6/2 -- Of Felines and Fireworks: A "He Said, She Said" Entry.
(Bill's rendition of the following events can be found here.)
On Thursday night, I'd just finished smearing Rascal's paw with some brown, sticky, gloppy hairball medicine when I started to hear the booming. At first I assumed that a member of the Elephant Family living upstairs had simply stomped to the kitchen for a snack. But the booms kept coming, and they were getting louder.
My suspicion then fell on my hated downstairs neighbors. The noise sounded like it could be someone pounding furiously on the back door of their apartment. They hadn't been particularly noisy that night, but perhaps a dispute had broken out between two or more of the dozens of people who appear to occupy that apartment at any given time.
I tiptoed through our back room and pressed my ear to our door to see if I could tell what was going on. When I opened the door to the back room the "booms" got incredibly loud, and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that our cats were starting to slink around anxiously.
I could hear neighbor voices pretty clearly, so I listened at the door to try to figure out if I needed to call the police. Nobody sounded very worried or angry, and pretty soon I realized that every "boom" was followed by a chorus of "Oooooooh! Aaaaaahhhhhh!"
And then I remembered: the Herndon Festival, our annual community group hug/waste of taxpayer money, was kicking off that night. Which meant that I must be hearing -- fireworks!
I'm a total fireworks nut so I opened our back door, left it open a tiny crack as I was without housekeys, and stepped out onto the landing. I had a perfect view of the blue, green, yellow, red, and white explosions as they burst in the night sky. I watched the last few minutes of the display and came back in to find Bill, who'd been asleep in the armchair, half-awake and baffled by the noise.
"Fireworks!" I said. "There were fireworks!" I got a glassy, uncomprehending stare in response.
And then I noticed that while Rascal was standing his ground, Cleo and Mindy were nowhere to be seen. I'd kept checking the door while I was outside on the off-chance one of them might try to sneak out, but at the time I doubted they'd get by without me spotting them.
Now I wasn't so sure. I found Cleo hiding under the end-table she retreats to when she's feeling scared. (Whenever our house-call vets come by, they rarely see more of Cleo than a quick flash of furry brown butt and tail as she dives for cover.) But Mindy didn't seem to be anywhere. He wasn't under the recliner. He wasn't under my desk. He wasn't under Bill's desk or in the bathroom. He wasn't hiding in the laundry piled up in the back room.
I didn't see how Mindy could possibly have slipped out without me or one of the neighbors noticing him. He's the size of a small sumo wrestler and covered with bright orange fur. But I started fearing the worst.
"Um, have you seen Mindy?" I asked Bill, a longshot as he hadn't seen much beyond the insides of his eyelids for the last hour. Bill stared back and shook his head.
I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a can of Pounce treats (dubbed "MindySnacks" in our household), and started shaking it as I did another fast tour of the apartment. Shaking the can of MindySnacks will almost always flush Mindy and the other cats from any remote spot. And Rascal followed closely at my heels as I rushed around the apartment.
If I'd stopped to think about it, I would have been pleased by Rascal's interest in the Pounce treats. The day had started off very badly for Rascal. After showing remarkable improvement in the past few weeks, he started declining again this week. On Thursday morning we had to take him for a day's stay at the vet's office so they could monitor his blood glucose levels. During the drive to the vet's office Rascal reminded all of us how much he hates car travel by eliminating the contents of his digestive tract via whichever bodily exits happened to be handy at the moment. Our vets charged us $12 to clean up the mess in the cat carrier. We paid it happily. (And I'm now pretty positive that his sickness this week was due to a hairball problem rather than his diabetes -- his glucose levels were fine.)
But my focus at the moment was on Mindy -- or rather, on the apparent lack of Mindy anywhere in the apartment. I couldn't seem to communicate my panic to Bill, partly because he was still half asleep and partly because I couldn't bring myself to say "I think Mindy might have gotten outside while I wasn't looking." Bill finally got out of the armchair and started checking some of Mindy's more advanced hiding places.
I yanked on a skirt over my hanging-around-the-house shorts, grabbed my purse and keys, and rushed outside. I kept calling Mindy's name, hoping that he might be lurking nearby. But I saw no sign of him, and now I could feel the tears coming. Mindy was undoubtedly getting more and more lost outside by the second, and Bill probably wasn't going to let me back in the apartment until I found him. (Mindy is Bill's "baby" much in the way that Rascal is mine -- he found his way to Bill as a kitten, long before I entered the picture.)
Even so, part of me knew that this didn't make sense. Though Mindy is an enormous cat, deep down inside the fur and the flubber beats the heart of a complete coward. I couldn't imagine Mindy running towards a loud, frightening sound. He'd be trying to get as far away from the noise as he could.
And that's exactly where Bill found him. Mindy was cowering under our bed, pressed against the back wall in the spot of our apartment that would have been the furthest from the sound of the fireworks (well, the furthest spot that Mindy could fit into, anyhow). And Mindy wasn't coming out for anything, which was why he hadn't budged at the sound of the MindySnack can. I was standing outside our back door, whimpering and wondering what the hell to do next, when Bill opened the door and beckoned me back inside. Mindy didn't emerge for another hour, but at least he was home and safe.
Tonight, the Herndon Festival organizers had another display of fireworks. Although Bill and I were careful to shut the doors in our kitchen and the back room before going outside to watch the show, Mindy took shelter in the same spot under the bed. I think he only emerged tonight because Bill cut his finger on a kitchen knife and the resulting noise and activity piqued Mindy's curiosity.
And even though Cleo doesn't really play a role in today's entry, here's a picture of her anyhow just because she's so purty:
(Give me enough Clix and I won't do another entry about my cats.)