The Cat’s Meow

Two am, some animal scampers around my attic. I think it’s a rat. I spotted him once. I put bird seed in a window box which attracted beautiful cardinals, humming birds and fat rat. When I spotted him the fat rat bastard leaped onto the side of the building and clawed his way vertically onto the roof like an arch villain in Batman.

I’ve amended the attic space to my apartment in a desperate need for more storage. I have a ten by ten square foot studio apartment. I keep it sparse so every Tuesday I can play racquetball. In my attic I store all the stuff I should be throwing out thinking as long as I still have my stuff then I didn’t waste all my money buying it. The attic holds 15 years of bad decisions: infomercial products, parachute pants, a civil war chess set. I created a hole in the ceiling above my kitchen sink. To get up there I stand on my kitchen counter and lift myself up into the attic’s crawl space. Quite often my shirt gets torn by getting caught on an exposed rusty nail. Those tattered clothes get left up there like planted flags of a hard won battle. I live for these adventures. People see a scar on my arm and ask, “Damn, what happened? Gunshot wound?” Sort of, I impaled myself on a Magic Bullet. Everything in my attic is useless, a detention center for all things broken and rank smelling, lots of wood crates and books. Fire hazard? Nope, thanks to a leaky roof everything is soggy. Hey what could bring a story to life better than a damp edition of Moby Dick?

My landlorddoesn’t see the porous roof as a problem, he calls it ventilation.There are no smoke detectors, I requested a sprinkler system,he changed my shower head.

It’s now 2;30am and I’ve got to do something about this noisy fat rat bastard. Aha! My cat, Leviticus,can save the day! I lift her up into the attic. She will scare the rat away. I am a genius!

Unfortunately, the only one scared is Leviticus. Not knowing how to get down freaks her out. She walks a few feet into the attic then back to the opening crying to get down, so I grab her, and she goes ballistic, scratching my arms and escaping three feet into the attic. She is screaming. She doesn’t trust me! I don’t blame her. Everything I build in my apartment is done so imperviously and precariously it’s always falling down scaring the daylights out of Leviticus. The cat spends most of her time outside. Leviticus is now meowing, loud! My neighbors must hear. I set up a bar stool on top of the kitchen counter so that it’s a very short jump for her, but she begs to differ, continues meowing. I go back to bed thinking she’ll eventually give in and jump. But no, a half hour later she’s meowing, louder, in a high pitched whine that carries for miles. I scream at her, “Leviticus! Get Down! Leviticus! Get down! Leviticus! Get down!” I sound like a holy Bay City Roller. I’m an idiot. What was I thinking?

How do I get her down? The fire department? They’dfind a problem much worse than a scared kitty.

I google “how to get a cat down from a high place.” The first listings to appear “How to get your cat high.” (Not Legal in California). I find other suggestions such as getting close to the cat, petting the cat and gently guiding her into a carrying box. I lift myself up into the attic and eventually the colicky cat mellows and comes to get petted. I grab an old wicker mildewed hamper (thank god I saved it). She crawls into it, I close the lid. I look around at the boxes of cassette tapes, MS Dos books, and Mardi gras beads. It’s chilly, I put on a frayed Members Only jacket. It’s now 4am, I’m in a crawl space sitting on a George Foreman grill petting my cat. Not exactly what I pictured I’d be doing at fifty years old.

I look out through the holes in the roof — that’s the north star. Through those holes I can see the Milky Way. Wow, it’s like I have my own planetarium. Who needs Mt Everest with unchartered vistas in one’s own home.

I lower the hamper onto the counter, get myself down, lower the cat onto the safety of the floor,lift open the lid, she bounces out. I go back to bed.Not a peep from the rat! Game over.I did it! Tomorrow: after I store the bean bag chair up in the attic — Racquetball!Gratitude is everything!

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