Rex was restless. He hadn’t been allowed out in a very long time. His brain was simmering from the overload of sensory input, especially given the circumstances. Bodies pressed in on him from all sides, a panting, slavering pack of male hounds, all shouldering and chuffing at each other in an instinctive display of dominance and bravado. Rex wasn’t much bothered by them — he wasn’t so much ‘above all that’ as simply unperturbed by their nervous, ego-driven compulsions.
His snout raised above their heads and he sniffed, seeking out Little Red in the crowd of dogs, looking out for the sole member of his own pack who’d come with him, a petite red-haired terrier. He wanted to give her room to meet the other males, but remain at-the-ready to intervene should he sense she needed him to 'run defense.' Across the bar could see her being sandwiched between a German Shepherd and a Corgi, both pressing their muzzles close to hers to win ALL of her attention -- but she seemed to be holding her own, her eyes sparkling coquettishly at the attention.
Rex’s human had gradually, over time, become "The Master of Low Expectations", so Rex was on a long lead. Having been out to a lot of these events, his human assumed nothing much would come of this long-avoided foray into the real world of adult singles in a nondescript bar downtown. (Nothing had ever come of previous forays for a couple of years, though, to be honest with himself, he didn’t ‘work it very hard.')
His human was checking his phone, so Rex's portion of their brain relaxed, scanning the room for females, eyeing a few: a Chow with interesting curves, a Spaniel with a nervous, “don’t invade my personal space” glare, a Golden Retriever who looked like she had some Fox Terrier bred into her bloodline some time back. None caught his fancy.
Another alpha male pushed his way past Rex to the bar, a silver-haired Weimearaner. Rex made room so he could order a drink. Rex’s human said, “More men than women tonight. That’s never good.”
“You can smell the testosterone in the air. We’ll just have to ‘man-up’! My name’s Stan.” He held out his paw and Rex’s human shook it, shared his name and they chatted for a few moments before Stan said, “I’m going to cruise around. Maybe Ms. Right is here!”
“You looking to settle down with a good woman, Stan?” he inquired.
“Oh God no!” chuckled Stan, “Been there, done that. I’m only looking for Ms. Right NOW,” and with that he winked and pushed off into the crowd.
Hm, he thought. If I have any real competition here tonight, it’s that guy. He’ll zero in on the hottest woman in the place, latch on and charm her into submission, then he’ll either try to get her to go home with him, or will leave no room for escape and will ask her out to breakfast, lunch or dinner tomorrow. He recognized the type. He’d been that type at one time. Pity the poor woman.
Rex, meanwhile, was sniffing every passing female, unconsciously assessing pheromonal compatibility and a vast array of other subtleties lost on humans. Rex was feeling, as always, calm but ready to act in the moment. His human spent time thinking things through, Rex just took action when he saw an opportunity -- and ran away when it seemed wise.
What Rex and his alter ego had come to realize over the years was that, despite all his canine characteristics, the sum of their combined parts was not actually interested in female canine, but in another species altogether. This particular “Man’s Best Friend” and his inseparable counterpart were far too complex, and too specific in their predilections, to ‘settle’ for another dog. Their search for a companion was for a 'muse'-come-‘nester’; a quirky mind in a hard-to-resist package; a queen, not a princess — regal bearing with a commoner’s humility.
Then there she was.
Between the bobbing heads and crush of bodies, a feline presence glided. A sleek, tan and black Bengal. An image of the Egyptian goddess, Bastet, came to mind. Movements that were elegant and delicately seductive, a bemused look upon her face. A cat among so many dogs. Interesting. She’d be likely to suffer one of two fates, either carefully and skittishly avoided by the thronging male dogs who’d be too threatened by her ‘otherness’ to approach, or set upon by the likes of Stan, who’d be unlikely to let her squirm free if he got his fangs into her.
She made her way through the crowd. Their eyes met only briefly. She disappeared. He realized he hadn’t been breathing...
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