|This is the fourth installment of the tale of Mr. L. Gatto Cat, |
"our" cat for a very brief while. If you wish to read the
earlier segments, please go here:
Mr. Cat's first appearance
So says Mr. Cat
"What are you doing here so early?" I asked as I opened the door. It was only luck that I happened to be walking by the door. Otherwise, I would not have heard him over the Mama's TV in the living room and the husband washing dishes in the kitchen.
"Meow. Meow. Meow," Mr. Cat said, rubbing my legs, then rubbing the bottom of the door. He stood inside the door, looking out.
"Do you want to come in or not?" I asked, holding the door open. "It's cold."
"In or out? Out or in? Make up your mind," I leaned over to pet him.
He slipped outside. "Have fun," I said. "See you later."
As I closed the door, I saw him jump into the rose bushes.
The Husband and I took turns opening the back door later that night to let him in. We went to bed with high hopes of finding him asleep on his chair in the living room, as usual.
He was not there. He did not show up at any of his usual times. He was no where to be seen on our street. Cat friends told us not to worry. He'll come back when he's good and ready.
I could not wait. I got on my bicycle and pedaled around the block. Cat experts on the Web stated that cats generally hang within a short radius.
"Have you seen a grey cat with a tiny white spot on his chest?" I asked of anyone and everyone I saw.
"Yes," said a middle-aged man who lived on the next block. "A grey cat comes around here all the time. I feed him."
"He was probably here last night with a lot of other cats," said the man. "My cat has been in heat. I've had to keep her inside."
His young daughter told me that the cats usually hang out in the flower beds along their house or in the bushes across the street. For the next nine days, the Husband and I drove by slowly, keeping our eyes open for Mr. Cat. One afternoon, I saw a grey cat crossing the street to their yard, but it was not Mr. Cat.
Later on that first day of Mr. Cat's disappearance, the Husband and I went to the local animal shelter to look in its stray-cat room. The moment we entered the door, five or six cats came to the front of their cages instantly. They meowed insistently. Each seemed to plead, "Please take me home." We visited the shelter a week later to find only two cats in the room. Neither was Mr. Cat.
The husband and I are night owls, which is the reason Mr. Cat could count on one of us opening the door as late as 2:30 a.m. I see the sunrise when I've worked through the night. I get up before 8 a.m. only if I need to be somewhere early. On the third morning of Mr. Cat's disappearance, I wanted to get out there while rodents and birds were still morning prey for cats. This time, I decided to widen my search of the neighborhood. I imagined that I was a cat being chased away from the house where the cat-in-heat lived. Where would I run? How far would I run before I stopped?
So, that third morning, I put on my ratty-tatty, but warm, orange jacket; strapped on my bicycle helmet; and took off on my aging pink cruiser bicycle, with a container full of Mr. Cat's favorite dried cat food in my wicker basket. I wondered if Mr. Cat would be willing to ride in the basket home.
As I pedaled up and down the streets, I called out: "Mr. Cat! Mr. Cat!"
I also projected the Mama's name for Mr. Cat, "Kit! Kit!"
And, yes, this nearly 60 year-old, chub-chub lady followed both calls with "Meowwwwwww. Meowwwwwww."
On the last street, the farthest away from our house, just as I was telling myself Mr. Cat wouldn't be here, I saw a grey cat race up a lawn. He cowered beneath the bushes near the front door, when I called, as calm as I could, from the sidewalk, "Mr. Cat! Mr. Cat!"
He looked at me, afraid. Would scared cats not know their humans?
As I was about to walk up to the cat, an old man came out of the house next door. "Excuse me," I said. "I live on the other side of the neighborhood. Does your neighbor own a grey cat?"
"No comprendo," he said. "No hablo Inglais."
Great. I only speak textbook Spanish and most of that skill has disappeared from my brain. I pointed next door, wondering what the Spanish word for neighbor was. Sigh.
"El gente tiene un gato?" The crowd have a cat?
Fortunately, the man understood. At least I thought he understood, because I understood him to say that a lot of cats hang out on their street.
I thanked him, and walked next door. The cat was still under the bushes. I stood on the porch and talked to him. "Hello, Mr. Cat. Are you Mr. Cat? Come here, Mr. Cat. Come here." At one point, the grey cat took a step towards me. But, he thought better of it and stepped back.
Except for the bushy tail, the cat looked like Mr. Cat. I had to know. I knocked on the door. No answer. I knocked again.
The door opened. A young muscular man with beautiful hazel eyes stood before me. And how did I know he was muscular? He was half naked.
The tale of Mr. L. Gatto Cat continues and ends next Monday. I promise.