March 2020 SOLC–Day 2
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The first winter the big grey and white cat visited, when the temperatures dropped below zero and stayed there, we put a notice on the town Facebook page. We found his owners, and they came to get him…somewhat reluctantly. They told us his name was Haskell.
Every so often Haskell cycles back through. He hangs around for a couple of days. Comes to the door and meows, then runs away when we open it. Perpetually skittish. I usually let his owners know when he’s here again, in case they’re concerned. They usually aren’t.
This past Saturday night, I heard a meow. I looked outside and there was Haskell. He limped heavily up to the door. Oh, no. I immediately Facebook messaged his owners about his injury and then lured him into the mudroom with some food. I sequestered him in there to keep him away from our two cats. I figured his owners would probably want to come get him. Their response came quickly.
When I asked if she wanted to come get him, she told me to just let him go outside. “We’re hoping he just comes home,” she wrote.
After grumbling a few things under my breath, I opened the door that separates the mudroom from the house to go let Haskell out. In a flash, he leapt past me and dashed into the house. What!? I spun around in dismay.
One of my cats, Juniper, had followed me, and after a quick face-off, she and Haskell launched into a whirling dervish of flying cat fur. I raced at them, yelling, and they split up. Haskell went careening out of the room, through the kitchen, into the family room, then through the hallway and up the stairs. Oh, no!
Following him, I slammed the door shut to the hallway. This kept Juniper away from the stairs and Haskell, but I had no idea where our other cat, Squirrel, was. I have to admit for a moment I just stood there, slightly stunned. What am I going to do?
Kurt had just left for the store, so there was no help coming from that quarter. My mind was skittering from one idea to another. Then, suddenly, I started laughing. The whole situation just struck me as so ridiculous, so absurd. Who else has a strange cat running through their house?
I took a deep breath and started thinking. I had to do something. Okay. The first thing is to make sure the cats can’t get to each other.
At this point, Juniper was thoroughly riled and I knew not to try to pick her up. I grabbed some wet food and lured her out to the mudroom and shut her in there. I slipped into the hall and found Squirrel, then shut her up in the downstairs bedroom. I looked up to see Haskell watching me from the landing upstairs.
“Hey, Haskell, come on, boy,” I called.
He ignored me. I walked slowly up the stairs, and he sauntered into our bedroom. He clearly wasn’t scared anymore, but he also clearly wasn’t cooperating. As I followed him, he glanced over his shoulder at me, then strolled into the bathroom. I followed, and emerged from the bathroom to watch him run down the stairs. Well, at least that was a step in the right direction. Moments later, he disappeared through the slightly cracked open basement door. Ugh.
Our basement is pretty awful. Horror movie awful. Dirt floor. French drain. Low ceilings and dark corners. My children point-blank refused to go down there–when they were in high school! Haskell had no such reservations.
No longer as amused by this series of events, I climbed down the ancient wooden ladder stairs, cajoling and pleading. When is Kurt getting home anyway?
I flicked on the dim single bulb dangling from the ceiling. I caught sight of Haskell. Intent on guiding him away from the far end of the basement, which disappears into a nightmare-inducing crawl space, I walked right through a thick drapery of cobwebs. Grimacing, I peeled sticky strands of web away from my face and out of my hair. Meanwhile, Haskell leisurely leapt up and squeezed through an opening to vanish under the floor of our kitchen.
Eventually, after a bit more ineffective cajoling, I gave up. I climbed back upstairs and shut the basement door. I let our cats out, and hoped I’d figure out how to herd our uninvited visitor out in the morning. Tonight, Haskell would just have to sleep in the basement. At least he’d be relatively warm.
In retrospect, it’s all my fault really. Saturday afternoon, with the challenge looming in my mind, I said to my husband, only half kidding, “We should go out looking for a story.” Famous last words. Once again, the story came and found us!