A Tiger is Set Loose

I love prompted writing! So I took up the challenge thrown down by @tuftin.reads to do a 15 minute or so writing sprint each day for the next week starting tonight. The prompt for tonight is A Tiger is Set Loose, which is the title for my piece below.

Herman stood at the dining room window, a glass of bourbon in his left hand, his fifth for the evening. Work was taxing lately, what with tax season in full swing. As a CPA, he worked long hours trying to jam as many returns into one day as he possibly could. The tedium threatened to overwhelm him, thus the bourbon.

Nancy, his wife, still puttered about the kitchen, tidying up after a late dinner, and already planning for their company on Saturday, when her brother and sister-in-law were coming in from Austin. For her, it was a thing to look forward to.

For Herman, it was not. It meant that not only would he have to listen to her bombastic brother, and his wheedling little wife, but there would be the double whammy of her father and mother, too. Darla, Nancy’s mother, hated everything about Herman. Oh, she would deny it if asked directly, but one would not have to observe for long her acidic remarks and withering glances all aimed in his direction.

Herman rocked the ice back and forth in the glass and remembered the hell their first three years of marriage had been. That they were still married, going on 25 years now, was a testament of his own ability to suffer long the slings and arrows of such a witch of a woman. When the twins came, things cooled down a bit, but Herman lived to displease and it wasn’t long before Darla found other things to complain about. Herman didn’t advance in his career like George had—George being Nancy’s military career father, who retired as a Sergeant Major from the Army after 30 years. He wasn’t half bad, but he tended to back his wife, so if she was displeased, he felt duty bound to reinforce her position.

Herman tossed back the rest of his bourbon, and decided he needed another. But as he turned from the window, something caught his eye—a movement in the backyard. Dusk had settled, casting deep shadows, especially under the heavily oaked fence line. He peered into the shadows, straining his eyes.

There it was again, a movement along the wooden privacy fence, a lighter shadow among darker ones. To his amazement, the shadow turned and began advancing into the middle of the yard. In the fading sunlight, barely any light at all, there stood a tiger. Herman dropped his glass with a plunk on the linoleum floor.

“Nancy! Nancy! You’re not going to believe this!” he said, his speech a bit slurred from his libations. “There’s a tiger in the backyard!”

“Of course there is, dear!” Nancy answered glibly. She shook her head. Herman could be quite the drunk and lately, he’d been at it early and at it hard. She continued to organize the pantry, the result of checking to see what they had on hand for the weekend.

The tiger strolled right up to the window and sniffed, as if it were trying to determine whether or not Herman was worth breaking through the glass to eat.

Herman backed away, stumbling and landing on his butt. He knocked a dining room chair over in the process, which fell to the floor with a much louder crash then had Herman’s rather well padded posterior.

“For Christ’s sake Herman! What’ve you done?” she cried, turning from her can stacking.

Herman was winded. The tiger curled its lips back, baring his teeth, which were sharp and numerable.

“Nancy, call somebody! Call 911! Call the police!”

“And tell them what, dear? That you’ve had one too many night toddies and are seeing things?”

“No, dear,” he said sharply, emphasizing dear. “Tell them there’s a tiger set loose and it’s in our backyard.”

Nancy turned from the pantry and strode into the dining room, ready to reprove her drunken husband. As she stepped through the door, two things happened simultaneously. She spotted the tiger, whose massive size filled most of the dining room window and the tiger let loose a most horrific roar. At that, Nancy fainted dead away, falling forward and landing in Herman’s lap.

Whether it was because it wasn’t hungry enough to eat two, or it didn’t like the look of the meat available, the tiger turned and disappeared once again beneath the shadowed oaks and over the fence.

Photo by Efe Yağız Soysal on Unsplash

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Author: Michael L Huff

I am a former educator and pastor, now living in retirement as a homesteader, farmer, bee herder, Realtor® and writer.

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