From TC 9:1 – “Dead Cat” by Melanie Summers

She sets the cardboard box on the countertop right in front of you, her fingers still fondling the Chiquita Banana logo on the box. She looks exactly how you imagined a female trucker would look: five-foot-two, stout belly, greasy hair peeking out from under a black ski cap, and Roman numerals tattooed onto her knuckles. A metal chain swung from her wallet as she walked through the glass doors of Park Hill’s Animal Hospital, hugging the cardboard box. It is her red nose, rubbed raw from the used Kleenexes stuffed in the pockets of her faded black jeans, that throws you off.

The counter separates the two of you like the Plexiglas wall in bad prison movie: prisoner, visitor; receptionist, client. You hand her a clipboard with the appropriate paperwork trapped under a plastic clip. The word Rimadyl is tagged across the clipboard along with most everything else in the office, pencil cup holders, staplers—all the latest freebies from Addison Pharmaceutical Company. The trucker takes the paperwork gently, as if the mere strength of her hand would shatter the hard plastic, but, then again, she may have just been tired. Her slow scribbling lulls you to sleep until the scent of stale piss and feces seeps through the cardboard box.

“His name is Andy.”

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