I am over it.
We are in the middle of a hard core renovation and the idea of negotiating dead vermin, night stalking and leg wounds might lead to bad things happening to cats and kids. I am at capacity. Capable of little more than what is currently required of me. But, I keep my promises, and I promised myself and others that I would tell Bill’s story.
She approached me while I was juggling a baby and a toddler in the shallow end of the pool and fielding “Mom watch me!” requests from multiple directions. I was clearly vulnerable.
“You look like a nice family.”
Dang it. I needed a compliment at that very moment. I should have known she was just grooming me.
“We just got this ADORABLE kitten and my daughter appears to be allergic to him.” The kids began pleading immediately and out came the pictures. This woman was good. He was curled up in a ball on a lovely little girl’s lap. It was like a high end cat card. He looked annoyingly adorable and in need of a home.
It didn’t help that the kids have been pushing hard to get a dog for some time now. You know, because it is such a good idea to get a dog shortly after you have your fourth child. The pressure to adopt a K-9 had recently intensified. “Why we need a Dog” presentations were becoming fairly regular. Typically these presentations included facts, breed comparisons and powerful dog photos with the occasional testimonial and sometimes crying. The pressure was getting to me, but there was no way in hell I was getting a dog anytime soon. But I had not ruled out a cat. They seemed easier. Moody and stand offish, but less likely to prevent me from going on vacation.
I told the nice lady we would think about it and we exchanged numbers and niceties.She immediately texted me some sensitive shots of Billy the kitten.
I sent them to Mike.
Bad idea. He replied.
Usually when Mike says something is a bad idea, it is. In fact, this has been a theme in many of my previous posts.
-I can’t handle a dog. We have kept the goldfish alive for over a year. I think we are ready for a intermediate pet. The lady said we look like a nice family.
You fell for the “nice family” trick?
I am going on record, that this is a bad idea. But if you want to take on a cat, go for it. But you will own this decision. It will be your cat not mine.
I took his naysaying as a sort of challenge. A Marlee and Me, Turner and Hooch — can you bond with an animal in a cinematic, heart warming sort of way– challenge. In hindsight, it is clear to me that those movies are about dogs and not cats. In fact, I cannot think of a movie about feline bonding…can you?
Bill arrived concerned and skiddish, with a bin of fancy toys, a plush bed,expensive food and name brand kitty litter. The hand-off was awkward. They didn’t seem as sad as I thought they should be.
When they left, so did Bill, down the stairs and to God knows what nook. I had pictured us snuggling with our new little bundle of kitten like the girl in the picture. Maybe some yarn play would go down. Instead, the clearly unstable kitten took off before we could even lay a loving hand on him. Later, I learned this was my fault. Apparently, kittens are supposed to be put in a very small room for a week or two to acclimate to their new surroundings. Being claustrophobic myself, this idea never entered my mind.
The screams came around 2 am. Startled, I rolled out of bed and smacked my head against the wall. Mike snored on. I ran downstairs to assess the danger and discovered Chaylee and Kenna hiding under their covers with the light on.
“What happened?!” I said holding my throbbing head.
“Mom, look out!” They screamed in tandem.
I turned around and there was Billy, crazed, hair on end, back arched, paws pointed, tail erect, side-winding toward me and break neck speed! I ran to the bed and jumped under the covers.
What have I done?,
We peeked out and he was gone. I began my advance toward the door and THERE HE WAS AGAIN! Halloween cat from hell flying at us sideways!
I was back in bed with the girls.
After several attempts, I was finally able to wrangle Billy, not without injury, and place him in the bathroom with the door shut. I stayed with the girls till they fell asleep, for they were no longer excited about the cat but terrified.
This event was foreshadowing. Billy continued to terrorize the house utilizing the cat and dog doors that came with the property. He would attack the children and guests. He was not warm but fearsome. We stopped calling him Billy, for the cutesy, do-gooder name did not suit him. He became Bill, William, and sometimes Chunky the Death Cat (Ki’s favorite).
He would do strange things too, like drink the fish water but not eat the fish. He would just drink their water down enough to make them uncomfortable and then stare at the poor bastards.
He was weird and maniacal.
Once, we took a little jaunt down to The Cove for some family fun. As we headed down the hill at approximately 15-20 miles an hour, a neighbor frantically flagged me down. I slowed to a stop and rolled down the window assuming there was something wrong with my vehicle.
“Your cat is on the roof!” And he was. His claws dug into the metal like an Alabama tick.
“Never seen that before.” Said the neighbor.
Bill loved the car. But, usually he only rode on the inside. He frequently accompanied me on trips to the grocery store. He would perch on my shoulders and only relax once I turned up the music. It would have been sort of endearing if it wasn’t so creepy.
My mom had a particularly troubling night with Bill whilst babysitting. He would not stop leaping onto the bed and attacking her while she slept, so she locked him in the garage and put suitcases in front of the boxy little exit the previous owners cunningly added to the house. He breached the barricade and continued his assault. She locked him in the bathroom. He scratched and batted at the door all night long.
We arrived home to a shattered and exhausted Grandma, not because of the four children, but because of the cat. Her calves looked like she had gone traipsing through the brambles. And she was not the only one to have this experience. After spending a night with Bill, Aunt Leslie simply said, “Fuck that Cat!”
The most frightening incident however is one so unbelievable that it may bring into question my integrity as a story-teller. But, I assure you this is not feline folklore.
Abel was bathing and I was watching a documentary on netflix so as to make the folding of clothes more palatable. Bill liked to sit on the computer sometimes, perhaps to warm his undercarriage. This was annoying, but not atypical behavior for a cat. I took a break from the laundry and peeked in on Abel, who was joyfully playing with measuring cups in a couple inches of warm water, then returned to my domestic responsibility which included, once more removing Bill from the keyboard.
This time however, netflix had been mysteriously replaced by a google tool bar…and within that toolbar was the text:
W…T…F Just sit with that for a minute.
Bill googled killing mice.
I looked at the screen in absolute horror and called Mike at work.
He was unavailable.
I left a message.
He heeded my cry for help by circulating my message throughout the trading floor at Russell Investments.
Bill listened to my phone call then turned away slowly and hit up the fish tank for a drank like a G. He had busted a cap in my sanity.
Google had no response to my repeated request for an explanation.
In the words of Spinal Tap, “Some mysteries, are just best left unsolved really.”
Next up: Bill Starts “Killing Mice”.