Bryce was a confirmed bachelor and he enjoyed living alone, but his family kept trying to hook him up with women in the church. “Honestly Bryce, she has the sweetest personality and a strong relationship with God,” his mother said.

“Uh huh,” Bryce mumbled.

“Why don’t you meet her for coffee?”

He had a thousand reasons not to, but he couldn’t think of one that could cause his mother to stop asking.

“Okay.”

“Wonderful. I’ll let her know. You can meet her after church next Sunday.”

Bryce wondered when people would stop treating singleness like a sickness that needed to be cured with their own remedies. They found women for him everywhere. One liked knitting. The other believed she could raise the dead. This may have been true, as she hadn’t showered in three days. She was vegan and totally opposed to modern living.  The last one talked about Satan incessantly. She got louder and louder until her sermon reached full crescendo. People began to stare at her in the coffee shop and then she whispered, “They’re actively cursing me.” In these situations, there was no escape. Bryce’s mother would find out if he left any of them abruptly and she would guilt him for months, telling him he deserved to be single.

His brother-in-law seemed to be the only one who understood. “Honestly, marriage is not that great. When you’re single, you can be selfish; but when you get married, you have to share everything. Have you tried online dating?”

“Yeah; but the women on there just want attention or a one-night-stand.”

“It’s difficult out there, I know. But it only takes one.”

“Thanks Jon.”

“Don’t mention it. Say, in the interim, have you thought about getting a pet. Your sister and I found this cool website that matches animals with your personality and ships them to you. There wasn’t a single animal in the United States that matched my personality.” Jon said this with pride. “The only place that has what I’m looking for is Madagascar and the Congo. I’m getting a monkey named Ralph next week. I hope he’s Ebola free. Don’t tell your mother.”

I thought about how my mother would take the news. She wanted grandchildren and her son-in-law insisted that his three dogs would do. Now Jon was getting a monkey. It would be her fourth grandchild.

“What’s the name of this site?” Bryce asked.

“PERSONALITIES AND PETS.”

“Okay, I’ll give it a look. Thanks Jon.”

“Don’t mention it.”

Bryce went online that evening and put his personality into the computer: unsociable, introspective, adventurous within limits, kind, intelligent, and the list went on. Three hours later, he was half-asleep. He pushed the MATCH button. It began a super search. Nothing in Washington State. Nothing in the United States. “Jon will be disappointed that he’s not the only one,” Bryce chuckled. Nothing in North America. Nothing in Asia, Australia, or South America. “Wait, the data is doing something different now. Egypt; my pet is in Egypt. A cat; I don’t like cats. Oh well, how much do they want for it?” The price was listed at the bottom. “FREE; an exotic animal for free. How come? It does say I need to pay shipping and handling. I’ll do it. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll hand it off to my mother. She’s been wanting a cat.”

Bryce was excited all week. His co-workers noticed. “Did you get a raise?”

“No.”

“Is it a new girlfriend?”

“No.”

“What’s different about you?”

“I’m getting a cat.”

“Man, you’re going to be single forever.”

Bryce shrugged his shoulders and continued checking his email. Not much in his life was different. His own publishing house wouldn’t read the scripts he sent them. He was out of shape and he couldn’t get a normal date. He listened to self-help on the way to work and the way from work, but he just couldn’t get a break. When he got home, there was an enormous crate in front of his apartment door. It read THIS SIDE UP. Bryce entered and then lugged the box over the threshold. It was heavy and he could hear breathing inside.

3 thoughts on “Chapter 1 Cat in a Box

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