This bonus scene was written using a prompt included in a book of prompts titled “Write the Story.”
Originally shared in my March, 2023 newsletter, this bonus scene features Raymond and Kevin from my short story, Of Rats and Cats, and picks up in the future post-story and post-previous bonus scenes. Even so, it’s not really necessary to have read any of that to enjoy this bit of flash fiction, though it’s probably best appreciated if you have:
Write the Story: A Wild Animal Loose in the House
Include the following in your story: pregnant ~ community ~ logo ~ statistics ~ democracy ~ honesty ~ criminal ~ ankle ~ orange ~ comment
MY MINI STORY…
“Really, Pandy? Really?” Raymond gave his eyes an exaggerated roll to punctuate his comment, not that the cat it’d been directed toward would understand the gesture—or care, even if she did.
The cat in question was winding her way around the ankles of Kevin’s parents, Bill and Carol, who’d just arrived to spend the day with Kevin—and by extension, since they were now living together, with Raymond—even though it was mid-week.
The celebratory parade in Kansas City after the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win a few years back had marked the first time Raymond had met Bill and Carol, back when Raymond still lived in a smaller apartment down the hall. So he felt a mild sense of Déjà Vu at their arrival today as the Kansas City community got together to once again paint the town red, so to speak, in honor of the Chiefs’ latest victory.
Raymond wasn’t big on statistics, but living with Kevin—who watched all the games while giving his own commentary—he’d picked up a few tidbits. After being in, but losing, the very first Super Bowl, the Chiefs had won the fourth way back in 1970. It wasn’t until 2020 that they’d even made it into the big game again, so that win had been a Very Big Deal in the city. This year’s win added another layer of joy for the fans who’d stuck with the team through their long dry spell.
“Sorry.” Raymond snatched the errant cat and backed away because Carol was allergic. He hadn’t wanted to lock Pandy in the bedroom like a jailed criminal since Kevin’s parents were only stopping by for a quick moment to meet up before they all went to the parade together. Besides, the dander would be all through the apartment anyway.
“No worries,” she assured him with a smile and a mild sniffle. “You boys ready to head out?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Raymond nodded.
“With bells on,” Kevin added. Literally. They’d worked jingle bells throughout all four sets of the gold cheerleader pom-pons they’d be bringing to the parade. The only thing holding Kevin back from a torso full of body paint to flash was the bitter cold February air. The Chiefs’ logos on both his shirt and shiny new coat would have to do.
Raymond added some dry cat treat to Pandy’s bowl then put her down next to it and scratched behind her ears. “You be a good girl while we’re gone.”
As if. She would probably spend the time sitting in front of the mini mansion Kevin had built for his pet mice, looking for a way to crack it. But Kevin had reinforced and cat-proofed the latches on it before Raymond and Pandy had moved in, so it would be a fruitless effort.
Kevin stepped toward the TV saying, “I’ll turn this off” as Bill opened the apartment door to usher everyone out.
And that’s when all hell broke loose, oddly reminiscent of the chaos of Raymond and Kevin’s first meeting, although this time Pandy yowled and climbed Raymond rather than running toward the rat. Because, holy mother of fire swamp critters, that rat was easily as big as The Princess Bride’s Rodents of Unusual Size.
With a screech of his own, Raymond hopped onto the sofa as Pandy dug her claws into his shoulders. Even Kevin jumped. Carol joined Raymond on the sofa, with a soft, “Oh, dear.”
A commercial came on the TV, and as if the present scene wasn’t stress-inducing enough, the orange turd flashed on the screen to drone on about democracy and honesty as if he had the slightest inkling what either word meant.
“Holy moly,” Kevin muttered, and snapped off the TV.
“Really?” Raymond winced and bounced as Pandy hissed and repositioned her claws. He wasn’t entirely sure whether the non-expletive had been directed at the orange turd or the rat, but either way… “Babe, this is a ‘holy shit‘ moment even with parents present. Look at the size of that rat!”
Kevin snickered and flashed a grin. “I’m beginning to think you wouldn’t recognize an actual rat if it bit you on the bum.”
Bum. Still in parent mode. Raymond snorted, and Carol patted his arm consolingly and said, “I think it’s a possum dear.”
Bill grunted. “A pregnant one from the looks of it.”
Kevin squatted as it waddled toward him. “Aw, she’s kinda cute.”
“We’re not keeping it.” Raymond figured he’d clarify that before Kevin got any bright ideas.
“Of course not. It’s a wild animal.”
Although, to be fair, it didn’t seem so ferocious after all as Kevin gently shooed it back toward the door.
With the rat…possum…whatever calmly making its way back toward the door Bill was holding open, Raymond stepped down and helped Carol alight from their perch.
He heaved a sigh. “I need a drink.” Sadly it wasn’t even noon, so he filled a glass of water at the tap. “Want some?” He asked Carol.
“No, thank you, dear.”
Raymond took a gulp of his water, and with impeccable timing, which later, Raymond would suspect had been deliberate, Bill closed the door on the possum, leaned against it, bounced his gaze back and forth between Kevin and Raymond and said, “Y’all sound like an old married couple. When’re ya gonna make it official?”
Water spurted everywhere, and Raymond was vaguely aware of Kevin coughing and possibly, Carol snickering, as he wheezed.
When Raymond could breathe again, Kevin’s eyes were wide, but he flashed a grin at Raymond and winked. Winked!
“Come on.” Bill came to the rescue, diffusing the moment. Which was only fair since he’d created it. He reopened the door. “Let’s get going. For real this time!”
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