Mom decided it was time to take Christopher to get his claws clipped. This was remarkably easy, and Chris was amazingly well-behaved and uncharacteristically quiet. I'm sure he's plotting some horrible vengeance upon us.
Then we came back home and started looking for Othello. I checked all his favorite nestling spots. Mom opened the basement door and rattled a box of treats into that deep darkness which only the cats have explored fully.
Then, of course, there was the attic. Some houses have attics that people can actually use as bedrooms or something. Our house is sixty-some years old--for American abodes, that's past middle age and verging on creaky senility. We don't know what changes and repairs previous owners may have made to it. It is, however, clear that nobody ever tried to prettify the attic.
I crept up into the low-ceilinged, dust-laden dimness and peered to the side, where an expanse of uncovered insulation stretched out behind piles of boxes and trunks. Othello gazed sleepily, or possibly smugly, at me from his place in the pink foam. Oh yes, he knew what we wanted. We wanted to put him in The Box. And he wasn't having any of it.
I called Mom in with the cat treats, and she rattled them hopefully at Othello. He wasn't going for it. It was time for more drastic measures. I crawled around the various obstacles presented by twenty-plus years of disorganized storage, finally emerging into an area where I could actually stand up if I didn't mind bowing my head a little.
Othello didn't move as I approached him. I picked him up, detached the stray bits of padding attached to his claws, and attempted to hand him to my mother, who was still in a lower area where she could stand up without trouble. That was when he decided to move.
He scrambled away to the other side of the attic, shooting through the treacherous paths which I had to so carefully navigate. He was, Mom informed me, now curled up in an old dresser. I edged over that way, and this was an exciting adventure itself, especially the bit where a floorboard snapped in two when I dared to walk on it. Eventually, I got to the other side of the attic. Now it was my serve in our game of cat pingpong.
Naturally, Othello responded by darting away. For a moment, it looked like he was going to zip right back over to his previous position, but then he realized that we couldn't get at him where he was anyway. Finally, I picked up the cardboard top of the box that holds our festive implements and ornaments from back when we celebrated Christmas, and I used it to prod experimentally in Othello's direction. Look, Othello! The big scary piece of cardboard is attacking you!
Finally, he dashed down to the second floor, and from there he ran downstairs. Mom and I played a perilous game of catch-the-furry-black-bullet for a bit. A couple of times he considered running back upstairs, but then he saw me squatting ominously on the stairs and ran back the other way. After a while of this, he raced out of the living room into the rest of the first floor.
Then he vanished.
At about that point, Mom noticed that she'd left the basement door just a tiny bit ajar. It was no longer just a tiny bit ajar; it was now open enough to admit a cat.
We should have given up then. The basement, like the attic, is cat territory. But, armed with the box of treats, we ventured down into the damp darkness. Christopher gazed up at us innocently. Who, him? Helping the other to escape us? He'd never!
We made it to the far end of the basement before a pair of glowing eyes became visible. Specifically, they became visible from deep within a crawlspace. Nobody knew what was in that crawlspace--nobody, that is, except Christopher and Othello.
And that wasn't going to change. Victory went to the cat, and we slunk back upstairs.