February 3, 2008
I'm going to start this story by saying, first, that the cat is just fine. So, that should tell you what this is about. Ron, Lord love him, is staying with Jeff and I until March and he did the hardest thing I think he's ever done in his life last night.
Jeff and I were just sitting down to a late dinner just before we had to go to LARP. "American Gladiators" was on. (Yes, it's a guilty pleasure of ours.) Ron comes to us and says, "Uh, I need to talk to you both. Uh, I looked out the window and there was a little face out there." (My first thought was, "Oh, you found a lost kid?") He paused, "It's Esme, she's outside."
"WHAT?" I shouted. "How?!"
"I think I accidentally let her out when I was looking for my keys."
At that moment, I could have killed him. I didn't say anything. I grabbed my flashlight and a bag of kitty treats and ran outside in the 35 degree weather with no coat on. I ran around the neighborhood calling for her and shaking the treat bag for ten minutes before I came to my senses and went back inside for my coat and gloves. (Jeff said he ran out there without shoes for the first two minutes.)
Jeff found Esme two different times. The first time, she was in the left neighbors yard. He couldn't get a hand on her. She ran to our backyard and under the porch. Ron jumped on the porch to get her out and it worked. Except she ended up in bushes in-between our right neighbor's yard fence and the neighbor behind them's bushes. That neighbor turned out to live in a cul de sac and was a pain in the ass to get to. But now all our neighbors know Jeff and I have a cat named Esme.
While I was running around the neighborhood, trying to get to Esme from the backside, Jeff was slowly reeling her in with treats and her favoritest toy in the world. Unfortunately, he has never had cats. He has no idea how to scruff them or pin them down. So, by the time I got back around to the front, Jeff had two mauled hands and the cat had escaped again.
I think it was at that point that the panic almost won. Every time Jeff and I had met up, the panic rose and I wanted to collapse in a heap of sobs and wringing hands. I didn't. But I wanted to. At the sight of Jeff's bloody hands, I had to physically stiffen my body so I wouldn't just lose it. It is one of the first times I consciously remember feeling the rising tide of panic and was able to force it back down with an act of will. That moment of willpower was interesting.
Jeff and I split up again after finding a black and white neighborhood cat that visits from time to time. I headed back to the house and as I reached the yard, I looked up and saw a very familiar silhouette in the open front door. I didn't say anything. I just headed inside, shut the front door and ran to the backdoor to shut it too. Then, I looked for Esme. Either she had come home on her own or I had locked a stranger cat in the house.
It was Esme. Right about the time I found her and ran out the front door to tell the others, Jeff and Ron arrived home. I was able to tell them that Esme was safe and sound. The best that we can figure is that Jeff freaked her out bad enough that she ran back into the house through the open back door to hide under the bed and none of us saw it. She was inside for the last fifteen minutes of our search.
At that point, everyone relaxed a little. Ron, who really felt bad about letting Esme out, breathed an audible sigh of relief and Jeff, who had been mauled by Esme, suddenly felt the pain of the cat bites and claw marks. After threatening to kill Ron if he ever let the cat out again, I instituted new door rules. No opened doors to the outside until everything was gathered. No open garage door while the garage was open. Right now, we have only one cat. Next weekend, we will have three. The two kittens are fast. Very fast.
Ron disappeared to his room (I think to stay out of the line of fire) and Jeff cleaned up his hands. We had no peroxide, so we had to make do with hand washing and rubbing alcohol. His hand was still seeping blood at game. It took about two hours for Jeff and I to come down from our upset and panic at almost losing Esme before we could joke about the escape. ("Man, Jeff, what happened to your hand?" "Oh, I had to spent some time coaxing Jennifer's pussy out of the bush. It bit me a couple of times.")
I'm really glad Esme is inside and OK. She was declawed by a former owner and I have seen both a possum and a huge raccoon in my backyard. Much less the plethora of neighborhood cats that run around. I was having visions of discovering my cat dead of a mauling or dead due to being run over. It was bad for me for that hour.
She, of course, is an unrepentant princess bitch of a cat. Well, I've got something for her. Since the kittens come next weekend and they don't have their vaccinations yet and she made outside, she has earned herself a visit with the pet groomer for a bath and a shave. She is going to be one clean, smooth kitty for her step-siblings arrival. (This grooming is also right on time since she's begun to hairball. Twice in a day.)
It's nice to know I can fight back panic when I need to but, man, I never want to do that again.