The package of hamburger buns had been ripped open with two partially eaten. Crumbs were scattered all over the kitchen counter and onto the floor. Only two of us live in this house. I knew that I certainly hadn’t made the mess. I sighed as I went in search of my husband.
“Did you get hungry in the middle of the night?” I asked, trying to disguise my annoyance.
“It seems that somebody was in a hurry to get into the buns last night and didn’t bother to clean up the crime scene. Wasn’t me. Had to be you.”
He shook his head. “Nope. Can’t confess to something I didn’t do.”
I shrugged and returned to the kitchen. The scullery maid duties usually fall to me. I retrieved the broom and dust pan from the pantry.
"Must have been the cat,” he called from the other room.
I stopped in my tracks. He was trying to be funny. “We don’t have a cat,” I said, tossing the entire bag of now-stale bread into the garbage.
“We had one in here yesterday morning. It was hanging out in the living room, perched on the curtain rod.”
I paused to consider what he has said. “Seriously? And what did you do?”
“Went to get some coffee. By the time I got back, it was gone.”
“Gone where?” I was beginning to feel like I had fallen into a bad game of twenty questions.
“Outside, I guess.”
“Did you try to shoo it out?”
“No. Just figured it would leave the same way it came in.”
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, hoping to channel my inner namaste before I lost my temper. "Keep calm," I whispered to myself.
We may or may not have a cat on the loose in our house, I thought. But where had it come from? I have three neighbors. I called them, asking if anyone had a missing pet. Nope. None of them even had a cat either. We live in the middle of nowhere. It must have been feral, I guessed. That could make the situation even more complicated. Just my luck.
My mind raced with possibilities. The weather had recently turned cool after a long, hot summer. We eagerly opened the doors, welcoming the crisp fall air into a house that had been closed tight for months. I guess the kitty thought it to be a sign that it was welcomed.
Now what, I wondered?
And so I waited. Later that afternoon, my husband spotted it again, casually strolling through the back hall like it owned the place. He came to get me, but by the time we had both returned, it was gone. Wasn’t that convenient, I thought? I was starting to suspect that perhaps I was the object of some silly joke. Candid Camera hadn’t been on TV for a long time, I rationalized. But isn’t October a time ripe for pranks, especially one that involves a ghostly cat? I reminded myself that it is best to keep a sense of humor at such moments.
I was, nevertheless, a little frantic just thinking about the potential consequences. An undomesticated cat could wreak havoc in my house. We had to find it. My husband went in search of the live trap, one we had once used to catch squirrels in the attic. I prepared the bait, a fresh can of tuna. We placed it in the middle of the den, adjacent to the kitchen. If it had found food here once, it would most likely return when hungry.
The next morning, the trap rested there, empty, but the kitchen garbage can had been upturned., and there was a vile smell permeating the house. My sensitive nose led me to the basement room. It was a disaster. Two lamps had been knocked off of tables. A picture had fallen off the wall. A decorative plate and vase were shattered. The bracket holding a surround sound speaker, which hung by two thin wires, was in pieces. And to add insult to injury, there, in the middle of the sofa, was a disgusting pile of poop. This explained the awful odor.
My stomach churned in protest.
I got to work cleaning up the mess and disinfecting everything in sight. I cursed under my breath as my husband set up a second live trap.
Let’s face it: even the most astute detective sometimes fails to solve a crime. Even the most experienced hunter sometimes fails to bag the prized trophy. And sometimes, even smarty pants people are outsmarted. This is one of those times. But by a cat? Gee.
It has been four days. And no, we still have not caught it yet. Heck, I still haven't even seen it. Our dog, Lola, is no help, oblivious to its intruding presence as she naps comfortably on the sofa. Meanwhile, I am trying to think like a cat, going through lots of bait and sleeping with one eye open.
I am reminded of TS Eliot’s poem, “Macavity, the Mystery Cat.” In his honor, I have given this feline the same name, for it, too, is a master criminal, who has broken every human law. And like Eliot’s hero, it’s useless to investigate because
“You seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air.
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there.”
So I will end this blog here and keep you all posted. You see, I need to go to the store to stock up on tuna. I hear that Kroger is running a sale. And maybe, while I am there, I ought to invest in a litter box, just for good measure. It couldn’t hurt.