Thursday, May 3, 2012

Who's Calling Who "Creepy"?

My cats are creeping me out. 

Twice now, when my husband was out of town, I’ve awakened to the sound of running water.

OK, it didn’t wake me up.  I got up for another reason and heard the water running.  Or, maybe I heard the water running in my sleep, which in turn made me want to get up for that other reason…but never mind!   

The point is, it’s creepy to be alone in the house, hear a sound you can’t quite identify, follow it down the stairs and into the bathroom on the first floor in your bare feet just like in scary movies, doing everything as though it had an ominous soundtrack, to find the water running full force in the tub!  Not funny!  Creepy. 

In their weird nocturnal shenanigans the cats must have mistaken the hot and cold levers for a spider or a bug, jumped up and pulled them down, turning on the water.  That probably was pretty funny before the creepy part about the water running in an empty house in the middle of the night with the bare feet and all. 

And the kitties?  Where were they?  Not to be found.  Far away from the scene of the crime, coiled together, sleeping sweetly.  The only evidence of their involvement, tiny paw prints and tufts of feline fur, could have been left any time.  Not enough for a court of law or peace of mind. 

I know.  They’re just kittens, less than a year old.  But I had a long stretch of civilized life with a mature, dignified, well-mannered, sedentary cat: Susan, my gentle companion.   

Last July, at 21 years old, she passed on to that sunny window seat in the sky.  New kittens made the perfect salve for my broken heart.  I took my own advice and got two.  They’ll keep each other company, I always said.  

No…they’ll split up and out flank you. 

I’m like a grandmother raising her own grandchildren.  They are way smarter and much more nimble than I am.  I underestimated the focus and determination of the kitty mind.   

To wit:  They flipped the faucet again in the middle of the night!  This time in the kitchen sink.  You have to investigate, right?  You can’t just wake up and say, ‘Oh, that sounds like running water again,’ and go back to sleep.  It’s dumb to get dressed at 2am just to go downstairs; so there you are again, barefoot in your nighty.  A most vulnerable feeling.  And when I turned to go back to bed, there they stood, eyes wide, saying nothing.   

Spooky. 

Susan hadn’t fought me for a drumstick in a couple of decades.  Now Jesse lurches at me with the single-mindedness of that alien creature in… “Alien.”  Make no mistake: He will have chicken.  Uma, his sidekick, gazes pointedly with amber eyes.  It’s unnerving.  She commands a sense of fairness.  If he gets chicken, so will she.   

So, now I’m obliged to steal into the kitchen for my lunch.  I just want a few bites of my chicken sandwich without having to keep moving and throw elbows.  Like a ridiculous loser, an alcoholic surreptitiously sneaking a drink, I chose the moment to make my move.   

If there were music to this scene, it would be plucking on the strings of a harp.  Tink, tink.  Tink, tink, tink.  Maybe those are piano keys at the extreme right end of the keyboard.  Tippy toeing through the hallway, past the door where the cats sleep.  Did they raise their heads?  Turn an ear?  No.  I’m safe.  

Down the stairs.  A breath.  OK.  Straighten up.  More confident now, to the refrigerator.  Tug on the handle and it opens with that sucking sound, the sound of a galosh (single for galoshes) being freed from mucky muck. 

Pause.  What was that?  A thump?   

Oh no.   

A jingle.  Trotting.  Their turn to tink – needle-pointed claws on the hardwood of the staircase. 

I scan the kitchen frantically.  With only seconds to spare, I bolt into the pantry.  Yes!  I’m standing in the pantry, eating my sandwich, clutching the milk carton, and staring at my cats through the leaded glass door.   

They stand and stare back, oh-so-mature, wide-eyed, shocked at my subterfuge.  All this to avoid sharing?  An adult in the pantry…!  Really. 

“Now that,” they seemed to be saying, “is creepy.”