“Oh, she’d really love us then.”
Ellison knew he didn’t present a very reassuring image as he approached the female golfers where the white cat had hidden himself. They stared at him in blank surprise—Ellison Stewart, who never had a hair out of place and whose idea of casual daywear for work was a three-piece suit, had dropped to his knees twice on his aproach, trying to entice the cat, and was now crawling. Mrs. Bishop wouldn’t be the only woman telling tales out of hand about this morning, he realized.
He shook his head, discouraged, then got up from his knees and brushed off the stray grasses. His pants were ruined with stains, his hair was in his eyes, he was out of breath and he couldn’t think of anything to charm them with.
“I’m trying to get that white cat,” he explained flatly.
“You mean the cowboy’s baby?” one of the women inquired, turning her head to look to the right. Ellison saw a quick flash of white before it was gone; it had to be the feline pest. He did some more brushing of his pants.
“You know that cat?” he asked, careful to hide his intensity, deciding against his better judgment that good-looking charm would not be amiss here; she seemed to know something that might help. Ellison smiled into her face and looked right into her eyes, giving it his all.
Of course she blinked and stood dumbstruck. Ellison cursed himself for overkill and tried to dampen his charisma.
“You know the cat?” he repeated, this time in the voice of a kindly uncle talking to a skittish child.
All four of the women in the group looked askance at each other before belatedly guffawing in his face. Nonplussed, he took a step back, for the first time in ages looking genuinely innocent through those gray eyes.
“What?” he asked, stammering. “What . . .”
“Oh, you’re a good-looking man all right,” the original woman said, smiling slyly, repressing a grin as her friends continued to smirk. “But the hormones aren’t working anymore,” she explained. “You can treat me like a person.” She quirked her mouth before continuing.
“Yes,” she said. “We know the cat. He’s got a route,” she continued, “and my flower gardens are one of his last stops. Cassandra won’t listen to reason about any of her babies although I’ve warned her again and again about the danger.”
“You know Mrs. Lennon?” he asked, coughing in excitement.
“Only over the phone.”
“And over the wall,” one of the younger women said, interrupting.
“Just last week she told me to stuff my golf balls up my, well, you know. And I’d only gone up to the garden. I’d never dream of going over the wall.”
Ellison noticed the blush creeping up her face about the same time she did.
“No one ever really sees her,” she continued. “She doesn’t leave the ranch.”
“Why not?” he asked, fascinated in spite of himself.
“I asked her once,” the woman who’d told the golf balls story admitted. “I blurted that she’d mourned enough, surely it was time to start living again.” She paused. “You know she was hospitalized over it,” she added.
“And?” someone asked.
“She said she was living. Didn’t need anything. Didn’t want anything. And that I’d better not climb over the damned wall to retrieve any more golf balls or she’d sic her baby on me.”
To Be Continued… Copyright 2010. Photos by Roxanne Rix