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Monday, July 7, 2014

You Haven't Seen the Cat Lately, Have You?

From June 2011.  I hope you enjoy it.

“Did Liza Bean say anything to you about going anywhere?”

I look up from my book, cock my head to one side and squint.

“The cat,” Willie says. “Did she say anything about going anywhere?”

I put the book down, get up and head for the porch. “Did she take the car again? I’ll wring her striped neck…” My voice trails off as I look out the windows.

The car is in front of the house.

I turn around, raise my eyebrows.

“I can’t find Liza Bean,” Willie says.

You’ve met Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, haven’t you? Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) is a symmetrically striped, tiny-pawed catcher of mice and demander of cream, a cat with a sharp tongue and a penchant for umbrella-ed drinks.

That Liza Bean Bitey.

“I last saw her asleep inside my bass drum, on the porch here; and now I can’t find her.”

I take a deep breath: “Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty! Heeeeeere kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty!”

Somewhere within the house, I hear a meow.

We leave the porch. The sound is coming from the bedroom, the room closest to the second-floor porch.

“Rowwwwwww,” she says, mournfully. “Rowwwwwwww.”

I turn this way and that, neck swiveling. Where is that coming from? “Liza Bean! Where are you?”

“Owwwwwwww!” she cries. “Mao-Wao! Mao-Wao!” The lousy cat has lost control of herself.

“Great,” I mutter. I go back out to the porch.

Willie is staring at the rafters.

Liza Bean, a small and curious cat, has been known to run up the walls, launching herself into the unfinished ceiling of the porch, balancing on the rafters in pursuit of winged insects and shadows.

Willie and I look at each other meaningfully.

“I think Liza Bean’s in the ceiling.”

Two hours from now, there will be a debate as to who made that fateful statement.

In the bedroom, Liza Bean continues to yowl. The sound comes from everywhere, particularly in the doorway, near the large heavy dresser.

I climb onto the dresser and we stare at the ceiling.

“Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?” Liza Bean demands. “Howwwwwwww?”

We go back out to the porch, stare up at the points near the ceiling where the cat has disappeared before and shake the bag of cat food.

We fan the smell of a freshly opened can of salmon-chicken puree toward the spot where we imagine the cat has gone.

I go outside, backing away from the front yard until I am in the park across the street, and stare at the roof, thinking that perhaps she’s gotten up there somehow, is swinging from a gutter…

I call for her until my jaw is sore.

I go back into the house, climb the stairs to the second floor. I go into the bedroom.

“Liza Bean?”


Liza Bean Bitey, the cat who once borrowed $200 from me citing “a business opportunity” only to return it a week later, gift-wrapped in a cashmere sweater, has gone feral.

I sit on the bed. “It’s going to be okay, you know. We’re going to get you out of there.”

“Ohhhhhhhhh,” Liza Bean moans. Her tone speaks of sorrow and confusion. It’s been a little over an hour now; and I imagine her trapped in the dark between floors, inhaling 100-year-old dust and fiberglass insulation.

Willie comes in from the porch, reeking of canned cat food and ice-cold beer.

He does not do well in stressful situations.

Willie has grown red-faced, frantic. The cat moans piteously and Willie pulls at his hair. Suddenly, he can’t take it anymore.

“We’re coming, Liza Bean!” he calls. “Daddy’s coming!”

Willie runs from the room and returns with the ladder and a screwdriver.

“Oh, boy,” I say.

There are three heating vents in the room.

Willie begins systematically taking them apart.

The removal of two of the vent covers causes the ceiling around it to crumble in a disagreeable and gritty manner.

“Yowwwwwwww, owwwwwww, owwwwww,” Liza Bean calls.

The third vent leads to nothing but a 108-year-old dead-end hole the size of a shoe box between the second and third floors.

“What the -- ?” Willie mumbles. We stare at the ceiling.

Willie wrenches the stainless steel venting inside the gaping holes in the ceiling to one side, jams the flashlight in. “Kitty, kitty!” he cries. “Kitty, kitty!”

Liza Bean howls.

“Over here,” I say, standing in the doorway. “Sounds like she’s over here.”

Willie makes his way to that side of the room, dragging the ladder with him. He pushes the flashlight into the ceiling. “Liza Bean! Come on! Please, kitty!”

“Mao-wao. Mao-wao,” Liza Bean says woefully.

Willie climbs down, pushes the ladder off to one side. We’re coming up on two hours now, two hours of hearing Liza Bean in distress. A panic is rising in me.

I stare up at the ceiling. The crying seems to be loudest over here...

“Well we’re not going to be able to sleep with this –“

“Shhhh,” I say.

“-- I know that for sure,” Willie finishes. “Oh the poor kitty. Oh the poor –“

Shhh!” I hiss.

I am staring up at the ceiling. Do we have a sledge hammer? You can’t just beat on a ceiling with a regular hammer, can you? What do you do when you have a cat trapped –

“Wowwwwwww,” Liza Bean says.

And then I hear it. It’s so quiet you could miss it…

Scritch. Scritch-scritch.

“Listen!” I say. “Liza Bean’s scratching.”

I continue to stare at the ceiling. Scritch. Scritch-scritch. I hear it so clearly. It sounds…

A wave of horrified excitement rushes my blood stream, and I look down with a mixture of anticipation and incredulity.

The dresser.

Six feet long, ridiculously well-built and heavy, I'll bet that thing's almost sound-proof…

I open a drawer. Tee-shirts.

I open another drawer. More tee-shirts.

I open another drawer.


“Mao! Mao! Mao!” Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) springs forward, dashes from the bedroom and into the sitting room. She drops suddenly and flops on one side, stretching and squirming with relief.

Gaining composure, she sits up, casually licks an extended back leg. “Holy crap,” she purrs, delicately, “I thought you people would never figure it out.”

Willie’s mouth is open, his face purple. I fall, weak-kneed and incredulous, to the floor, laughing. I stare up at the ceiling and shake my head.

Willie steps over me and heads for the refrigerator.

“Hey!” I call to him, still laughing. “Get me one, too!”


Indigo Roth said...

Hey Pearl! We are, of course, both over-protective worry-warts and idiots. Cats will always torment us with stunts like this. The bastards. Roth x

Buttons said...

So only one question which t-shirt did she pick while trying them on?:) Funny she never struck me as the t-shirt kind. Hug B

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
It's a good 'un!! Hope 'daddy' gave appropriate cuddles thereafter... YAM xx

Should Fish More said...

It's only been some months since I was tricked into coming her, so I haven't read this before.
Put her on a Greyhound headed west, I'll take her to the Helsinki Yacht Club for the Friday night lutefisk happy hour.

Ponita in Real Life said...

Oh thanks god she was only in a drawer!! I've had the experience of my cat taking a trip down the heating duct a day after emergency surgery (she chewed a piece of foam off a mat... of course it got stuck in her gut!) and subsequent ripping apart of the house to get her out. So I understand the urgency you felt in trying to find Liza Bean.

Dawn@Lighten Up! said...

Liza Bean! You silly minx! You know, Pearl, of course you do, that she enjoyed that a little bit.

vanilla said...

Still funny, and it will be funny every time you run it, right into eternity if you so choose!

Delores said...

Get us all one Willie and Liza Bean would like some tuna... the GOOD tuna.

jenny_o said...

One of my favourites, especially with the happy ending :)

Joanne Noragon said...

Been there, except it was the ceiling, and a new kitten lost out over the desert of the downstairs bathroom. I was up to the sledge hammer when my daughters appeared with Phoebe Snow, who had followed the meows of our old cat BoomBoom, the hero. and emerged through the tiny hole in the kitchen cabinet toe board.
All's well.

Chicken said...

Somebody pour that cat a G&T with 4 limes!

Elephant's Child said...

Been there, done that. And don't want the t-shirt.
Good tuna for Liza B, and drinks all round. Lots of drinks.

Daisy said...

Whew! I better get myself a G&T after that adventure. Glad it turned out fine!

Susan F. said...

THis brought back memories of taking apart our dryer vent, thinking our cat was in it ... only to have him wander home hours later. They do keep our lives entertaining!

Gigi said...

This one is one of my favorites. I know I say that every time but...they all are!

Geo. said...

Strange, I don't think a cat has ever helped me when I get stuck in dressers. Great story!

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

First time I have read this and can say I loved it

Rose L said...

I bet she was testing you 2 to see how long it would take you to rescue her! Maybe it is time to consider a cat crate, one with a lock she cannot pick!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Oh my, you had our heart pounding fast with that one. I hope Liza Bean explained to you how she closed that drawer.

River said...

I remember laughing at this the first time and it is still funny. Now that I have Angel, I'll be sure to check the dresser drawers before I close them. He has already been shut into the wardrobe once.

Drake Sigar said...

This is like Aliens 2, with cats.