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unnamed story (Part 14)

Driving through the front of stores and then walking around and taking whatever you want isn’t as much fun as you’d think it is. Sure, for the first few there’s a certain creepy novelty to it but after you’ve discovered that there really isn’t that many things you need if you’re never going to attend any type of social gathering ever again it gets old.

Denise and Abby discovered this as they walked around the VF Outlet Center in Reading, PA. A little bit out of their way but time was not a very pressing issue. While Denise was primarily concerned with finding something nice to see Clay in, Abby was still wrestling with the idea that he was some sort of judge and jury awaiting their arrival. Given her somewhat erratic morality she found herself less and less enthusiastic about getting there.

Especially given she was walking back to her car with an armload of stolen merchandise. She was getting herself so freaked out that she almost thought of returning everything.

Almost.

When she had awaken that morning Abby thought for a moment that the day before hadn’t happened but she didn’t even have to open her eyes to know she wasn’t in her own bed. The hotel, although nice, still smelled like a hotel. The sheets felt like hotel sheets and the pillow was much more comfortable than the one she had at home. She couldn’t remember if she’d dreamt.

She had knocked on the door of the adjacent room and summoned Denise to a delightful breakfast before setting off towards Philly. They seemed to make good travelling companions and although their meeting was under difficult circumstances she was happy to have run into her.

She still worried about the elephant that she’d left behind in Columbus.

When they finally got back on the road she turned to Denise and asked her for a favor.

“Can we stop at the Philadelphia zoo?”

She expected a brisk rejection but to her surprise Denise just laughed shook her head to indicate she wasn’t entirely against the idea.

“I believe it’s rude to show up to someone’s house with a few monkeys.”

Denise laughed again and started to change into something more conducive to springing animals from cages. Her new outfit to make Clay unconsciously suck in his breath ever so slightly when he laid eyes on her would have to wait.

“I’ll call Clay and let him know we’ll be a bit later than expected. I won’t mention the monkeys.”

 

By the time Samantha and Jennifer arrived everyone was pretty exhausted after such a surreal day so it was agreed that everyone would find a place to sleep that night in the house and then reconvene in the morning.

Clay had assumed that he was in for a lot of drama once he shut the bedroom door behind him and found himself alone with Patti but she seemed too tired to yell at him. Besides, there was no way she could really believe that he had anything to do with it right? She didn’t even fight him when he threw one arm over her as they drifted off.

Bruce, the dog that the downtown Philly contingent had brought with them, woke Clay up early. Patti was either still asleep or doing an outstanding representation of sleep. He pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms and led Bruce to the back door. On the way he passed the other sleeping denizens of the house, each looking more adorable than the next curled up on couches and chairs.

As he followed Bruce around, the dog being very particular about where his inaugural crap would take place, he heard other dogs barking in the otherwise silent neighborhood.

When everyone was awake and gathered around the dining room table, after Patti had stepped up to the plate(s) and cooked a nice big breakfast, Clay suggested that everyone take a stroll around the area and see if they couldn’t let out whatever pets they found. It would be a nice to try and save a few and at the same time they could look for other accommodations should they decide as a group to stay together.

Once the assembled females got talking it quickly got loud. Gone was the shock of the previous day, replaced by the reality of their common circumstances. There was a certain amount of displaced anger looking to find a spot to land, most noticeably the observation by Donna that unlike the rest of them Clay and Patti were waking up in their own home.

As amiable as Clay tried to be it was clear that the others were aware of what they all shared and didn’t appreciate the male/female ratio if this was in fact going to be the end of the world as they knew it. He was actually relieved when Patti asked him to make a run to the market for more food. They had about another day before anything fresh would start to turn.

The others paired off, Tina with Donna and Samantha with Jennifer, and headed out to explore their new surroundings.

By the time dinner rolled around everyone had calmed down and nobody was blaming Clay anymore. Outwardly anyway. Fresh off of saving dozens of once-beloved pets and finding houses that they could live in without having to go through the mortgage process the mood had brightened considerably.

There was almost a giddy feeling of some new adventure beginning as they all pitched in to set the table and make the assorted salads and wheat rolls that would act as the gastronomic supports before Patti’s barbecued ribs took center stage.

Clay looked around the table and for the first time realized how amazing the scene before him actually was. He smiled a guilty smile.

There was a knock at the door. Everyone froze. Eyes darted back and forth nervously until finally Clay stood up and announced that he would get it.

The others exhaled when they realized that any knock just meant more people had made it and it was completely acceptable to continue to talk amongst themselves. Even Patti was joining in.

Clay opened the door to find a very distressed Denise. He was expecting a little hysteria, in fact it was becoming commonplace, but not this hysterical.

“A tiger ate Abby!”

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