Sunday, April 02, 2006

In A Super 8 In Denver Day!

When Mortimer disappears, you'll both worry that she ran out the door while you were bringing your bags in from the Ryder truck. You had gone in and out a few times, and you might have left the door open. And Mortimer might have slipped past your ankles to disappear underneath the sea of parked cars in a parking lot in the middle of Denver.

You'll spend an hour wandering in separate directions throughout the parking lot, calling to your cat to come. You won't find anything in the truck but her wet food, so you'll run into an AM/PM and pick up two boxes of Meow Mix so you can shake the boxes of dry food and lure her out with the sound. You'll look like fools, and you'll occasionally have to say out loud, "Lost cat," whenever you pass a stranger who looks as if he might have concerns about the safety of his family with likes of you lurking around. You won't be able to speak for Sally, but for your own part you'll be glad to be searching alone.

"This is no good," Sally will tell you when you get back to the motel room. She'll have given up sooner. You'll make a point to be out there longer than her. Mortimer is her cat and to avoid a fight you have to stay out there longer than her.

"We'll find her," you'll say.

She'll say, "And what if we don't? Is it a good sign for our new life on the West Coast that getting here killed my favorite pet?"

The drive has been quiet ever since Nebraska. And there's been no sex in the motel rooms at night. You can't speak for Sally, but for your part you were content to remain silent and wonder whether you should have stayed back in New York. It never occurred to you that she might have some doubts of her own.

"This move is for you. Would you rather we not have come?" you'll say.

She'll say, "We just never discussed it. I told you the firm wanted me to relocate and you just immediately started talking as if we both had to go."

You'll say, "You're saying I should have stayed?"

She'll say, "I'm saying you could have stayed."

None of this will have anything to do with her cat going missing. She'll just be cluing you in on everything she's been thinking about for the past thousand miles or so. Maybe she's been thinking about it ever since they proposed the relocation to her. You could have stayed. She had to move across country and it was as good a time as any to break it off. You could have stayed. And if you had so much as broached the subject, you'd probably still be in New York at that moment, instead of putting your shoes back on to go out to a Denver parking lot and make loud kissing noises at a missing cat.

"So what do you want me to do then?" you'll ask.

"No," she'll say. "I want you to decide what you want. This move might already have caused something tragic, and I don't think we should make any more decisions together."

You'll go into the bathroom and splash some water into your face. It will feel like she just placed in your hands the resolve you've been missing all these months. The door will be open. And she'll have practically just given a shove to your back.

When you come out of the bathroom, your eyes will fall to the little nook where the wooden bed frame hits the wall. Just a couple of square inches of space with a gray and black striped cat's tale poking out of it.

Say to Sally, "When we get to San Francisco, I could just help you move in, then keep the truck. Drive my stuff back."

Sally won't say anything. You'll try not to look down at Mortimer's tale wagging just a twitch from time to time.

Sally will start to cry. "I'm sorry."

Say, "Don't be. It's okay. Let's go give another look around."

You'll both go outside and split up again, giving you each a chance to let your new decision settle in. When you get back upstairs a half hour later, you can "discover" that Mortimer was hiding under the bed frame all along. You'll have already been broken up for a half hour at that point, and when she finds her cat alive and well, Sally will take it as a sign that everything's gonna be okay.

Happy In A Super 8 In Denver Day!