It wasn't just the murder, he decided. Everything else seemed to have conspired to ruin his day as well. Even the cat. Well, especially the cat. If it hadn’t been for her, he would have been far out to sea on the Sara Belle, not tapping his toes in the waiting room at the veterinary clinic when the man in the custom suit strode in.
“Urinary Tract Infection. You’ll have to take her.” Rena had pronounced before bolting out the door late for her 8:00 a.m. meeting. Stan hadn’t even had a chance to reply “You’re kidding me, right?” before Rena’s car engine rumbled to life. Cleo, sensing her mistress’s paramour was up to no good, leapt to the top of the dining room valance and stared down at him as if to say, “Just try it, buddy.”
One long scratch across his cheek later, Stan sat on the wooden wall bench staring at advertisements for vegetarian kibble, satisfied he’d controlled his impulse to ring the damn cat’s neck, when the guy had entered the clinic and surveyed the room. His shoulders threatened to pop the seams of his suit. Stiff comb marks traveled toward the back of his head. He’d glanced Stan’s way before walking through the swinging door to the exam rooms. This guy hadn’t trailed behind some hulking Great Dane or German shepherd and unlike Stan, he hadn’t juggled a bulky carrier filled with hissing, yowling feline. He'd appeared in the middle of a snarling, moaning, meowing veterinary clinic attached to nothing at all. That was Stanley’s first clue.
The pop, pop, pop setting off a chain reaction of barking and wailing behind the door wasn’t so much a second clue, as it was a pronouncement. Christ, Stan thought, standing up beside Cleo’s carrier. All he wanted was a day off.
“Hang on Cleo,” he called over his shoulder as he yanked his badge out, reached for his gun and strode toward the door marked “Private.”
Whatever was behind that door, he was done with Rena and her foul cat after this. That was the one thing he knew for sure.