Anna is desperate to find Buddy and will stop at nothing. Will she get in trouble?
|Anna’s hands were shaking so badly she could hardly put on her clothes. She visualized Buddy in one of those tiny wire cages, lying languidly, pining for his mistress, wasting away from a broken heart. Her hands didn’t work fast enough to wash her face and brush her teeth. She dropped the rinse glass and it broke into a thousand pieces. Willing herself not to break down, she grabbed the broom and dustpan and swept up the debris.
Finally, just as she was ready, the doorbell rang. Almost stumbling in her haste, she greeted Joey with a huge smile of relief. Joey, even though a teenager, was very responsible for his age. Not only was he a computer nerd, but he had to help his mom care for his invalid father. He had come to Anna’s rescue before, eager to help with daily chores she wasn’t able to handle by herself. And, in addition to that, he loved Buddy almost as much as she did.
“Do you know how to get to the Shelter, Joey?” Anna asked.
“Sure, Anna. No problem. I’ve been there lots of times with friends. Do you have a pet carrier? You’ll need one because Buddy will be scared, and we don’t want to lose him again.”
“Oh, well, let me see. Oh, I remember, it’s in the laundry room.” Anna hurried to get the little soft carrier she used to take Buddy to the vet.
“Did you eat any breakfast, Anna?” Joey asked, concerned with Anna’s haggard appearance. “I brought you a yummy blueberry muffin Mom just made. You can eat it on the way.”
Joey took Anna's arm and helped her out the door and into Barbara’s SUV. Anna threw the carrier in the back and tried to catch her breath.
“Don’t get your hopes up too much, Anna. I really don’t think they’re open today. We’ll probably have to go back tomorrow.” Joey tried to prepare Anna for a disappointment. Anna attempted to nibble on her muffin as she noticed one of the “lost” posters Joey had put up. It stuck in her throat.
She saw the sign at the entrance: Reddick County Animal Shelter. Slowly, Joey drove into the parking lot. It was empty. As soon as he turned off the ignition, Anna was out the door and hurrying up the sidewalk. She pulled the handle on the glass door but it didn’t budge. She cupped her hands beside her eyes and pressed her nose to the glass. The reception area looked deserted. Then she backed up and read the “Hours of Operation” sign. Joey and Barbara were right. They were closed.
Anna could hear dogs barking in the back so she headed toward the noise. Her adrenaline was pumping full blast. Anyone watching would never have known she was in her seventies. It was all Joey could do to catch up with her.
“We’ll come back tomorrow, Anna. There’s nothing we can do today.” Joey tried to comfort her and steer her back toward the SUV.
But there was no stopping Anna now. She saw a gate off to the side of the property amid a tangle of underbrush. The gate had a padlock on it, but…it was open! Maybe it was feeding time. Maybe the person who took care of the animals was here. These thoughts ran through Anna’s mind as she trudged forward paying no mind to her friend's pleas to turn back.
After she got through the gate, she saw a long, one-story concrete block building painted a sickly green. Stealthily, she stepped through the open doorway. Inside she saw rows and rows of wire cages stacked four high filled with every imaginable kind of kitty, some with their kittens. Anna stood still as a statue and systematically scanned the cages. She saw him. SHE SAW HIM.
“Buddy, Buddy! I’m here!” In seconds, Anna had the cage open and Buddy in her arms. She hadn’t remembered the carrier, but she knew Buddy would never run away from her. He licked her face and looked so happy with his little kitty-cat smile. Anna's heart was ready to burst with happiness. She stroked Buddy and hugged him tight.
Realizing her precarious predicament, Anna turned and headed back the way she had come as fast as her feet would carry her. Happy yet fearful she would encounter someone who would want to take Buddy away again, she heard the dogs barking louder and loiuder. Someone must be coming.
"Hey, you there. You're not allowed back here." Someone was shouting at her from the dog pound area. Anna pulled her scarf over Buddy and attempted to run toward the front..
“Anna, you found him!” Joey didn’t ask questions. He put an arm around Anna and supported her to the car quickly helping her inside. Just as the attendant rounded the corner of the building waving his arms and shouting at them, Joey hopped into the SUV and they sped toward home.
"Finally," Anna said, "I'll be able to sleep tonight with my Buddy back home. I missed you so much, Buddy." Tears streamed down Anna's face.