My life’s a bucket with a hole in it. Pour in new water. The old water leaks out. I’m told I’m pregnant. I lose the cat. With my luck, if I find the cat, I lose the baby.
I spent much of the day looking for Fish, calling her name, taping up signs that said, “Lost Cat. Please Call.” At one point, I dropped a few pieces of smoked salmon into a bowl, one of her favorite meals, and put it out in the backyard. When I returned, it was uneaten and covered in ants.
It’s strange she hasn’t come home. I fear she’s trapped somewhere in a tin box like the Exxon executive who was kidnapped, and every moment we don’t find her, she inches closer to death.
I called the police looking for Fish, and they directed me to the Humane Society, which said they had a whole room full of cats. Come down and see if mine was there, the woman on the phone said. I felt a sense of relief. Of course that’s where she is. It was too weird that she just disappeared. She should have made her way back home by now. I threw the cat crate in my car and drove over there.
When I pulled into the small parking lot, I nearly hit a young 20-something, who was backing his car out of a parking space without looking –no doubt texting. I walked quickly into the building and latched onto a group of people looking to adopt a pet as they were about to be taken into the back room marked “Small Animals.” As soon as they opened the door, my eyes darted from cage to cage. No. No. No. No. Second row. No. No. No. I could feel myself starting to hyperventilate. By the time I reached the section with the dogs, I started to cry. I stayed back in the “small animal” room holding the empty cat crate after all the others had left in order to compose myself. After a couple of minutes, I went into the main office area and asked what happens now? My cat wasn’t in there, but what if she does arrive, say, tomorrow? How do I keep these — I believe I said “people” and not “‘parasites’ — from walking away with my cat? The woman told me to fill out a “Lost Animal” form and leave them with a photo. They’d look out for her. I could also come back once a week to see if someone brought her in.
I quickly filled out the form and added to it one of my “Lost Cat” flyers with Fish’s photo. I tried to hand it back to the woman.
“Here,” I said, extending the paperwork through the window.
“Just leave it there,” she said, pointing to some non-descript place that not even she was looking at.
Every time I go into my house, I think I see Fish through the glass panel of our front door. She used to stand there on two legs when she heard us coming. She’d grab onto the lace curtains for balance, making them shake back and forth as she’d claw at them to maintain her stance.
I used to love when I’d water the garden, and she’d run from window to window, depending on where I was standing in the yard, meowing big loud meows. But because it was through a heavy pane of glass, I couldn’t hear a sound. All I could see was her mouth opening really wide, in the shape of a “E-E-E-O-W.”
Our town has a local blog, and we put a notice on it about Fish. Someone wrote me saying she was sorry to hear our cat was lost and offered up the fact that her cat often gets trapped in her neighbors’ basements or garages, and perhaps that’s what happened to Fish.
After I received the message, I walked up and down my block, circling every house to determine whether any of the basement windows were open. When I reached the corner, I found a house with a basement window covered by painted plywood. The wood was slightly ajar, and where it met the ground, I could see a tuft of fur sticking out. A fly landed on the tuft. The animal didn’t move. Just then, I saw Bruce’s car go by. He was returning from work. I went home to get him before unveiling my discovery. If Fish was dead, I needed to know, but I didn’t want to see it alone. Bruce and I returned to the makeshift plywood door, and as he pryed it open, I braced myself for fear the animal would bolt right into me. But it just lay there. Motionless.
“A possum,” Bruce said with authority.
Bruce keeps telling me cats are resourceful, that if Fish were trapped somewhere, she’d be able to get out. I keep thinking even Einstein couldn’t get out of a basement if the window from which he entered was eight feet up in the air.
“The possum was trapped and just died there,” I said.
“Possum are stupid,” Bruce said.
We live about eight blocks from the ocean. After dinner, we sat on a bench on the boardwalk and stared out at the water. There was orange lightening flickering low in the sky behind the clouds. No thunder, just lightening. It was strange to see the lightening without thunder. It was like watching people argue through a window, their arms gesticulating wildy, their lips moving rapidly, and yet there’s no sound. It made me think of all the things I can no longer hear.