It was a Friday night, and my husband and I had just returned home from a retirement party for one of my Federal Reserve Bank coworkers. In my kitchen, I could see Patches was paying me another of her regular social calls, and I reached in the cabinet for a can of Whiskas. Patches' official residence was several doors down the street from mine in a house occupied by Mike and Sandy and their children, Bucky and Jenny. But Patches regularly stopped by when her palate dictated a dietary change from her customary dry food. And I, a pushover for a cat, more often than not, complied.
Anyway, on this particular evening, my arrival with Whiskas in hand, did nothing to curb Patches unusual, skittish behavior. She not only ignored it, she seemed rather agitated at my offering it. She jumped from the wall separating my and my neighbors' yard, to the air conditioning unit, to the ground at my shoes, up on the gardening cart, and finally up to the top of our gate, and then--not grabbing my attention--began a repetition of the same obstacle course.
At one point in her repetitious behavior, I attempted to quell her with TLC. But with a swift jump from my arms, she made it crystal clear she was uninterested. Her mews suggested to me that she was trying to initiate some type of response from me, but I hadn't the foggiest idea what that response was and finally gave up and returned to my house, my husband, and late night TV. I simply attributed Patches weird behavior to an off-night for her. Let's face it, on occasion, we all have off nights.
Following the late night news and "Dateline", I returned to the kitchen and immediately noticed Patches staring in our terrace doors mewing away. I once again tried to bribe her appeasement; this time with a dish of milk, but no luck. I really did not understand why she was acting like this; it was totally out of character for the usually demure Patches.
Then it occurred to me that possibly there was something in the alley that was frightening her and keeping her in the yard. Baltimore is a nice place to live, but like most big cities, it has experienced escalating violence, and animal abuse is one of the crimes on the upswing. So I grabbed the key to the back gate and opened it. As I looked up and down the alleyway, I saw nothing unusual. Patches, however, immediately ran out and down the alley stopping a half dozen or so people steps to check and see my next move. And my intended next move was to make my way back into the house in the direction of my bed. So as I started to close the gate and start my journey to dreamland, Patches ran back and got under my feet nearly causing my foot to come down on top of her. Her strange demeanor had me totally baffled, and I undoubtedly looked it as I watched her once again run down the alley and once again stop and look at me watching for my response.
Deciding she was beckoning me to follow her, I finally said "Ok Patches", and followed her steps down the alley. At alley's end, she again stopped and waited for me to catch up to make sure I hadn't reversed courses. I hadn't. As soon as I turned the corner, she ran down the walkway to her house, flew up the steps, and stood with her back paws on the top step of her home and her front two stretched to capacity on the door itself. In this posture, she begged my help in a series of mewing tones. I explained to her it was close to 12:30 a.m., and I couldn't knock on the door at that time of night, but she showed no sense of understanding and continued her cries for assistance. I was frustrated and extremely tired. Finally, my bewilderment and frustration with her insidious behavior, overcame my usually considerate nature toward my neighbors. So taking the position,"If I can't sleep, why should they?", I began a series of self-justified knocks. Besides, there was a light still on, and I thought I heard the faint sound of a TV.
After about my fourth repetition of knocks, I heard the rustling sound of life and awaited the arrival of some human form at the door. I also wondered if the arrival would be accompanied by some type of defense weapon. After all, it was the "middle of the night". (A fact that would be pointed out by my husband just a few minutes later when he would question me on my whereabouts.
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