it and began wrapping it around the black furball in his arms.

I faced Doctor Carson to give him the rundown.

“He’s gonna swaddle Arnold like a baby, nice and snug. You’ve got about sixty seconds to get what needs done before he loses it.” The more I talked, the wider his eyes grew, his face getting paler with every word. Telling Dr. Clueless what to do was overstepping, and I knew it. But fuck if anyone was going to stop me. “Here’s what we can do. We can sedate him or we can go straight to an antibiotic shot. Either way, we’ll need to get close enough to give him an injection, so my vote goes for the meds.”

Nodding, he got rid of the gloves and fumbled with a syringe.

The doc was fresh out of vet med school. He’d started working here a few months ago, and I’d hoped to see him become more confident in his new position.

Unfortunately, I was beginning to think this profession just wasn’t his thing.

A sheen of sweat broke out on Doctor Carson’s forehead, right below his perfectly coiffed hair. Nervously shifting toward Arnold, he took a deep breath. Trembled. Hesitated. He was taking too long.

As if the cat read my mind, he let out an impatient growl, and Doctor Carson jumped back.

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