The Family Emergency That Wasn't Really an Emergency
Posted Jan 04 2010 10:27am
I have a guest blogger today. My friend Lori was kind enough to write the cat story that made me laugh and laugh when she told it. It made me laugh again to read it. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did. Maybe I'll even talk Lori into posting some more of her stories. Keep your fingers crossed....
The text message comes at 3am. The sound of my cell phone on the bedside table startles me awake. A family emergency. What else could it be at that hour? My worst fear realized. My diabetic mother is in her seventies. My stepfather has suffered 5 heart attacks. Worse yet, my son is twenty, likes to party and is convinced he's invincible. Which one could it be? I'm nearly paralyzed with fear.
"Libby is dead", it reads.
Christ. Libby? LIBBY??? I get out of bed, clumsily throw on my robe and exit the bedroom. I fumble down the stairs, take the phone to the garage, sit down and light a cigarette, anything to clear my head. LIBBY?? DEAD??? My mind is racing. My hands are shaking, evidenced by the bobbing cherry of my cigarette in the dark garage.
Who the hell is Libby? My God. Why can't I wake up and come to my senses? It's January in Iowa, for chrissake. I'm in the garage. I have hypothermia. I ought to be awake. Libby who??? I crush out the cigarette and light another. The next text message arrives a few moments later. "I couldn't save her. I tried and couldn't do it. I can't believe she's dead".
Only then do I think to check my phone for the sender's identity. Amanda. My sister. Aha. Libby. Her cat. Fuck. Amanda's life revolves around her cats. She is the scary cat lady that people cross the street to avoid, minus 40 years. With the help of my mother, Amanda and her cats even exchange Christmas gifts. Her cats have even spoken their welcomes to me at Amanda's door via Amanda's vocal cords. Her cats have waved goodbye to me via Amanda's puppeteering skills. Libby is dead? Amanda is probably fervently searching for an icepick to bury in her own jugular vein. Fuuuuuck.
I force myself to call her. God, I don't want to call her but I'm her older, wiser sister and I must. She answers on the first ring, sobbing. "What happened?" I ask. She pulls herself together...sort of. She had been asleep, she tells me, when she heard Libby making terrible noises in the hallway outside of her bedroom door. She got out of bed to check on her and Libby wasn't herself. She made sure that she wasn't choking on something, fully prepared, I'm sure, to administer the Heimlich Maneuver or CPR should the situation require it. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, Amanda went back to bed. Moments later she heard Libby make a horrible coughing/gurgling noise and when she checked on her this time she was lying in the hall. Shortly after Amanda began to comfort her, Libby expired.
She goes on to explain what happened next.
She called her on-again-off-again stoner boyfriend, Eric, and explains that she needs him. Bad. At 3am he rushes across town and finds his on-again-off-again girlfriend not in need of him so much as his manly ability to touch a dead cat. She orders him to remove Libby at once. Unable, I'm assuming, to talk her off the ledge, he obeys. She throws a hefty bag in his face. He obediently places the lifeless cat in the plastic bag. He pulls the ties tight. She screams at him to untie them at once. If he ties them, you know, Libby will suffocate. Her dead cat will suffocate.
He carries the cat down her stairs and out her front door, Amanda following closely behind, crying, retching, in shock. He pops open his trunk. "NO!!", she screams. "There's no air in the goddamn trunk!" She redirects him, opens the car door for him and watches as he places the cat on his car seat. She instructs him to take the cat to his house - she can't bear to have her dead Libby anywhere on her property by now - and to bury her immediately. Properly. With love. She, of course, will call in sick to work.
He explains that the ground is a bit too frozen for a traditional burial but will keep Libby safe from harm in his freezer. In the bag. Untied. Right there on top of the frozen pizzas. He, of course, will bury the cat this weekend, when the forecast calls for temps in the high negative teens. A real heat wave. Delirious in her grief, she is satisfied with this news and ends her call.
Fast forward. Two days later. Amanda calls Eric to check on the status of her cat. It wasn't the report she wanted. Libby is still dead. Amanda hears a female voice in the background and demands to know who's at Eric's house. Owing Amanda nothing he readily admits that it's Michelle, another member of the on-again-off-again harem. Amanda, with no further provocation, becomes hysterical. "My dear, dear, dear, sweet baby Libby is dead in your freezer and YOU HAVE A FUCKING WHORE IN YOUR HOUSE????