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Midnight on Leash


The First in a Series of Crime Stories by secret guest blogger, Kate C (Advocate of Cats in the Blogosphere who is till looking for the perfect pen-name) concerning Statutes of Limitations, Crime and its affect on Cat Longevity, Perils of Vermont, Glasscutters, Early-morning Crimes of Necessity, and Occasional Happy Endings.

Dear Robin,
I can only speak to you about this matter openly because the statute of limitations has passed. I don’t want you to leave you with the impression that all the cats in my life have died prematurely. Young Skinny Cat, for example, was once an unwitting participant in a crime of passion, but she recovered nicely and went on to live a full cat life, unlike her poor brother Fat Cat.

We were on one of many family road trips; heading for a week-long confab with our cousins in Southern Vermont. I was 14. Normal people bring their dogs with them on vacation. On this particular trip, I had persuaded the Powers That Be that Fat Cat and Skinny Cat should not be left alone. So here they were, roaming unrestrained in the family station wagon. This was not particularly pretty. Cats are by their nature are unwilling participants in any human activity. (Hannah, a young animal lover in my life with an adventurous nature, has attempted to walk my cat Midnight on a harness and a leash. The “walk” was spectacularly unsuccessful. Midnight simply lay there. Completely uncooperative.)

In my experience, cats don’t relish the open road in the manner of dogs, who are typically on view in their masters’ vehicles, snouts protruding through the open window, detecting scents while their tongues flap in the air. Fat and Skinny, for their part, celebrated our journey by alternately whimpering and howling. And throwing up. Other bodily fluids were involved. No need to speak of it further.

Upon arrival to our rental cottage, I released the felines to their own devices. A satisfactory arrangement for all parties. The cats were free to experience their own Vermont holiday: hunting Vermont birds, feasting on Vermont mice, basking in the Vermont-filtered sunshine. They returned reliably every night at dusk for a hearty dinner. Until one night, five days into our stay, Skinny Cat didn’t. My brothers, cousins and I searched for her everywhere, calling her name repeatedly. Time passed. Day turned to dusk. I was disconsolate. Just when all seemed lost, she was located—trapped inside the cottage next door. How did she get in there? Discussions ensued. Had our neighbors been spotted recently? The answer, to my chagrin, was no. Not in days. No lights, no signs of life. No way to know when they might return. I peered in the basement window, just above the ground. Skinny Cat crouched there, mewing.

Desperate situations call for desperate measures.
Emergency assembly. Hushed whispers.
Supplies purchased.
Suction cup.

Predawn hours. Station wagon packed. Parked at the end of the driveway. I sit inside, a blanket covering over my head, frozen. I think I can hear faint sounds. Glass cutting. I imagine a cat-sized hole in the basement window. Skinny Cat’s name called in a low voice. Where is she? Soft cursing. Suddenly, my father is in the car, Skinny Cat in his arms.

We are gone. As we cross the state line, the cats don’t make a sound.

If you would like to contribute a fish (or reptile) obituary to this blog, please post a comment below with the basics.
Robin McLean also blogs at Mike's Maze.
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