Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Squeaky's Great Adventure - The Move Odyssey: Day -1

If you couldn't guess, by now we're all pretty tired and grumbly. For me that means I'm being an absolute bitch (as opposed to the semi-bitch I've been before). By some miracle of circumstance we FINALLY have the trucks loaded and the garbage carted off and now we're going to hook the trailers off and drive away,

We arrive at the storage place where we've been keeping our trailers fairly early, and of course nothing goes right,

It's me, Quantum, CK the Roomie, Steve and the ubiquitous J who somehow seems to manage to worm his way into everything and thwart every plan. Also Steve's stepson (nice kid, btw) is there to provide moral support and a ride home for Steve but...not entirely sure why he's hanging out, mostly he's sitting in the car enjoying the AC and probably laughing at the antics.

Okay, maybe I'm not being fair to J. J seems like a nice enough person, and purports to wish to help. But he's like a seething bundle of chaos and laziness conjoined and he manages to translate that energy to everyone around him. And by now (grr) we are expected to pay/tip him for his time too. How can I explain the man and be fair to both him and everyone else?  He is admittedly on Lithium. He is admittedly on other doctor prescribed drugs that he is presently lapsing in. Part of me likes him - he does try so hard to be liked - or at least feels sorry for him. Part of me wants to tape his mouth down with duct tape just so we can continue.

At this point we're all ready to move and we're planning on leaving from here. CK has his 3 cats in cat crates the pickup front seat. We have Squeaky (my and Quantum's cat) in a crate in the back of the Blazer and Zen (our dog) in the T-Bird. All five animals are of course losing their minds thanks to the heat and unaccustomed locations.  Squeaky has it worst since the AC in the Blazer isn't working,

Through a combination of brute force and curses, we get the pickup hitched to our trailer. We all look at how low the pickup is riding and J makes various dire predictions regarding the trailer hitch. Quantum goes to look for the temporary tag for the trailers and finds only one. Just that morning we'd seen the other on the computer table, but then someone removed it and put it somewhere SAFE. Quantum takes the dog and the T-bird and runs back to the condo to look for it. No luck. He returns and starts tearing apart the cars and trailers to find it.

Meanwhile CK, Steve and J go to hitch up CK's trailer and pull that out of its space.

J notices that the tire on CK's trailer is flat and also dry-rotted. WTF? I could swear I told CK to handle that at least 2 months ago. They start jacking it up. It's about 3pm and sweltering hot in the storage place. The sun is reflecting off asphalt and cement and Squeaky is in the back of the Blazer, panting like mad. I make everyone stop jacking up the trailer and unhitch it from the Blazer (we've just discovered that the back hatch won't open while the trailer is hitched up and in the way) so that I can put Squeaky in the AC'd pickup with CK's cats. I take Squeaky out of the larger hand-built travel crate and put him in a smaller carrier crate to move him into the truck. Now the door on this thing has had a history of being finicky and hard to secure. As I carry him towards the pickup, CK says, "why don't you put him in the T-Bird and we'll drive over to the pickup?" (which is several hundred yards away).  Since this will require making space in the car, changing the seat configuration and such, I'm too hot and irritated to go for that. I'll just walk. Stupid move.

Suddenly the door busts open on the carrier, and Squeaky leaps out. Hot, confused and startled, he races for the fence and runs into the swamp alongside the storage place.  I try to catch up to him, but not a chance. He slips through the fence just as I reach it. I try calling him from the fence, but not a chance he's coming to me right now. 

I scream at CK to grab the car and drive me around, outside of the storage place and to the other side of the fence and tell him to go get Quantum. Wearing sneakers and a thin skirt I plunge into the forest/swamp. It's a tangle of cabbage palms, sharp thorny vines and tree thickets. To the west there's a deep stream, which at least means that Squeaky can only travel north or south. Unless he gets eaten by an alligator. The going is thick and precarious. In most places there are fallen branches disguising holes and drop offs. Within minutes my arms and legs are stinging from numerous cuts. I'm calling to the cat, but no answer. I finally make it back to where I'd dropped the carrier, the approximate location where he'd gone in. I scream to CK and Steve to get me cat treats or something to let me call the cat with. All they can find is a bag of energy chews in a foil bag (it at least makes the same noise as a treat bag) and an old bag of catnip. I'm calling the cat and crying.

The past year and a half since we got the puppy has been hard on Squeaky,  Zen is a boisterous little monster, and although he's sweet and only wants to play, he's not aware of his strength, and we've been afraid he'll hurt one of the cats by being too rough. So poor Squeaks has been pretty much confined to the bedroom, only getting to socialize with me at night. The plan for the new house is lots of cat-accessible space where the dog won't be able to go, and an outdoor cat-run so they can even enjoy being outside while safe from raptors. But will Squeaky ever make it there, now that it's finally in reach? Does he even want to come back to me?

Since it's a Florida afternoon, a thunderstorm starts up. I yell to the group to get Quantum (not sure WHERE he is, probably still digging for the trailer tag) and to get me a machete/sword (with exact detail where I put it) so I can hack through the underbrush and the pants to my gi (the only pair of pants I own). After several trial attempts they find a Bowie knife and my pants.  Wet, covered with sand and mud, I manage to cram myself into the pants - backwards somehow. I struggle back out of them and put them on the right way.  Having given up on the cat being in the same place, I plunge northward,  At least I can move now without getting cut too much.

This length of the storage place is maybe a half-mile long. I wonder what's beyond it and what I'll do if I reach the end with no Squeaky in sight. I'm thinking about gators and cottonmouths and water moccasins and trying to traverse this mess without falling into the stream or breaking my leg in a pitfall. And when I reach the end of the fence, what sort of swamp mess is beyond it?

I know that if I don't find my boy, I'm going to be spending the night here.  I'll tell Quantum to get me a blanket and some cigarettes and a few beers and I'll wait here until I find my little guy.  Will Quantum be willing to let me do it without giving me a world of grief? Can I send him and CK onwards, and then drive the T-Bird to Atlanta and put myself on a plane the rest of the way?

Oh kitty, I'm so sorry. Life is supposed to be so much better for us in Colorado. Please, where are you?

Eventually I'm in sight of the end of the fence and storage facilities. No Squeaky. Could he still be back where he left me? Did he go towards the road and is now dodging cars? O please Goddess, give me a miracle. 

I'll...damn, I know the gods don't bargain, so I know it's silly to make a list of improvements I'll make in my life if you bring him back to me. But please, just help me find my kitty.

The thunderstorm stops. Back to the south of me, I hear birds calling. The strident sort of sound they make when disturbed. I head back down along the fence. "Squeaky?  Here kitty! Where are you?"

Steve finds me from the interior side of the fence. I press him to get me a cigarette. And a beer. Gods know I need one, and I won't be driving anywhere tonight, that's for sure. And the cat treats, after I describe once again where to find them. I can tell Steve thinks I'll never see my kitty again and I should let him go.

I take a few moments to smoke and drink and cry.

Jesse comes along the inside of the fence. Like an idiot he's shaking the chain link and yelling "here kitty" and making enough racket that it would drive Squeaky away in terror. Is he trying to help? Is he just trying to be funny?  Thank gods for the fence, I might have killed him if I could have reached him at that moment.

I chase him away finally and make my way back south. More bird calls. Please let it be a sign. I make my way back to where I originally lost Squeaky, my heart in despair, thinking of all the wrongs I did to this poor good faithful kitty. Can he survive in the swamp? Will he make his way to civilization and be herded up by Animal Control only after I've given up? Will he go feral? Is he even now gasping as the poison of a water moccasin surges through his body?  Why isn't he coming to my call?

Again, I reach the area where I'd last seen him. I sink to my knees in dirt and let out a mournful "meow".  Maybe he'll hear and react to that?

And suddenly I think I hear his own meow. Is it possible? I meow again, call his name. And then trapsing through the swamp and tree trunks I see a tiny moving black shape. 

No, it's got to be my imagination. In the past...hour? three? I've seen numerous dark objects that turned out to be roots or shadows. And yet here he is, casually weaving toward me.

I don't want to startle him, so I shake out a couple cat treats and offer them to him. He comes close enough to pet, but just barely out of grasping range. I say furious "thank yous" to the Goddess and try to entice him just a hair closer.

At that moment I hear the roar of the T-Bird's engine. Quantum pulls up across the fence from me, parks, opens the door. Zen is inside the car and starts barking.

Squeaky bolts for a thicket. Oh gods no! I scream at Quantum to get the heck out of there. Shut off the car. Close the door. Take the puppy away! "I almost had him."

"You found him?" Quantum says, shocked,

"And now he's gone again."

But after Quantum backs off, Squeaky returns. I entice him with treats, call to him, eventually pounce on his furry little butt. I manage to get him to the fence and push him under and Quantum gets him in a box,

I make my way back to the road and push through the tangle towards the entrance to the storage place. I'm filthy, covered in sand and my own blood, carrying a Bowie knife.  Shivering with relief and terror. A car honks at me as I walk past. No doubt he thinks I'm the weirdest, scariest bag lady he's ever seen. 

We go back to the condo, me crying all over again. It takes me two shower attempts to get all the sand and dirt off. But my Squeaky is going to Colorado!

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