When we were newly married we lived in New Rochelle with our first pussycat, a beautiful black velvety tom named Smokey. Our small apartment building had no doorman so I was used to carrying in the groceries myself.
One day I stopped on the way home from work to do the marketing. Once home with my armload of groceries, I fumbled with my keys and let myself into the apartment. I headed for the kitchen, unpacked the groceries and was starting to make dinner when I realized Smokey hadn’t met me at the door as usual, nor had the clatter of pots and pans brought him running into the kitchen.
Thinking it strange, I walked through the apartment calling him. No Smokey in any of his favorite spots – not under the bed, not in the closet, not on the windowsill. I even checked the terrace though we were always super careful to keep the terrace door locked.
Then I noticed an open bathroom window, the only window in the apartment that didn’t have a screen. It was so high we never imagined the cat could reach it, but what if somehow he had! I ran around to the bedroom window and looked down at the courtyard – thankfully no splattered cat down there. We lived on the fourth floor, certainly a survivable height for a cat to fall. I decided I’d get the car and cruise the neighborhood until I found him!
Then suddenly I heard a faint meow which unbeliveably seemed to be coming from inside the wall! And just then my husband called to say he was leaving his office.
“Smokey’s missing,” I bawled, “At first I thought he fell out the bathroom window, but now I can hear a faint meow.”
“Calm down”, my husband said, “he must be locked in the closet.”
“No, I checked all the closets! HE’S SEALED UP IN THE WALL!”, I cried, now in complete panic mode.
“What are you talking about?”, my husband said.
“Remember the Edgar Allen Poe story, The Cask of Amontillado when the crazy guy bricks up the other guy in the wine cellar! That’s what happened to Smokey!
HE’S SEALED UP IN THE WALL!”, I insisted, “I’m going down to find the super. He must have a crowbar or something to break into the walls.”
I hung up on my husband before he could try to stop me and I rushed to the door. I flung it open and there, curled up on the doormat, was our missing pussycat! With barely a glance at me, Smokey stood up, stretched his sleek body and pranced back into the apartment. Obviously when I came home with that armload of grocery bags, I didn’t see the cat run out.
I really must stop reading Poe.
Dana Susan Lehrman