Mar 20, 2006

SEATTLE, Washington – Wild thumps assault the door. I jolt awake, terrified. My eyes – pitiably weak without contacts – roam the dark room. What continent am I on? Where will I die?

The old mirror. The tatty cornplant. Big piles of books. Oh yes. Home.

And the cats: source of joy, font of insomnia.

At night, Jake the Tabby and Molly Alleycat besiege my bedroom. They want in. I want seven short hours when I don't serve as a pillow.

He locks his claws under the door and rattles the warped wood until the ineffective latch pops. When I swaddle the doorjamb, he hurls his body at the loose knob.

I could, of course, lock them in the vast walk-in closet. Jake, the willful beast, pogoes atop the metal file cabinet, but several rooms muffle the booming. Still, it pains me to constrain them during prowling hours.


I enlist my neighbors, Andy and Polly. This kindly, clever couple have two kids. Surely given our experience, superior computing power and opposable thumbs, we'll outwit two tiny gatti.

"Big pans of water," she suggests, pressing shallow baking trays on me.

"Polly, I'll blunder into the moat too."

Andy disappears into the basement and emerges with a long crib wall. I ducktape one end and prop the other with two stacks of books. Jake's raspeberry-colored nose presses against the oak spindles, perplexed.

I sleep like a baby. For six whole nights.

Then Molly learns to waft over the barrier. Jake follows suit.

"You have a brain the size of a walnut," I shout. "You won't win."

Problem is, I'm not so sure anymore.

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