Dennis walked in the back door of the Newton’s small house. “Morning, Alice, where’s Ralph?”
“He might be in the back yard.”
“I didn’t see him, and I came in that way.”
A sly smile was on Alice’s face. “How deep did you dig.”
Dennis looked surprised and then grinned as well. “Oh, come on, having him home all the time can’t be that bad.”
“Then you try living with him twenty-four-seven, and you tell me.”
“Did I hear someone talking about me?” Ralph strolled in the kitchen, holding his enormous round belly. “I’m hungry, Alice. Any chicken left?”
“You ate it for breakfast.”
“Oh yeah, forgot. Well, I’ll just fix a late-morning sandwich. Don’t want to drink beer on an empty stomach.” Looking at his buddy, Dennis, holding a large sack. “You got the beer for the game today?”
“Right here.” Dennis patted the sack and grinned.
Ralph eyed Alice as she eyed the beer. “Not one word. I put up with your cat.”
“Oh, Jeeze,” Dennis jerked at the mention of ‘The Beast,’ as he called it.
“Here, Tango, here kitty, kitty,” Alice called her pet.
A wall-shaking growl. Into the kitchen strolled a three-hundred-pound tiger. “Oh, there you are, Tango, come to mommy.”
With that, the tiger lumbered toward her, knocking over a chair as he switched his tail, heading to Alice. “Sweet kitty.” She stroked his chin, and he appeared to be smiling.
Dennis backed against the counters. “That mouth on your beast could take your hand off, Alice.”
“I’ve had him since he was only a few weeks old. He’s tame as a puppy.” With that, ‘the beast’ plopped on the kitchen floor occupying much of it. “I don’t know who eats more, Ralph or Tango,” Alice said.
“He eats more than both of us, Alice. We can barely afford it, and you told me he isn’t grown yet.”
“No, his daddy is six-hundred pounds. Tango’s in his youth. And he’s so playful.”
“I’ll say, the neighbor’s pit bull ran over when he got loose, and your monster ate him.”
“Now, Ralph. Remember, we don’t talk about that.”
“Well, you owe me on that one.”
Ralph regarded Tango resting on the floor, his sides moving in and out rhythmically as he breathed and appeared to be smiling. “And another thing, Alice, I’m getting tired of having to swipe the out-of-date meats from the dumpster behind the supermarket. It’s a filthy business just to get enough to keep your pet from eating the furniture.”
“Now, remember, you thought baby Tango was as cute as a button when we first got him. You even fed him one of your t-bone steaks.” Alice crossed her arms and gave her head a nod to let Ralph know that getting her pet was not exclusively her idea.
Ralph nodded in agreement.
Dennis still had a look of fear on his face, and on tip-toes, he eased his way around the kitchen counters closer to the refrigerator.
Turning to Dennis, Ralph pointed to the den. “Let’s get ready for the game. Put the beer in the fridge. What else you got planned tonight?”
“I got a blind date at seven.”
“Great, Dennis, you need to get out and date since your wife disappeared.”
Dennis held his palms up. “Alice’s cat ate her.”
“Now, now Dennis, you know we don’t talk about that either.” Alice was pointing her finger and making motions back and forth with a scolding look in her eye. “I am glad you got a date. It’ll be good for you.” She turned to the sink to dry a king-size bowl with ‘Kitty’ lettered on the side.
“Where’s his litter box?” Dennis wore a puzzled look and dipped his head at the smiling tiger on the floor.
“We use the hall bathtub. It’s got a hundred pounds of litter in it. Ralph drilled holes in a snow shovel that we use to sift the litter.”
Ralph scratched his chin. “Dennis, did you ever check the lost lottery ticket?”
“I picked the same numbers I always pick, and it sure looked like I got them all, but no, I haven’t found the ticket yet. Still looking.”
“Hope you find it. Two dollars of that five-dollar ticket is mine, and if it’s a winner, we’re both rich, my friend.”
They sat in the overstuffed chairs in the den. The stuffing oozed out of scratches on the sides and back of the chairs. “Hey, when you gonna get some new chairs, Ralph?”
Yeah, it’s about time to revisit the mission store to pick up some more used recliners. Anything is in better shape than the ones Alice’s kitty has worked on for a while.”
The TV played the pre-game show was just starting.
“Get comfortable, Dennis. Like me.”
Dennis looked surprised. “You mean strip to just my boxer shorts and socks?”
“No, no, you idiot. Take off your jacket and shoes if you want.”
As Dennis removed his shoes, a slip of paper fell to the floor. Ralph noticed it.
“Hey, look there, Dennis. That looks like a lottery ticket.”
Dennis retrieved it, somewhat dirty and wrinkled. “Now, I remember where I put it for safekeeping.”
Ralph checked the State lottery web site, and all the numbers were there as he listened to his buddy call each one out loud. “Yep, they’re all there.”
“Hooray, we won.” Dennis waved his arms in the air.
“Hold on, buddy, there’s more numbers here than your ticket. Our ticket is only worth $100 bucks.”
Dennis was still happy. He finally won something. “It’ll be enough to pay for another fine date with Irene.”
“Wait a minute. I thought you said this was a blind date?” Ralph was puzzled.
“I did. Irene’s a sweet woman, and she walks with a striped cane. She’s blind.”
Ralph patted Dennis on the back. “Well, if you get tired of her, take Alice’s pet kitty for a walk. Kitty has her harness and leash. Your blind date problems will be over, just like…” Ralph snapped his fingers. “like that.”