Sunday, July 5, 2009
This is a story about my cat, Bullwinkle, but the story begins days earlier, in a different time zone:
Last week, on a family visit to CT, my brother and I walked ten miles along the Farmington River. I did fine for the first nine miles, but by the time we got back to the car my leg was cramping up. I woke up the next morning in severe pain, initially unable to maneuver my way out of bed.
I spent the rest of the day alternatively lying on a heating pad, stretching, and trying to walk out the cramp.
I felt somewhat better the next day, but I was scheduled to fly back to CA in the afternoon. Six hours jammed into a plane seat, I knew, was the worst thing I could do for my leg, and my prophecy proved correct. By the time I touched down late Wednesday evening in San Diego, my leg was both vibrating like a tuning fork and aching like a bad tooth.
Here's where Bullwinkle comes into the picture. I arrived home with no cat to greet me. According to my housemate Paul, she had gone AWOL two days earlier. We are 3,500 feet up in the mountains, and not all the animals are friendly.
Then again, I figured, Bullwinkle was bound to materialize once she sniffed my presence. For some reason, Bullwinkle thinks I'm her mother. Paul, on the other hand, is just a human interloper.
Next day, no Bullwinkle. Now I knew something was wrong. Meanwhile, I was happy to donate my leg to science, provided they were willing to take delivery of it immediately.
Friday morning, still no Bullwinkle. Then - from somewhere in the distance - meow-meow-meow. Bullwinkle? The neighbors to one side have a cat who likes to wander in and help himself to the food here. The neighbors to the other side recently acquired two indoor cats.
I decided to go outside to investigate, but first I needed to don a pair of sweat pants. I stood on my foot (the one attached to my good leg) as I aimed the other toward the appropriate opening as best I could. A blinding pain shot in both directions from the sole of my foot to my buttocks.
I breathed through the pain as best as I could, only to find my leg had gone astray and that I was en route to putting my pants on backwards. Eventually, I got myself organized and limped out the door, first up a flight of concrete steps outside, then down.
Meow-meow. Muffled meows. Where were they coming from? Inside the neighbor's house? The roof? the back yard? The garage-basement? No Bullwinkle. Had to be the one of the neighborhood cats.
Indoors, I went, defeated. But the muffled meows continued to haunt me. Then I thought I heard a real one, right outside the door this time. Bullwinkle? "Hey, Little Guy," I called, half-expecting the fur ball to appear through the cat door.
Nothing doing. Outside again I went. Faint but persistent meow-meows. But where were they coming from? Each time I felt I was approaching the source, the meows would disappear, only to start up again from a different and distant spot.
Then, the meows stayed put. They were coming from the ceiling area inside the garage-basement. Once again, I made my way inside. The meows were now coming in loud and clear. From a recess between the wall and ceiling poked a forlorn and furry face.
Before I knew it, I was up a ladder, with the poor guy in my arms.
It's now Sunday morning. The little critter has barely left my side. My leg still hurts like hell, but you know what? - for those ten or twenty seconds I was on the ladder I didn't feel a thing.