Dog Days II: On a Clear Day

Chapter 1: Shut Down

They say you have to go through hell to get to heaven, and all dogs go to heaven. The way the economy has been in the city, it seems everyone is in dire straits. Many kats blame us for the economic problems. Then again, that is a testament to a rivalry as old as time. My name is Josephina Santoro, but you call me 'Big Joey'.

The economy was so bad that my older sister Sam closed up her shop. The good thing is she made enough money to support herself, and have enough to retire on so that's a plus for her. Me? I am a working pup in the old steel mill on the north side of the city. I maybe Sam's little sister, but I am hardly a lightweight let me tell you.

My sister Sam is brown and tan, and I am black and tan. We are both 6'10 and 500lbs. With girls like us, you get muscle, brawn and beauty. I have well-muscled arms, abs, and legs. My hips are large and wide with smooth, shapely curves and a cute stubby tail. In my line of work, I put my strength to good use in the old mill.

Yet there is one place I would rather be outside the furnace. I work in fire, but I love being in the water. When I am not working on the weekends, I am going to the Y to work out, and swim laps. There is something about being in water that I find nourishing and relaxing in those hard hours I work from 9am to 5 pm every single day.

Then came a day I would not forget when the roller boss called me in, "Joe, you have been working with us for years now, I don't think any tom in the plant can match you, but the recession hit us, and hit us hard, I am sorry to say this but the city is shutting down the mill," said my boss, a silver tabby named Jay Whiskerton.

"We've been a lifeline for 100 years, they can't just shut us down," I pleaded,

"I know, the city is getting steel overseas at lower prices, it's ridiculous," he replied,

I felt a piece of my heart and soul taken out of me when I watched the gates close to the mill a week later. I had made friends here, and even saved lives. It just wasn't fair. I called my sister, and told her what happened. Jay went up to me, and put a hand on my shoulder, "You know, I need a chair just to do this," he joked,

This coming from a tom that is 6'2. He is pretty big kat whom could be a bouncer at a bar or a club. I looked out at the sea. This was where the new steel to build this city is crossing to build our future. I saw Kataluna Island off in the distance, and I will not back down, "Boss, how crazy would you have to be to swim this?" I asked,

"Completely nuts," he replied, "no kat has ever completed the swim to Kataluna Island, so many have tried, and two kats have drowned trying, if you want my advice, it's not worth it," Jay explained to me, "my wife has seen you swim at the YMCA, but you're fighting Mother Nature, Joey, and I don't wanna to see you gettin' hurt,"

"I'm not one to tell you what to do, the mill's closed now," Jay said with a smirk, "if you really wanna do this, then you have my support, I suggest you find a trainer, I gotta go before Cherie starts worrying," my boss left me, and I looked out at the waves crashing against the shore. I am a Santoro, and I don't just give up like that.

Though the old steel mill on the north side is closed, I found work as a bouncer outside a club. It was good money, but I felt like I was not doing what I liked. Work is not as enjoyable when you're just in it for the money. After a few months, I quit and decided to keep shopping around for work. It also gave me a bit of time to think.

I decided to go the YMCA to swim, 'Honestly speaking, should I do this?' I thought,

'I've nothing left to lose, all I have is my will' I added to my thoughts,

I placed my shoes and socks on a nearby chair, and took off my shirt and shorts. I was wearing my Speedo Vortex Super Pro Back in gold. It is the only swimsuit I own, and I have a single grey swimcap. I don't like wearing goggles though. I adjusted the bottom of my swimsuit with my index fingers before getting into the water.

I adjusted the cap to a good fit, took a breath, and went underwater pushing off the wall to start my workout. I maybe big, but my friends say I am fun to watch in the water when I swim. I keep my pace so I can swim longer, and not run out of energy in the freestyle. I do flip-turns, but I don't do the dolphin kick. Not my style.

I always liked the feel of pushing off the wall with my hands in front over my head, I feel like I'm flying. After about three miles, I was tired and took off my swimcap, "You swim with no goggles? I can dig old school," said a person I had never seen before, but one I would eventually know better, "I heard you're looking for a trainer,"

(Note: I would like to thank 'Ric Castle' for being the influence behind this work)