The Gyre Mission is my first published novel and, due to my current profession, was written at no less than forty different locations, give or take. Actually, I think it was written in more than forty places but that number seems fair enough I suppose. What, you may ask, do I do? Travel the world writing reviews of quaint hotels in scenic mountain villages, perhaps? Or possibly I am a journalist who has logged many hours in war torn countries, tirelessly compiling information so that the good people at home can stay informed? Nope and nope.
As unglamorous as it may sound I am a pet sitter/dog walker, and about three weeks out of every month I stay in other people’s homes, caring for their companion animals. I fell into it after a decade working as a veterinary technician. Pet sitting is a fine trade if you are a writer; based upon the number of pets you are caring for and the amount of time you need to spend walking, medicating, and playing with them, etc. it leaves you a lot of time to write. Of course, pet sitting alone can’t pay the bills so taking on as many regular walking clients as one can, as well as cats that need feeding, medicating and playtime helps supplement your income, unless you are like me and you wind up taking on too much. Next thing you know you are struggling to find time to write, in fact have to get up at four in the morning just to get in an hour before your day starts. Frustration!
To make the most of every day I began taking my laptop with me every place I went and if there was ever a free moment (anything, ten minutes, a half hour) I’d get something done. I wanted my clients to get their money’s worth so I never infringed upon their pet’s time, but if I had slotted them for an hour and I had another thirty minutes to kill before the next house, that time was mine.
Sometimes I was hired to walk dogs or look after cats and was warned by the client that there would be someone else in the house, an adult child, a roommate, somebody, but often times I never ran into them. Not unless I was staying past the allotted time to get some personal work done and they came home, that is.
On one occasion I was looking after three cats, showing up in the late morning to feed, medicate, brush and play with them. After I’d taken care of them I still had forty-five minutes or so, so I decided to get some writing done. A few minutes into my work a young man came in, introducing himself as the roommate. We shook hands, exchanged names, and I told him I was just getting something done and would leave shortly. He told me not to worry, to stay as long as I liked, then excused himself and went upstairs. So I continued to write, trying to regain my train of thought, when a TV was turned on, the volume quite loud. My first thought was that he was being passive aggressive; he tells me it’s all right that I am there but then tries to ‘scare’ me out with loud noise. I’d had many a roommate in my day, I knew all the tricks. I decided to finish the chapter I was working on.
But there was something not quite right with what he was viewing, that is to say the dialogue was a bit on the ‘sketchy’ side. It seemed to be a lot of groaning and panting punctuated by profanities that were demands rather than angry exclamations. Things like: “Take it you hairy bitch, take it!” Now, I am a very open minded person, I want to make that clear right now. Please do not misconstrue anything
I am about to say as being prejudice toward anyone’s sexuality. Moreover, I simply mean to convey the time and the place, the fact that it was somewhat inappropriate.
There were no female voices coming from the TV, only male. When the volume suddenly increased (indicating he’d probably opened his bedroom door) I thought it might be a good time to leave. This guy obviously wanted some privacy, probably to take matters into his own hands, so to speak.
I shut down my laptop, bade farewell to the cats and made my way to the front door, located in a large foyer next to the stairs leading to the bedrooms, framed by a wrought iron railing.
“Going so soon?” A voice floated down to me and, glancing up, I saw the young man standing there at the rail, shirtless, his torso glistening with either sweat or some water-based lubricant.
“Yes, I have to get to my next house,” I said easily, as I am accustomed to strange things happening to me. “It was nice to meet you.”
“And you as well,” he replied, rubbing his hands across his chest suggestively, tipping me a wink that was more like a leer.
Locking the door behind me I pondered my luck, the realization that if I had been of a different persuasion it might have been very flattering. That type of situation had never happened to me with a client’s female roommate, that’s for damn sure, nor did I think it likely it ever would. Regretfully, to this day it still hasn’t.
I continue to look after those cats, and I still run into the roommate from time to time. He never mentions that day, nor do I. In fact when we do talk, believe it or not, it’s about football. Go Packers!