What’s-Her-Name sits in the garden staring at the front porch. She has been staring at it most of the day -- we have unsettled her by insisting that she and the other cats go in and out the front door, as Q is varnishing the back steps.
They'll be dry enough for cats to use tonight, he says as he comes in the front door, carrying his can of varnish and paint brush from his task around back. Not for people, yet, but cats should be fine.
They don't like the front door, I tell him. I had to carry Gypsy out there this morning. This is a bigger deal than one might think: What's-Her-Name weighs just over six pounds and Noodle weighs a little over five, but Gypsy tips the scale at twenty-two. I can carry Noodle in one hand and the garden hose in the other. With Gypsy, you need both hands.
Noodle goes to the back door and stands up on her hind legs to look at the brilliant blue tarp that covers the stairs. She looks for a long time, as if she can't credit the evidence of her own eyes. Tonight, I tell her, but I know she doesn't believe me. An unknown force has sealed off one of her exits. Something is not right.
They keep going back to check on it as the days wears on. Perhaps it is no longer true. Perhaps I was mistaken. Maybe it was just a bad dream. But there is the tarp, covering God knows what horror beneath its garish blueness.
I suppose it's funny, but I'm not laughing. I know what it is not to believe the evidence of my own eyes, to look right at something terrible and not grasp that it is actually happening, to awaken the next morning thinking it might have been a dream and then to remember that no, it was real, and to be unable to believe it all over again. To forget for a moment and feel normal again, and then to have it come crashing back, hit the solar plexus and slide sickly down into the pit of the stomach.
Tonight can't come soon enough. We can restore what the cats have lost. They are fortunate indeed.