At 7:30 yesterday morning, Cookie attacked my ankles. It’s a favorite game of his, and I can’t seem to convince him that I don’t share his enthusiasm.
The poor cat had spent the day before in the master bathroom. I was afraid he’d be freaked out by the burly gentlemen emptying our house of all objects and run away for a few days, thereby foiling our plans to set out for Boston on Friday. When I let him out of the bathroom that night, he skittered around the bedroom, slunk along the living room walls, and vociferously lamented the injustices of the world. Freaked out, indeed.
So, yesterday morning, at 7:45, I moved the food bowl and litter box back into the bathroom and went to put the cat in the bathroom so that the movers could continue their plunder. And I couldn’t find him. Anywhere.
All that was left in the house were beds and a few odds and ends. No one had opened the door. Where the hell could he be? I looked under the beds and in the closets. I called him, because he loves me bestest of all and usually comes at the first of my dulcet tones. Nothing.
Somewhere between 7:30 and 7:45, he had completely disappeared.
As the painters arrived to freshen up the living room and the movers pulled up with their 18-wheeler, the kids began running about the house hollering, “Cookie! Cookie!!” Because that’ll bring a scared cat out of hiding.
I went down to the workshop/boiler room. He often hangs out behind the water heater in the dim no-man’s-land of negative space where the cement basement walls meet the beams supporting the floor above. Nope.
“OK guys, I’ve got to take you to school. I’m sure he’ll turn up.”
The kids didn’t look so sure.
By 3:00 school pickup, I wasn’t all that convinced, either. The movers were long gone. There was no furniture left. Either he had completely evaporated, or he had gone from the no-man’s-land into the very walls of the house. And he sure as shootin’ wasn’t coming out while the house echoed with men’s steps. He wouldn’t even meow in response to my calls.
And I needed to be in a minivan stuffed with humidifiers and cleaning supplies, GPS headed northeast over the Tappan Zee Bridge, at noon today. The humans stayed in a hotel last, but today I’m picking the cat up at the house at 11:45, sharp, before getting his human sister from preschool. This is not the day for the cat to go AWOL.
I went back to the house at 7:00 last night. Paint bit my nostrils as I stepped in the back door. “Cookie?” I called.
For six or seven seconds of air-sucking doubt, it was just me alone in a perfectly clean, echoing house. And then two golden-green eyes came through the doorway to the boiler room, followed by the most pathetic collection of feline muscles and fur that I’ve seen in many a day.