Cat Nap / by Courtney Mehlhaff

There were several city workers milling about my street today, courtesy of a construction project in my neighborhood. It reminded me of last year around this time, when I looked out my front window to see a group of guys from the utility company gathered around a pickup.

See, they'd sent out a crew to move my gas meter from the inside of my house to the outside. And it was taking a LONG time. I watched this burly round-table through my blinds until one of the men broke off and approached the front door.

"Hey, what's going on?" I asked.

In reply, he muttered something about an animal. I immediately conjured some long-dead critter they'd unearthed in my basement. He must have seen the panic flash across my face, because he quickly said, "It's the foreman's cat. He didn't know it was under the hood of his truck this morning when he left."

My brief moment of relief was replaced by horror, as I'd heard similar stories about squirrels that had nested on a warm engine, never to scamper again.

"Oh no!" I said, and then proceeded to watch a group of grown men huddle together, retching, to deal with the grisly business at hand. From what I could glean, they sent in the newbie, wearing an air filtration mask and goggles, ostensibly because he had the smallest hands.

When the task was completed, they turned their attention back to my house, and before they took off, I asked the man if everything was ok.

"Yeah," he said. "We got it cleaned up. But now the foreman's gotta go home and tell his kids what happened."

And I thought, NOOOOOO. He most certainly does NOT have to tell this gruesome tale to his children. In fact, he should probably tell them anything BUT this story. There has never been a better opportunity to reveal the existence of a lovely "farm" where that cat now resides.

My hairdresser was recently telling me about a beloved dog she'd had in childhood that "went to live on a farm." She said she was well into her 20s before it dawned on her that her pet had, in fact, died.

"All that time I thought that dog was running happily through rolling green fields in front of a charming little farmhouse with a picket fence."

At that point, one of the other hairdressers started laughing.

"What's so funny about that?!" my hairdresser demanded.

"She already knows what it looks like." The other woman shook her head a few times and continued chuckling to herself. "She's got a whole picture in her head of what that farm looks like."

I can only hope that foreman painted a similarly comforting picture for his kiddos to take into adulthood.