A Cat's Fascination


I heard the metal doors in the kitchen creak as I sat watching death on the news. My mother, with her customary tact and charm, said it was stupid to get a one-bedroom, I should have a studio so I could see the whole apartment at once and thus not be surprised by a dark figure creeping in my window.
I jumped up, despite that the sound was not that of a window being opened, and ran to defend my rental burden. The sheet metal door underneath the sink was open, instead of the window. Poltergeist was the first thing that shot through my head, what else? I was the only living creature in the apartment with the manual dexterity needed to open that door.
I looked in and saw Jason had made a fool of me again.
The cat's tail was all I could see, growing like a fern out of a pit that sprouted pipes. Panic rose in my throat; Jason was my only real friend in the city, and he was going down this tunnel like a dwarf.
"Jason! Bad cat."
Jason's head replaced the tail, looking at me quizzically, like I was a fool interrupting a philosopher's musings in order to ask how a lawn mower worked.
I reached in and gently encircled his neck, trying to coax him out. He refused, yowling. Why was he down there? Must rose like smog out of the sink bottom; I avoided this area at all costs, but Jason acted like a man being evicted from a childhood home. Teeth drew blood from my thin-skinned fingertip, and I abandoned all pretense of gentility. Thrusting my fingers down into the hole, regardless of the gouging metal, I locked my hands around the feline middle and yanked my friend to security. Jason sprang for the cabinet, but I shut the door so he just bounced. He walked off in a disgruntled fashion while I put duct tape across the dungeon gateway. He wouldn't frolic with me for the rest of the evening, just went in and sat on the Bible Danny had given me last year in one of her ill-fated attempts to save my soul, like he always does. I went to bed sorrowing, and yet feeling slightly stupid that a cat could so upset me.

As I opened the door the next evening, coming back from a hard five hours of dishwashing, I heard over the click of the key in the lock the sound of cheap wood resounding, like a beatnik using an executive's desk for a bongo. A vision of my bathroom cabinet filled my mind, and I shoved the door aside and slammed it behind me. Rushed into the bathroom just in time to see a long gray tale flit behind a shutting door. The cabinet was under the sink; I crouched down and stuck my head in. He was already out of sight; the opening for the plumbing here was almost cavernous. I had no idea such large holes lurked under the sinks of my apartment.
"Jason?"
"Kitty?"
I received no reply save a distant scratching.
Terrified, I raced into the kitchen, seized a can of the moist food he loved so much, and ripped the cover off with a can opener, also opening my thumb in the process. I ran back, and left the can by the pit mouth.
Soon, a paw appeared, searching over the rim like a braille reader. Then Jason appeared, and began to gnaw at the food. I batted the can out of the cabinet, onto the bathroom floor, and he followed. As he ate, I reckoned he looked guilty, maybe adulterous is the right word. Well he might look, cheating on me with a musty hole in the wall.
I shut the cabinet doors loudly, and Jason repented of his food and sprang at the cheap plywood boundaries. I cried him to the living room and shut the door there, and proceeded to duct tape the door of the bathroom cupboards. Then I hesitated-what if he got past the duct tape? I wouldn't have thought him capable, but then, I didn't think he could open the doors in the first place. The bathroom cabinet was lower; no matter where I put the tape, Jason might be able to scratch it off. I ran outside, not even donning my coat, and dashed down to the hardware store. There I bought a childproof plastic lock. Then I went to the liquor store, and bought a bottle of cheap wine. I had to know, you see.
I went home, and threaded the lock through the handles on the cabinet doors. Jason was sitting on the Bible in my room, again. I opened the wine and started drinking.
I hate to admit it, but every good idea I've ever had was midwifed by wine. I wanted insight, I wanted to know why my cat, my best friend in the world, kept trying to visit these strange and dangerous places, places of no worth, ugly places, instead of staying in the warm uphere with me, who gave it to him. After the bottle was half empty, I looked out at the drifted snow and had a thought.
I went in my room. Jason was there, sitting on my Bible in the midst of all the other clutter in my life.
"You're looking for God, aren't you?" with only a little slur.
He looked up at me meekly; his eyes confirmed.
I started crying. "I don't believe it. I give you shelter, warmth, food, protect you, love you, and you go off in search of some hunk of nothing with a fancy name?"
I stomped into the bathroom and tearfully shredded the lock. "There. You want to go in? You want to sacrifice yourself? Go ahead."
Jason scampered into the bathroom and hooked his paw around one of the door edges, inching it open. He looked up at me, invitingly.
"Oh, no. I won't be party to your delusions."
Then he disappeared into the cabinet.
For three weeks I've been expecting to smell the rot, the odor of my ex-best friend, gone to meet his god.
Three weeks. In all that time, I heard no yowling, no crying, and he never came out.
I'm going to stick my hand in there now. I might find a pile of bones and liquefying flesh.
Or I might find nothing.
And I'm not sure which scares me more.
Oh, God, I'm not sure which scares me more.