People walk in and out of your life for a reason, but you never know what that reason is until your story is over.

My plate was full; some would even say it was overflowing.

I’m a fulltime college student with a fulltime job as a receptionist at the Animal Shelter in my county. Receptionist is really an umbrella term for: abandoned animal rescue, housekeeper, paperwork artist, kennel cleaner, volunteer recruiter and occasionally pizza procurer. We were so backed up and low on volunteers that I was getting calls a few nights a week about things like rogue raccoons and huge wayward tortoises. Luckily I had my rabies shots and a good sense of adventure.

I was a good sport about my never-ceasing workload because I had no other choice. Staying busy kept my mind from wandering to worse times for me, and kept me out of the tiny apartment I lived in alone. Idle hands just weren’t my thing.

The crack in my steady life formed the morning after a huge storm. Along with the few volunteers Wayley Animal Shelter had, I was up all night recovering the cats from the house of what the people in Wayley referred to as the Elk Road Cat Lady. Her real name was Mrs. Warner, and she had somehow managed to stuff over 70 cats in her tiny home.

The storm had been a borderline tornado and old Mrs. Warner suffered a massive stroke in the middle of it. She had managed to push her emergency assistance button to dispatch the paramedics to her house, and they in turned called to notify us of the deplorable conditions of her home. Oh, and the abundance of agitated felines on the premises.

It was like a nightmare come true. Cat fur, urine and feces literally covered the walls and the smell was enough to bring a grown man to his knees. It took all night, all our volunteers and our hired hands to clear the house and cage the mini beasts.

I hadn’t slept or eaten or even showered. I sent everyone but the kennel guard, Kevin, home and got to work finishing the paperwork on the incident. My mind was drifting towards a hot shower and a full days sleep when Kevin poked his head into my small office.

“Hey, Nani, can I talk to you for a second?”

“Yeah sure, make it speedy though I’d like for us to get out of here before 9,” I said gesturing him into my office.

“I know you’ve been working extra hard trying to recruit volunteers so I thought I’d help you out.”

“How sweet, Kev.” I signed one stack of paperwork and began another. “Guy or girl? I sure hope their availability isn’t absolute shit like the ones I’ve been finding. I don’t think people understand that Wayley is the capital of wayward animals.”

“He’s a buddy of mine. Before you ask any questions I’ve gotta tell you he’s in a spot of trouble. He got court mandated community service, but I’ve known him since we were kids he’s a real stand up guy.”

I signed the last of the papers and stuck them in the outgoing folder. “We’ve had court cases in here before, Kevin; I don’t even care at this point. If we have another shorthanded night like last I’ll go crazy. Is he here?”

Kevin beamed at me and opened the office door. “You’re great, Nani, thank you. Get in here, dude.”

I was zipping up my messenger bag and glanced at the doorway to see the last person I wanted to see walk in. “No way,” I said, pointing in the direction he had just come from. “No way in hell. Get out of my office.”

The End

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