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Where Has Love Gone?

by L. Roger Quilter

“We have guests coming. Get out of that chair this instant. Out, now!” I reluctantly stood up, stretched my aching back and then ducked out of the way of a damp tea towel tossed at me by my live-in companion, Martha Peabody. I enjoy the comfort of that old rocking chair and I had sat down for less than five minutes.

We had met about a month ago and had fallen in love at first sight. She was buying food for a scruffy cat that she was looking after while a neighbor was on vacation. I happened to be in the pet store the day Martha walked in and I liked what I saw in this trim, little old lady with the sad smile.

She was dressed quietly in a dark dress that featured a hem halfway down from her knees, flat-heeled shoes and a short suede coat. The brightest things about her were the crinkly smile and the sparkling gray eyes. I decided then and there that she would become my mistress. I had no doubts that I could quickly beguile her.

Martha was recently widowed and felt extremely lonely. Her mind was on her late husband as she shopped. They had been married fifty two years before the fatal heart attack had claimed his life. It had been so sudden: so final!

I watched as she mumbled to herself, her eyes misting over with grief. Although I could not hear what she was saying, I could tell she was very sad and my heart went out to her. I noted that she appeared smaller as her silent tears flowed, her face showing its deep lines, so different from the trim, upright figure that had walked in.

Martha slowly straightened her back and shook off her mood with grim determination. Her eyes turned and fell upon me as I stood there gaping back. She appeared to welcome my bold gaze, and smiled shyly as she came towards me. I think she made up her mind that instant, that I was the male companion to replace her loss. Within minutes of making her acquaintance we left the store together and we have been attached ever since.

I don’t mind saying that it took a while to adjust to our liaison. I am basically quiet and retiring. I am what is known as the strong, silent type. I love this woman, and I know she adores me, but she made it clear that first evening when we entered her bedroom that we would share the bed, but I was not to get in it. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I could choose to sleep in my own bed or just sleep outside the covers on hers. As Martha was old, I went along with her wishes. We would lay there and cuddle and caress before we both fell asleep. We both needed each other’s company.

As the days passed our companionship became closer. We went for long walks every day and Martha would comment on many topics. Her late husband was constantly on her mind, but it didn’t bother me. Martha was disappointed that I remained silent during these outings. We would just walk together side by side, until she started to weep. To comfort her I would gaze into her eyes and watch her mood lighten.

The only thing that I didn’t like in my new life was the neighbor’s obnoxious cat. I detest cats, and I know the flea-bitten feline is aware of my feelings, because her fur stands on end whenever she sees me. I suppose the malevolent glare I bestow on that creature each time I see it, makes it obvious how I feel.

The one saving grace was we kept apart as much as possible. Thank goodness cats are nocturnal and sleep most of the day. Apart from the cat everything was copasetic in the Peabody household.

I wish I could have helped Martha around the house, but I am physically unable to do so, being handicapped enough that I am unable to use a knife and fork or clip my own nails, but I enjoyed watching her working in the kitchen as she prepared our food.

She chopped wood for the fire she lit every evening, and we would curl up on the floor or on the settee in front of it. We stayed at home like that with each other as Martha didn’t want any of her old friends to visit.

It took a while before she felt like having company. I felt more comfortable when the cat left, after its owner returned from vacation.

The change in attitude came today. Martha felt more sociable and called some friends to come over for tea. Three elderly ladies, one with her husband, a man of vast girth, drove up to the house and greeted Martha with enthusiasm.

“Hi, Martha, how’s everything?” Not only did this man have a large stomach, his voice fairly boomed in the small entrance to Martha’s house.

“Not too bad, thank you Jim, its nice to see you all again. Come in. Come in!” Martha smiled and her face reddened. She was overwhelmed after being alone for so long. I believe she was having second thoughts about company.

Jim waddled inside and saw me. He frowned. He wasn’t expecting a male in Martha’s house so soon after her husband’s demise. I tried to greet him as best I could, but his hostile attitude was not conducive to good manners on my part, and I’m afraid I overdid it.

The small cottage had held only the two of us, plus the feline fur ball, since my arrival and I became excited when these people walked in. I greeted them all enthusiastically, but they didn’t seem to care for my animated welcome. In fact the women appeared to be even more upset than Jim.

I put it down to my relatively youthful demeanor. Compared to them I was more like a teenager. Martha became quite irate with my behavior and said she would like to be alone with her friends. I was banished to the kitchen where I sulked at the treatment I had received.

It didn’t help that the cat walked by the open back door and hissed at me. As I felt neglected I rushed to rid myself of the cat’s unwelcome presence, angry at the its temerity to come near our house again. I’m afraid I took out my frustrations by accidentally knocking several ornaments off the table onto the floor where they shattered and made a horrible noise.

The kitchen door flew open and Martha screamed at me, “Why did you do that? What a terrible thing to do. I should throw you out.” She was extremely angry.

I could tell our relationship was in jeopardy, so I turned on the charm that had intrigued her from the start and she came around. With my soulful look of misery and my liquid brown eyes I was irresistible. The thaw was on high and she calmed down considerably as she swept up the mess.

“I suppose you had better come back in the living room,” she relented, “but behave yourself this time. After being so quiet all these weeks, you surprised me with your enthusiasm.”

I realized that I had caused a furor and I walked slowly back into the room, where four pairs of hostile eyes balefully stared at me. I sat down and watched as they settled back in their chairs. I was not even included in the conversation and I sat there quietly with my eyes downcast. I learned to dislike Martha’s friends. Uppity, miserable people who I could tell were unhappy that I had been allowed back in their presence.

As I started to doze, I suffered the final indignity. The obese man got up from his chair, turned, then bumped into me, causing me to fall flat on my back. He bent over my prostrate body to help me up, but I was hurt and took his approach as aggressive behavior, so I quickly leaped to my feet and sank my fangs in his hand then, with loud yelps, I fled out the back door seeking the sanctuary of my kennel.

Copyright © 2005 by L. Roger Quilter

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