Seems my wannabe wild thing, Posey (our aging Maine Coon kitty), has caught spring fever. Which is awesome, because what I really relish doing at 9:30 on a Saturday night is a jog around the neighborhood with my big red dog. You know, as we track Posey, our “pulleeeese-let-meoooowt!” indoor cat. So, maybe jog is a strong word, but you get my point. (And besides, I’d been sound asleep with a book in my lap mere minutes before the missing-cat-alarm sounded last Saturday night, after Noah walked in the back door and accidentally left it open, so, yeah, I’m calling it a jog. After all, my heart raced and adrenaline pumped. Oh, and my holey pajama bottoms drooped, so thank God it was dark.
You’d thank God, too, if you’d seen them and the rest of my hastily assembled getup and crazy bed-head – but I digress.)
As I scrambled into my winter coat (spring fever, my foot), stuffed my crazy hair into my favorite baseball cap (It’s periwinkle and bears the quote “Women who beha-- rarely make history.” I rescued it from a discount bin since it was missing a few letters. I love it!) and harnessed Jake, because Lord knows the big red dog was not about to be left out of the search party.
I shouted to the kids to, “Go check Jackson’s house!”
Jackson, the sweet black lab Holly cares for after school, lives down the block. And a few years ago, the last time Posey disappeared, we found him perched on Jackson’s steps, a huge cat-grin on his furry face.
Oddly enough, he was there this time, too – but not on the steps.
Instead – this time – he was crouched in the shadows behind Jackson’s garage, watching the flames dance in a neighbor’s nearby fire pit during the neighbor’s date-in-progress. Like I said, spring fever. But we didn’t spot Posey there for more than half-an-hour, because while the kids sprinted around the neighborhood with their flashlights and Todd drove around in his car, I strolled past the sweet scene with Jake – all peaceful-like in my crazy-lady pajamas – but I just couldn’t bring myself to interrupt their moment. (Fine, so I didn’t want to re-introduce myself to my sweet, newish neighbor looking like a spaz. I do have my pride. Whatever.)
Besides, my adrenaline rush was just getting started. Why waste a good rush on a solid hunch?
So, I kept going up the sidewalk. And down the other side. Then around the corner, across the street and into another neighbor’s backyard, where Jake and I spotted something moving in the dark bushes. I could tell it was a cat. But it was far leaner than Posey so I realized that it must be Viktor, another neighbor’s outdoor cat, for whom Holly had been pet-sitting.
She was busy searching for Posey in his yard, so I called her over to retrieve Viktor and put him inside since Viktor, a.k.a. the assassin (sweetest kitty ever, but, true to his hunter-nature, he does enjoy a tasty critter every now and then), has sort of a contentious relationship with Posey. (They met, once, through a screen door, and since then dear Viktor has comically flaunted his outdoor status whenever he sees Posey smoldering behind a window.)
Meanwhile, Noah searched the adjacent backyards. Wearing his black sweatshirt with the hood up, all MacGyver-like, he made me nervous.
“Seriously, man, put your hood down. You look like a hoodlum. You don’t wanna get shot,” I said, though I was admittedly far scarier-looking as I trespassed through our other neighbor’s yard (you know, that one neighbor I’ve not yet conversed with, who’s lived here for over five years and was not at home on this fine spring evening.)
Holly put the assassin inside, came over, and stoically searched the perimeter of the yard herself where Viktor had been lurking.
Poor thing; she was beside herself. Neither of us mentioned it, but we both knew we were looking for a body. Not finding one we finally returned to Jackson’s house, where flames from his neighbor’s fire-pit lit up the night.
“Have you seen a gray cat?” I called to the neighbor, over the fence.
“Yeah, there’s one, right there, with a white face,” she replied, pointing.
“That’s him!” I said, laughing, as Posey took off across the yard and made Holly chase him all the way home.
I did not run. Bad things happen when I run. With as much dignity as I could muster, though, I thanked my neighbor and strolled with Mr. Jake back around the block to where Noah was waiting, his arms raised in victory.
He’d been redeemed.
“Pre-bedtime cardio,” he called it, as we headed back inside and loved on Mr. Posey.
Yeah, OK, it was something like that. And to think, we’d not yet gotten around to taking that spring-break hike.
Guess we can check that off the list.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.