Alan Samuels always felt very relaxed when it came to dating and meeting new women. He looked at it as a way to enrich every aspect of his life. If things went well it was a rush, a great feeling and satisfying. If things turned out wrong, there was a feeling of learning and growth and not having the right chemistry. There was never anything forced or uncomfortable, if something between two people was not to be, it wasn’t to be.

Alan really loved his job, he worked as a big animal vet. That meant treating cattle with aceditosis, mastitis, and delivering calves that were facing the wrong way. Going to a Buffalo farm to figure out why a Bison was limping, or being at a racetrack when a thoroughbred wasn’t eating. The challenges were immense but Alan Samuels loved every second of it.

Sometimes women he dated didn’t understand why he didn’t mind sticking his arm up a cow to preg check or get covered with manure when an elephant decided to let it go after he gave an enema. It was all part of the job and dealing with living creatures. Nothing made Alan more upset than cruelty to animals. He knew how sentient they were and in his opinion anybody who could hurt an animal was perfectly capable of hurting a fellow human being.

One of the people who Alan dealt with on a regular basis was Bill Ashland. Bill had a huge ranch with hundreds of beef cattle. He was one of his best clients and a real nice guy. Alan also got along famously with Bill’s wife, Sharlene.

Sharlene was always around the house on the Ashland home farm beautifying it. She grew the most gorgeous flowers, and when she’d see Alan she’d immediately insist on getting him a cup of tea or a lemonade. She’d then tell him stories about petunias and gladiolas, laughing at how silly the topic was. Sharlene stood about five foot four, had blonde hair and an amazing smile. She and Bill didn’t have any kids, but once a month a bus filled with disabled children would visit, and Sharlene would introduce them to her pet goat and miniature horses and donkeys. They would leave happy and she would feel she made an important contribution to society.

One night a call came in from a Farmer about four hundred miles away from where Alan’s practice was located. He had bought some animals from a zoo that was closing and he was extremely worried about a Giraffe that just didn’t seem right. He had talked to his local vets and they kept saying that Alan Samuels was the only guy to call because he had experience with the large animals you’d find at the zoo, including Giraffes. The man ,Tim Whiteon said he’d pay Alan’s expenses and was insistent that he get to his place as soon as possible. ‘’Look Alan, I bought these zoo animals to save them. I want to ship them to other zoos, I’m sure I’ll take a loss, but I need to keep them healthy, please get here, I don’t want to lose any of them.’’ After a couple of minutes of deliberation, Alan accepted the offer and left early the next morning.

He was at the farm with the Giraffe and other exotic animals at ten thirty. It has been a very smooth drive. After getting some help holding the Giraffe steady (which was no easy job) Alan gave his prognosis. The Giraffe had somehow twisted her stomach. With the help of Tim and three of his ranch hands they rolled the Giraffe back and forth on the ground till the stomach fell back into place, it was mission accomplished.

Tim insisted Alan stay for lunch and they talked business. Alan accepted a retainer with the proviso that if Tim called, he’d have to factor in at least five hours of travel time. Tim agreed that was fair, they shook hands and the deal was done.

Alan drove home slow and steady and as he got nearer to his county he decided to drop in on a few of his clients. Fortunately, everybody was doing well. Schwarz Brothers Livestock booked him to take blood from the cattle for export, but that wasn’t for a couple more weeks, so there was no problem.

At around eight o’clock Alan felt hungry and decided he deserved a steak. He had been pretty non-stop since the morning and wanted to reward himself. He stopped at Winston’s Steaks. He enjoyed taking to Bonnie (the best waitress in Humberthol County) out and it would be good to see her. Maybe he could set up a date for the weekend. There was a country music festival that he really wanted to go to.

Alan walked in and Bonnie greeted him with a very warm embrace and a kiss, he gave her a kiss back and before he was seated he whispered in her ear ‘’Country Music Festival this weekend in Lionhead, you want to go with me. I rented a beautiful suite at the Avalon Motel.’’ Bonnie leaned in, kissed his ear and whispered ‘’I wouldn’t miss it for the world.’’ She then led him to a table across from the fireplace. ‘’You having the usual, a Ceaser Salad no Bacon, a Rib Eye, medium well, mushroom and onions, Baked potato and a glass of draft? He nodded. Bonnie headed to the kitchen. He felt relaxed and happy till he saw a familiar face walk through the door. It was Bill Ashland and some woman he didn’t recognize.

Bill and his mystery woman sat down and he never noticed Alan sitting a few tables away. Another waitress, Kimmy, went over to their table with some buns, and disappeared after Bill said a few words. A minute later Kimmy was back with a couple of glasses of red wine and a carafe. What Alan saw next made him sick, Bll took a sip of his wine, stood up, walked over to the woman across from him and started kissing her passionately. It was nauseating.

Bonnie returned to Alan’s table with his salad, hot buns and beers. She looked over at Bill and shook her head. ‘’He comes in here with her about once every couple of weeks, they make out, hardly ever finish their dinner and scramble. He can’t keep his Johnston in his pants long enough. See he’s kissing her and placing a hand on her boobs, I wonder if they’ll even get to their main course tonight.’’

Alan felt a number of emotions, sad, hurt, uncomfortable and angry. He really liked Sharlene what was Bill doing. He had a great wife.

The only way to deal with the situation was to ignore it, so Alan started eating his salad, but like a train wreck he couldn’t keep his eyes off Bill and his date.

Bonnie was right, Bill and his date had some soup, then she stood up and walked over to Bill sat on his lap and started doing something to him that couldn’t be seen in his lower extremities. He asked for the bill, paid and the two of them left. Before they hit the door he was making out with her again, it was like two school children, really pathetic.

Alan finished his meal, tried to stay light and told Bonnie how much he was looking forward to getting away with her on the weekend. They arranged times and Bonnie started laughing. ‘’I’ve been to the Avalon, the closest they have to a suite is a room with a door that locks.’’ They both enjoyed the moment and Alan left.

All the way home he kept asking himself the same question, how was he going to handle the Bill Ashland situation. He really didn’t want to do business with him anymore, now that he knew his secret and the secret life he was leading.

Over the next couple of weeks Alan didn’t hear anything from Bill or Sharlene, and he kept very busy. He helped with the export process at Schwarz Brothers Livestock and he had to give aspirin to a Grizzly Bear but it was all in a day’s work. He had the most sensational time with Bonnie at the ‘’Kick Ass Country’’ Festival. The only negative was a week after the Festival, Bonnie called him to share the news her ex-husband was coming back from Nova Scotia and he pleaded with her to give him a second chance. They had dated in High School and married young, and now he claimed he had worked out his life and wanted to be with her. She asked Alan if he intended to marry her, and when he said he wasn’t at that stage yet, she said it was cool and she was going to give Earnie another run.

Things were fine until the call from Bill Ashland came in. He had a bunch of bull calves he needed castrated to turn them into steers. Alan wanted to refuse the job, but there were five hundred calves that would pay close to thirty thousand dollars, so how could he say no.

When he arrived at the farm, Sharlene was in the middle of a tour and he thought she looked really adorable. Bill greeted him warmly ‘’How the hell are you my friend. It feels like its been forever. You ready to do some snipping?’’ They walked into the corral and two of the farmhands had sorted the cattle into pens. They were driven into the Shute and pushed in to the front trap which held them in place. It took about five minutes an animal from start to finish, not long to go from a bull to a eunich.

Sharlene came into the barn and when she saw what was going on she turned her back. ‘’Ugh, I prepared a lunch for y’all when your done. I don’t know if you want it though, my timing is real bad, I made Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Bill laughed a hearty laugh ‘’That works for me and I’m sure Alan will be okay. as long as we’re not eating our own balls.’’

Sharlene shook her head and left the corral and headed for the house. When they finished they went into Bill’s office, which was located in a trailer on the property and washed their hands. Bill looked at Alan and smiled, and said he wanted to pay right away, so he sat down at his desk and made out a check.

‘’I gotta thank you Alan, you’re a real gentleman.’’ Alan looked at him trying to understand what he was saying. ‘’Just doing my job Bill, you don’t have to be a gentleman to cut a bull’s balls off.’’

Bill stood up and headed for the sliding door of the trailer. ‘’Naw, it’s not that, you didn’t say a word to Sharlene about seeing me and Barbara at Winston’s Steak House. They make a hellavu good steak, one of these nights I’m going to stay there long enough to enjoy it, but that Barbara gets so horny, I just have to look after her.’’

Alan was again completely confused. ‘’You mean you knew I was there?’’ Bill pulled the door closed. ‘’Shit yeah, I saw you the moment we walked in, but that Barbara she needs plenty of attention, so I didn’t have time to come over and say Hello, I apologize.’’

As they were getting closer to the house, Alan was at a loss for words, who was Barbara, what about Sharlene, what should he be saying.

Bill stopped for a second and looked at Sharlene’s flowers. ‘’Sharlene is the sweetest, most wonderful girl in the world. I will always love her dearly, but you can’t take a city girl and put her in the country forever, she just will miss the bright lights of the big city. Sharlene is a Toronto girl and we really have a good relationship, but I don’t know if it’s love anymore. About five months ago we decided to separate but live together till the shit hole lawyers could work out an agreement we’d both be happy with. We made a deal to never hurt the other person by bringing anybody we might date around, and we’ve been very respectful of that. I met Barbara a few weeks ago, her Dad owns the co-op in Hendersonville. We went out once, I told her my story, and geez, now I think as soon as Sharlene and I have our divorce final, I’m going to marry her, she is one wild Filly.’’

Alan was stunned and in a way relieved. ‘’Does Sharlene know?’’ Bill laughed, ‘’Nope I made a deal with Barbara to only see her once a week and by the time the week is up she’s like a squirrel with a bag of nuts. I don’t want to hurt Sharlene’s feelings, so I never say anything, but we’re sleeping in separate bedrooms and I don’t try to jump her bones, so I figure she’s got it worked out. I expect the papers will be ready for signing next week.’’

Lunch was friendly and light and Sharlene laughed when she told a story about a Peacock that mated with a Turkey. It was beauty and the beast. The baby was the ugliest bird she’d seen in years, but Mama Peacock was very protective of it. Daddy Turkey had gone into hiding because Thanksgiving was around the corned.

After the meal Alan left feeling almost relieved that Bill wasn’t a low life, he simply was living a different life.

A few weeks later, Alan received a surprise call from Sharlene. She invited him to join her for lunch in town, she had news. When Alan arrived at the Coronation restaurant Sharlene was in a booth studying the menu. ‘’I don’t know why I even bother to look at the menu, it hasn’t changed since the day I arrived in this part of the world. I basically know it off by heart. Anyways the reason I asked you for lunch was I like you. Things haven’t worked out the way I would have liked with Bill, so we are getting a divorce. We came to a settlement that we’re both happy with, and we will always be friends, but I was wondering if you would be interested in going out with me.’’

Alan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Sharlene was the total package, he found her completely appealing. ‘’As long as Bill doesn’t shoot me, or do to me what we did to the bull calves a few weeks ago.’’

Sharlene smiled her incandescent smile and said ‘’No worries, Bill’s involved with a woman named Barbara. He’s been going with her for a couple of months, Kimmy the waitress at Winston’s told me.’’ Alan felt like laughing but he didn’t say a word.

‘’You know Alan, being out here in the country taught me a lot of things. Beauty can be found in the most interesting places from a flower you plant to a child’s smile. Watching a horse run in the pasture to a calf standing up for the first time, it really is amazing. I’m going to head back to Toronto, I’ve gotten myself a job at the Advertising Agency I used to work at. I’ll be in the Creative Department as a Senior Copy Writer. I’ll take all those fantastic ranch images and try and incorporate them into my work. There are some things I won’t be able to translate like you. Your kindness and decency is off the charts. So, I think we should say screw it all and enjoy a passionate weekend together and then on Monday I’ll head off into the sunset. What do you think?’’

Alan Samuels sat back, and felt a real inner contentment ‘’I can’t wait for the weekend to begin, you might have to come with me to a place about four hundred miles away from here to help me extract a tooth from a Chimpanzee, but after that, the party will be on. Oh yeah one other thing, I’ve always liked Toronto, I have a feeling I’ll be visiting often, somebody’s got to bring you fresh petunias.’’

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.