Angie had called Max, the man­ager of the stor­age yard, the pre­vi­ous day. He’d come out and opened up the locker, but no cat had cried or come run­ning out. Now he believed it was all fool­ish­ness, that there was no trapped cat in the first place. Angie wanted me to come out and see if I heard anything.

When I got to the place next to the locked stor­age facil­ity, Angie began call­ing to the cat. At first there was silence. Then I heard the faint, plain­tive meows from inside the locker.

I called Max myself, insist­ing that, yes, there was indeed a trapped cat (now into its third day with­out water or food). Angie had to leave for work, but Max agreed, reluc­tantly, to meet me at the unit later that afternoon.

Max arrived with an atti­tude big­ger than the mon­ster truck he was dri­ving. He punched the code into the access box and peeled into the yard even as I was try­ing to speak to him through the pas­sen­ger side win­dow. Once inside, he con­tin­ued to insist that Angie and I were wrong – if there was a cat at all, its cries were com­ing from some other loca­tion. He demanded to know how Angie knew this was one of ‘her’ cats any­way (as though this were some­how rel­e­vant to the situation).

Grudg­ingly, he opened the locker and peered in among the fur­ni­ture and other items hap­haz­ardly stored there. In a boom­ing voice, he insisted that if a cat was inside, it would come out and banged on the side of the unit for emphasis.

See, I knew it, there’s no cat in here,” he said triumphantly.

I tried to explain this was like expect­ing a human, trapped in a cave with a T-​Rex bel­low­ing out­side, to come leap­ing into the mouth of the beast. Besides that, I told him, a fright­ened or injured feral cat won’t make a sound. Any­one who traps feral cats for spay/​neuter soon learns that the cat who meows for help is someone’s pet; the fer­als hud­dle in the back, stoic and silent.

We need to leave the door open and back away for a few min­utes,” I said. “The cat’s afraid of us. It won’t come out.”

He refused. Leave the door open with­out a guard posted and clearly thieves would imme­di­ately make off with the owner’s crappy fur­ni­ture, K-​Mart art, and col­lec­tion of empty beer cans.

The next morn­ing Angie called to say the cat had started cry­ing again. No won­der, since it had now been trapped for four days. I called a friend in the cat res­cue field who has also worked in real estate (and thus has vast expe­ri­ence deal­ing with peo­ple who are surly, stressed, and gen­er­ally unhinged.) She called Max and, after lengthy nego­ti­a­tions and entreaties, reported back that he was will­ing to meet me and Angie one last time that after­noon. He would call to let us know when he was headed to Grif­fin Street.

That after­noon I stayed near my phone, wait­ing to hear from either Max or Angie about our next rendez-​vous. Noth­ing. On the advice of my for­mer hus­band (who was a gen­eral con­trac­tor and knows the value of a well-​timed bribe), I invested in a bot­tle of Crown Royal to be given to Max as a show of “appre­ci­a­tion” for his efforts.

But still no word from Max.

I drove out to the stor­age unit, think­ing to inter­cept him, and I waited. Around seven, Angie finally called to say she’d had no word from Max. It was get­ting dark now. Max wasn’t com­ing. There was noth­ing left to do but go home and pray for a miracle.

An hour later, I was talk­ing to a guy I know who’s handy with a lock­pick about the pos­si­bil­ity of break­ing into a stor­age unit (“Are you crazy?” he said and started talk­ing about sur­veil­lance cam­eras, alarm sys­tems, and felony prison sen­tences) when Angie called, cry­ing with joy. The cat was free! She’d been back to feed her other cats and the miss­ing one, wildly hun­gry but oth­er­wise none the worse for wear, had turned up.

Later, she finally got Max on the phone. He said he’d been by and opened up the unit and yeah, a cat had come out. Why hadn’t he called either of us to share this? Had he finally heard the cat cry­ing him­self? Had he left the door open as I’d asked him to?

I have no idea. It was a deus ex machina end­ing that would never hold up in a story.

But this is real life, not fic­tion, and the Uni­verse writes its own plot­lines how­ever It sees fit. For that, in the case of a feral cat who lost one of its nine lives on Grif­fin Street, I am eter­nally, bound­lessly grateful.

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