The family painted the hotel’s cinderblock walls creamy off white. Its gloss threw strange reflections and shadows onto the ground. They replaced the shingle roof with metal, painted the lightest tan. It shined like gold in the sunlight. Josten told everyone that the Egyptian Pyramids had been shined to a gloss and had gold foil put on the peak, just like their hotel.
Annie and Tom smiled at each other, then Tom sat down to look Josten in the eye. “My grandmother was from Ethiopia, do you know where that is?” Josten’s eyes grew large. “Is it in Egypt?” Tom smiled and said it was next to Egypt, “with just as long of a history. Coffee came from Ethiopia.” Josten said he liked the Pyramids better than coffee. Then he wanted to see a picture of Tom’s grandmother, which made him sad. “I want her to be Egyptian.”
They named the puppy Pharoah. Before long, he was just called Ro. Konan’s scratches healed and he forgot them. And tho the puppy did not limp, Josten always worried he had hurt Ro permanently.
Since they had a dog, and since Tom removed carpeting as it got damaged, and since they had a section of open grass lawn in the back, Annie and Tom allowed their visitors’ dogs and cats.
Then they put the animal shelter on speed-dial, because people began dumping unwanted cats and dogs in their parking lot. Konan fell in love with a litter of kittens and bawled when the animal truck pulled in. The family assembled.
“Pharaoh is not used to cats. He will think the kittens are prey, Konan.” Konan threatened to kill Ro. Annie took a deep breath and tried again. “We already decided to keep Pharaoh. He is in our family, now. Family should love each other. That means we don’t hurt each other!” Aaron glared at his sister and stepped in. “Those kittens of yours sure are cute.”
The animal control officer shifted their feet and stared out the door. Aaron picked up one of the kittens, which complained at being lifted. Konan jumped up and tried to grab the kitten back. “Gentle! Be gentle, Ko. Grabbing a little one like this could really hurt it. See how I am holding it carefully?” Konan began crying again but kept his eyes on Aaron and the kitten. Then he gathered the rest of the kittens in his arms and cried on them. Outside the lobby, Pharaoh yelped at being left out of the family meeting.
Annie pulled the officer aside and asked how many cats they had now. “Any adult cats that are used to dealing with a dog?” The officer turned wide eyes on Annie. “You would need to come to the shelter. We get new animals every day.” Annie nodded and turned to her brother. “Let’s do that, you and me. We can take Pharaoh and find a cat who gets along with him.”
“Nooo!” Wailed Konan. Tom finally picked him – and one of the kittens -up and hugged him. Them. The kitten hissed. Aaron looked upset, too, so Annie tried to hug him. Annie suggested again that they visit the shelter to get an adult cat. Aaron wanted to keep all of the kittens, and Tom suggested keeping one. Josten had left the room and sat with Ro, watching everything thru the big plate glass window.
Animal Control sighed. “Truth is, our shelter is full. Maybe you could keep the kittens for a week. I will be back for them if we have space.” They looked at Annie and Tom and said quietly, “Kittens are hard to care for. The children may be tired of them by then, or may have a favourite.” The adults looked at each other and nodded. “One week, see you then,” Annie confirmed. Tom wrote Animal Control on their big desk calendar. Konan hugged Tom tightly, and gradually fell asleep.