THE DOWER BOX

“Course of action for today – tackle the basement!” announced my husband Ned. “Care to join me, Jan?” 

“Why not? I’ve got writer’s block anyway” I replied glumly.

“After you, madame” said Ned, bowing extravagantly.

Seven months ago we moved into our little beach house. It’s in good condition and Ned’s handy so employing a repairman wasn’t necessary. The former owners left a few things behind; it would be nice to find a treasure or two.  After sifting through mostly junk, we decided on a floor lamp, a wine rack and a hammock. 

“Jan, look at this old dower box. Want to store your blankets in it? If not, I can use it for something.” 

“I don’t think so, hon. Looks kinda beat up to me. It’s all yours. What are your plans?” 

“Ah … you’ll see” Ned answered inscrutably.

“Ok, mystery man. I’m heading back up. Have fun!” 

Still putting off writing, I tossed the ingredients for beef stew into the slow cooker for dinner this chilly December night. Glancing out the kitchen window I caught a glimpse of Mr. Sandman, the stray cat who hangs out in the beachgrass surrounding our house. After making a pot of tea I set off to the sunroom, my blank iPad mocking me. 

By the sounds of sawing, drilling and hammering coming from the basement, Ned was having a grand time working on that beat up dower box. A couple of hours later he wandered up, his nose appreciatively sniffing the aroma enveloping the kitchen. 

“Mmm – beef stew! How’s the writing, hon.” 

“Don’t ask. Hey, guess who I saw today. Mr. Sandman.” 

“You don’t say” Ned replied. “I was thinking about him just the other day.” 

I ladled the stew into bowls while Ned sliced the freshly baked bread and poured glasses of pinot noir. “So, when can I see what you’ve been working on?” I inquired. 

Right after dinner” Ned replied. “I think it’s damn good!” 

We finished up and Ned anxiously led me downstairs. “Well, there it is. Mr. Sandman’s house!”  

I was speechless. The dower box now had a front door with a curtain of clear hefty plastic. A carpet remnant covered the floor. A hinged door with a plastic-covered peephole and latch was on the back. There was even a small safety heater attached to the ‘ceiling’. Tilting in the old hopper window at the top of the basement wall, Ned secured it to a beam with a carabiner, then carefully inserted the box into the window opening. It fit perfectly! He anchored the box with a few short bungee ties, opened the back door, slid in a saucer of cat food and latched the door shut. 

“My soulful sensitive man!” I exclaimed, hugging Ned tightly. 

It snowed lightly that night and there were paw prints leading to the dower box. Ned and I exchanged looks of surprised glee, raced downstairs as quietly as possible and peeked into the peephole. A sleepy Mr. Sandman had found his way home. 

NAR © 2019

THREE OF A KIND

Head cocked to the right, Jake waited impatiently as I read the article he had slipped in front of me. Having been born with microtia, Jake’s right ear was very small and malformed with significantly decreased hearing…..just like his idol Paul Stanley from KISS….so tilting his head to one side for better hearing was second nature. 

“Mom, can we go….PLEASE?” he pleaded. “The article says 50 dogs and cats will be euthanized next week unless they’re adopted. Please, Mom! I’ve wanted a dog forever! If I can get a dog for Christmas, I’ll never ask you for another thing for the rest of my life!!”

I slid my glasses down my nose and raised my eyebrows questioningly. “That’s a really long time, Jake! I’ll tell you what. Today’s Wednesday. If you finish that book report and clean your room by Saturday, then we have a deal.” 

“Really?? I swear I will, Mom!” Jake threw his arms around my neck. “I can’t wait until Saturday!” I couldn’t help laughing at his unbridled excitement. 

Saturday finally arrived and Jake was true to his word. His report was done and his room was clean. He even found an old frame in the basement for his favorite KISS poster. 

So I was true to MY word, too. We got to the shelter early and looked around, stopping at all the cages. After a while, I lost sight of Jake. I called out to him and got an “Over here, Mom!” in response. I finally spotted him in the corner, bending down and staring into a cage. There weren’t any other people hanging around that section and I wondered what type of dog caught Jake’s eye. I was surprised to see it wasn’t a dog but two tiny grey kittens. 

“Hey, buddy, what’s up? I thought you wanted to get a dog. Did you change your mind?” 

Jake looked up at me, his big brown eyes brimming with tears. “Mom,” he whispered. “Come look. These are special cats!” Bending down to take a look, I thought “what could be so special about a cat?” My question was answered when I looked in the cage; I gasped slightly at what I saw. 

“Ah, I see an introduction is necessary” said one of the shelter volunteers. ”These are our Scottish Folds. No one wants these little guys because of their folded ears. Everyone thinks there’s something wrong with them but that’s just the way God made them.” 

“Mom, they’re just like me! I love them. Can we take them home, please?” 

“We sure can, buddy” I managed to choke out. “What are you going to name them?” 

“That’s easy.” Jake smiled up at me. “Paul and Stanley.” 

NAR © 2017