Cody woke up to the sound of Tiger’s meows. Tiger wasn’t able to jump up on the bed anymore, so she sat near the bed meowing until he awoke. When Tiger was a kitten, she used to jump onto Cody’s shoulder and gently paw at his face until he woke up. Fourteen years later, their routine had changed, but they still depended upon each other.
Cody followed Tiger into the kitchen and dished out the k/d food into the small bowl. She eagerly ate while Cody headed to the bathroom. “At least her appetite’s good,” he thought to himself. Tiger had given Cody a scare last month. A bladder infection exacerbated Tiger’s normal kidney problems. Cody had to pull her out from under the bed. He knew that she was really sick because she didn’t fight him when he put her into the cat carrier to take her to the vet.
Now, Tiger was eating again. She hadn’t finished her food by the time Cody came out of the bathroom. Instead of eagerly biting into the food, she had started licking the food, which took much more time. Cody didn’t care as long as she ate. He gently lifted the scruff of her neck. The fur didn’t immediately fall back like it should. She was dehydrated again. No wonder, considering how full the kitty box was every day.
Cody rubbed his face and padded back into the bathroom for a shower. A shave and a double knot later, he left his apartment for work. He knocked on 3A on his way out, but the door stayed closed. “I’ll have to call her,” he thought to himself. His commute to work was as uneventful as every other day.
“Angie? Sorry to bother you, but it looks like Tiger is dehydrated again. I was wondering if you had a few minutes tonight so I can give her some fluids. Call me.” He left the message and hoped that Angie would call back. Angie was a great neighbor. She was quiet, willing to help and, most importantly, not nosy. Living in a building where the walls are thin can be a nightmare if your neighbors are noisy or nosy.
Angie called back within the hour. “Sorry, I was in a meeting.” Cody was grateful that she responded so quickly. Of course, she always called him back, but he felt like he was imposing on her more and more. Tiger was needing fluids every few days now. “Do you have time tonight to help me?” Angie sounded distracted, “Yeah, but I’m overloaded today. I don’t think I’ll get home until after six. Is that okay?” Cody wiped his face, his large hand covering the forehead and slowly moving down to his chin. “Yeah, six is great.” The line was quiet and then he added, “Thanks. I feel like I’m buggin’ you.” Angie argued, “It only takes a couple of minutes. It’s no big deal, really. I gotta go. ‘Bye.”
Cody sighed a breath of relief and looked at his phone. There was an instant message that he hadn’t noticed earlier. It was from Jen. “Dinner tonight?” He texted back, “Meet you @ 7:30 @ Baja Rio?” He watched the phone after he sent his message, expecting an immediate response, but it just sat there.
Hours later, he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket during a meeting. Suddenly everything that was being discussed was coming to him through a fog of excitement. It had been a week since Jen had called or IM’d him. He thought that their last date went perfectly, but she hadn’t returned his calls. He and Jen had been dating for two years, but she had kept him continually at arm’s length. Now, after a week of silence, she had returned. His vibrating phone felt like a hot rock in his pocket throughout the meeting.
He had bought the Blackberry about a year ago and it caused a stir in the office. When he was checking for messages from Jen, his coworkers assumed he was receiving important messages for work. His single purchase had caused a wave of Blackberry purchases in the office. He didn’t realize how much his actions affected his peers in the office, but he learned very quickly to check his phone in private.
The minute he left the conference room, he reached for his Blackberry. The message was from Jen. It said, “How about 6?” While walking back to his desk, he wrote back, “Can’t. Must be 7:30 or later.” It was hard enough getting anyone to help him give Tiger fluids. He wasn’t going to delay it any longer than he had to. He looked at his phone, hoping for a quick answer, but it remained quiet.
At home, he waited for Angie to knock on his door. He brought the Normosol-R out of the fridge. He pulled a fresh needle out of the package and attached it to the huge syringe. He pulled up 60 ml of the fluid out of the package, put the cover back on the syringe and let it sit on the counter. Tiger dealt with this much better when the fluids had time to get to room temperature.
Cody still hadn’t received a text message back from Jen. He looked at the food in the freezer and wondered if he should eat. Did he have a date or not? Should he call her? Most of the time it just pissed her off when he called her. He dialed her number, but she didn’t answer, “Hey, Jen. It’s Cody. I got your message, but I can’t meet at six. I have to give Tiger his fluids and I don’t have anyone to help me until after six. I didn’t hear from you, so I have no idea what’s going on…” He heard his voice trail off and the sound of it disgusted him. He just hung up.
At 5:48 pm, Angie knocked on the door. Cody rushed to answer it. “I came as soon as I got home. Sorry it was so late. I just am swamped at work,” she kept talking as her eyes scanned the room, “Where’s Tiger?” Cody rolled his eyes and responded, “She started running the minute you knocked on the door.” Angie laughed, “Well she only has one hiding place.” They both went to the bed. Cody reached under and pulled her out. “Time to clip your claws.” She was clinging to the carpeting, but he was able to pull her free.
Angie offered, “I can help you do that while I’m here, if you want.” Cody carried Tiger to the kitchen counter. “No, I’ve got a date right after this, so I’ll just do her claws later tonight. I can do them on my own.” Angie nodded and gently took hold of Tiger. She expertly grasped the cat by the scruff of her neck, lifted her up, grabbed the feet and stretched her out on the counter. Tiger was incapacitated.
Meanwhile, Cody pulled the cover off the syringe needle. He poked it into Tiger’s skin on her upper back. He emptied the syringe, creating a big, lumpy bubble of fluid under the skin. Angie asked, “You want to give her another 60 ml? She’s tolerating it pretty well today.” Cody nodded and reached for the Normosol-R, but realized that he had put it back into the refrigerator. “I can’t. I left it in the fridge.” Angie shrugged. “Pull out another dose and I’ll come back in a half hour or so.” Cody shook his head, “No, I can’t.” Angie nodded, “Oh yeah. A date. Jen?” Cody nodded. Angie released Tiger and the cat just sat on counter, waiting to be lifted down. Angie pet Tiger. “So, do you really have a date or is this one of those things where you don’t even know if you have a date or not?”
Cody just stood at the counter with one hand on his hip and the other clenched around the huge syringe. He nodded and took in a deep breath. “I guess it’s the ‘not knowing if I have a date or not’ date.” Angie continued petting Tiger and the cat walked on the counter between the two of them. “You’ve been dealing with this for a couple of years. Most people would have dumped her by now. Why do you put up with it?” Cody replaced the cover on the needle, removed it from the syringe and placed it in the red plastic container on his counter. “She’ll tell me when it’s time.”
Angie walked over to the kitchen faucet and started washing her hands. “When it’s time? Time for what? I don’t really know what you’re doing?” Cody shrugged and held out a towel for her to dry her hands with. “I’m going to give her all the time she needs.” Angie nodded and patted Cody on the shoulder. “Whatever. Good luck tonight. Call me if she needs anything.” Angie let herself out the door and Cody could hear her walk into her own apartment on the other side of the wall. Cody lifted Tiger off the counter and rushed into his bedroom to change.