One of Meg's Girlfriend's cats disappeared. Meg's usually jovial mood became tense, her face visibly tightened as the absence stretched on for more than a week. She loved Fluffy of course, and was concerned about the kitty, but her greatest stress and worry came in supporting her increasingly erratic partner through the tense vigil.
The first few days were spent with Meg driving her despondent GF on reconnaissance missions through the near reaches of economically depressed North Philadelphia (suspended only after being pulled over by cops wondering what two middle aged white women in a late model Passat were doing prowling the streets of crack town at all hours). Meg attempted to reason that Fluffy was probably fine, off on an adventure, and would return when she was hungry enough. This HAD after all, happened before. The GF was aghast at her callous lack of concern for one of "her babies". Afrosty prickliness was directed towards Meg - to make the pacing, crying jags, abrupt awakenings to dash from bed to door in the middle of the night because the GF thought she'd "heard something" - all just that much more interesting. The GF was driving her nuts.
Further recovery efforts by the increasingly desperate GF included (but were not limited to) the following:
Fee to Texas based "Cat Detective" who mapped out a personalized recovery strategy - $100.00;
"Lost Cat" ad (with photo) in the neighborhood paper - $82.00;
"Animal Psychic" who focused on the AWOL beast in two sessions, initial - $40.00, in depth - $60.00 (including a free consultation with the psychic's OWN psychic - no charge for that);
Two ink jet cartridges and a ream of printer paper for the first run of "Lost Cat : Reward" fliers for every business and telephone pole in the Fairmount, Spring Garden, and Brewery Town neighborhoods, and for the SECOND run (some of the poor kids took down all the fliers to decrease competition among bounty hunters) with the premium upped to $500.00;
Professional graphic designer's services for said flier - $150.00;
Two trips (one hour each way) to the Saint Padre Pio
Shrine to light candles and pray for Fluffy's safe return - $78.00.
Meg said nothing about a little more patience and little less spending as the near hysterical GF reached deeper into her own pockets. Meg said nothing in her own defence as her lack of demonstrated desperation was regarded as indifference.
On the evening of the tenth day, Meg looked out the window toward the deck and discovered Fluffy reclined on the silent air conditioning unit, languidly cleaning herself. She slid open the door and Fluffy(after finishing her grooming) unhurriedly strolled in to the kitchen, considered Meg for a moment, and then padded to her empty bowl where she meowed her desire that it be filled. Meg exhaled. It was only then that she allowed herself to feel how truly worried she'd been about the cat. Her great joy and relief was exceeded only by the GF's near delirium- expressed in tears, near smothering hugs, petting, incoherent sobbing, the presentation of a hope chest's worth of cat toys and treats purchased as an act of faith ($150.00), and more tears. The ice melted with the return of the GF's composure; calm and order has again descended on the household. All was forgiven. Almost.
The GF stated that she is satisfied that the money spent, though none of it resulted in Fluffy's return, was money well spent. Meg is happy to hear that, she explained to me through the sly grin on her cheerfully renewed countenance after relating their shared ordeal. She laughed, "Cause I'm gonna add another $500.00 to it! The reward money! After all, I am
the one who found the cat."