Friday, October 28, 2005

Calling Jeff Corwin

I'm home alone.
It's 11:30pm.
I am deciding if I should watch Sex and the City and support my insomniac tendancy.
Or make my career important enough to get some sleep over.
Or take advantage of no one being home and have another shot of tequila and see whats on late night HBO these days.
And the dogs start barking. Fine, its last call in the neighborhood for potty breaks and they are saying hi as always.
Then it changes. The tone and urgency are more severe. Suddenly. And its echoing in the garage. Ummm....
I slide the ultra loud glass door open in one swift gesture and growl "no barken" to the hysterical mutts.
Shorty comes out from behind a bush; only mild satisfaction on her jowls. She is happy to see me and comes into the house with a bit of a jolly gait.
Luke is a different case all together. I hear him in the garage and think only mildly of the socks I will ruin as I rush the garage door and slap the lightswitch up. He gets worked up often - any passer by on the street gets the riot act and the raised hairs on the back of his neck treatment. But last night was a new sighting. Absolutely every hair on his body was on full alert and his vocal cords were stuck in the shrill panic shreek that is usually a mistake.
I am confused. We have a cat that lives in the garage and he knows her and won't chase her into her home, just out of his yard. WTF?
And as I talk him down... "Luke, its just our cat, she lives here! - Come HERE" I see what the fuss is about. From 10 feet up our cabinetry a pair of eyes come out from behind the proped up plywood.
And they have a black bandit-like fur around them.
And I say "thats not our cat"
And suddenly I am relieved I did not do a shooter in the kitchen when the barking started.
I am reliving Monday when I couldn't feel any blood in my face.
Luke notices me and comes to tell me of all he's found. In his excitement he dashes out the door to investigate the source of the intruder more thouroughly.
I am being inquisitively and respectfully looked over by a snout and a black mask when I turn my head indoors. He shows himself to me; healthy coat, ringed tail, and marsupial gripping claws on our cabinets. A beautiful and not at all threatening racoon is looking for a way down.
Our eyes meet again. We both know I am partially blocking the only way out and that the beast of all black puppy excitement is pacing on the other side.
My decision was instinctual.
I get Luke's attention and chase his collar around in three circles before guiding his kineticism into the house. He licks at the glass in an effort to rejoin his quest for home base security. I step into the light of the doorway with a noteably calm disposition and wildly searching eyes.
And where is that darn cat that lives in here??
uh oh. Where is my newly friendly friend wandered off to?
I knock on the door. He looks at me from the farthest rafter corner. And sniffs.
My hands are under my oversized sweatshirt and I am suddenly very conscious of the sight of me... all cloth, no skin, a monotonous human face with no offending limbs or phlanges to harm him with. And the cooing voice of sympathetic nurturing is coming from me.
"hhhiiiiiieeeee bbuudddddyyyyyiiiieeeee... come on down from there. its ok. hhiiiiieeeee"
He turns his back to the corner and expertly traverses the rafter.
He turns back.
I look at him and slide fully into the room. I know it is he and I and neither of us wants a brawl tonight. And neither of us is scared in the least either.
We have an extreme respect for each other. I know he can be a menace at a moments notice and shooing him would only force his survival instinct to rein terror on our stored belongings... he knows I have control of the beast who cornered him and that I have a severly different tone with him.
In less than a minute he is back to the cabinetry, climbing down the way he got up, and on the ground. He is silent when he moves, graceful in his steps, and exactly like a cotton replica I had as a child.
I am suddenly thinking he is much more cuddly in body type and personality than any cat I have ever met.
He knows how to get across the floor without me seeing him in the masses of furniture that clutter the space. I call to him "I know buddy, I am not moving at all, you can come on over".
His face emerges into the light, his eyes reflecting as any nocturnal animal mirrors the exposing rays, and a foot comes around.
Its a crucial moment. If he spooks I will be there all night. He will terrorize our belongings and the cat is sure to be part of the struggle. And there will be no living down the dangerousness of our property to the roomates either.
He understands me instantly. I am there for his safety. Three full body lengths into the open and he stops.
I watch him, knowing he lives in my neighborhood with me, knowing his brother was probably run over, and wondering if he is what Luke stares into the trees for. He is a wild beast with a domesticated side.
His decision was made. He stopped to look at me. Not hesitated to check and see if I would reach for him as so many small mammals do; not even to think about staying the night in our sheltered garage. It was a full stop with the only intention to be eye contact.
In one peaceful explosion his body was in motion and disappearing silently into the night.

I stood for a full breath appreciating who I am. A person who can be trapped with a wild animal and get a good bye nod on departure. Someone who never felt the need for shrill voices or irratic movements. A woman who in the face of imagry of racoon scratches deep enough to scar can appreciate the layering of colors on his coat.
I told the cat she was welcome, shut off the light, and closed the door firmly. I wrestled past Luke to get back into the house. I rewinded Sex and the City (nod to Tivo... lets take a moment of silence for Tivo.....) (...........) and let the adrenalyne cycle through the mutts before asserting "bed time - everyone upstairs" at a distractingly indecent hour. And I slept well.

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