Still relishing the antipasto salad and bruschetta burger, the best that bar food can offer, shared by Jay and me after completing the planting of his boxwood shrubs, I make the turn onto Lewis Road, the last quarter mile leg of the drive home. I make the left turn into Unity Square, cruise slowly past my house and down and around the driveway to corral the car for the night. From the garage I enter the basement room of the townhouse.
Odd that Cokie Cat is there to greet me without her brother, the Patch Cat. I do recall that I did not have a good idea of where he was when I had left the house at 2 p.m. I simply presumed that he had found a new napping place when I did not spot him under the skirt of the living room sofa. As I left the house that afternoon, I questioned for a flash that I may have inadvertently trapped him in a closed-door room or closet, but quickly dismissed that notion. That occasionally happens to his sister, but has never happened to Patches.
Nonetheless, moved by Cokie’s nervous pacing, I hurry up the steps to check powder room, closets, and spare bedroom. It seems fairly certain now that the Patch Cat is not in the house, and it is after midnight. I descend the stairs to the first floor, turn to the right, and my eyes pop at the open living room door. What the hell? How did that door get opened? I know it was closed when I left. I remember jiggling the lock button that has been troublesome lately. How long has it been open? How long has he been out there?
I often take Patches outside with me when I am watering plants, weeding, or just sitting on the deck reading, and I know that he rarely ventures outside of our yard area or the driveway in back. He is a bit of a celebrity to many neighbors and their dogs. Penny sometimes brings Patches fresh catnip from her yard on her evening walks. I always lure him back inside before dark, as I worry about roving raccoons or even worse. I don’t know how long he has been out there this night.
Cokie’s pacing and mews of urgency increase as she watches me pick up the flashlight from the foyer cupboard and exit the front door, closing it behind me. I begin to call out for Patches at a volume that should be discernible to his acute hearing without disturbing the neighborhood . . . Patches . . . Patches . . . Paaattchhhes. Patch-a-boy, where are ya’, buddy? Patches . . . Paaattchhhes . . . Paaattt-chuzzz. I circle his favorite thicket and walk around the gazebo in the commons area adjoining my yard. Patches . . . Patch-a-boy . . . Patch-a-roni, Hop-along-patchedy, . . . Paaattt-chuzzz, where are you?!!
I wait for that galloping white lightning streak to come charging out of the bushes at me, but nothing. No peep, but that is not surprising, as he is not as vocal as sister Cokie. I decide to pause the calling and walk up the deck steps and cross toward the back. As I make the left turn onto the narrow back deck, there he is, left paw up against the door. Patchuzzz! Why didn’t you answer me, you bugger?The light from inside the kitchen shows a tired face and a rather sheepish look. I stoop, wrap my right arm around his cool, hairy mass and open the back door. A few licks and sniffs from Cokie and all is well. © Dave Knoepfle