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Posted on 2004-06-11 12:36:16 by Denver


Last night as I lay draped on the couch in my living room - head rolling off the cushions, lights dim, eyes shut, mind imaging the cruelty and beauty in the dark chords of Sonic Youth's "Sister", Stella (my roomate's small black and white ragdoll cat) nestled on my belly, half full can of Budweiser on the low slung Japanese coffee table - I heard the rustle and thump of light footsteps on the hardwood floor and felt the vibrations of another presence.

A feral cat had entered the house; a large blonde panther with bright green eyes and a long lithe body with white spots and tightly coiled muscles rolling down its back. He had come through the rose bushes in the side yard, wandered through the open front door, climbed up the stairwell and entered the living room. Stella and I rose in unison and in a low hiss I could hear Stella's unmistakable message.

"Get out."

He moved quickly and powerfully down the hallway past the bathroom and chose the entrance to my bedroom. Stella hid under one of the white long haired pillows stacked beneath the bookshelves framing our fireplace. I picked up an old dust mop and charged into my room. The cat was stalking a dead rose in a vase on my windowsill - a present from my roommate weeks ago. Upon seeing me he leaped at the window like a fly attempting to pass through glass; the vase crashed to the ground and the cat bounced off the pane and fell to the floor, legs writhing and scrambling, then tore off across the bed and onto my night stand. He collided with the reading lamp, sprang up and clutched the green silk curtains of my closet, pulling his way up their length, and swung onto the farthest reach of my upper closet shelf, pushing the stacks of winter wool to the ground. Finding nowhere else to run he balled up; hissing and coiling in the shadows.

I struck with the mop, attempting to dislodge him from the high corner of darkness. The cat had the same intensity in his search for refuge as that of a mouse caught in the glare of a kitchen light, and this desperation was made palpable with every stretch of his muscle and glance of his eye, and it gave him a crazed, dangerous menace. He leapt off the shelf, large claws sweeping past my chest, and landed on the floor, recoiled, and made another mad futile leap through the closed window at the foot of my bed. The head snapped back from the impact with the plate glass and he fell on his back, twisting, upright again, digging his claws into the wood; he gained traction and bolted out the doorway. Running nose to the ground and careening wildly through the living room and across the entryway landing, he pushed over stacks of carefully balanced cds and knocked my roomate's freshly laundered lingerie off the balcony railing leading down to our front door. In the fading twilight of the evening he entered her bedroom and disappeared into the deepest pocket of her overstuffed closets. Unable to find the light switch and fearful of rabies and bacterial puncture wounds, I retreated.

I wedged the front door wide open down at the bottom of the stairs with a stray bamboo pole and blocked the entrance to the living room with a closet door and an antique picture frame. I shut my roommate's bathroom door and removed the fragile glass perfume bottles from the entryway shelf. Selecting a long handled broom with thick plastic bristles from the kitchen I entered her bedroom. The cat had lodged itself behind a mobile plastic shelving cabinet and when I pushed I could feel the crunch of his skeleton as the cabinet crushed his body into the bedroom wall. As I released the tension the cat sprang from the vice grip and galloped out of the bedroom. In the entryway he skidded to a halt before the pit-like opening of the stairwell and then ran at the blocked doorway to the living room. Flinging himself at the road block he battered the flimsy wooden picture frame and then scaled it with exposed claws, and just as he reached the top, and saw the softly lighted vista of our living room floor strewn with old magazines and mix and match sitting pillows, Stella's black whiskered face rose up and hissed in a low terse caterwaul that could only mean one thing.

"You shall not pass here."

The blonde panther, twice as large as the black and white ragdoll, more in surprise than fear, shot upward, snagged the top of the wooden doorframe molding and scrambled sideways onto the sheer, gripless drywall above the stairwell. Then suddenly, gravity took hold of the beast and, claws scratching the air wildly, he plummeted twenty five feet straight down to the dark pit at the bottom of the stairwell with a dull thud. There was a frantic scratching and then a flush of air and, he was gone.

But i think i see her smiling
I think i see her smiling
I think i see her smiling
I think i see her smiling

The lyrics of PJ Harvey's song floated off my lips as I settled back onto the cushions to finish my beer, and she stood on the fire escape, paws in her litter box, ears relaxing in the cool Brooklyn breeze.

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