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On Thursday morning Anton entered the door marked cats. He'd had to leave Mandolin
with the doctor for x-rays, ultrasound, and blood work. The receptionist greeted him and asked
him to wait, telling him the doctor would be with him in few minutes. The door opened and a
young woman entered wheeling a bicycle. A muffled kitten meow sounded from inside the backpack
'Majan,' she said. 'First name, Annette.' The receptionist checked the appointment book.
The woman named Annette slid her pack off her shoulders and unzipped it. The kitten's head
popped up from the opening. Anton could see the ridged roof of its mouth as it yowled loudly.
Anette lifted it out of the pack and snuggled it into the crook of her arm while she bent to
fill out some forms at the counter.
A green-clad veterinary assistant called Anton's name and showed him into a small examination
room. Anton sat on a chair and looked at a super-enlarged photo of a flea on the opposite wall.
It was quite an invention, he marveled as he looked at the photo, though revulsion threatening
to take over. What kind of God would spend so much effort on the details of a tiny nuisance
like the flea?
The vet entered, holding Mandolin in his arms. Mandolin purred loudly as the doctor placed
her on Anton's lap. He clipped x-rays onto the light box and flipped its switch.
'Mandolin has a tumor in her small intestine,' he said, pointing to a blurry shape on the
x-ray. 'It could be benign, or it could be malignant. Either way, it has to come out. We'll do
a resection of the small intestine, taking out the section with the tumor, and reattaching the
cut ends of the intestine to each other. Then we'll take a look at the tumor and see what it
'I've scheduled the surgery for Friday. No food or water for Mandolin tonight,' he warned.
'What are the chances that it's cancer?' Anton asked.
'That's hard to say. We won't know anything until we take out the tumor and have it
Anton gently scratched the soft fur of Mandolin's cheek. She leaned into the scratch,
'Mandolin is a tough old girl,' the doctor said encouragingly.
Anton nodded vaguely.
'See you tomorrow morning,' the doctor said.
Copyright © 8 June 2003
Elizabeth Dobbs, USA