by Pa Rock
My unwanted house guest disappeared. Over the next several days I came home at odd hours during the day hoping to surprise the freeloader and have a showdown, but not only was he not there, it didn’t appear that he been anywhere near my place since the night that I destroyed his nest beneath my trailer.
Fine. He was gone. Good riddance.
But the sleazy sand bastard had apparently taken my cat with him! How was some doofus who could barely get in out of the rain going to take care of a cat! Scroungy Bastard would miss the easy life at my place. The fact that he was gone told me that the old homeless hippie must have caged him – or worse yet, eaten him!
On the first day after discovering the human nest beneath my home I went to town and bought the largest outdoor flowerpot that I could load and unload by myself. After removing my groceries from the old hippie’s hidey-hole, I put the skirting back in place and parked the giant flower pot in front of the offending lesion. Then I filled that sucker with Arizona dirt and planted it full of prickly pear cactus. There would be no way to move the pot without emptying it, and getting that cactus out, especially in the dark, would be a death-defying proposition.
Yes, there were several other places around the trailer’s base where he could possibly pull the skirting loose and gain entry, but those were more open to public view. And if he did get back in, it at least would not happen right underneath my bedroom. The older I get, the more important restful sleep becomes!
Late the second day, after work, I drove down to my favorite mega-hardware store and bought two locksets. On day three I changed the locks on my front and back doors, and checked to see that every window was closed and locked. The only point of ingress and egress for a non-key holder was now the doggy door, which measured four inches by ten inches. I could have blocked that as well, but I held out hope that my kitty would escape the clutches of the evil veteran. (Yes, he was evil. How else do you explain catnapping?)
I was tough! I was brutal! I was pissed off!
By the weekend, however, my resolve was beginning to waver. This guy undoubtedly had mental issues. He was hungry and homeless. The poor soul just wanted an occasional bit of food and a place to sleep that was out of the weather. He probably needed a friend, so maybe it was good that Scroungy Bastard was with him. My anger was morphing into shame.
Monday morning before work I set the clean sleeping bag, tightly rolled, out back on the picnic table along with a couple of cans of beans and an old army mess kit. I even donated my personal P-38 military can-opener to the survival bundle, although I was fairly certain that would be one item that the larcenous wayfarer already possessed.
I had lunch on base, not wanting to go home and risk scaring the hippie veteran away before he had a chance to collect the sleeping bag and the beans. I was hopeful that he would find the stuff early enough to be able to set a good camp somewhere before it got dark. It was December and the desert nights were getting downright cold.
At dusk I pulled into my parking spot behind the trailer. The items I had left of the picnic table were gone – a good sign that at least the stranger hadn’t frozen to death in his sleep. Out of habit I walked around my tin hovel looking for the wayward cat, but he was still not to be found. I unlocked the back door and went inside. My focus was on what to microwave for my evening meal, but all thought of eating disappeared as I stepped into the kitchen. There, on the table, was the sleeping bag, still tightly rolled, along with the beans and utensils that I had left outside on the picnic table that morning.
My first reaction was to rush into the living room and check the front door, but it was locked and the deadbolt was engaged. Next I counted keys. I had two, one for the front door and one for the back, on my key chain. The only other set was still safely under a mat in the trunk of my car.
It was possible, I supposed, that my nemesis knew how to pick a lock, but if he did it had to have been the back door – the one that wasn’t secured with a deadbolt. That door clearly had not been forced open, and anyone taking the time to pick a lock could not have escaped the notice of my neighbor, Loretta, a Native American grandmother who sits on her front porch gazing at my back porch from dawn to dusk, and sometimes longer. The one-woman neighborhood watch had never missed any of my transgressions, so it was highly unlikely that a cat burglar would escape her notice.
My final investigative act was to inventory the food supply. Everything was in its place except for half a bag of Kitty Kibble. That was a relief. It’s hard to stay angry at someone who takes care of your cat, even if he is a criminal!
Tuesday morning I again set out the sleeping bag as a peace offering. I also included a better assortment of groceries: canned corn beef, a jar of olives, a package of nacho chips, a couple of granola bars, an apple, and a can of expensive cat food. The unfortunate derelict could sleep warmly with a full stomach, if his twisted pride would let him, and there was always a chance that my kindness would result my kitty being allowed to come home for a visit.
But, cat visitation or no cat visitation, the humanitarian gesture had waxed my ego, and I spent that day at work feeling somewhat akin to Gandhi, a notion that was quick to dissipate later in the evening when I got home and stepped through the back door and into hell!