It takes a Bold Man

‘Well if I were you I’d shoot it.’ He slurped noisily at his soup and glared over the bowl as if he were taking aim at her.

‘You are not me.’ She sat back from the table. The entrée of garlic bread and dips was no longer of interest. She bit back the ‘thank goodness’ at the end of her sentence. ‘Times are different now Dad. The police would be at my door in seconds if I tried that.’

‘Mmph.’ He tipped his bowl to scrape out the last of his soup and eyed her garlic bread. She pushed it across the table to him. ‘Trap it then.’

‘Then what? It probably belongs to a neighbour.’

‘So? The damned thing should be got rid of. If I catch it spraying in my bedroom I’ll wring its neck.’

Shelley didn’t think there’d be much wringing of necks on her father’s part as there could be fatal bites delivered by the intruder. And it wasn’t his bedroom anyway.

‘Dad – don’t you even try getting near the thing. I’ll talk to George.’

George was Shelley’s boss at the veterinary clinic. She was on roster with him that afternoon.

 

‘You know my father is staying with me,’ she began as patient number one left the surgery. George pre-empted her next words with such a wriggle of his eyebrows she had to giggle. George hadn’t visited all week. Her father had made clear his opinion of city pet veterinary surgeons when George visited the first and only time her father had last stayed.

‘Pah – why don’t you get a real man’s job? Horses is where the money is.’

Shelley’s father frequented the race track whenever he came to town. He was always after insider information and constantly urged Shelley to leave the city vet and work out at Karaka.

‘Those stud farms need a good solid girl like you. With your training you’d be in demand,’ he insisted. ‘You’re a waste with this namby-pamby cat and dog stuff.’

 

‘Tell you what,’ George said when Shelley was able to continue her conversation between patients two and three. ‘I’ll come over tonight and your father can help out – being a ‘real man’ and all.’

Not a bad idea at all Shelley thought. In fact she rather looked forward to seeing how her father would cope. For all his talk the nearest she’d seen him near any animal was around the traps where the jockeys hung out. He was good at shuffling paper in an office and could down a beer anywhere with anyone but she’d never known him go anywhere near a farm and he’d vetoed her ever having a pet when she was growing up.

 

George arrived after dinner. The cat wouldn’t appear until late and he hadn’t accepted Shelley’s offer of a meal. She knew why of course. Her father rolled his eyes as she ushered him into the lounge.

‘Hmph,’ he grunted in response to George’s greeting. ‘Still working with small animals eh?’

‘Indeed yes. We’ll work with one tonight,’ George replied agreeably – ‘You and I that is.’

‘Eh?’ Her father sat upright.

‘If you’re up to it, that is. I could ask Jack – a vet friend of mine – but since you’re here you’re a man who could help deal with one small cat couldn’t you?’

‘Ah well. Of course.’

Shelley smiled at the way he squared his shoulders and rolled out his bottom lip.

There was a sudden flurry at the open door. As Shelley had hoped, the cat had run straight into the surgery’s food-laden trap and was successfully restrained. She picked up the cage and carried it into the lounge. The animal yowled and hissed and flung itself at the bars as if it had transformed into a wild tiger.

George took the cage and dumped it on her father’s lap. He sat very still as the animal whirled about in a frenzy, rocking the cage like a small ship in a storm.

‘No worries,’ said George preparing a syringe. ‘Just distract it will you? Tap the cage on that side.’

As Shelley’s father gingerly tapped the cage, George plunged the needle into the cat’s haunch through the bars. Only a few minutes later the cat subsided into unconsciousness.

‘Okay down to business.’ George hauled out the cat, laid a large sheet of plastic instead of the cage on her father’s knees and spread out the cat on its back. ‘Hold the legs out.’

George produced some small snips and a sharp scalpel.

‘Uh,’ said Shelley’s father as George deftly cut away the animal’s testes and then put in a couple of stitches.

‘The stitches will dissolve. Now bring the cat to the door.’

‘Are you okay Dad?’ Shelley observed her father had acquired a greenish skin tone.

‘Yes,’ he muttered as she followed him out of the lounge, the cat awkwardly bundled in his arms.

‘Just put it here by the open door,’ George waited till he’d laid it on the floor. ‘Hold it down,’ he said and administered the syringe again.

The cat came to life in seconds. With a yowl it sprang into the night. With nearly the same sound, Shelley’s father sprang backwards.

‘Great. That’s your problem solved.’ George smiled at Shelley while her father regained his composure and his feet. ‘Thank you for your help,’ he added and shook her father’s hand.

 

Shelley’s father left her home in a quieter mode than usual. Next time he came to stay he stood up to greet George when he came for dinner and carried on an amicable conversation about everything – and anything – that had nothing at all to do with neutering cats.

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