Casey was sitting there looking out the window when she saw this straggly ass looking cat cross her walkway. She wanted to try to capture it. She had lost a cat once and still felt bad about it fifteen years later. She figured the least she could do was to provide food and water and maybe it would assuage her conscience. She opened the door and started calling kitty, kitty. She looked everywhere but couldn’t find it, so she went back in a brought out a saucer of milk and left it on the walkway. Sure enough, the next time she checked the milk was gone. Knowing cats she knew it would be back. She opened a can of tuna and put some outside and then made a mental note to get some dry cat food when she went to the market.
Every day for the next week she put out a dish of cat food and water. One day, she spied the cat again and this time there were three little kittens with her. This cat was definitely a stray and she was determined to catch her and her kittens and find them a good home. The next day as she was putting down the food, a tall good looking guy was coming up the walkway and saw her.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked grumpily.
“What does it look like, not that it is any of your business” she replied.
“It is my business because pretty soon every stray animal in the neighborhood will be at the door”.
“They will be at my door, not yours, so don’t worry about it”
“Your door is next to mine and we share a walkway. I don’t want to be dodging animals and pet food dishes each time I come home”.
“I am sorry you have no regard for poor homeless animals, but I intend to continue what I’ve been doing. The mama cat has three little kittens and if I am able to catch her I can have her spayed so there won’t be more homeless cats roaming around”
“A do gooder, just what the neighborhood needs” he mumbled as he walked through the door.
Casey hadn’t lived in this complex long. She had purchased the condominium when she moved to the city. She liked it because it was in a community of both homes and condos. There were lots of parks, walking and biking trails as well as it being a quick trip to shops and restaurants. Being a young widow she didn’t want to live in the suburbs anymore. It was too much of a reminder of what she had and what she was missing. Casey and Chase had been married for twelve years when he was killed in a work related accident. They had put off having children until their student loans were paid off and Casey could be a stay at home mom. About six months after the accident, Casey couldn’t bear the thought of continuing to live in their old house, seeing happy couples with lots of children. She didn’t think it was good for her psyche.
Casey hoped she had not made a mistake in moving to this neighborhood. Her realtor had told her this was a friendly neighborhood but her neighbor’s reaction this morning was anything but friendly. She realized she may have been a little snippy too in her response to him this morning - she would give him the benefit of the doubt for the interim.
The next morning she put out the food and water in a trap cage she had borrowed from the local shelter. She watched and sure enough the kittens went right in. The mama held back a while and then entered the cage. Just as she was picking up the trap with the kittens inside, her neighbor opened his door and spied the trap and asked if she needed a hand.
“Thanks, I could use a hand with this, it’s a little awkward”, she said.
“Where are you taking it?” he inquired.
“Into the house”, she responded as she opened the door.
He carried the trap inside and followed her to the laundry room. She had set up the room with a litter box, food and water bowls, and a large pet bed in anticipation of this day.
“Wow”, he said, “you are all prepared”.
“As I told you when we spoke the other day, when the time is right, I plan on getting the mother fixed and finding a good home for the rest of the kittens ” she answered.
“I haven’t spoken to you before now. I bet you spoke with my twin brother who occasionally stays with me. Let me introduce myself
I’m Brad Thomas. And what’s your name?”
“Casey Kendricks, extending her hand to his outstretched palm”
“Welcome to the neighborhood Casey and I would like to apologize for my brother, he can be a little brusque. Can I take you to lunch to prove I really am a good neighbor?”
“I would like that Brad”
The following day they met for lunch at one of the local bistros. After the usual small talk they began to tell each other about themselves. He was an associate at Anderson & Cooper, a large downtown corporation. He had been born and raised in the Midwest and attended college here in the city and stayed on after graduation. He had never been married but had been engaged although it didn’t work out. She told him about Chase and why she had moved to the city. When they had taken a break in the conversation they realized they were the only two left in the restaurant. He glanced at his watch and told Casey he had to be back at the office for an appointment.
“I enjoyed our lunch and would like to see you again” he said
“I think that can be arranged”, Casey said.
“Fine, how about Saturday?”
“I’ve invited a few friends over for cocktails on Saturday and then maybe go to a club afterward. Would you like to join us? she responded.
“Saturday, it is. See you then Casey” and he walked off.
She was surprised she had found it so easy to talk to him and tell him about Chase. She hadn’t been out much since the accident and then it was only in groups. She liked Brad and was glad he had invited her to lunch. She found herself hoping he would fit in with her friends.
On Saturday morning, Brad called and asked if it would be an imposition if his brother came along. He said Ben would be in town for a couple of days and thought it would be a chance for her to meet him and erase her negative image. She told him it would be fine, the more the merrier.
Brad and Ben were the last to arrive. When they stepped out on the deck, conversation stopped. One was gorgeous, two was overkill. They were about 6’ tall with blond hair, blue eyes with that great outdoorsy look about them. Casey went over to them and extended her hand to Ben.
“Peace”, she said. He took her hand, brought it to his mouth and gave it a feather-like kiss.
“I apologize for being so rude that day, my brother has let me know that I will be unwelcome if I don’t atone for my bad behavior, so I am sorry” Ben said.
“You’re forgiven”, and introduced him and his brother to her friends.
Casey needn’t have worried, both Brad and Ben got along very well with her friends. After cocktails, they walked to a local tapas bar, ate until they were stuffed and then took off for the club to dance off some of the calories.
They had a great evening and when it was time to call it a night both Ben and Brad walked Casey home. Ben, as brothers are want to do, started teasing Brad about his lovelife. Brad in turn told Ben if he wasn’t so surly he might have a better chance at getting a girlfriend. Ben said if Brad hadn’t abused Cara he might be married now.
“I never abused Cara, ever and you know it” Brad told Ben quite seriously.
Casey now felt very uncomfortable and couldn’t wait to get home. The bantering had ceased and a deadly quiet settled over the three of them. Casey practically ran into her front door she was so anxious to get away.
When Brad called Casey the next morning to thank her for a lovely evening she was very cool. He asked her to brunch on Sunday and she declined. As a matter of fact she told him she really didn’t think she was ready to date and hung up.
Brad could only attribute Casey’s dismissal to Ben’s comment last night. Damn him, he thought to himself.
A couple of days went by and Brad had to explain to Casey. It might not make a difference but he had to try. He knew she usually arrived home about the same time each night, so he sat outside her door and waited for her to arrive. She was surprised when she saw him sitting there and asked him what he wanted.
“Why did you decide you were not ready to date, was it because you’re not or because of what Ben said the other night? Be honest.
Honestly, it’s a little of both”. She hesitated, “No, that’s not true. It is because of Ben’s comment”.
“I thought so and I would like to explain”.
“You don’t have to explain to me”
“Yes, I do, because it is not what you think. When we’re finished, if you still don’t believe me, you can ask Ben or anyone else in my family and they will corroborate my story. Cara can even tell you her version of the story, it will differ from mine but you will plainly see it wasn’t abuse.”
He went on to tell her he met Cara when they were both sophomores in college. They dated the rest of their college years and got engaged after graduation. To save money, they decided to move in together. That’s when the problems started. Cara was raised in a family that had help. She was not used to doing cleaning, or cooking or laundry. Brad didn’t expect her to do it herself - just expected her to share in the responsibilities. Cara never held up her end. They often argued about the situation. One day Brad returned from a business trip to an apartment that looked as if a bomb had gone off. When Cara came home, he put her over his lap and spanked her soundly. After the spanking he told her that was what she could expect if she didn’t hold up her end of the household chores. She called him a bully and told him she wouldn’t put up with an abusive husband. She took off the ring, threw it at him and walked out the door. The next day her sister came, packed up Cara’s things and that was that.
Casey listened intently and watched Brad’s face. He looked her straight in the eye while he relayed the story and when he was finished she knew he was telling the truth.
“So, all you did was spank her. That’s it”
“That’s it” he said.
“Come on”, she said, “follow me into the kitchen and keep me company while I whip us up some pasta for dinner and then you can do your part by cleaning up the kitchen”
“Suppose I don’t want to help you clean up the kitchen? he said grinning
“Then maybe I’ll just have to spank you.” and gave him her most charming smile along with a swat on his gorgeous fanny.
“Be careful”, he told her, “just remember, turn about is fair play”.