The Neighborhood Cats Perform West Side Story At Three In The Morning

It crept up on me over the course of an evening two weeks ago. I was eating dinner at Arby’s, happily reading a book and devouring a bag of their new seasoned potato chips. Between pages I noticed the vague sensation of a sore throat. Probably too many salty chips I rationalized.

By the end of the night there was no denying my throat was sore, but maybe it was only temporary. By the next morning, the tissues were flying and I was shivering in bed with a joint-aching fever. For the next three days I only got out of bed to walk to the kitchen and back. I took my temperature every five minutes, I whined on Facebook, I caught up on four hours of The Voice, I tried to read magazines. But mostly I squirmed in discomfort, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t have been more bored.

Eventually the fever subsided and I went back to work, but the cough has hung on and joined forces with my spring allergies. Since then all I’ve been doing is going to work and coming back home to rest. My blog has been quiet. Nothing much to write about. Until last night…

It crept up on me over the course of a dream. I was dreaming I was in a completely white room. A maze of white rooms, all with a black cat in the middle, each new cat causing more of a ruckus than the last, until I slowly started to wake up. I groggily opened my eyes. It was pitch black and pin-drop quiet. Then I heard it. That unmistakeable sound. Aahhh, nuts. Stray cats fighting outside under my window.

What time was it anyway? I fumbled around and pointed my reading light at the wall clock. Three-thirty in the morning. Great. I stumbled out of bed. Clearly my body was not yet ready to be awake. It sounded like a dozen eerily crying babies outside. I grumbled my way down the hall, eyes half shut, to the bathroom to look out the window. I twisted open the blinds, convinced I’d find myself faced with a feline melee. Instead as I focused my eyes in the dark I found the symphony of cats I had envisioned was actually one black cat and one tan cat sitting calmly, facing each other and yowling like there was no tomorrow. Seriously?!? How could TWO cats make THAT much noise?

Well, this simply had to stop. I immediately started in with all the completely logical things one does when awakened in the middle of the night by a cacophony of cats. I turned lights on. I turned lights off. I opened windows. I shouted things like, “Hey, CATS! Knock it OFF!” and “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”. I closed windows. I tapped loudly, yet probably too politely on the glass.

I moved from room to room, employing each worthless technique, grumbling loudly and bouncing off doorways in my sleepy stupor. In the back of my mind I feared they would rise up, their cat wiles forged together against me, their common enemy, and somehow figure out how to come up on the deck and open the glass door or maybe jump ten feet in the air and come in through the window…I don’t know…I was really, really tired and distressed, cut me some slack.

With none of my brilliant plans working, I finally turned on my phone and begged Google for help. Admittedly, my brain was not in full function for coming up with pertinent search terms, but all I got for results was how to get your two pet cats to get along. Really, Google? Nothing to stop the other-worldly howling outside my window? Nothing?? These are NOT my cats and I am NOT going anywhere near them to break this thing up.

I decided to give it one last try. I shined a flashlight through the bathroom window out into the darkness attempting to distract them. Nothing. Not even a budge. There they sat, face to face, howling at each other.

It was like The Rumble in a feline version of West Side Story. I kept expecting a dozen more black kitties and tan kitties in little Jets and Sharks jackets to come streaming into the scene from behind the trees and under the deck, circling each other and snapping their claws on their paws in time with the music now playing in my head. That was enough to make me laugh. FINE! I give up cats! YOU WIN! Enjoy your little show. I’m going back to bed and drown you out with the noise of the television.

So, there I lay, an hour after the ordeal began, drifting back to sleep, listening to the guide on a travel program show me around Europe at an unusually loud volume. Boy this European city sure has a lot of cats. I hear them in every scene…

When I woke up for work two hours later, the cats were gone. But, I swear I heard a meowed chorus of “When You’re A Jet…” fading into the morning fog.

Tonight the stage is bare, but this is the scene of last night's rumble.
Tonight the stage is bare, but this is the scene of last night’s rumble.

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