Cats and Cougars and Donations, oh My!

Rutherford Veterinary Hospital

From every angle, the Rutherford Veterinary hospital offers a pleasant view. The outside of the building has a beautiful early 50's feel, with it's red brick facade, white-trimmed windows, blue awning-shades over the lower story, and planter boxes hanging all the upper story windows. Out to the back of the facility is a large fenced in, grassy yard with shade trees for the animals. The reception area is primarily white and graced with three white-wicker chairs with over-sized cushions for client comfort. Groupings of four small portraits appear on every wall, each image depicting a different animal scene. A large brown ceiling fan hangs overhead and is left on at all times during the hot summer months. A long white counter with a shelving unit filled with files makes up the receptionist and vet tech area.Back behind this are three examination rooms, all equipped with a cushioned bench for the animals, large windows to allow natural light, and x-ray lightboards on the wall. The facility is also equipped with a full surgery, a comfortable waiting pen area for those animals that must be in longer than their regular examination, and several varieties of pet food.
Attached to the Rutherford Veterinary Hospital is a small Pet Spa that specializes in grooming, and a Boarding Kennel with a large indoor and outdoor exercise facility for those animals that need an extended stay.

It's a pleasant enough day, albtit kind of chilly, but, then, it's winter in Dallas. Desiree has brought her two Scottish Folds cats (Nip & Tuck) in for their six month check up. They're in their carrying cases, one long strap over each of her shoulders, behaving themselves like the lady and gentleman they are. Inside, she checks in at the counter, then takes a seat on one of the wicker chairs. The cases are set on the floor, with an admonishment from their "Mommy" to be good. Having snagged a pamphlet from a wildlife rescue group, she relaxes and reads after putting on her glasses. She makes an attractive picture, well-dresses and groomed; not too pretentious, not too understated.

Sloane has brought in a cat as well, though to say that this feline, weighing in at over one-hundred and fifty pounds, is anything like what most would call a 'cat' would be misleading. Rather, a monster, especially to the surrounding farmers, is what a cougar would be considered. Her head covered with that dreadful uniform cap she's forced to wear on-duty, Sloane enters the hospital alongside a very big cage-on-wheels. Inside is a sedated and injured mountain lion, likely going to be the newest member of the Dallas Wildlife Preserve. Two other men who wear the same forest green and red jacket as the young woman push the cage through the doors while veterinary nurses briskly jog up to them and begin showering the lot with questions about what happened. Now that her job, which was driving the beast over, is complete, Sloane feels like she can relax again by taking a seat in the waiting lounge, and she just happens to sit beside Desiree. "You going to stay and wait for the doctor, Sloane?" asks one of the men, to whom the young lady gives a slow nod to. Unlike Desiree, Sloane doesn't look all that well-dressed or groomed in her uniform, but the dark sunglasses over her eyes and the lift in her chin make her seem confident.

Hard to ignore the commotion going on, nor the large cage on wheels which is brought into the vet's office. There are twin hisses from the carrying cases as, perhaps, her two domestic cats catch a whiff of the wild cat being wheeled past. Desiree pulls the carriers back somewhat, not for protecting her cats, but to give the woman more room. She watches the goings on with some interest, particularly the cage. There's a very sad expression on her face, as if she feels sympathy for the cat in the cage. Once the men have taken over, she looks up at the woman, asking, "Will he be all right?" She doesn't realize she's talking to one of the women whose picture is in the very brochure she's reading. Those sunglasses prevent recognition, but Desiree still looks more at the cat than the woman, but when the uniformed woman sits down, Desiree smiles. "I was just reading about wildlife rescue," she says, her tone interested. "Is there anything ordinary people like me can do?" A pause. "To help them, I mean. I already donate every time I come in here, but - that seems like so little."

In the brochure, Sloane is likely depicted with her two fathers, looking just as brooding as she does right now. All of them are wearing their signature hats, of course, with the DWPC's logo sewn onto the front of the baseball caps above the bills. The men leave the cage with the veterinary nurses after they've broken the lock open and have pleaded with them to take the large cat and try to treat it. Taking in a wild animal is not only difficult, but also dangerous, and so the staff's hesitation to wheel the beast into the back is understandable. Eventually, the vets agree to take the mountain lion in. "I don't think so," Sloane replies to Desiree, crossing her arms and leaning back against her seat. She allows her sunglasses to fall down the bridge of her nose so that her eyes are only just visible from under her cap. "We found it out on the highway. Looks like he's been held captive for a while. Starved, injured, infected, and absolutely filthy," she murmurs, then tilts her head to the side to regard the two cats, then the woman beside her. "Donations really help. Organizations like the DWPC depend on them. You can volunteer as well, either at the shelter or out at the site," Sloane explains, before her brows come together tightly while she stares over at Desiree. "You… look kind of familiar," the young lady mentions, chewing at the inside of her cheek as she mulls this realization over.

Desiree gives half her attention to what's going on with the clinic staff, and half to the woman sitting beside her. "That's terrible," she says, and there's genuine feeling behind the words. "There are few people in the world I want to see punished, but those who are cruel to animals - any animal! - are at the top of my list." There's a touch of anger in her words, now. "I used to live out in The Colony, and there were these boys, and - well, I won't tell you what they did to some of the neighborhood pets." The hands in her lap clench into fists. "My father caught them and turned them into the ASPCA who prosecuted them. They weren't children, either. They were fifteen and sixteen." Eyes are glittering, either with unshed tears or anger. "Anyway, will two-hundred dollars help? That's all I can afford right now, but I'll get more after this next photo shoot." She smiles as the clinic agrees to take in the hurt mountain lion. "Oh, I model for some local businesses, and do a few TV commercials. You've probably seen me on those." When the sunglasses come down, Desiree does the same thing, then her eyes widen. "I've seen you, too. Swimming, isn't it? You won some competitions. My older brother competed. George DeVilliers, Jr. Well, he dropped the junior after Dad passed."

Sloane slides herself down in her seat, sinking so that her back is propped up against the chair in an awkward angle. Her lips pucker gradually as she watches the cage being moved away and out of sight, followed by the vets. The two men who had been with Sloane then turn and shake their heads somberly, as though they understand the situation as well as she does. That cat's probably not going to make it, but they'd be horrible excuses for animal rescuers if they didn't at least try. "I try to leave the punishment for those types of people to the law," Sloane replies, keyword being 'try'. Her nails begin to tap against the arm rest of her chair, clinking when each tip makes contact with the wicker. "I hear about stupid teenagers doing shit like that all the time. I blame the parents, personally," Sloane grumps, rubbing at the side of her cheek, which, when she turns completely to face Desiree, is revealed to have a piece of gauze taped to it; the remains of a vicious dog attack that was only vaguely reported in the newspaper a few days ago. "Whoa, two-/hundred/? That's quite a bit in comparison to most other donations," she tells Desiree, whistling incredulously over at the woman. Then, her brows loft and she nods when Dessi confirms her suspicions. "Yeah, thought I recognized you from somewhere in the media… You look good." Sloane trails off when her swimming career is brought up, then she shrugs her shoulders. "Got a few golds and silvers here and there is all. DeVillers… think I remember seeing that name on the male team's roster. Never talked to 'em, though."

"He'd have been older than you," Desiree says, judging the girl to be close to herself in age. "He's almost thirty-two now," she says with a soft sigh. "Happy Doughnuts, Lloyd's Tires, couple of car lots - that kind of thing," Desiree explains, "and a second string Cowboys cheer leader, big woo." She makes a circle in the air with one finger. "For all the time it gets me on camera, I could do a Denny's commercial and earn twice as much." She nods when the girl seems surprised by the amount. "Yes, you heard right. I wish I could give more." She's quiet a moment, nodding when Sloane discusses the law and punishment. "That's not what I'd do to them," she confesses in a flat tone of voice. "If I ever caught someone hurting my cats, I'd—-well, never mind what I'd do." She shrugs, putting the brochure in her purse. At that moment, one of the techs comes out and calls Desiree's name. "Just a six month's check up," she tells the girl. "And I need a statement saying they've got a clean bill of health. I'm entering them in the DFW Cat Show next month, and they have to have a vet statement." Once the tech disappears with the two cats, Desiree turns back to the girl. A quick glance at the brochure gives her a name. "Holly, isn't it? Well, Holly, if you guys ever want to do a commercial, or a film of what you do, I'll help for free. I love animals, and I hate to see how they're hurt by people. We should know better, but -" Another shrug. "Thanks for the compliment," she says regarding the "look good" comment. Her purse is opened then, and a check is quickly written. "Maybe you should hold a benefit, or something. To raise money and awareness?"

Sloane's eyes move from Desiree slowly, dividing her attention up between the woman and the door into the back rooms. She remains sunken in her seat, foot tapping impatiently while a hand comes up to take the sunglasses off her nose completely. They are set up on her hair, where they sit securely as Sloane fidgets. "You can check past rosters on the web," she explains to Desiree, making a gesture with her finger as though she were holding a mouse and scrolling with the wheel in the centre. She tilts her head back against the seat, letting her mouth hang open in an expression that conveys utter boredom, yet, she's still listening attentively to Desiree. "Aaaah, jeeze, my parents would flip if they met you. Both are pretty big Cowboys fans. They'd think you were fabulous," she tells the woman with a roll of her eyes, using an inflection that a stereotypical gay would speak with. When Desiree expresses her scornful view on animal abusers, Sloane's lips curl up at the corners in a devilish grin. "Eh, can't really do much about it. Not in my line of work," she says, sounding almost complacent as she shrugs. "Molly…" Sloane corrects Desiree, though her smile fades. A finger hooks around the dogtag around her throat and gives it a gentle jostle. The sour face she makes is a good indication of her discontempt towards her real name. "Just, uh, call me Sloane," she murmurs in response, watching as the cats are taken in for a check up. "We're reluctant to do something like that. It'd take more man power than we currently have available. We're understaffed. Just by me and those two," Sloane gestures towards the two other employees with her, "being here, we're putting a lot of pressure on the others to get work done back at work," she breathes, head shaking slowly as she watches Desiree write that check. Her lips pull into a thin line, then she clucks her tongue. "You don't need to do that. Two hundred seems like a lot…"

Desiree waves her hand, shooing aside Sloane's concerns about the money. "Don't worry about it, I can afford it," she assures her. "Sloane it is then. I like the name. It suits you better than Molly." This is said in a warm, friendly tone. "Seriously, don't worry about the money. The check won't bounce, and I assume your organization is tax deductible. It all works out in the end." That assurance is given with a smile. "Well, you know, there are businesses who stage that kind of thing. The organization doesn't have to do more than answer questions. I have a business card for one of them, but it's back at the studio. They all have different rates, so I'm sure there's one you all could afford. Perhaps I could … well, I don't know. I really would like to help. Just let me think about it. Could be, maybe, I could come up with a couple of ideas…" Her words fade into silence. After a few minutes, the chuckles and shakes her head. "I can give you an autographed picture of me in the uniform, if you like," Desiree says, taking note of the sarcasm in Sloane's voice. "Believe me, we second stringers aren't out there on Monday nights unless one of the first string girls gets herself hurt. One of 'em's gotta die before one of /us/ get the big bucks." She shorts. "I did the Monday Night show for three weeks when Cindy broke her ankle. It was three of the most boring weeks I've ever had in my life." She shakes her head. "I'm not expecting to make a living being a professional cheer leader. I'd rather be a Cover Girl model."

Despite Desiree's assurance, Sloane still seems uncertain. The feeling passes eventually when she considers how pleased her parents will be when they see the number scribbled on the cheque, which means they might even lighten up after her incident with the rabid dog. "Thanks," she says to the woman, lifting a hand to adjust the cap on her head, taking it off, airing it out beside her head, then returning it. "We appreciate it… I appreciate it," she murmurs quietly, as though unfamiliar with the concept of giving thanks. "It's something to think about, I guess. I'd have to pass the idea by my 'rents and see what they think about it all first. With your help, we'll be able to attract a lot of guys, at least," she teases the other woman, even poking her tongue out from between her lips when the signed picture is brought up. "I'll bet they'd actually like that. They might even unground me." Yes. She's twenty-one and, for some reason, can still be punished by her parents in such a juvenile fashion. This fact causes sloane to slump more in the chair, sinking. Her nose wrinkles suddenly, and Sloane shakes her head, "Nah." Green eyes flicker back to the operating room's door. "Being a cheerleader'd be fun for… ten minutes. The football'd be cool, though. Watching it, that is. Modelling just suits you more, I think," Sloane tells Desiree, before she jolts up from her seat at the sound of an opening door. A vet moves out from the back with a clipboard in his hand and a very grim expression on his face.

"You have that right," Desiree agrees regarding the cheer leading. "I like the dancing part, and the football. Sacrelige, I know, but I'm not a bit Cowboys fan. Give me the Saints any day. New Orleans is a better city to be in for games," she tells Sloane. "Of course, dancing is my biggest passion. Modeling and commercials brings in the money, but I manage a dance studio - say! I have an idea." She turns toward Sloane, expression avid. "We're starting a new semester of dancing, and there'll be a recital in about four months. A lot of my students have very wealthy parents, and I'm betting they'd donate to anything their little darlings enjoyed." She speaks the truth. "At their age, they love animals, and if I - with your help, of course - can get them interested in helping wildlife, I bet they could talk their parents out of some big bucks for your organization. I've been looking for a theme for the dance recital anyway, so why not the natural world and what man's doing to it?" Desiree seems enthusiastic about the idea. "I'd be glad to speak with your parents about this, if you'd like. If you like, I can get them autographed pics of the team, and maybe even tickets to a few home games." A pause. "If you think it'll help persuade them." There's a sparkle in her own green eyes as she speaks. Desiree laughs when Sloane tells her she'll attract guys. "Well, is that bad? Men are strong, and can do some of the heavy work. I know a few I could probably enlist to help y'all right now, I bet. Of course, some of them would be afraid of getting their nails dirty," she adds with amusement. "But, seriously. Too bad I can't use the Cowboys uniform without permission, otherwise I'd do a poster for promotion, or something." Another pause. "Call of the Wild! That's what I could them the dance recital. Just give me our pparent's phone number and I'll call them. Oh, I can just see the little ones as baby lions and tigers and all. Even if your parents don't want to be involved, I can still get donations for the organization." When the vet shows up, Desiree hushes, hoping for good news.

Sloane looks back at Desiree while she uses her palm to massage her irritated cheek, where the claw marks are covered by thick gauze. "I dance, too," she tells the other woman, her white teeth exposed as she smiles broadly, happy to have found another common interest with Desiree. It's like a match made in heaven - they might as well run to the store and buy BFF necklaces. "Can break dance, pop-lock, mostly urban styles," she says, before bringing her hands up in the air at chest level at her sides. The move she does gives the impression that her body has no bones, using circular motions at the knees, hips, and head. At the same time, her feet seem to glide a half a metre to the side; the Electric Boogaloo. "And all that. A recital'd be right up my alley, and… making that kind of a profit would be fucking nuts," Sloane says, biting down on her lower lip to withold her excited smile. As Desiree requests her parent's phone number, she extracts a business card from her pocket, checking the right one of her jeans first, then the left before locating one. Handing that over, Sloane smirks, "I'm pretty sure they'll be up for it, especially if you give 'em a few autographs." Of course, all the cheerful planning and merriment can't last forever. The pet doctor approaches the two men who had accompanied Sloane in, his head shaking. Moving away from Desiree, Slo takes a few steps in the vet's direction, just enough to catch the disappointed glance from one of her coworkers. Instantly she knows the results of the vet's attempts to save the large cat, and her shoulders go slack. "… Anyway," she says, voice falling in volume until it's barely a whisper, suppressing her emotions. "Give 'em a call and we'll organize something. We'd better be heading back to the site by now," Sloane sighs, putting her hands in her pockets and averting her pretty green eyes, turning away slowly. "It was nice meeting you."

Desiree, too, looks sad, lowering her eyes for a moment, lips moving silently. That she's saying a prayer is obvious when she crosses herself just before lifting her eyes again. A deep, sad breath is taken. "I'm sorry," she tells Sloane. "I was praying for him. Such a beautiful animal…" Des shakes her head. "You can call me Des or Desi, if you'd like. It's a lot less formal than Desiree." She gives Sloane a smile, but it's tinged with sadness. It's a few more minutes before she speaks again. After taking the business card, she nods. "I'll call them this afternoon, or maybe tomorrow. I only have classes till two, tomorrow." When Sloane does her dance, Desiree smiles widely. "That's great stuff. You'll have to come by the studio and we'll put on some music and have a party." Eyes dance at the thought. "I do just about any dancing you can imagine—-ballet, tap, breaking, ballroom, free-style, you name it. Even folk dancing of all kinds." She chuckles. "I manage Studio 10 over in Deep Ellum, near the Golden Theater." Purse is opened, a card is withdrawn. "Here, drop by anytime in the evening. There's a button on the door you can press that buzzes in my apartment upstairs." At the discussion of the recital, Desiree positively grins. "I like to make these recitals relevant. Trick is, get the kids involved, and the parents naturally follow. I'm betting if you came by the studio sometime with pictures and talked to the kids about conservation and helping wildlife, you'd pull them in. Most of them are already getting some of that in their schools, so this will just hammer home the point. I'd be glad to help. Might even get some of the players interested in supporting a worthy cause like this. They're pretty decent guys once you get past their egos." At that point, the tech brings out her two cats in their carriers. "All good," is reported. "Well, I'd best be heading back to the studio," Desiree says. "It was nice meeting you, too, Sloane. I'll give your parents a call and see what they have to say." She grins, standing up. "Take care." Both women go their separate ways.

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