Does Kaboodle look frightened? I am so sorry, Kaboodle!
It was good to have a cat in house; a member of a different species commingling with us humans in a state of pure love and total trust.
The leg-hold trap of bad times was just waiting for the right moment to spring; to clamp its steel jaw upon the frail joint that held us divergent species together.
The first hint of hard times came after I returned from a shoot in the northeast corner of Alaska. I had developed about 40 rolls of film and had then hung it up to dry, in the bathroom, on the telephone cord I long ago strung above the bathtub, just for this purpose.
Later, as I sat on the couch, reading, I suddenly heard something crash into the bathtub.
I jumped up, and dashed toward the noise. As I charged into the hallway, the cat pranced out of the bathroom. She spotted me coming, and, ears alert, dropped into a spring-loaded, guilty-looking position.
"Cat!" I accused. "What did you do?"
She sprang to flee, but I lashed out with my right hand and caught her by the nape of the neck. With my left hand, I grabbed the lower part of her spinal column. I tore her from the floor and marched into the bathroom. The telephone cord and all my hard-shot film was splayed all about the bathtub - a month's work. What priceless images had she ruined? Without modifying my grasp, I pointed her eyes and out-stretched legs at the film.
"Look what you did!" I shouted. "Bad kitty! No! No! No! Never do that again. No! No! No! You have ruined me! Bad kitty!" Then I marched to the front door, let go of her with my left hand, opened the door, and hurled her out into the yard. Kaboodle landed on her feet, then slinking low to the ground, scurried away and disappeared into the trees.
Come bedtime, she had not returned. I was wracked with guilt. My film had survived with irreprable damage. "She's just doing what any cat would do," I lamented to Sunflower, "just grabbing at anything that hangs and dangles (as I had rudely discovered one day while stepping out of the shower). She's never been treated like this before. No one here has ever been anything but nice to her. I'm worried we might not ever see her again."
"She'll be back," Sunflower comforted, "just wait until she gets hungry."
I wasn't convinced.
I let Sunflower go to bed by herself and I stayed up and worked late, until 2:30 AM. I frequently arose from my desk to go to the door and look out in the night, which had become dark again. No Kaboodle.
When finally I gave, I left the sliding glass back door open wide enough for her to slip in. I lay there, miserable. I did not sleep. At 5:00 AM, I got up and searched the house to see if she might have come in. No Kaboodle.
I stepped outside, looked under the porch and in all her favorite spots.
"Here-kitty-kitty-kitty; here kitty-kitty-kitty-kitty!" I trilled in my most reassuring voice. No Kaboodle. She was not coming back. My children would hate me. Twenty years from now, our relationship would still be soiled by the irrational, uncontrolled fury of this never-to-be-forgotten moment. I hated myself.
I loved that cat, and I had driven her away.
I crawled back under the cover alongside Sunflower, who groaned with disgust. I arose about 9:00 in the morning, having slept no more than ten or fifteen minutes at a tiome. Weighed down by sorrow, I staggered into the living room.
"What's that I hear?"
There, on the couch, cuddled in and kneading the prostrate Tryskuit's hair, was Kaboodle!
She had returned!
Life was good.
For a little while.
Kaboodle at the sliding door.