Adopt a Tiger (2)
Susan rang the emergency number on the tiger cage.
"There's been a mistake," she said. "I signed up to adopt a tiger and you've delivered the tiger to my house. I only meant to donate money, I didn't expect the tiger to be sent to my house."
"That's what adopt means Mrs Hudson," the voice at the other end of the phone said. "If we wanted you to donate money to help US look after the tiger then that's what we'd have said."
"But I've no idea how to care for a tiger."
"We've sent you an email with instructions on diet, cleanliness, housing and, most important, risk management. We do have the right email address don't we?"
"Yes, I have the email. But if I'm feeding it, housing it, cleaning up it's shit, what exactly am I paying you £3 per month for."
"Admin costs. Having me at the end of the phone any time you need me."
"Well if you're here to help you could at least tell me what other people do in my situation.
"I don't know. You're the first to take up the offer. Most people are put off by the whole 'tiger in my house' thing."
Susan hung up. The admin support had been no help at all. She read the email and was horrified. By agreeing to adopt a tiger she had committed not just to paying £3 per month, but to housing, cleaning and feeding the tiger, which was now waiting for her in her front drive. The list of food the tiger required each day read like her butcher's bill for the entire year.
What to do? First things first, she would have to move it out of the front drive, the postman would never deliver while he was there. It was a heavy cage, and a heavy tiger, but the cage was on wheels, so it should be possible to move it, the delivery driver had managed. She decided to ask her neighbours. Thought they were both over sixty now, they both worked out and both did physical jobs, one working as a builder and one as a dancer, so they probably had the strength to push the tiger round the back of the house.
"Oh hello dear, the postman given you our magazines again?"
"No, a far more serious mix-up this time. Someone's sent me a tiger. Look, it's in my drive."
He stood on tiptoe to peer over the fence. "Oh I say, isn't he a big boy. I must get Grunt." "Grunt," he shouted, "Come here, Mrs Hudson's got a tiger in her drive."
"Wot you on about Lulu? You don't get tigers in Accrington, you been drinking your special tea again?"
"No, really look, in her drive."
"It's true Geraint," Susan said, "I signed up to one of those sponsor a tiger ads on TV and they've delivered the tiger to my house. I was wondering if you could help me push the tiger round to the back of the house, I can't leave it on the driveway."
"Of course love," said Lulu, "It's what neighbours are for, helping out with unexpected tigers and the like."
"You should go to Billy the Pie," said Grunt.
"Billy the Pie?" said Susan.
"The clown at the end of the road dear," said Lulu. "You know, big curly purple wig, red nose, the one with a clown's car in the driveway."
"Do clowns know about tigers?"
"Not all clowns dear, most childrens' entertainers wouldn't have a clue what to do if you stuck them in front of a tiger, but Billy was a circus clown, used to help with tigers when he wasn't clowning."
The two men easily pushed the cage round to the back of the house, and managed to lift it into the patio.
"Oh I really need to wee now," said Lulu.
"You always need to wee after physical jerks," said Grunt. "I don't know where it all comes from."
"We'd better go dear," said Lulu. "But we're just next door if you need anything."
"Yeah, and don't forget to see Billy," said Grunt. "He knows everything about tigers, you won't find anyone better in the whole street."
"Thank you both so much," Susan said.
And then the two men were gone. She was alone. Alone in her patio with a full-sized Bengali tiger, which looked at her with its bright tiger eyes. Who knew what the look meant?
Although the tiger was safely locked in its cage she couldn't help but give a shiver of fear.