Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Heart attacks and sneaky cat tricks (pt. 2)

Of course, after consoling Marcie and sitting her on the couch, I went about replicating her work. She was not pleased.

"I checked there already," she said. "I checked there, too. Frank, I'm not stupid, I looked there."

I kissed her. "But he could have been moving from place to place like a little ninja, so I wanted to check back again," I said.

She rolled her eyes and picked up a book to read by Anaïs Nin. She was upset, but decided to leave me to my devices.

I checked every cupboard, cabinet, under the bed, out in the yard, behind every bit of furniture, on top of our bookshelves and behind the rows of shoe boxes in Marcie's closet. I removed the bottom drawer from our shared dresser and looked there, since Seamus had learned that an open drawer was an easy path into the little space beneath the dresser, a fittingly snug, dark and quiet den to inhabit.

No dice. No cat. Not even a swatch of telltale fuzz to track him, or that powdery kitten smell.

She bit her lower lip and tucked her chin down on her chest, tears beginning again. "I think he may have gotten outside. Maybe someone stole him."

It was plausible. Seamus, at the ripe age of four months, had developed an array of escape tactics. For a month or so, he had gotten into the mail slot and been able to squirm up through the wall and out to freedom. We took to leaving a book in it, denying his little paws purchase. Eventually, he was too big to pull it off.

After that, he figured out how to swat at the handle until the screen door opened. This was trouble, as we were in the hottest part of summer and closing the door was no option for us. We fixed the latch. He figured out that he could hook the loose latch and unlock that, as well.

When we tightened the hydraulic that kept the door closed, he took to barely unlatching it, then using a running start to slam into the door, clinging to the screen as it swung open, finally leaping off and flying down the stairs with his ears back and fur raised as the screen slammed behind him.

He was also slick. If he knew we were watching, he would not open the door. It was impressive to watch when i finally observed the sequence. He would let out an occasional meow as he worked, look around a bit and keep batting at the mechanism. When he had the door a bit ajar, he would start chattering and seize on the carpet excitedly before turning and charging.

A naughty genius, he was. I quite enjoyed that.

But it was hard to reconcile my admiration for the little mischievous guy as Marcie's furrowed brow and bit lip persisted. I ventured outside a little miffed. I checked the field and looked for him all over the neighborhood, including under the love shacks in the back of the property with a flashlight, as they were favorite dirty dens for him when he was on the kitty lam.

When I came home at dusk empty-handed an hour after I began my search, Marcie was crestfallen.

"What if he got out onto the freeway?" she asked, holding her head in a hand, the other across her stomach.

I just hugged her and said "He'll come home when he's hungry." I was not sure but I knew I had to pretend that he was fine, doubts be damned.

There would be two more full house searches, the use of his food box as a shaker to lure him as we called, and finally Marcie, at 10:30, decided to go to bed. I joined her a bit later after designing a missing poster on my Atari, which I did not share with her.

She woke me at 2 a.m.

"Honey," she said. "I hear Seamus crying outside."

I heard a light, muffled mewing, too. I grabbed my mag light and walked out in the nude before I realized I should be dressed and went back in. She was laughing, a beautiful sound after a long evening, despite being awoken so late. I slipped on some shorts and slippers and off I went again. I looked everywhere, and had no luck. But when I went back inside, we heard him again.

I had an epiphany and looked under the bed, up into the box springs. There was no Seamus there, but I heard him behind me. I looked at the dresser and pulled out each drawer, one by one, starting with the bottom one. The third one up revealed a disheveled kitty who staggered out from the tiny space behind the drawer.

"Ohhhh, baby, oh my god are you okay?" she coosed, picking him up and cuddling him against her bosom as he squirmed and complained. "Oh you are such a bad boy to scare me like that."

I chuckled in relief and we watched him as he led us into the kitchen, where he demanded his food loudly. We stayed and she sat in my lap as he ate, sighing a bit and looking at me with a mix of relief and resolve.

"He's never getting out of my sight again," she said. "I nearly had a heart attack. I was sick, Frank. SICK! With worry and just fear. No more. And no more outside play time, either."

I nodded and did not comment on the practicality of that pronouncement. Luckily, she did not stick to it, and Seamus was not imprisoned. But we learned eventually that he might not care much what we thought of his need to be hidden and away from us, a lesson he reinforced quite often...