Hey all this is just a little story I wrote for one of my Creative Writing classes. I rated it PG because there's some
violence and cussing and things like that . . . it's a story about adults what did you expect? Anyway, I'm thinking about
editing it and submitting it to some lit mags, so any comments would be greatly appreciated! Ciao!.

The Tiger

"Bye Madison!" Marie, my secretary, poked her head through my office door and wiggled her fingers.

"Where are you off to this weekend?" I asked, smoothing my skirt as I stood up.

"Rob and I are going hiking. It should be fun!"

I surveyed Marie's petite frame doubtfully. "Are you sure you're up to that?"

"Of course, silly." She dismissed my worries with a giggle and bounced out of the office.

I sighed and shook my head. Marie was the best secretary I had ever had. By nature, I was a disorganized person, so
I let her file everything. Anytime I needed something, Marie could find it in less than 30 seconds. The only place I hadn't
let her reorganize was my office. I liked to have everything in perfect disorder so I could find it. Marie's bubbly
personality had brightened my psychology practice. She was also expert at handling my patients. They all loved her.

I slumped back down in my chair and surveyed my domain. Files from the patients I had seen that day were strewn over
my wooden desk, along with pencils, pens and used coffee cups. My computer sat in the corner at another desk. At Marie's
insistence, I kept copies of all my files on it. I don't know what she was afraid of. There wasn't a very high chance of my
paper records spontaneously combusting.

I leaned all the way back in my chair and put my feet up on the desk. My eyes closed and an image of Kyle popped up.
I smiled. His brown eyes shone at me, and he pushed his dark blond hair out of his eyes. Kyle and I had met a few months
ago at my favorite coffee stand when he spilled coffee on my shoes. Luckily it had been an iced mocha, my favorite as well.
It was a whirlwind romance. It felt like we had known each other for years instead of a few months. He worked for an
independent art gallery downtown, and was always leaving on assignments to buy art at auctions and shows.

I glanced at my watch and decided it was time to go home. Sweeping the open files into my cloth briefcase, I zipped
it closed. I slung it over my shoulder, picked up my jacket, and headed out the door, stopping only to lock up and turn on
the alarm. I shoved my keys into one of the many pockets in my briefcase and headed for my roomy apartment.

That night, I went out to dinner and a movie with Kyle, and then we stayed up most of the night talking in my living
room. We actually spent a lot of time gazing deeply into each other's eyes too. I fell asleep on the couch with his arms
wrapped around me, and my dachshund Peabody keeping my feet warm. It was very romantic.

~*~*~*~

I woke up in the morning in my bed. Bleary eyed, I stumbled into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth.
I tiptoed into the living room where Kyle was sleeping peacefully on the couch. I grabbed my briefcase and walked into the
kitchen area. Flipping on the radio for some background noise, I started to go through files and make notes at the kitchen
table.

A little while later, I took my reading glasses off and rubbed my eyes. Kyle got up off the couch and stood behind
me, rubbing my shoulders. Relaxing, I leaned back in the chair and smiled up at him. He kept rubbing and leaned forward to
look over my shoulder. "What are you doing?"

"Oh, just going over some files for Monday's appointments. I snapped the file closed and stood up. "Do you want
some breakfast?"

"Cold cereal?" he grinned. "I'll get some later."
I rummaged around in the cabinet for some cereal. "Here's the cereal." I pulled out the box and set it on the
counter.

"Oh, I love this song!" Kyle exclaimed. He reached over me and turned the volume dial up high. He started dancing
around the kitchen snapping his fingers in time to the music. Grabbing me in a bear hug, he swung me around the kitchen
until we were both breathless with laughter.

"I love you, Madison," he said, suddenly serious.

I looked into his soft eyes. "I love you too." Suddenly uncomfortable with the situation, I took a step back.
"I'm going to go take a shower now. Are you going to stick around?"

"No, I've got some stuff to take care of." He gave me a hug and a kiss. "Now scoot!"

After my shower, I felt refreshed and ready to go out to lunch with my friend Lisa. Lisa and I had been friends for
a while. She was the kind of person whose life is a series of horrible crises. Apparently she had been involved in the top
echelon of an art smuggling ring about four or five years ago. When she wanted out, she just left, taking a few pieces of
art with her. I had to admit, she had a nice little collection, but frankly, I was skeptical of her story. Actually, I was
skeptical of all of her stories. With Lisa, it was hard to tell fact from fiction.

Lisa had become pretty paranoid about being found by the other two members of her group. She had taken some
expensive statuary, and she was worried that they would come looking for it. She insisted on moving every year, and meeting
me in strange places. This time we were meeting in Snook's Saw Service at the corner of 14th and Oak. From there we were
going to a nice Greek restaurant downtown I know about.

As I walked in the door to Snook's, a bell jingled faintly in the back. Lisa's dyed blond head popped up from behind
a shelf. I waved and she walked over to me.

"Come on, let's get out of here before he comes back," she whispered.

"Why?"

"He was trying really hard to sell me a saw. I don't want a saw." She took my hand and dragged me out of the store.

"But what if I wanted a saw," I protested mildly as she towed me down 14th. "I could really use one, you know."

"Be reasonable Madison!" she said in exasperation, turning to face me. When she saw my face we both burst into
laughter.

"Don't be so serious all the time," I said grinning.

She shot me a half serious glare, and we continued walking. As we rounded the corner, onto Maple, I ran smack into
someone.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," I said

"No, no, I should have been more . . ." said a familiar voice, trailing off as he recognized me.

"Kyle? What are you doing here?"

"I had some business." He glanced around nervously.

"What a coincidence!" I grabbed his hand. "Lisa, this is Kyle. He's the guy I've been telling you so much about!"

Lisa stared in shock at Kyle. "Ummm, hi."

"Hello, Lisa," Kyle said, surprised. He gave me a quick hug. "Sorry Maddy, but I've got to go, I just remembered a
meeting." He flashed a quick smile at Lisa over his shoulder as he walked away. "Nice meeting you!"

Lisa grabbed my arm. "Madison! That's, that's . . ."

I studied her face. It was white and strained. "Lisa? What is it?"

"Kyle! He was one of my partners!" She bit her lip in anxiety. "I know he recognized me! Oh god, what should I
do?"

"Partner from what?" I asked, confused.

"The smuggling ring!" Lisa looked around in panic. "Now they'll know I'm here! I have to go!" She started to run
down the street.

"The smuggling ring? Wait!" I called, but she didn't hear me. My mind reeled from what she had said. Kyle, in the
smuggling ring? How could that be? I wondered if it was just another one of Lisa's fabrications, but she had looked so
frightened.

I walked slowly back to my apartment. I still couldn't quite digest the events of the day. For the rest of the day,
I went around in a half daze, doing my work mechanically, feeding the dog, watering the plants. I tried not to think about
Lisa or Kyle. Neither of them were home when I tried to call. I really needed some answers.

~*~*~*~

At the office on Monday Marie greeted me with a worried look. "There's a message on the machine you should listen
to, Madison." She led the way to her desk and pressed the play button.

Lisa's voice filled the air, "Madison I need to talk to you." She sounded frightened. "If I can, I'll come by your
office today." The answering machine whirred and clicked as it rewound to the beginning of the messages again.

I bit my lip. I needed some time to think. "Go ahead and erase that message Marie. I'll be in my office. Let me
know when Mr. Thomas arrives."

"Sure Madison." Marie shot me another worried glance and sat down at her desk.

Carefully, I shut the door of my office. Lisa's message echoed through my mind. What should I do? What if Lisa had
been telling the truth, and I just hadn't been willing to believe her? It wasn't completely impossible that she was telling
the truth about the smuggling ring. I just didn't want to believe that Kyle was involved. I picked up the phone to call
her, but then decided against it.

Marie buzzed over the intercom, interrupting my thoughts. "Dr. O'Conner, Mr. Thomas is here."

"Thanks Marie. Give me five minutes, and then send him in."

"Sure thing."

I rummaged through my briefcase for Mr. Thomas' file. I decided to put my problems on the back burner and
concentrate on my clients. Every so often, I caught myself looking at the clock, wondering if Lisa was going to drop by.
The minutes seemed to pass like hours. I was grateful when my last appointment of the day called and canceled because she
had the flu.

I was still worried about Lisa. I decided to call her to make sure she was all right. I dialed her number
nervously.

The phone rang three times, and then the machine beeped online. "Hi, you've reached Lisa's place. I'm not here so
leave a message!"

I hung up. She wasn't there, and she wasn't here. Where could she have gone?

Just then, Marie poked her head into my office. "Lisa is here to see you, Madison."

"Oh good!" I heaved a sigh of relief. "Show her in please."

I stood up as Lisa walked in the door. She was carrying a small paper bag. She looked nervously around the room.
"Have you talked to Kyle yet?"

"No," I said. "He hasn't called me, and he's not home."

"Oh," she said in a small voice. "Madison, I'm sorry but I need you to do me a big favor." She held the paper bag
out to me.

I walked around my desk and took it. "What is this?" The bag felt heavy in my hands.

"This is the statue I took. I don't have anyone else to turn to. Please keep it for me."

I stared at the innocent looking paper bag. "Why don't you just give it back to them?"

"I can't explain Madison, I have to catch a plane." She gave me a quick hug. "Thank you so much for keeping it for
me!" She ran out the door.

I sat down at my desk with the paper bag in front of me. Overcome with curiosity, I took the statue out of my bag
and inspected it closely. It was a small green ceramic tiger. Its head was turned, and it was snarling viciously. There
was an inscription on the bottom in a language I didn't recognize. I shrugged and put the statue back in the paper bag. I
looked around my office for a place to hide it. I finally gave up and shoved it in one of my desk drawers.

As I walked out of my office, Marie asked, "Is everything all right, Madison?"

"It's fine." I smiled weakly. "Lock up for me when you finish, ok?"

"OK. Are you sure you're all right?"

"I'm fine, really." I opened the door into an impossibly sunny afternoon.

I walked slowly toward my apartment building. I usually took the subway, but I needed to be outdoors and think
through things. Somehow I just couldn't disbelieve Lisa's story. Kyle did act strange when he met her, and her reaction
seemed too real to ignore. Then there was the statue. I wasn't an art connoisseur, but I knew that it was old, and probably
worth a lot of money. I had only known Kyle for a very short time. I thought I could trust him, but what if I was wrong?

Kyle was lounging on the couch in my living room when I walked in the door. "Hey Madison, what's up?" He moved his
arm casually so I could see the gun he held. "Why don't you take a seat?" He motioned toward the empty spot next to him. I
could hear Peabody scratching and whining at the bedroom door.

My fears were realized. I shakily sat down in an armchair. Kyle must be involved in the ring as well. It made too
much sense to ignore. His unexplained absences for days, the extra money he always had. I felt betrayed. He didn't love
me. He proved it by pointing a gun at me. As much as I tried to deny it, I had been in love with him. How could I have
been so innocent and naïve as to believe that he loved me too?

"Kyle." I choked back my tears. "Why?"

He caressed the gun absently. "All I want is Lisa and the statue, Madison. Please don't get in my way." He leaned
forward in anticipation. "Tell me where she is!"

"I don't know where she is!" I cried. "She didn't tell me where she was going!" I glanced around, looking for an
escape route.

Kyle stood up suddenly and grabbed my wrist. "If you don't know where she is, maybe you know where the statue is."
His eyes glinted with menace. "She wouldn't be stupid enough to take it with her. You know where it is!"

"No, I don't!" I lied.

"You do, don't you?" He grinned. "I can see it in your eyes. You were always an open book to me."

"I thought you loved me," I said quietly. My body went limp, and tears welled up in my eyes.

"Where did you hide it?" He pulled me up. "Where is the statue Madison?"

I brushed my tears away. "Why should I tell you?"

He slapped me. My world reeled and I caught the top of the chair for balance. "Kyle, why are you doing this to me?"

"Don't you see it's your fault?" His eyes pleaded with me. "Just tell me where it is Madison."

"I - It's in the office," I whispered, ashamed.

"Good, I'm glad you've decided to be reasonable. Let's go." He pulled me out the door. I followed along behind
him, my mind racing furiously. There had to be something I could do to get out of this mess!

I climbed into the cab Kyle had waved down. He told the driver where to go, then leaned casually back in the seat.
I sat next to him stiffly, wondering what I should do. Maybe I should just let him have the statue and let him go.

We rode the elevator in silence up to my floor. I disabled the alarm and unlocked the door to my office.

Kyle looked around suspiciously. "Where is it?" He grabbed my arm hard in sudden excitement.

"In here." I led him to my desk and pulled open the drawer where I had shoved the paper bag earlier. He took it out
of my hand eagerly and reached inside to pull the tiger out. Holding it in his hand, he gazed at it in wonder.

"This will make us rich," he said, turning it over to look at the inscription on the bottom.

"What do you mean rich? What do you mean us?"

Kyle gathered me up in his arms. "Madison, come with me," he breathed in my ear. "This statue will lead me to a
treasure beyond your wildest dreams. I want you to share it with me."

I shoved him away. "How can you ask me to go with you after what you've done!"

"What?" His knuckles whitened around the statue.

"You betrayed me!" I turned away from him to face my desk.

"Madison -" He put his hand on my shoulder and turned me around forcefully. "I did it for us, why don't you
understand that?"

"You did it for us? What's that supposed to mean?"

"What do you think it means?" Kyle set down the statue on my desk and gripped my shoulders hard enough to leave
bruises. He looked deep into my eyes. "Don't you want to be happy with me?"

"I don't know what I want anymore! I used to think I wanted you."

His eyes became dangerous. His fingers dug into my shoulders. "But now you don't?" He threw his hands off of me in
disgust.

"You threaten me at gunpoint, you yell at me, and you hit me!" I bit my lip to hold back my tears.

"Oh I see." He smiled icily and took out his gun. "Well, since you aren't coming with me, I'm going to have to kill
you."

"What?" I shrank against my desk in horror.

Kyle leveled his gun at me. Looking around wildly, I realized that there was no place to go. Out of desperation I
ducked and hit him hard in the stomach with my right shoulder, like a football player. He lost his breath and his balance,
and dropped the gun. I scrambled around on the floor, finally locating it next to my bookcase.

I gripped the handle, stood up, and turned to face Kyle. He stood with his hands hanging loosely at his sides. His
eyes met mine for a brief moment, then he looked down.

"Just walk out that door, Kyle. And never come back." I tried hard to keep the tears from showing in my voice.

He walked slowly out of my office, not looking back once. I watched him go sadly. Rubbing the smooth barrel of his
gun, I went over to my desk and sat down. Methodically, I set the green tiger and the gun back in the paper bag and shut it
away in a drawer. I leaned back, and stared blindly out the window wondering what my future would be.