-A Metaphysical Fiction Short Story by Elise Crawford
After nearly two years of renovating an old abandoned house, we were finally able to move in June of 2011. We had four cats; two male tuxedo Norwegian Forest Cats, a female black domestic short-hair and her daughter a calico. We learned the hard way that the wild shared our property at night, namely coyotes. They come from across the main road in the early hours of the morning under the cloak of darkness to prey upon the domestic pets that live in the neighborhood.
Sadly, our lesson was learned with the capture of our only female black cat, Sniffles. And then several months later someone stole our precious Fluke, one of our tuxedo Norwegian Forest Cats who has white toes on his back feet, weighed well over 20lbs at the time, and who only had ventured into our lives just a mere two years before, and was so named because we had mistaken him for our other cat Lucky.
Known as the neighborhood pet finder, I usually find lost pets within a half hour of setting up a prayer altar for them. The day Fluke disappeared, I immediately set about preparing a prayer altar for him with his favorite white faux fur mouse, his photo, and two candles, a white one for the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit and a green one for Behemiel, the angel for lost pets, and set them inside of a green ribbon with the ends gathered together, forming a circle, and tied it with just one knot.
With the altar lovingly blessed and prepared, my husband and I began what would be a year of constant dedicated prayer and meditation, sometimes thirty minutes twice a day, summoning not only the help from Behemiel but for all the angels in heaven and all the patron saints of cats to watch over Fluke and to release him from his captors.
Keeping a vigil over the candles was stressful to say the least. To be safe, we kept the altar inside of our unused fireplace. Keeping stock of the appropriate colored candles was a challenge, white candles were easy to find but finding green ones outside of Christmas was nearly impossible. Keeping them lit was something else altogether. We couldn’t let them go out, especially the green one; for fear that the guardian angel might think he was no longer needed.
We prayed like we never have prayed before. Even Lucky contributed all his energy, love and support. During mid-prayer, he’d jump on my lap and purr loud and incessantly throughout the remaining meditation, regardless if it was for fifteen minutes or thirty. We wanted Fluke to feel our love, to know that his entire family desperately wanted him home, and not to be afraid to escape if the opportunity presented itself. In mediation, we visualized our home lit up brighter than an evening star; ever hopeful if Fluke were to escape, he would see it and be guided safely home.
Finding Fluke was a family effort that extended even to my father. He demonstrated his love and support by making the long and strenuous 200 mile trek from his home in Portland to our home in Washington to continue the prayer vigil while we were away for Christmas vacation. Arriving home just after the New Year, we were daunted to see that Fluke’s favorite chair was still empty. My husband was indescribably heartbroken. Seeing the overwhelming grief on his face sickened me with frustration, but there was nothing more I could do. No amount of candles, prayer or meditation had brought Fluke back
Undefeated, in my next best attempt beyond the metaphysical, I created one hundred Lost Cat posters, adding that he had a health condition, in hopes of pulling at someone’s heart strings, and the enticement of a $150 reward, lying down nearly that much at FEDEX to print and laminate them. The following weekend we began what would be a weekly weekend campaign stapling the posters to phone poles and stop signs all over our neighborhood, in local pet shelters, and for those that would allow us, at community centers, convenient stores and restaurants throughout neighboring towns.
And then we waited.
Every evening after supper, standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes, staring out the window, scanning over the property as far as I could see, I’d watch for that precious bundle of fur to come lumbering up the walkway or for some unknown car to come up the drive to bring him home. In spite of my diligence, neither of these scenes played out. After three weeks with no response from the posters, I printed, cut out and laminated small rectangular cards with a revised reward amount of $250. We spent another couple of weekends reapplying the revised reward to the already hung posters; but again, in spite of our best efforts, there was still no response.
During one morning’s mediation, I was excited beyond belief to learn that Fluke had likely escaped his captures. In consecutive meditations thereafter I received visuals which led us to areas that Fluke had been seen. But even after hours of searching, stapling more posters to phone poles in that immediate area and interrogating the neighbors, he was nowhere to be found.
Several months later, awaken from a sound sleep with an even more vivid message than before, always ready with a pen a paper by my bed, I made a think fast sketch from the dream. Armed with my instincts, using the map as a guide, following the wires of the largest power lines near our home, we came upon a farm just on the other side of the freeway. We were certain we would find Fluke there because it was exactly as the one from my sketch, right down to the location between two large power line poles, the placement of the main house and outbuilding, the bobbed wire wooden fence, and the granddaddy of them all was the number 74 that was among the numbers listed on the license plate of one of the trucks on the property. We called all around the farm in vain, even inquiring with one of the roosters, who indignantly ignored us and walked away without responding. Just about spent, but not yet defeated, we sat in our car and waited patiently for nearly two hours and then tried calling again, ever hopeful that his sweet face would appear out of nowhere, but it never did.
The one year anniversary of Fluke’s disappearance was upon us and we were still no closer to finding him. A thick layer of soot had formed on the walls, ceilings, and windows of our home. With my asthma becoming affected by it all, we agreed it would be best to distinguish Fluke’s candles, leaving the altar still prepared inside of the unused fireplace, and continuing with a nightly prayer and meditation.
Not long after the candles were extinguished, I received yet another message, but this one did not bear good news. It was understood that Fluke was on a mission helping a young woman who was so depressed that she was on the verge of suicide; that is, until Fluke came into her life. He didn’t know when and if he would ever be home but he wanted us to know that he loved us and missed us very much.
Well that is all fine and dandy but my poor husband was just sick and becoming more despondent without his favorite kitty. How was I to tell him this news? I was afraid he might think I was telling him to give up and that wasn’t my intention at all. I can’t control the messages I receive; he knew that much.
I was just sick; sick, sick, sick. When someone you love so much hurts, you will do anything in the world to make them feel better. And what’s worse is when that someone you love believes that you can make it better; but, sometimes, in spite of all of your best efforts, you just can’t. As suspected, the revelation of the message did nothing to console my grieving husband or the growing feeling of worthlessness I was feeling. As always part our daily prayer and meditation, we continued to send love to our dear Fluke, constantly inquiring about his estimated arrival home.
Eighteen months to the day, while standing at the kitchen sink washing the evening dishes, occasionally glancing out the window at the driveway, ever hopeful, I nearly dropped the dish I was holding in my hand when a black cat, more identical to Lucky than Fluke, came bounding up the walkway. I turned to my left and saw Lucky in the foyer. I looked outside again. The cat paused as if to assess that he was at the correct house and then proceeded to romp happily on up to our front door. I muttered “Oh my God!” That was all that my husband needed to hear to come running from the other side of the house to see what was the matter. He saw the kitty too. With hopeful purpose, he hurriedly put on his shoes and dashed outside. It was only moments later when he returned. I could tell by the discouraged look on his face that it wasn’t Fluke; my heart sank. I felt his sadness and disappointment like a knife in my heart. I wanted to wrap him in my arms and tell him I was sorry, but I knew this would only make it worse so I told him with my eyes instead.
It was beyond coincidental that this kitty was a black Norwegian Forest Cat. I mean how many black Norwegian Forest Cats with long fluffy boa tails like Fluke’s are just wandering around looking for a place to crash and then happen upon a house that had recently lost one exactly like him? My husband scoffed at the idea that this kitty was an obvious gift, perhaps sent by Fluke. He responded matter-of-factly that we hadn’t asked for another cat like Fluke, we had asked for Fluke. I tried to reason with him that it was undeniable the kitty was sent, that it wasn’t the kitty’s fault he wasn’t who we wanted him to be, and he was just obeying orders. My final argument was that we shouldn’t deny the gifts we receive but be thankful for them.
The kitty was anxious and over excited whenever we approached him. My husband had a way of speaking to him that he responded to. After all, he was here because of him. It was just a matter of days that he allowed my husband to pet him. And not long after, peering out the kitchen window, I saw my husband cradling him in his arms. I, on the other hand had to make more of an effort. Whenever I approached the kitty to bring him water and nourishment, I’d put my fingers in meditation form and concentrate loving thoughts his way, being ever so careful not to make any sudden moves, before he would accept my offering. The poor thing was on the verge of starvation; his growling tummy trumped his fearfulness as he wolfed down his food. I was sure he would throw it all up, but he never did.
He made a temporary home for himself underneath an old dilapidated gazebo just a hundred feet from the house. He adapted quickly to our meal time routine. We rarely had to call for him as our front door groans loudly when it’s opened. Like clockwork, his small panther like face would appear promptly and expectantly for every meal. If he was late, Lucky was sure to fetch him.
Lucky took to him too. Normally he growled at the site of another cat and would chase them off the property, but not Fluke and not this kitty. He kept a close eye on this youngster as if reminding him about manners, respect, and the way things were around there in general; birds, moles and rats were ok to hunt but all of mom’s squirrels, yes even the one that looks and squeaks like a brown rat, and the daily visits of a Stellar Jay are all off limits. Like Fluke, this kitty followed Lucky everywhere, sat as close as he could to him, ten feet was pushing it, seemingly listening intently to the ramblings of an old man.
The following week we made an appointment with our local vet. My husband gave the kitty breakfast while I prepared the cat carrier with a clean towel spraying it down with Feliway, a cat hormone spray. My husband whispered and motioned for me to come quietly close to him all the while holding the cat carrier in a way that the kitty would slide down in it allowing for us to close it quickly. I put my three fingers together for good measure as my husband scooped the kitty in his arms. He didn’t put up as much of a fight as we thought he would, but boy did he carry on as if he were being murdered once inside. Lucky of course was nowhere to be seen.
We loaded the kitty in the car and headed to town. Just as we left our property, I spotted Lucky sitting in the neighbor’s driveway, obviously waiting for us to leave. My husband and I had a good laugh. Lucky does not like going to the doctor and probably thought it was funnier than heck that the youngster got bamboozled into the carrier unaware, this time, of where he was going.
On the way to the vet, my husband made it clear, in no uncertain terms, he had hoped that the kitty had a microchip; this kitty was a nice gift and all but he only wanted Fluke or no other cat at all, other than the ones we already had. Once inside the examining room of the vet’s, I secretly crossed my fingers as our family vet, Jessica, searched the kitty’s body from nose to tail with a microchip scanner, but one did not present itself. Jessica looked at my husband for permission to proceed; he reluctantly agreed and nodded his approval for the next step, the exam and a series of tests.
Jessica guessed that he was just a little over a year old and of course was healthy as a horse in every single way. I was singing victory to myself at this point. When Jessica matter-of-factly inquired if his remaining blood tests turned out to be normal if we planned to keep him; you could have heard a pin drop. I put my three fingers together and held my breath. My husband couldn’t deny the coincidences surrounding the arrival of this kitty. The seconds on the clock clicked loudly, every second that passed seemed more like an hour. Just when I couldn’t hold my breath or bear the silence any longer, the answer I so desperately wanted to hear echoed in mine and the kitty’s heart, “Yes!”
Oh happy day! The vet congratulated us as we laughed and loved on the kitty. She asked what birthday we would like to give him. My husband said he would like him to have his father’s birthday, June 7. And then she asked what name she should write on his medical record. I asked my husband if he liked the name Martin, after one of the patron saints of cats that we had prayed to for Fluke. He agreed again, Martin was a perfect name for him. We asked the kitty and he purred contently as if giving his consent too, but stopped short when we handed him over to the vet for the works.
The following day, with the news of a normal blood test and an uncomplicated neuter, armed with special kitty litter made of wood that wouldn’t stick to his procedure site, we arrived again at the vet to bring our bundle of joy home. Although poked and prodded, not unlike that of an alien abduction, with the necessary shots and neutering, he was still so happy to see us and went without argument into the safe confines of the carrier. But just before he was safely inside, he was brought out temporarily for one final ritual, the placing of the microchip, sealing his adoption, making him an official member of our family.
Arriving home, it was decided that my office would be his infirmary while he recovered. We had to cover everything in plastic sheets while the last of the remaining testosterone left his system. Jessica forewarned us, since he was late to neuter, it would take about a month for the testosterone to fully cycle through his system, meaning that it wouldn’t be wise for him to go beyond the confines of the office until then.
He was quiet and slept most of the day while I worked. He seemed most content when one of us was in the room with him. When he was alone in the evenings, it was a whole other ball game. The all night yowling and pacing was maddening. It was not unlike having a newborn in the house. My husband volunteered to get up at all hours of the night to console him. It was such a blessed relief the day we were able let him outside.
It’s been about a month now since Martin became a part of our family. He allows my husband to hold him in his arms more and more frequently, the same way he held Fluke, caressing him and gently planting kisses on his little head, always reassuring him in low, soft and soothing whispers; it’s so sweet. It’s undeniable how much they love each other. My husband has referred to him as Fluke several times but Martin seems to understand and doesn’t mind at all. The peace in my husband’s heart is indescribable. He is happy once again and that’s what matters most; thank you Angels.