I already detailed in a previous description how Channing Frye’s heart was cruelly stepped upon by a heartless wench named Clara, and how the succubus herself contributed to Channing’s health issues. But that doesn’t explain the sudden flareup of heart troubles that he experienced before the 2012-2013 season, troubles that kept him relegated to the sideline, watching from afar the three-point attempts of his teammates, yearning to join but not able. The following account may clear things up a bit.
“Hello sir, may I help you?”
Channing looked around the pet store with glee: reptiles, dogs, birds chirped and barked their welcomes. “Yeah. Where do you keep the cats?”
The cheerful teenaged worker led him to the back of the store, where several large cages contained a plethora of cats of all ages. “Just let me know if you make a selection or want to play with one in our introduction room,” the worker said, pointing in the direction of a door that was labeled ‘Get to know your new friend!’ Channing assured her that he would, then went right to work surveying his choices.
Some were asleep, tiny chests moving in and out slowly. Others were awake, but fearful, hiding in their boxes with wide eyes, wary of the giant who smiled and waved at them. Others were playful, running to the bars of their cage when Channing approached, mewling, pleading to be snatched up and taken home. The one characteristic they shared was cuteness. Channing thought he might exercise the use of his vast monetary savings in order to buy the whole shop, just so he wouldn’t have to be torn between Tibbles the tabby and Bernie the calico.
In the corner were a few kennels containing individual cats. They were labeled as being on loan from the Phoenix humane society. Peering into one of the little cells, Channing saw a pure black cat, almost invisible, curled up in a ball in the corner of her cage. The placard gave her name as Queen Emma. Channing knew immediately that Queen Emma was the cat for him.
Walking back to the desk, Channing told the worker which cat he wanted to play with in the ‘introduction room’. He was instructed to wait in the room while the worker retrieved his chosen animal.
Giddy with excitement, Channing sat in a small room that contained only a chair and a cat-condo with attendant toys. The door opened and in came the shop employee, holding the bleary-eyed black cat in her arms.
When Queen Emma was set down on the top of her structure and the employee left, the cat began to mew piteously.
“Don’t be scared, little kitty. I just want to be your friend!” Channing said, getting up from his seat to give the cat a reassuring scritch on the head. Queen Emma would have none of it; she backed into a corner, tilted her ears back, and hissed menacingly when Channing’s hand got too close.
“Sorry, sorry!” Channing apologized. “Here, why don’t we play with this!” He grabbed a feather-on-a-string and began to bob the feather up and down enticingly. “Look, kitty! It’s attacking you!”
Instead of batting playfully at the toy, the cat continued to hiss. Channing’s face fell. “Why don’t you like me, kitty? I just want to pet you and hug you forever.”
The employee, watching through a window in the door, re-entered the room. “I don’t think she likes you,” she said sadly. “She always does this with the guys that come in. Some of the rescue cats are just afraid.” Bundling the tense cat back up in her arms, she replaced it in the kennel. “But you can pick out another one if you like. Gregory over here is always good for a cuddle.”
Channing’s heart ached. He didn’t want the ugly runt Gregory. Queen Emma was the only cat he desired. “That’s fine. I think I’ll just come back another day,” Channing said, knowing that it was a lie. He could not own a cat if the cat wasn’t Queen Emma.
“I’m really sorry,” the worker responded. “She’s always nice to me.”
When Channing exited the store, he found that the day had turned from sunny to cloudy. Sitting in his car, mourning, he suddenly realized that his chest was uncomfortably tight. The heart flutters, which he hadn’t experienced since high school, were back in full force.
“I don’t even like cats,” he said to himself, as the heavens opened and rain began to pour down. Unknown to him, he would not again play basketball for fourteen months.