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At the sound of Jedidiah’s voice the cat screeched and flew out the door, past the dog and down the hall.
Jedidiah sat up in slow motion, checking his surroundings for any hint the devilish beast might return. When he was sure all was safe, his head swung to his ‘loyal’ dog standing in the doorway watching him with curiosity. “Really, Hairy? You let the cat pass you as if you weren’t even there?” He got up, dusted his pants off and stomped past the dog and down the hall in the same direction the cat had taken.
The dog whined, whimpered, and then slunk after his master.
Without turning around Jedidiah harrumphed and said, “That’s right, you better be sorry.” He saw a switch on the wall and slid it upward. Nothing. “Of course there isn’t any electricity. What was I thinking? I wonder if she has food. It’s gonna spoil in this heat.” He walked to the fridge and pulled the freezer door open, groaned, and then pulled the fridge door. “Why on earth does one person have so much food? Probably because she owns a restaurant,” He answered his own question. With a definite plan, he headed to the front door. “Come on Hairy, we have to try to find some ice and some Styrofoam coolers for this stuff.”
The dog wagged his tail, seeming happy his master wasn’t angry anymore.
Jedidiah’s face throbbed as soon as the damp air hit it. His hands went up to his cheeks and came back red. “I’m bleeding.” He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and swiped at the painful streaks. “…And that’s why I don’t like cats.”
Hairy barked in agreement.
“That’s right. About time you came back to my side.” He gave the dog a pat and a scratch behind the ears as they reached the car. “How am I going to explain being in her house? She’s gonna want to know who put her food in coolers.” He started the car, mentally preparing himself for another slow, tedious drive through the devastated community. He sat straight up in attention when a thought hit him. “I can tell her I saw her file lying on the table at the hospital, because I did. Even a good Samaritan would go check things out, wouldn’t they?” He gave Hairy a questioning look, as if the dog actually knew what he was talking about. “Yep, that’s what I’ll do.”
The place was packed. It hadn’t even crossed his mind that people would be out and about, let alone at the small department store he stopped at.
He got a cart and grabbed four stacked Styrofoam coolers, all that was left, and four huge bags of ice. He could pour some in the kitchen sink and use that if he had to…A horrible thought struck him…did she have a deep freezer? He shook his head. It didn’t matter. If she did he would just pour some ice down in it. It should stay cold long enough for them to get the electricity back on.
He was in the dog aisle looking for a treat for Hairy when a whistle caught his attention. He looked up; right into the face of a beautiful, black-haired woman. He guessed she was close to his age.
“What a mighty fine tall drink of water, Sherry,” She said as her gaze slid momentarily toward the woman standing beside her.
Jedidiah was surprised at his immediate feeling of distaste. Just a few months ago such a reaction from a beautiful woman would’ve been more than welcome. He moved his eyes away from the obvious interest in hers and ducked his head as he passed by.
“I haven’t seen you around here,” She called in a flirty tone.
“I haven’t been around long,” He mumbled as he grabbed a huge dog bone from the shelf and threw it into the cart. He pushed the buggy further down the aisle and picked up a can, totally oblivious to what it was.
Look Sherry, he has a cat,” the woman told her friend in a mock-whisper. “I bet that’s how he got those scratches.”
Jedidiah shook his head, already denying the accusation. “I don’t have a…” He looked down at the can in his hand and stopped his protest. Tuna-flavored cat food. He started to put it back, but halfway to the shelf he stopped. There was the big white beast...It was probably hungry. It scratched me. His mind argued. Besides, she probably has cat food. You can’t go through her cupboards, man, His disloyal brain impressed upon him as he threw the can into the cart and shoved it down the aisle, away from the two nosy women.
Jedidiah made his way to the counter, picking things up and tossing them into his rapidly-filling cart as he went. The Styrofoam containers were shoved to one corner, taking up most of the buggy, but he’d used their emptiness for other items and shoved smaller ones around the edges.
“I need to get out of here.” He pushed the heavy metal cart to the counter and stood waiting in impatience while the harried cashier rung up the people in front of him.
Back outside, Hairy had taken his absence as a license to stick his big head out the window. To his dismay, the two women from the store were petting him. They both giggled when he walked up to the car.
“Is this your dog?” Sherry asked.
“You really shouldn’t walk up to strange animals,” he returned, cringing at his own rudeness.
The flirty one shrugged her shoulders as if she hadn’t noticed. “Does he bite?”
“I don’t think so. I’ve never known him to,” he answered. He walked around to the back and shoved his purchases inside and then deposited the empty cart into the rack beside his vehicle.
“What’s his name?” Sherry asked.
“Hairy.” He didn’t feel compelled to give them the cute spelling of his name like he normally would’ve. What was wrong with him? Was it his newfound faith, the service, or the woman lying in a hospital bed who’d taken away his own flirty and suggestive personality? He guessed it was a little of all three.
“If you ladies will excuse me, I’ve got some things I need to attend to.”
“Oh…we’re sorry,” Sherry replied.
The flirty woman looked chagrined. “Are you a victim of the tornado?”
“No, but someone I know is, and I have to get this ice back before all her food ruins.”
The one named Sherry widened her eyes. “We’ll let you go then. I hope everything turns out okay for you.”
“I do too, thank you.” I shouldn’t have been so rude. They seem nice.
Jedidiah drove back to Janna’s house and made quick work of putting her food on ice. When he finished he looked all over the house, and finally out in the garage. When he opened the door, the first thing he saw was a mid-sized deep freezer sitting in the corner. He walked over and dumped the ice in and wadded up the bag.
A few minutes later, food taken care of and cat fed, he and his dog were on the way back to the hospital. He stopped to grab some take-out and made it back to Janna’s room by noon.
He walked in, bags rattling a bit, and sat them on her table. He went over to check on the little guy and his heart squeezed. He was sleeping, drool flowing from the corner of his mouth. He grabbed a tissue from the table and swiped gently at the corner of his lips. “It’ll be okay Champ. I’ll make sure it is.”
He turned to throw away the moist tissues and stopped short. She was watching him. It was reminiscent of this morning. “Are you hungry?” He gestured to the bags with his eyes, sitting down in the chair next to her. He was trying not to show how nervous he was. There was just something about her. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he was intimidated.
“A lit..hu…um.” She cleared her throat. “A bit.”
“I got hamburgers and fries. I hope that’s okay.”
“It’s good. Did you…huu…uhm.” She cleared her throat once more. “Sorry, I feel like I swallowed a frog.”
He laughed. She was beautiful. “Did I what?”
She looked at him in confusion for a moment, and then her mind seemed to clear. “Oh yeah, did you happen to get drinks?”
He exhaled in disappointment, hanging his head, shaking it from side to side. He hadn’t. “I’ll run down to the cafeteria and get you something.”
He could see tears come to her eyes, and felt his water in answer. He liked it that she hadn’t declined a drink. Most women he knew would have, even if they were thirsty. It was nice to be around a woman that knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to ask. “You’re welcome. I’ll be right back.” He walked out the door, back-tracked and asked, “Anything else?”
“Chocolate?” A small smile formed on her shapely lips.
He threw his head back and laughed. Yes, she was going to be fine. “I’ll grab you something. Back in a flash.”