Image hosted by

Friday, July 08, 2005

Stranger In My House

I may have gotten more hits and interested readers from the last part of this three part series had I named it "Lois Searches For The Perfect Pussy". I appreciate those of you who are hanging in there for every long drawn-out word. Your concern for my daughter and her safety is also greatly appreciated. For those of you who are new to Home Fires, welcome! You have just landed smack dab in the middle of what I did over my 4th of July holiday weekend. For those of you who have been absent for a few days, start reading at the post below called "The Stranger". Or better yet, read the one below that "The Gift That Keeps On Giving" because that also was part of my weekend insanity.

I headed back home quickly knowing the police were on the way. The officer was talking to Mr. Lane and my scared little girl when I walked in the house. She gave him her list of details, he shook her hand and told her what a wonderful job she did. She shyly looked at the floor. I knew the officer looked familiar but I just couldn't place him.

Based on the description of the car, the officer had a pretty good idea who the driver was. Finding out who the passenger was also was important because he is the one who actually spoke to Lane 2.

My mind wandered off with thoughts of the driver. "If the cop is pretty sure he knows him. He must be pretty dangerous or at least someone who finds himself in trouble often."

I decided asking him outright was the only way to slow my racing mind. He told me the car sounds like the one his teenage neighbor's boyfriend drives.

Mr. Lane asked the officer how far away he lived. When he said two and a half blocks away, I said, "That's where I've seen you. I knew you looked familiar."

The officer continued to put Lane 2's mind at ease telling her she did the right thing. He also let her know he would be having a little talk with the "boys" who stopped to talk to her.

Mr. Lane's mind must have also been going a mile a minute because he blurted out, "So does the little sonofabitch speak English or not?"

The officer said, "Of course he does. He just didn't want to talk to you."

As the officer and Mr. Lane wrapped up their discussion the phone rang and Lane 1 picked it up. "Charlie? Wow man! Long time! How'd you get my number? It's Lane man! Didn't you know who you were calling? My mom? Chip? Dude that cat's been gone a year. Okay hang on."

Lane 1 handed me the phone with a very puzzled look on his face. It was Colombo. "There's a lot of black cats around here but I'm going to keep looking and asking people and I gave a couple other kids your phone number. I hope you don't mind because they want to help too."

"Listen buddy, don't worry yourself. It has been a year and as much as I would like to find him, I really don't want you or any of your little friends going door-to-door looking for him okay?"

"I could just tell how much you missed it. And, well, I kinda wanted to help and maybe find your cat."

"You are a sweetheart. How about you keep your eye out. Don't talk to anymore strangers and if you think you found him, call me and I'll come and talk to the people. Okay?"

"Okay. Hey, can I talk to Lane again?"

"Sure buddy, thanks for all of your help."

Lane 1 knew Charlie, AKA Colombo from his old school. Charlie used to be in Lane 1's science class. As I handed the phone back to Lane 1, I quickly explained why Charlie thought I was looking for Chip. He gave me a thumbs up and took the phone.

The officer left and Mr. Lane drew Lane 2 a bath. She was stressed. He even put bubbles in it for her. Okay, so they weren't really bubbles, it was my shower gel from Ginny. The kind that smelled so good. The one I got for my birthday. I reminded myself that he was doing something nice for our daughter and not washing his truck with it and I smiled, not saying a word.

The phone rang again. It was my mother. When I started telling her what had gone on, I started with, "The cops just left." Not really a good way to tell a story, to my mom at least. The more I told, the more she freaked out. I tried calming her but there is no such thing. Messing with her grandbabies is like reaching into a lions mouth to get your steak back. Don't. Do. It.

My other line rang and I tried to ask her to hold but she was like friggin' butter, on a roll. I quickly answered the other line anyhow.

A nervous, Hispanic sounding child was on the other line. "Um, are you the people looking for the black cat?"

Oh fuck, here we go. I wondered how many people Charlie gave my phone number to. "Yes."

"I think I know who has your cat."

"You do? Okay, how about you call me in the morning and I'll come tomorrow because it's getting late."

"No these aren't good people. They don't even take care of their cats. Please come."

I put the little girl on hold and clicked back to my mom. I told her and Mr. Lane what was going on. They both told me to blow the kid off but I just didn't have the heart. I clicked back over and asked her what street she was on and said I'd be there in a little bit. I lied and told my mom I was going to blow the kid off and then said I needed to get off of the phone, make some coffee and call her back later.

Off to the bad neighborhood again, this time in my car and without a knife in my pocket. I saw a little girl jumping up and down waving her hands in the air. Rather than pulling up to talk to a little girl in the road like some people, I parked, got out and walked over to her. She told me to wait and ran in to get her sister and mom. They agreed that the people weren't real animal lovers and I should hurry.

The four of us walked to the house where the black cat was. The people who lived there were outside listening to music out of their pickup truck. They had a small bonfire and a few friends over. Each of them held a beer. They had cats all over their porch and on their parked cars.

I approached the lady who slid off of the tailgate as we got closer. I asked about a black cat. She said she had a couple but assured me they weren't mine. She sent her husband into their house to bring them out to show me. They were cute and all black, but they were not Chip.

I thanked the lady and her daughters for trying to help me and they headed back toward home. I stuck around talking cats with the lady, Edna. She seemed to really like cats but I knew she didn't have mine and I even doubted she wasn't good to animals. From the looks of things, she feeds all the strays. She may not take them to the vet or get them fixed but she makes sure they don't starve, which is probably the best Edna can do for them financially.

One of her friends, Claire walked over and joined the conversation. Edna said, "You guys have a black cat too, don't you?"

"Yeah we got a few of 'em."

I told them about my cat. How he went missing and described everything about him from his looks, his love of jumping to catch bugs in midair, to his love for people food and the little bend at the end of his tail.

"Shit! I think I do have your cat!" Claire said. "Derek, come over here! You know Jasper? I think that he's this lady's cat."

"No, can't be. He's been with us for at least a year."

"Hers gone missin' a year ago tomorrow."

"Well what does your cat look like? Is it a boy or girl, fixed or not? Declawed or not? How big is it?"

I looked at Derek. I could tell he was in protective mode. This was his cat. I told him all of the answers to his questions, which seemed to bother him quite a bit.

Derek looked at his hands and said, "Sounds just like Jasper."

Claire offered to take me to their house so I could see Jasper. My mind was going crazy as I silently talked to my dad again. "If you got any pull up there Pops, now'd be the time to use it."

I got in my car and followed them. We pulled up to a singlewide trailer, cats all over the place. Claire kept her headlights on and pointed where the cats usually hang out underneath her home. The trailer had a hole in the skirt and as we approached, most of the cats darted in.

Claire said, "Jasper doesn't like strangers."

"Neither did Chip."

"Well he might not come out, is all I'm sayin'."

I crouched down to call him. "Chip."

Derek corrected, "He goes by Jas..." before he could finish, a black cat ran out of the hole and into my arms. It was dark and he was black but he did come to me. I wanted him to be Chip so badly. At the same time I started thinking about Derek. I knew how he felt.

"How 'bout we bring him in the house so you can take a good look at him. He seems to like you a lot and he answered to 'Chip', very well could be him." Claire didn't seem as attached to Jasper as Derek was.

We entered their home, Derek now holding the cat. Claire told him to put him down so he could get used to being inside for a minute. I began telling Derek the story about how Chip came to me and about the day he died and was brought back. I wanted this guy to know I wasn't just some crazy bitch who wanted to take his cat. I was merely a crazy bitch who was looking for bad guys, which I confessed to him and Claire also.

"You guys, if this turns out to be Chip, there's a damn good reason why I was in your neighborhood twice today."

I watched the cat wander around the house. I noticed the way his tail whipped nervously back and forth and how it had a little hook-shaped bend at the end. When he meowed, it was almost like hearing your newborn baby cry in a nursery full of babies. You know without seeing when it's your baby crying. I know it sounds crazy but that cat had Chip's "voice" too. In the light I got a much better look at the cat. I was pretty sure it was him. When I looked into his eyes, I just knew.

"I am pretty sure it is him. I know you don't want to give him up and a year ago, I didn't either. Let's try something. Do you have any cat treats?"

Claire went into the cabinet, grabbed the treats and handed them to me. I shook the can to get his attention, I walked over to the light switch, opened the can, took out one treat, turned the switch on, rested the treat on the switch, put the cap on the treats, the cat never took his eyes off of me. I tapped my fingernail above the switch, stepped back and the cat jumped up, turned off the light and got his treat.

In unison they said, "Damn!"

Derek said he never saw a cat do that and knew as soon as "Jasper" came when I called him "Chip" from under the trailer that it was him. The light switch trick just was the icing on the cake.

I asked them to follow me home so I could show them pictures of Chip. When I came in the house, with two strangers, after the day we just had, Mr. Lane and the kids all gave me the what the fuck look. When Derek, who was last to walk into my house set Chip down on the floor, my kids went ape shits. It was the first time I saw a smile on Derek's face.

After we looked at pictures and they saw how quickly Chip adjusted to being home, they motioned to get up to leave. I thanked them profusely and offered them a reward, which they refused. Mr. Lane chimed in begging them to take the money. He told them about all of the tears over that cat and said it was the least we could do for them taking such good care of him. Claire looked at Derek, you know, the wife look. I reached out one more time and he took the money.

I told them they could come back and see him and we laughed about weekend visitation and kitty support payments.

Image hosted by

Chip still loves to lay in my lap, he just doesn't fit as well as he used to.

In the morning, I went back to that neighborhood and stopped to talk to my little Colombo. He was the one who really deserved a reward. He was nearly as happy as I was that Chip was found. I told him to ask his parents if he could go swimming and then to see a movie with Lane 1, sometime next week. My treat of course.

He said, "I'm sure my mom won't mind but you don't have to do that."

I said, "I want to."

I wanted to reward the little girl and her mom and sister and Edna and the entire group of kids who listened during story time in da hood and you guys for reading all of this and my dad who prayed like crazy in life and led me to him in death.

Monday evening our neighbor Officer Friendly stopped by. He was wearing regular clothes. He wanted to let us know the boys who stopped to talk to Lane 2 were found and talked to. They said they only stopped long enough to tell her to get away from the street. When he asked them why they spoke to her in Spanish they just said, "I don't know."

Mr. Lane asked if he found out why the one guy ran from him and the police officer said, "He told me he ran because 'The loco gringo was going to kill me.' I told the kid he was probably right."

After he left, I talked silently to my dad again, "I know you did this. Thank you so much! I know I don't talk to you everyday, but I do miss you every single day and I love you. But Dad, if you ever want to show off again, how about not scaring the shit out of me, making me think my daughter was going to get kidnapped."