Coffee Break Read – Fellow Feeling

Leo made another coffee and put it on the table. It wasn’t too many minutes before Frank appeared with two boxes of groceries looking like child’s toys in his huge hands. He put them down on the worktop and turned in time to receive an enormous cat in his arms.
‘Hello you soppy old bastard’ he said conversationally before giving the cat a perfunctory stroke and dropping it onto a cushion on the floor. ‘Sorry about him. But nobody wanted.’
‘That’s all right’ Leo laughed. ‘It’s a him is it?’
‘Neutered but still most definitely a him.’
Leo looked at what appeared to be a sack of fur and fat. ‘Maybe just as well he can’t procreate, although I do have a certain amount of fellow feeling.’
Mike grinned, Ro studied her shoes, and Frank looked just plain puzzled. Leo took pity on him.
‘Ten years ago I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. They caught it in time, but I lost one of the boys. It took some getting my head around, but it’s OK now. And I find I can even talk about it.’
Frank looked shrewdly at him for a long moment.
‘How much did it cost you to say that?’
‘Not a lot. But it’s taken a lot of time and patience on other people’s part to get me to that point.’
‘Mostly Mike’ Ro said quietly. ‘And I never thought I’d see this day.’
Leo smiled at her. ‘Not mostly Mike. All Mike. Without her I don’t know if I’d have ever.’
Mike shifted uneasily in her chair. ‘OK. Enough now. I don’t think I can do emotional about this. I’m still getting my own head around the new improved Leo.’
‘Fair enough’ Frank was his usual calm self which helped.
They drunk their coffee quietly and nobody could really think what to say next. They were saved by a creeping cat, who appeared halfway up the leg of the table. Mike pointed a finger.
‘What did I say about no animals at the table.’
The fat feline slid to the floor and began ostentatiously washing himself.
‘I think he’s going to take some house-training. How much has he stolen so far?’
Ro grinned. ‘Not much. But you do got to watch him. He’s as untrustworthy as Bogg and Scrat, but a good deal more agile.’
Mike laughed until until she could scarcely breathe. ‘It’s good to be home.’

From Shall we gather at the river? by Jane Jago

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