The Story Behind the Stories
For Sale: Veterinary Practice on Sigma 4; Certain Conditions Apply by Jared Oliver Adams
This story came directly from an annual contest put on by my online writing group, CODEX. For
the first five weekends of the year, we are given a selection of prompts to write a piece of flash
fiction. One of those weeks, the one I look forward to the most, is the "Title Rummage Sale," in
which titles ranging from silly to poetic are available to be claimed by whoever wants them. This
title made me laugh out loud, so I claimed it immediately.
Yes, it's the best part of the story. No, I didn't come up with it. I don't actually know who did!
The other influence on this story may be obvious to some: I was binge-reading Alexander McCall
Smith's "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" books at the time. Precious Ramotswe, the main
character of the books, has a delightful self-assuredness that gives her the ability to brush off
hardship. She hasn't lived a soft life, so she expects hardship to come, but she is so confident in
her own worth that she trusts she can succeed no matter what. She's often wrong, even comically
wrong, but she still keeps that hope at the core of her being. Her personality crept into my
intergalactic veterinarian before I consciously realized what I was doing, and when I did realize, I
had a blast playing up those similarities as an homage to a character I love.
I guess that's another big thing I didn't come up with! If you liked Helouise, you really owe it to
yourself to read "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency." Trust me.
Other elements of the story came from growing up on a cattle ranch. Our small-town vet was
definitely overworked, probably underpaid, but never undervalued. Large animal vets have to
make house calls, so not only do they have to respond to emergencies, they have to pack up their
truck on a Saturday night and drive out to you before they have the pleasure of doing something
that will most likely get them covered in unimaginable filth and kicked by a horse. Whenever our
vet came out, people would talk about it in hushed, reverent tones. When you grow up reliant on
animals for your livelihood, a good veterinarian occupies a space slightly above a human doctor
and slightly below Ged.
I mean God.
It's very different.
To all the vets and vet techs out there: this story is for you. Thanks for the hard, good work you
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