Lorinda sunk down in the bus stop bench. It had been a long day at work and all she wanted to do was go home. She was looking forward to a hot soup dinner and a good book, followed by a bath and bed. The late October day was cool and breezy.
The incident at the end of her call center shift made her cringe, even now. The caller was angry, swearing at and verbally abusing her. She had very much wanted to help the gentleman. She thought he had a valid point, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not get him to settle down long enough to have an intelligent conversation. She had had to call in a supervisor, who in turn called in another supervisor. She was expected to “listen in” to “learn how to handle” these types of customers.
The situation only got worse ending in threats of retaliation from the customer and litigation from her company. She learned little, and was so rattled from the hours-long fiasco that she seriously considered quitting on the spot.
The answer was so simple. Stop and listen. If people had, it could’ve easily been avoided. Was there no patience and kindness left in the world?
Now, she sat absorbing the din of white noise around her, comprised of rushing traffic, street sounds, and muffled crowd noise of a distant football game. Out of the barely perceptible conglomerate she sensed a tiny sound. An innocent sound. She couldn’t hear it well, but she could distinguish it from the noisy hum. It happened again. She leaned back, straining her ears with all the effort she could muster. There it was again. Small mew sounds.
She turned around and stepped up on the bench placing her hands on the top of the tall fence lining the sidewalk. Between that fence and the stone structure on either side of the park’s entrance was a thick growth of bushes. That shrubbery, with the beginning of fall, now lay nearly bare. Through the tangled brush she glimpsed a tiny ball of gold and white fur knotted together. The ball moved like a kaleidoscope presenting different image patterns. Every so often a tiny head would pop out displaying a kitten mouth wide open in begging despair. This is where the sound came from.
She quickly ran around the entrance gate and peered over the bricks at the end of the structure. The kittens were dirty, huddled together against the chill. She reached down into the tangled branches in an attempt to grasp the kittens. Her arms were not long enough. She ran around the end and lay on the ground reaching as far into the small space between the bush trunks and the brick wall. No use. They remained out of reach. She sat up in frustration.
They were cold and probably hungry. Where was their mama?
She looked about her. Tiny lives were at risk. To help them, she would have to find a way to reach them. Think, Lorinda, think. Nothing. She sighed heavily.
“Are you on a rescue mission?” she heard a male voice say.
She turned toward the voice, and he came into view around the corner of the structure. He had a sympathetic but authoritative demeanor. Authentic concern seemed to saturate every part of him.
“Yes,” she said, “how did you know?”
“I saw you reaching over the fence when I drove by. Then, I saw what appeared to be a deceased mother cat in the road. I put two and two together, and figured you were attempting to rescue the orphans.” He dropped the box he was carrying to the ground. “I’d like to help.”
“I know where they are but I can’t reach them,” she said, trying to keep the panic from her voice. Her heart broke anew when she heard him refer to them as orphans.
“Let’s have a look.” He knelt beside her and peered through the opening behind the bushes.
“They’re a little too far for me to reach,” she said.
He sat back on his heels. “I have an idea, but I need your help. Okay?”
“Yes,” she said quickly, “Whatever you need from me.”
“Good,” he said, pulling out a snipping tool from his belt, “I’m going to make my way through these bushes to the kittens. Then, I will pass them up to you one-by-one. The box should keep them safe. Got it?”
She picked up the box from the ground. “Yes,” she said. She made her way to the middle of the stone structure and hoisted herself up to where she was slightly leaning over the edge, her feet dangling a few inches from the ground.
She watched as he snipped away at the branches that hindered his movement, all the while inching his way further and further into the line of bushes toward the screaming kittens. When he got close enough to reach over his head, he picked up the first kitten and slowly moved it through the tangle of prickly bushes, into her outstretched arms.
She grasped the kitten firmly but gently and pulled it up to her. After all the kittens had been rescued, she counted them in the box. Five. Still making hungry noises. She took the box around the corner of the stone structure just as the man was pulling himself out from behind the bushes. He stood up and tried to brush the twigs, dirt and debris from all over himself.
“Hello,” he pushed an arm in handshake mode out for her, “I’m Tom.”
She shook his hand, “Lorinda,” she said. “Look at these precious little babies.”
He looked down at them with the tender gaze of a new father, “That they are.” He looked back at her, “But we need to get them to a vet and have them checked out. I know a good one. Do you mind helping me with them to my car?”
“No problem,” she said, “I’ve already missed my bus.”
“In that case,” he beamed, “You can come with me to the vet’s office, and I will get you home.”
Normally, she would not accept a ride from someone she barely knew, but this man was different. In the short time she knew him, she determined that he was a good man. Kind, compassionate, caring. And handsome, now that she thought about it. Also, she couldn’t abandon the kittens now.
“Sounds like a plan,” she said, stroking the kittens with tender motherly comfort.
Copyright 2023, Monica Nelson