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My Dear Vet - Chapter 1

Chapter One

 

Ava Grace Lawrence climbed out of her Jeep and looked down the main street of Sterling, a town nestled in a rich, rural community. A signboard at the town’s entrance boasted around ten thousand residents; it was a nice small town.

 

Ava sighed, taking several leaden steps to the door marked Best vet surgery for miles-Welcome. “Sure, it is. It’s the only one for fifty miles.” Opening the door, the smell of dog pee mixed with cat excrement made her gag. Not exactly welcoming, no matter what the sign said. Nostrils pinched, she stepped toward the reception counter. An explosion of voices halted her progress.

 

“Shit Jerry, she’s gonna kill us both. I thought I said you needed to keep the dogs and cats apart. Ain’t my fault if you lose your job over this. She doesn’t take kindly to mistakes, remember Gloria?”

 

A timid male voice replied. “Naw, she ain’t that bad, Pam. Doc Lawrence wouldn’t allow it. Besides, Gloria wasn’t a nice lady.”

 

“Old man Rush’s bullmastiff almost ate Mayor Blaine’s beloved cat. I know that cat’s expensive, cuz Sheena Blaine mentions it at every bridge meeting. That cat cost more than I make in two years. Some African name, saint or something….”

 

“A Savannah.” Ava spoke out and watched several expressions cross Pam’s face, guilt the most telling. She set her bag on the floor and stared at the receptionist.

 

“Oh, didn’t think you would be back yet. How did it go?”

 

“It went as well as you would expect from a constipated goat.”

 

“Aw well, you don’t have many patients…maybe three or four. The first one isn’t due for fifteen minutes.”

 

Ava narrowed her eyes and crinkled her nose. “What’s gone on here? I left two hours ago, and the place was pristine. Now.” She waved her hands around, pointing at dishevelled shelves and merchandise all over the floor. “Someone had a skunk party, and I wasn’t invited?”

 

“We don’t allow skunks. They are vermin. Jerry accidentally introduced Misty Blaine, the mayor’s cat, to Tom Rush’s bullmastiff, Rock Rush.” She waved her hands in the air. “This is the result.” Pam scowled.

 

Ava swivelled around, coming face to face with a young man who looked to her like a cross between a rat and bull. He was strangely handsome in an odd way.

 

“Jerry, your version?”

 

The silence stretched for a good five minutes. Ava watched the man, who had the IQ of a ten-year-old. What was my uncle thinking, employing him? Damn useless the lot of them.

 

“I didn’t do nothing wrong Doctor Missy Lawrence. Just forgot Rock was off his lead.”

 

Ava could feel the tightening on her forehead. Damn, I’m frowning again. I hate this place. It’s putting at least ten years on me.

 

Picking up her bag, she shook her head. “Staff meeting after the consults, and don’t either of you disappear.” She strode off toward the door marked Doctor Lawrence, entered, and slammed the door behind her.

 

 

Minnie Barrington took a bowl of corn from the utility room. As soon as she opened the door, the chickens came running. She smiled. What had been six chickens when she first started her hobby had become over forty, after introducing the first rooster. She never had the heart to cull the baby roosters.

 

Fifteen minutes later, after filling the feeders and making sure water was available, she looked around. Her veggie patch was doing okay, not great; the chickens kept flying over the three-foot-high fence. “I really should have cut the wing feathers like the book said.” Minnie grimaced. Hurting or damaging any life was abhorrent to her.

 

A raucous sound caught her attention, and she ran toward the disturbance. Minnie’s hand flew to her mouth. Gertrude, her very first hen, a Sussex bantam, lay on her side, heavily panting.

 

“Gertie, what’s happened darling?” She bent and inspected the bird as best she could. Something protruded from the rear end. “Oh no.” What do I do? Minnie carefully lifted the bird, who gave a pathetic cry. “It will be ok, Gertie, I promise.” Heading back to the house, she carefully laid Gertie in the wicker laundry basket close at hand, thankful she didn’t protest or try to get out. “I’ll be back. Rest little Gertie.”

 

Minnie left the laundry area and sped to the phone hanging on the wall. She spotted the local phone book under a scattered pile of advertisements and scrambled through the pages to find the location of the nearest vet. Her mother had taken care of vets in the past. Frankly, Minnie didn’t have a clue who to call.

 

Just then, the phone rang. Minnie frowned. Let it ring or take it…damn. “Yeah?”

 

“God, did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?”

 

Minnie closed her eyes. “Mom, it’s eleven here. What do you want? It’s early for you to call?”

 

“Now that’s a loving daughter’s welcome, I must say. It’s not that early…well maybe.”

 

Minnie looked at the clock on the wall. Her mother never called before five. “I need to make a call, Mom, what do you need?”

 

Minnie heard a heavy sigh and closed her eyes.

 

“I don’t need anything, but… Yes, I know you always say there’s a but, this time there really is.”

 

“Mom, get on with it. I need to call a vet. Gertie is injured.”

 

“You’re taking a chicken to the vets? What brains do you have left, darling? Are they scrambled from living with all those chickens? You don’t take a chicken to the vets; you wring it’s neck.”

 

Minnie bit her top lip. This was her mom, after all, anyone else she’d have verbally taken their head off. “That’s my decision. What do you want?” A feeble croak floated in the air. Oh no, I might be too late.

 

“I’m sorry, Minnie, you’ve always had a soft heart. Lawrence Veterinary on Taylor Street. He’s the best and the only one for miles.”

 

“Thanks Mom. So, why did you call?”

 

“Take your chicken to the vet, and I’ll call you tomorrow. Hope she gets better.”

 

The call ended. Minnie held the phone next to her ear, still expecting to hear more than the distressed sounds in the background. Ralling her to her main purpose, she grabbed the car keys from the wall rack, collected Gertie, and headed out.

 


Jackie Cochran sang out of tune to Taylor Swift’s newest release, smiling as she checked on a beautiful ginger tom cat. He’d decided to trap his tail in a door, and now he was sans tail and ornery. He meowed loudly, as she blew him a kiss and moved on to the next patient, a kitten rescued from a wheat silo. Almost suffocated, she now had eight lives left, that they knew of. All the kitty needed was a home if you could get over her antsy behaviour. She needed a loving and forgiving owner.

 

The door to the hospital recovery opened, and Jerry ambled in. He looked upset.

 

“Hey, Jerry, why so sad?”

 

“Not.”

 

Jackie stroked her nose and walked toward the gentle giant. He was six five, at least, and built like a line backer, but he had such a gentle personality. Pity he isn’t that bright; he’d have had the world at his feet. “Bad day. I heard about the problems with Rock Rush. He can be boisterous.” She smiled and wished she hadn’t when tears appeared in Jerry’s eyes. “Hey Jerry, why don’t you tell me what’s upset you. I’ll help if I can.”

 

Jerry gave her a misty gaze. “Doctor Missy Lawrence wants a meeting. I think…” He shrugged.

 

“Yeah, what do you think?”

 

“Well, Pam said I might not have a job.”

 

Jackie moved closer and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Pam knows nothing. Is it a staff meeting?”

 

Jerry frowned. “I don’t know. She said no one was to leave.”

 

“Good. Means I’ll be there. Don’t worry, we’re buddies, right?” She lifted a hand in a high- five gesture. Seconds later, Jerry weakly tapped her hand. “Great, now dry those tears. We don’t want Doctor Missy Lawrence or Pam to see them, right?”

 

Jerry smiled, and for a moment, Jackie lost herself in that smile. Gorgeous, and I’m not even attracted to men. “Hey, go see Mr. Ginge. He needs company and only responds to you.”

 

Jerry nodded and wandered to the cage. Soon, the ornery cat was purring like he’d been given the world. Yeah, that’s Jerry. Just a wonderful human being. Animals always know.

 

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