The room is dark. I glance at the illuminated dial on the clock on the end table. It is 2:00 a.m. and I just remembered that I did not shut the garage door. I slowly make my way into our bathroom and grab my bathrobe from its appointed hook next to the shower. My eyes are gaining some of their rod and cone cells and the darkness is no longer inky. It is just a few more moments when I can see the handle to my bedroom door and quietly open it and slink out into our living room.
As I turn to face our living room, I see three sets of almond colored eyes fixed on me. I start for a moment and then realize that it is our three feline inhabitants- black cats all. My eyes are starting to feel more comfortable as I approach the three cats hunched over the coach and following me intently. I have not been given to anthropomorphism, but it does seem like they are inspecting me to see if I am their friend.
In a few moments, they have jumped down from the couch and circling my legs- tails up and rubbing against me. I am careful not to take my steps quickly. I have this unnerving feeling that I will trip on them someday. I remain careful as I trudge toward the garage entrance and place my hand on the closer and press down. The door closes with a degree of finality, as if it had been waiting for some time for me to shut it.
By this time, the two younger cats, P.S. and Boo are already on the kitchen counter, reminding me that somehow I must have forgotten to feed them. That was not quite so. I turned on the kitchen light which illuminates the room where their litter box and food bowls reside. I see that most of the food has been eaten. So, I fill up the bowl and notice that our eldest cat, Mr. Random Numbers (all 18 lbs. of him) has nudged the other cats away. Random does that quite frequently. He is larger than the others and feels that he comes first. Once in a great while, Mr. P.S. will swat him away from the bowl, if he is especially hungry.
Our accumulation of three BLACK cats is a story unto itself. We did not start out to be cat owners. We have been dog people, but our daughter had a fondness for cats since childhood. She insisted that we adopt a cat when she worked in a supermarket as a teenager. She encountered a scruffy old man who told her that he had cats that he was willing to give away. Dara insisted that we visit this man’s home and take one of the cats.
We did go to the house and found it to be disgusting. Piles of cat food on the floor along with assorted poop mingled with other gunk on the floor. We spotted a cute little grey cat and took him home. He had fleas, and had to be dewormed. It was a month or so before we could really say that he was healthy. From that day on, we had a feeling that we would rescue cats.
Black cats are susceptible to two things- never being adopted, and being used by crazy people for satanic rites and witchcraft stuff. They are most likely to be killed in odd ways because of people’s fear of bad luck. Our first black cat, Random Numbers II, was named after the hero in a Robert Heinlein SF book called, Beast. Mr. P.S. was a last minute substitute for Random Numbers II, who left our house, hopped in a local car and was away for six months.
One evening I got a call from a vet, 40 miles away in Lancaster, saying that Random was at her house (she was able to read the chip in his neck) and would I come and get him. P.S. had been his substitute.
Boo was just a rescue from our local humane society. He came to us with some weird name and we immediately thought that he was aptly named Boo Radley, from To Kill a Mockingbird.
As I retreated from the kitchen, after pouring in a cupful of cat food, I looked at our three urchins and wondered how we got into this situation. They are part of our lives these days. They are a constant presence, on our desks, on our couches, on our cereal bar, when eating breakfast, and on our bodies when we lay on our couch. They are good guys and after 14 years, one of them is just recognizing his name.