As Karen walked into the veterinary practice's waiting room, her cat Freddie peered out of his travel crate, bobbing his head
in an unrelenting search for an exit. Karen had noticed that he was losing weight and didn't seem like himself. He was still
eating everything in his food bowl, however. She was anxious for the veterinarian to see him.
The new veterinary laser surgery and medical center had made room for Freddie and told Karen to drop him off at 10 a.m. Karen
was grateful but a little unsure as a girl—who appeared no older than 10—swept up Freddie's crate without a word and marched
it to the back of the hospital.
"He is eating a lot," Karen started to call out, "just losing weight." Her voice trailed off as cat and young lady disappeared.
Karen approached the reception area and asked tentatively, "Can you please check on his vaccinations and check him for worms
while he's here?"
The woman looked doubtfully at the door. "Well, they've already taken him to the back, but I can tell the doctor when he comes
in at noon."
"Do you need me to sign something?" Karen asked.
The woman shuffled some papers and offered a crooked smile. "Naw, I don't think so, sweetie. You can come in later this
afternoon. They should have him done when you arrive."
Karen hesitated, but the receptionist never looked up again. Karen gathered up her pursue and left.
* * *
When Karen returned later that day, she heard barking and commotion in the back but saw no staff membes present. A dog seemed
to scream and howl. She winced, and then sat down to wait.
A few minutes later, the receptionist appeared at the front desk. She appeared disheveled and flustered. Karen coughed to
get her attention, to no avail.
After what seemed an eternity, the receptionist rose and walked Karen to an exam room without a word. Karen noticed a hint
of blood on the receptionist's fingers.
"The doctor has your medications," she stated and turned on her heels.
Karen waited. And waited. As she was about to give up, a technician popped into view. "Hello, Mrs. DeFord."
"Where is Freddie?" Karen asked somewhat impatiently.
"We'll bring him out to you after you check out," the tech answered dryly. Her eyes remained fixed on the exam room computer
screen. "We took several X-rays and did some blood tests, and all was normal according to the doctor."