Madame Pushka

Madame Pushka

Story by Jan Aitken

A week with Madame Pushka went totally against all my saner instincts.  A whole week in my apartment with a querulous, demanding, fussy eater with a very uncertain temper was tantamount to a prison sentence, except that I would be out at work most days.  But, Heavens, who knows what sort of chaos and temper tantrums I would come home to every night.

But Madame Pushka’s mother, or should I say, slave, is my very best friend, Karine, and she had been sent at very short notice on a quick trip overseas with no time to arrange alternative care.  So she, Karine, that is, pleaded with me (this word should really be pled) to take Madame Pushka  (henceforth MP) on the promise of undying friendship and some very expensive duty-free goodies.  With a wary smile and reasonably good grace, I capitulated, saying cheerfully: you know she hates me!

MP arrived in her basket with a huge box of assorted toys, food, blankets, and other necessities, all thrown through the door by Karine who was en route to the airport and running very late as usual for a very early morning flight.  A great start to the day for all of us.

Not quite at my best and not really thinking clearly I released the catch on MPs basket without giving her time to settle down.  So she exploded from the basket like a cork from a bottle, hissing an spitting, and began a wild rampage round the room, climbing curtains, racing over furniture and scattering everything in her path before pausing on the carpet to deposit a seriously large poo.  I hastily established her sleeping and toilet areas before pointedly carrying her over to the tray of kitty litter and dropping her in it, and then began trying to clean the poo off my new pink carpet – not a task to do on an empty stomach.

As it was still very early – far too early to go to work but far too late to go back to sleep, I decided on coffee and toast in bed with the newspapers which Karine had thoughtfully provided.  Coffee made, I retreated to bed and settled down to read while MP went on with her exploration qua rampage round the place.  I kept on hearing funny noises, crunchings, tearings etc which I felt I had to investigate to rescue various objects from her jaws and claws.  Corners of magazines shredded, a box of tissues eviscerated, scratches on the back of the lounge chair, the list goes on.  Having done over the lounge room she joined me in the bedroom, up onto the bedside table, swiping my coffee onto the floor, licking the butter off my toast and sharpening her claws on the bed head.

I might say that in her own home she was allowed free range with everything including the kitchen benches which were routinely covered in cat hair and I had even seen her pick her way delicately over the hot plates on the stove.  A cat psychologist might have diagnosed her as highly intelligent and needing to be in a large and challenging environment such as a forest.  In fact she might have been slightly feral as Karine had rescued her as a kitten from some rural environment – she was very large, very stripey and had large yellow eyes.  In fact she looked rather like the missing link between your ordinary cattus domesticus and those smaller felines you see in the zoo.  One did feel that an ordinary domestic setting was far too small for her, especially my apartment.

Now you can hardly say that a cat has an appetite like a horse but this one did.  Except she ate the best of everything – fillet steak, chicken liver (slightly sautéed, of course), and , in extremis, containers of gourmet cat food – the ones labelled ‘pheasant and bacon pate’, ‘braised lobster in prawn aspic’ – in desperation I could have eaten some of this stuff myself, it looked tempting enough.  Karine had found time to write me out a detailed feeding schedule.  Premature babies in hospital don’t have so much attention lavished on them, I thought, a trifle grimly.

But I was seriously worried about leaving her in my apartment for my whole working day – look how much damage she had done in just under an hour.  I could close a few doors, definitely the bedroom and study – but the lounge, it would be scratched to bits – I could lock her on the balcony with appropriate provisions and the kitty litter tray but she was so mad she might leap or fall off the balcony and while I was only two storeys up it was still quite a drop.  And I had read that for some curious reason cats do themselves less damage if they fall from greater heights – oh, well – but this fact was not of great use to me.

Well I could cover over the lounge chairs with rugs, make sure the kitchen was all cleaned up and bare of chewable items and the bathroom, not much damage she could do there.  And then just hope for the best… I had a hasty shower, gave up on eating more brekkie – it took me all my time to fill up MPs various bowls.    By the time I got to the office I was ready for the luxury of a peaceful coffee and honey toast at our local café, ready as I walked through the door.

Finally at my desk, sorting the day’s tasks, I was still assailed by thoughts of my departure – slamming the door behind me just in time to prevent MP escaping – a very near run thing, that was.  Oh well, que sera, sera, and I put thoughts of destroyed flat aside and applied myself to my work so successfully that I didn’t give MP another thought until knock-off time. This was usually very flexible for me – I often stayed late in the office finishing things off, having neither pets, kids, nor mate (usually) demanding my attention.

But tonight was different. The CAT loomed.  I thought gloomily of the chaos which might await me at home.  I mused on this so deeply that I almost ran into the car in front and I made a complete botch of parking my car in the small rectangle of underground space which passes for a garage in my units.  Racing upstairs I opened the door quickly to discover what lay behind and MP was just poised ready to race out.  I just caught her between my legs and tightened my grip, squeezing her between my legs as I flung my bag and brief case through the door.  Although I was increasing my grip on her massive body she was starting to slip through so I grabbed her collar with one hand and her tail with the other.  MP snarled, spat, bit and scratched, a regular fury.  I had to work out how to get her through the door without getting scratched to pieces.

As I was in the process of transferring my grip from the tail to one of the front legs, a neighbour came past.  Not one of my favourite people, one of the carping, nitpicking variety – the Nazi of the units.  He said sharply:  you know you’re not supposed to have animals here.  I’m going to have to report you to the Body Corporate, you know.  I bit back a very rude but pithy response and said through clenched teeth – this is very temporary – and then screamed in pain as MP raked one of her free sets of claws down my leg.  I could feel the torn flesh through my pants leg.  Ignoring the neighbour, I threw MP bodily into the flat and slammed the door behind me.  MP climbed on the back of the lounge and looked at me defiantly.  I was unmoved:  the back of my pants leg was shredded as was the back of my leg with trickles of blood congealing round some deep scratches.

Oh, Gosh, I’ll end up with gangrene, I thought a little incoherently as I raced to the bathroom for cotton wool and disinfectant, which actually hurt more than the scratches. I felt it had to be full strength to ward off MP’s nasty germs.  Finally, with my leg bound up and a change of clothes, I was able to take stock of the damage.  She had managed to tear the covering off one end of the lounge and raked her claws down its wooden legs.  There was a pile of poo in the corner and a heavily shredded newspaper scattered liberally.  The food supply was mainly gone although she has spread kitty bickies over a good area, likewise the contents of the water bowl.  I took a beer from the frig and collapsed into one of the sheet shrouded chairs.  I glared at MP, still at her post on top of the big lounge and she glared back.

Finally, a little restored by the beer and a lump of cheese, I got to and cleaned up, and restocked some of the Pushka food supply – I wasn’t sure about this.  Surely the more she ate, the more she would poo?  On the other hand, eating provided an occupation and perhaps a bored hungry cat would do more damage.  She settled in her corner, not a cat to settle in one’s lap to be patted, was MP.  Not that I felt bad about that!  I defrosted a TV dinner and sat through some TV of marginal interest, downing a beer or two more than usual, before going to bed.

I carefully shut all the doors possible leaving her to rampage around the lounge, kitchen and dining room which are open plan.  I felt safe enough from disturbance but this was not to be.  Just as I was dozing off I could hear her running madly round the room, jumping off things, bumping into things.  It sounded like a cat gymnasium at peak hour.   I had a strong desire to lock her on the balcony, but the thought of that heavy body hitting the ground from two storeys was awful but tempting at the same time.  Not to mention the possible squalling and wailing which would really go down well with the neighbours.  I finally took a painkiller and a sleeping pill guaranteed to give me at least four hours sleep and I finally drifted off despite the thumps and bangs.

I think what woke me much later was the silence.  I struggled to consciousness, listened, and decided to answer a call of nature, brought on no doubt by last night’s beer.  I crept out of my bedroom and I had only taken two steps when my toes landed in something squishy and smelly.  The fiend cat had dropped a load outside my bedroom door.  Tell me that wasn’t deliberate.  I hopped to the bathroom to clean up, quite a struggle when you really want a pee.  Finally, relieved of both forms of excrement, I crawled around the floor cleaning up the last offering.  MP appeared to be sound asleep, although I could swear she was just lying doggo, or should that be pusso, and watching me through narrowed eyes.  I slept heavily for the rest of the night and woke to the alarm clock feeling as if I’d been clubbed.

I moodily went through the showering and dressing ritual and was torn between having my coffee and toast at home so I could watch her for longer, or eating in peace at work.  Reluctance to put up with her baleful eyes, I made for the door.  Another day at work and not a good day, I was tired cranky and preoccupied.  I snapped ay my boss, she snapped back and then said,  “What’s the matter, you’re not usually so grumpy”.  I explained.

She nodded in sympathy saying “Well, a week, you say?”

My response “Listen this cat has already done hundreds of dollars’ worth of damage. The carpet will have to be shampooed, my pants replaced, the lounge revarnished and that’s just the beginning…And she’s only been with me two days, what else can she do?   I’ll need a pay rise to pay for all this.”

“Fat chance”, she said!

And I had a phone call from Pushka’s slave calling from some foreign city on a mobile which kept dropping out.  “How are things going?” she shouted. “ Is she well?”

I just had time to say “Fine!’” before the line blanked out totally.  Just as well, there was no point in telling the real truth when she was away and unable to do anything about it.  The real truth would keep.

I made it home, caught the lift, ran into a friend in the left who reminded me of the next  Body Corporate meeting for which I had some task to perform  I tend to be a very focussed person and I was so intent on remembering the dimensions of this task that I completely forgot about MP and opened the door to my flat in the normal unsuspecting way.  MP shot through the crack like an arrow from a bow.  I dropped my bags and sprinted after her down two flights of stairs.  Luckily I was more or less in training but she had amazing speed for her bulk.  I was praying that the front door was shut as it was meant to be.  But as I got to the lobby area the front door was just being opened and I slammed it shut to the shouts of rage from the person who was trying to get in.  MP was now crouched in one corner and about to take off in the direction of the back door which lead to the garden.  As she gathered speed I threw myself full length on her.  I am not very heavy but this would have squashed a lesser cat.  We lay there, my body pressing her to the hall paving as I recovered and tried to work out how to get her out from under without being torn to pieces.  In the meantime the frustrated tenants had made it through the door and were standing gaping in amazement.  By this time I had rolled off MP and had pinned her to the floor by her neck.  One of the bystanders knelt down and made to stroke her making poor pussy noises. I shouted, “don’t do that!”  Too late, MP had slashed the kind person down the back of her hand – she retreated dripping blood.  While I grabbed the scruff of MPs neck with two hands I asked the bystanders to summon the lift for me.  No way, could I carry that lump up two flights of stairs.  One of them even came along and pressed the lift button for me. By now a crowd was gathering, some cheering and some not.  I made it to my door and had to press MP against the wall so that I could free one hand and get my key out to open the door.  She made a final effort to escape but I was just able to grab one leg and drag her through the door.  While she was on the other side of the room I sidled out to get my bags.  I then had time to survey the damage.  The room had the usual pile of poo and other debris but it was MP that caught my attention.  She was limping quite badly. I thought, oh Heavens, she is doing this on purpose.  But as I went about my chores, and changed into a tracksuit etc, I kept an eye on her as she prowled about and the limp seemed to be getting worse.

Oh, no.  I suppose this means a visit to the vet, I wonder if they do house calls?  I don’t care what it costs – there’s no way I can get that animal back in her cage.  I would need a tranquillizer gun.  I perused the vet section of the Yellow Pages and chose ‘Noah’s Ark – anything from Ants to Elephants’ – it was way the closest and besides I liked the cheeky name.  Although it was late the woman on duty was cheerful and said, yes, they did do house calls and one of their vets was free as it happened and could come at once.  While she took my details she did make it clear that this was a service that did not come cheap.  I brushed that aside.  This is an emergency, whatever it costs.

Having accepted their offer and told them how to get into our security fortress, I set about putting some order into the place, cleaning up kitty litter, carpets and chairs.  I was about to put out a new ration of lobster tails in aspic when it occurred to me that MP might need some surgery and food might not be a good idea.  Better wait for the vet.  Quite soon after there was a call on the security phone and finally a knock on my door.  I opened it to find a small woman in a white coat, T-shirt and jeans, the T shirt plastered with animal pictures.  She carried a large doctor type bag and had dark curly hair and brown eyes.  She smiled “I am Dr Nadia from Noah’s Ark, have I come to the right place?  Are you Chris?”

“Yes, and I am very glad to see you,” I said, smiling back, and thinking, how lovely, I wouldn’t mind being a small animal…

As I invited her in I began to tell her my horror story.  She put a restraining hand on my arm and said,  “Hey, slow down.  Look I would be glad of a coffee – I’ve been flat out today and I just did this last call as a favour to the receptionist and I haven’t had time yet to eat.  So if you can find me a coffee and biscuit we can sit and discuss your problem.  I guess from the brief description over the phone that your cat is not so badly injured that she won’t last a while longer.”

She walked over to MP who was crouched in a corner.  MP did not look friendly.  Nadia backed off a little and said, “She looks very healthy, I must say.  I think she will last.  Let’s have that coffee.”

I had put together espressos and biscuits and cheese and I let her settle a little before I lead off with my story. When I had finished, she nodded and said, “Well, by the sound of that, you need me more than the cat does!”

I smiled and raised an eyebrow at this – my love life was going through a quiet time and this woman was seriously cute!  She realised how her words could be interpreted and said quickly, “You know, we vets often have to look after the clients just as much as their animals.”

At this point she finished her coffee and I smiled, and said, “Of course, I certainly need some therapy after this experience.”

She reminded me that I seemed to have rather scratched hands and she proceeded to examine them before laying on the ointment and plaster.  I quite enjoyed this.

After this Nadia said that she’d better have a look at her second patient.  She moved over to examine MP who was slightly less obstreperous than usual and was persuaded to give a set of demonstration limps.  “Mmmm,” said Nadia, “that will need strapping and she may need some sedation.”

“I like the sound of that”, I said, grinning.  Nadia grinned back, “I thought you would!”  Such a cheeky smile.  “Now listen, I think we will have to take her into care for a few days – she needs to rest the leg.  Now, this service does not come cheap, can your friend afford all this?”

“Oh, yes, she can,” I said with determination.  “She’d mortgage her house to give MP what she needs, no, seriously, she’s quite well off and she’s O/S earning heaps more.”

Nadia nodded and said, “Well, here’s what we’ll do. I’ll give her a shot now and take her off to the surgery.  We have guest cages and in the morning we can have a look at her and do X-rays or whatever’s needed.  Is that Ok?”

I smiled even more broadly, “She might have to stay with you for a few days?”

“Yes, it’s probably a torn ligament and they take a while to heal.”

“Wonderful,” I said, radiant, “Fine”.

In no time Nadia had got an injection kit out of her bag, grabbed MP in a quick and expert fashion and before you could say needle, MP was sagging on the floor. Nadia piled her into her basket, gave me instructions about how to get to the surgery and was off and away.  I grabbed a jacket and bag, locked up and raced off after her.  She got there first as I got lost on the way.  She let me into the surgery and took me out to see MP who was out like a light in a guest cage and I’ll swear, snoring.  Nadia turned to me and said, “OK, what do you think?”

I’d looked around – the place looked clean and cheerful, like Nadia really.  I said, “Looks fine to me and it sounds like you may need to keep her until Karine comes back?”

“Just about, we’ll see.”

At this stage, as I looked around the place, I said casually – well, fairly casually, “Is this your practice?”

She looked quite hard at me and replied, “Well, it is really.  My girlfriend and I set it up a few years ago but neither partnership worked out, so I have just recently bought her out.”  Having outed herself in this gentle way she looked at me for confirmation.

“Oh, I do understand,” I smiled, and nodded.  “I wish you well.  I’ll bring all my animals here!”  At this point Nadia was tidying up, locking up and stashing MPs cage in a corner.

“I’ll keep this here.  Saves remembering when you come to pick her up.”

“Thank you very much,” I said with feeling.  “I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  Gosh, I’ll even be able to go home and sleep.”  As I said that our eyes met and suddenly sleep sounded rather more interesting.  I looked away at my watch and said, “Hey, it’s getting on for eight o’clock.  I am ravenous and I know you haven’t eaten for hours.  I would love to buy you dinner – I am so grateful for your help.  Would that be OK?  I mean, are there ethical reasons why vets can’t eat with their clients?”

She liked that idea and chuckled, “No, not really, thanks, I’d love to.  My frig is empty, I have nothing happening tonight and I am, as you say, ravenous.”

We agreed on a café in the next suburb and I got there first and bought us a good bottle of red at the local pub.  I can’t remember what we ate – something Italian- because we talked and talked – our jobs, our lives, old relationships and so on.  She too was on the loose.  This talk went on until the café staff were cleaning up and offering us the bill.  We stood outside with Nadia saying to me, “Now, I’ll need you to come in each night to see her and I can give you a progress report.  Would you be able to do that?  It may make the cat feel more at home.”

“I doubt it,” I said darkly, “but, no, sure, I can come every night – would about six be too late?”

“No, that would be fine.”  She looked up at me.

I was so tempted to kiss her on those full lips but I refrained and instead patted her on the arm and said, “Thanks very much, I can’t tell you how grateful I am, see you tomorrow”, and walked over to my car.

I went home and slept like a baby except I didn’t wake up and cry during the night.  I had happy dreams of Nadia and woke refreshed.  I cleaned up my flat in some hope that MP would be in confinement until Karine came back early in the weekend.  I sprayed a lot of purifying agents round the unit – air fresheners and so on until the unit smelled like a motel room after the cleaners.  And I actually had a peaceful coffee and toast before I left for work.  I radiated good cheer to such an extent that people commented. I explained about the removal of MP to the vets.  They laughed like drains at the story of the MP chase.  I had already moaned to some of them about her depredations.  The cat lovers made helpful suggestions:   get her a catnip pot plant- it makes them drowsy;  try some new toys, a climbing pole, etc, etc. but I did not really have time to roam the plant nurseries or the pet toy shops!

My boss, when I ducked into her office to discuss matters, smiled and said cheerily, “Well, you certainly look better than yesterday!”

So, I filled her in briefly on the reason why.

“Oh, well,” she said with a grin, “I thought you must have met a new girly!”

I gave a slight grin in return. “Well, the vet is rather nice…”

The boss raised her hands to heaven, saying, “My dear, you are amazing.  I’ll swear blind you could find a new woman in a submarine!”

“Well, they do have women in the navy these days, you know…”

“So, good luck with the vet and I do need that paper by tomorrow…”

“OK, OK, with MP gone I’m back on track.”

“See to it, and it had better be on time…”

I worked like a demon to finish the boss’s paper and threw it on her desk before setting off for my first MP visitation.  Feeling on top of the world with the burdens of work and MP off my back, I wondered idly if Nadia would come to dinner for a second night.  I could but ask.  When I arrived she was there to show me MP who looked drowsy.  Nadia explained what they had done – it all sounded expensive and there was more, as she went on to say that MP might still have a splinted leg by the weekend.  “I’ll try to get our physio onto her so we can have her mobile by the weekend for when her owner gets back, but I’m not sure.”

“OK, well que sera,” I said cheerfully, “I know she’s in the best hands,” glancing at her quite delicate, long fingered hands, with the short neat nails.

We both smiled and we both looked into each other’s eyes.  We both began, “ look, how about dinner….”and trailed away, both laughing.  She, small and decisive, went on, “Now, how about dinner up the road at my favourite Chinese and then…”she paused and daringly.

I took over – “your place or mine?”  She smiled and moved closer to me, running her fingers down my body very lightly from my shoulder over my breast – at once possessive and arresting.  “Let’s sort that out over dinner.”

“Mmm,” I said approvingly.

She asked, “Can we take your car so I can leave mine at work?”

“Happy to take mine, then you will be in my clutches.”

“Ah, but remember, I am holding Madame Pushka to ransom.”

“Indeed,” I conceded.  “And I am in your debt.”

We giggled all the way to my car and over a very good little Chinese banquet we got to know each other a little better – families, jobs, old relationships but nothing too deep.  However, we were both refreshingly free of present entanglements.

She looked at me hard and went on, “You know, you are the most interesting woman I have met for ages.”

I gazed back and said, “and you…”

A short silence followed and then she looked down and tapped her fingers on the table.  She lead off, looking up at me, “How about my place?”

I put my hand over hers and said, “Fine, but please, you don’t have any cats at home do you? I couldn’t cope!”

Forthright, she said, “Gosh no!  I see enough cats at work.  No, I don’t have any animals at home.  I get my fill of animal company at work and anyway my units don’t allow animals at all.”

We paid up and I drove, under direction, to her apartment.  Once my car was safely in her garage, we made our way slowly upstairs while she picked up her mail.

The longer it took, the more I was fighting down the urge to run my hands over  her, especially as we walked up the stairs and I looked at the curves of her lovely neat backside…By the time we got to her front door, where she fiddled in her bag for the keys, I was in quite a lather.  I’d caught up with her and ran my hand lightly down her back she shivered.  One more minute and we will be in…  I put my hand round her shoulder – that’s good, I can’t wait much longer.

“It will be worth it,” she said as the door opened, and we made our way in.  With one accord we dropped our bags and fell into each other’s arms.  What a warm, nurturing embrace, a relief, like coming home.  We didn’t kiss at that point, just held each other, she with her head on my shoulder.

“Oh, god, that feels good,” she said, “just hold me.  I didn’t know how much I needed that.”

“Nor I,” I murmured into the top of her head.  “It’s been a long time and you feel wonderful.”

This first need assuaged and in some obscure way feeling that we had time and that we had a future, we relaxed our embrace and she turned against my body, her face upraised to mine.  I kissed the tip of her nose, her forehead, her temples, everywhere but her lips.  She stood close wrapped against me, her eyes closed.  She was close to a head shorter than me, petite, as they say in the dress shops against my taller than average height.

“You are tiny,” I said, “holding her closer and kissing her on the sides of her lips.”

“Actually, I’m huge,” she said wriggling against me, “it’s just that you’re a giant.”  She then led me over to a lounge and collapsed on it, saying, “I’m exhausted, it’s been a long day.”

I followed, collapsing beside her in the angle of the lounge and pulling her towards me.  Holding her with her head on my breast and the length of her body against mine and my arms around her, I said, I could lie like this for ever.  For answer she wriggled from my arms and rolled gently on top of me, inching her way up until our lips were within kissing distance.  She then proceeded to kiss me very softly and precisely around the edges of my lips until they parted in pleasure and she flicked her tongue around the inside.  By the time she had accomplished this circumnavigation in a methodical way, I was inwardly begging for more.  At this point she latched on with full lips, full everything and I pulled her tight to me.  Having kissed me very thoroughly for a very long time, she rolled out of my grasp onto the floor and knelt on the floor beside me, stroking my face with her hands and kissing me from this new angle. I rolled over to meet her, running my fingers through her curls and holding her face to mine.

Eventually we came up for air and she said simply, “Let’s go to bed.”

Those words – I thought you’d never ask.  I smiled and kissed her again running my hand over her left breast as I did so.  I felt her body tremble.  Once in her bedroom – lovely big bed with fresh sheets… As I glanced at this she said, “Usually it’s a slum but I cleaned up – I hoped I might have a visitor.”

“Well, you have,” I said, pulling her close and kissing her again.

“That feels so good – it’s been so long – I’ve done nothing but work.”

“Me too,” I sighed. “I don’t want to let you go.”  We stood there until cold overcame us, for it was approaching autumn.

“Let me,” I said, so I gently slipped off her T-shirt and bra and loosened her belt…

“Let me,” she said as she unbuttoned my shirt, liberated my breasts and unzipped me.  Quick, we’ll freeze, into bed, she said as we slipped off all our clothes and dived under the sheets.

Oh, I want to make this slow, she murmured as she snuggled into my arms, but I can happily wait.

I was barely able to wait myself as she touched my breast with light fingers and slipped her hand gently down to my cunt.  She had the advantage of me, being lower down. She explored me very gently and stroked my clit to such an effect that I came in an instant, shuddering against her hand and holding her close with my free arm.

“Oh, I liked that,” I moaned.

She actually giggled, “Gosh, I couldn’t have guessed.”

“Listen, Miss Clever Fingers, just let me see what you’re made of.” and I slid down over her and pinned her with my body and kissed her long and deep before slipping down her , kissing her nipples on the way until she gasped with pleasure and I proceeded slowly on down until I parted those other lips and kissed her very gently, somewhere between kissing and sucking, so gently.  She tasted so rich and fragrant.  In no time her body was arching and I teased her nipples with her free fingers until she came in my mouth, positively shouting with pleasure.

“My, you are the noisy one,” I said as I came up for air, and then kissed her with my mouth wet with her juices.  We cuddled contently and then fell sound asleep.  Usually I don’t settle so well in a strange bed and with a new body beside me but with her cuddled up like a kitten…I guess it was the vet thing!

Oh, yes, and when the mother of MP returned soon after, it was clear that MP, who had been retrieved from the vet hospital, still had a slight limp that I had to explain.

“Yes,” Karine frowned, “she doesn’t settle well away from home.”

“Errr, no,” I said mildly thinking – we are in the land of understatement here.

Karine carried off the limping MP, covering her with more attention than usual, and assuring me that she had brought back some toys from a specialist pet shop.  Mon Dieu, I thought and said, “That’s nice,” and went on, “Look, I hope you made lots of money because here is the bill for the vet, pants, carpet cleaner and a few other things…”

“No trouble,” said Karine, “I get a good bonus for this trip and it was nice to know that she was in good hands.”

“Two pairs, actually,” I said, “The vet is a real find.”  With this, I grinned and wrinkled my nose at her.

Karine raised her eyebrows and said, “My God, you didn’t!  You are incorrigible, you know.  Hey, don’t I get a kickback for the introduction?”  Karine went on, forever in pursuit of a business advantage.

“Oooh,” I said, “I think that might be cancelled out by my claim for pain and suffering.”

A lawyer like me, she chortled and slapped me on the shoulder and carried off MP who glared at me through the slats in her carry case.  I did enjoy poking out my tongue at her!!!


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