Kimberly Is Not An Actress
“I’m not an actress,” Kimberly called to the living room. She stood in front of the mirror, curling her hair for what should have been a perfectly fun night out. Her husband wasn’t convinced.
“It’s community theater,” he yelled back, “if Layla can be in it, you could win an Oscar.” Kim smiled to herself.
Brad always thought she could do anything. She loved that about him although it occasionally confused the heck out of her. She was a vet. She’d spent the morning pulling a stuffed Winnie The Pooh out of an Airedale’s stomach. That, she’d enjoyed. (The Airedale was fine.) Channeling Carol Burnett for her small-town performance of Annie was not on her bucket list.
“I have other goals,” she laughed as Brad sauntered into the bathroom holding her usual Tanqueray and Tonic with two limes.
They’d been looking forward to this date for a while. Brad was a firefighter in their small town in Eastern Pennsylvania and had been working nights for the past month since the station had been grossly understaffed. And Kim had been swamped at work. She felt like they’d barely seen each other since the summer had started. Brad had been exhausted, crashing on the couch as soon as he returned home after his 24-hour shift, and Kim had been on call almost every night. And it seemed that every night, someone had called with a pet emergency. This was the third stuffy she’d pulled out of the same Airedale that calendar year. They were both hyped for a fun night out in their cute little town.
“You girls ready to go?”
Brad looked at his beautiful wife and then down to their beautiful fur baby, a mutt named Ginger whom Kim had rescued when she’d been in veterinary school almost a decade earlier. Ginger went everywhere with Kimberly. She’d even been in the operating room when Pooh was extracted from the Airedale since she was considered an employee at the vet’s office. Ginger was the resident therapy dog for the stressed animals who found their way into VCA Veterinary Clinic. She and Kim were a team. She’d been the ring bearer at their wedding.
The three of them hopped into Brad’s old Jeep and headed into town which was surprisingly busy. They parked further away from the theater than they had wanted, walking a couple of blocks to their favorite Indian restaurant where Ginger was served her usual bowl of chicken and rice. A couple of Mumbai Mules later, Kim and Brad felt good but nothing crazy. They were not drunk. They never get drunk in this story. But they’re tired, really, really tired. This is relevant.
Brad looked around their little downtown. The sun was setting, casting a comforting pink glow over the same colonial buildings that his great-great-great grandfather helped build. He gazed at his wife. Kim gazed at Ginger. Ginger’s fluffy tail bounced on the restaurant deck. Kimberly looked at her watch,
“We better go- let’s drive over there and see if we can get a better parking space so Ginger is closer.”
Brad agreed. He knew not to cross his wife when it came to her fur baby. The first time he’d slept over at Kimberly’s when they’d first started dating, Ginger quite literally pushed him off of the bed and he’d spent the remainder of the night on the living room couch.
They moved the car a bit closer to the venue, headed in, and had a great time. Kimberly was surprised to learn that Brad seemed to know all of the lyrics to all of the songs in Annie, Brad was surprised that Kimberly didn’t, and everyone was surprised at Layla, the town hairdresser and source of all gossip, gave what the local paper agreed was a solid performance. It was late when the show was over and clouds had moved in, shielding the earth from the stars, turning a lovely evening into a very dark night.
Brad and Kim held hands, chatting about the show, how nice it would be to get into bed, to sleep in the next morning, to maybe go out for pancakes and take Ginger for a hike on this well-deserved day off when they stopped dead in their tracks. Their car was… not there.
“Wait, what?” Kimberly let go of Brad and sprinted down Hawthorne Street. She crossed to the other side, running back, screaming Ginger’s name.
“GINGER, GINGER!!! Brad- she’s gone! The car is gone! What if someone stole the car without knowing that there was a dog in it and dropped her off by the highway?”
Kimberly was frantic. She and Brad raced up Hickory, down Main St, across Willow. But it was no use, the car and Ginger were nowhere to be found. Brad had to call the police, and Kim couldn’t even breathe.
The cop who arrived quickly on the scene took down their information, told them to try to stay calm, and escorted the couple back to their house on the other side of town. This was Kimberly’s first time in the back of a police car and she did not like it one bit. She cried and wailed for Ginger, hyperventilating into the cop’s empty Dunkin’ Donuts bag.
When they got home, Kimberly went straight to her beloved dog’s bed, curled up in a ball, and cried herself to sleep while Brad called everyone they knew and explained the situation. Devastated does not come close to describing Kim that night.
She woke up the next morning to her phone buzzing incessantly. She propped herself up and released Ginger’s favorite squeaky toy that she’d been clutching all night, squinting at the screen. It was her good friend, Lisa. It was also 5am.
“Hello?” Kim’s voice was hoarse and gravelly. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah,” Lisa was a no-nonsense woman, a local entrepreneur who owned a flower shop that opened at ungodly hours of the morning. “I found your car next to the theater. The window was open so I unlocked it and grabbed Ginger. We’ll be there in 15.”
Kimberly stared into space, her eyes swollen from mascara and tears. Her clothes were covered in dog hair and her body ached from essentially sleeping on the floor.
“WAIT, WHAT?” She could barely get out the words, but Lisa hung up. There’s no way that phone call was real, she thought to herself, that didn’t happen. Kimberly pulled herself up off the ground and walked over to her window, watching the sunrise, hoping with everything she had that if Ginger was gone, at least she would be safe and healthy.
Kim replayed the first time she met her fuzzy beast. She’d been rescued from a puppy mill and had had way too many litters for her young body. She was a brown and white fluffball with a smattering of black around her eyes that made it look like she’d just applied some very dark eyeliner. And she’d been with Kim through it all, through a bad breakup, through vet school, through moving to a new town and starting over and meeting Brad. Just as Kimberly was ready to dissolve into a pile of tears back on the dog bed, she saw Lisa’s F150 pull into her driveway. Lisa got out, opened the passenger door, and Ginger ran into her mom’s arms. Kim was a mess. Lisa had questions.
“Your car was parked on Brookside. It looked fine. You think someone stole it and moved it and locked it?”
Lisa was a solid eleven steps ahead of Kimberly in this mystery. Brad came downstairs in his bathrobe. Even he cried when he saw Ginger.
“What happened?” He asked through his happy tears which Ginger gladly licked away. Kimberly had gotten quiet.
“Brookside,” she murmured.
“Huh?” Brad was totally confused.
“Lisa found our car on Brookside.” The mud room went silent except for Ginger’s tail thuds. Brad and Kim just stared at each other.
“WHAT?” Lisa demanded. It took at least thirty seconds for them to articulate their major mess-up.
“We moved the car….” Brad’s realization hit him in slow motion like the anvil plummeting to his head in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Kimberly… just…. Couldn’t… Ginger’s tail thumped.
“YOU idiots moved the car?” Lisa asked incredulously. Luckily, neither Kim nor Brad had to answer.
Because that’s when the phone rang. Kimberly reached for her device and, as if totally possessed, dragged her forefinger across the screen. She brought it up to her ear, still processing the last ten seconds of the last ten hours of her life.
“Hello? Ma’am? This is Sergeant Billford from the Rolling Hills Police Department,”
“Oh,” was the only syllable Kimberly could manage.
“So, we have some good news and some bad news, we’re afraid. The good news is, we found your car.”
“Oh,” gulped a now monosyllabic Kimberly.
“The bad news is, and I’m so sorry, but your dog was not in it.”
Kimberly’s mind resumed functioning at a normal speed. Could she tell the truth? She’d had maybe three drinks before the show so could she have gotten in trouble for moving her car? Was there a punishment for wasting the time of one’s local law enforcement division? Could this be considered animal abuse? Could she somehow lose her veterinary license for the dumbest move of her 30s? Kimberly may still have been in shock. Her emotions had rollercoaster-ed like the scary upside-down Hellfire ride at Six Flags. She had Ginger safe and sound and that was all that mattered. She wasn’t going to risk any of it.
"Oh no!” Kimberly wailed, “No, no, no,” her body released the last bit of emotion left in her heart. As she cried into the receiver, the officer tried to comfort her but she could barely hear any of it.
Lisa and Brad watched and listened as Kimberly swore up and down that she would not rest until she found who stole her car and her dog. When she finally hung up the phone, she collapsed with Ginger back into the dog bed where she’d spent the night.
Brad just shook his head, and a sly smile crept across his face.
"So,” he got down to the floor to give Ginger a well-deserved tummy rub, looking up at his hot mess of a wife, “not an actress, huh?”