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Chapter Five: November 11, 2005... The FIRE!

A bathroom fan in the apartment below mine shorted out, and burst into flames, at about 5 PM. I never knew until the smoke detector went off (as the smoke hadn't reached the bedroom), and I found my apartment quickly engulfed in thick black smoke, choking me...yet I refused to leave, attempting to find my cats, until the fire trucks arrived, and I was dragged out.

The wait, outdoors, was the worst 90 minutes of my life, as I watched black smoke pouring out my windows, my mind racing with mental images of my cats, choking and helpless. Finally, the situation was under control, and one fireman escorted me upstairs to my darkened apartment, to help me look for them. With his flashlight our only illumination, we called and searched frantically, to no avail. Reaching the bedroom, we both got on our hands and knees, and searched under my bed...and there, in a far corner, was Pi, motionless, curled up tightly in a ball. I started to cry...then she blinked! There was no sign of Kit or Gray, but Pi was still alive!

The firemen finally turned the building's power back on, after another half hour, and allowed the residents to return to their apartments. Entering my doorway, I called out to Pi, but she wouldn't budge from beneath the bed. Pulling the covers up, I shined my own flashlight on her, and very slowly, Pi climbed out...revealing a filthy, terrified Kit, hunched behind her! It took ten minutes of coaxing before he'd move, but when he did, he howled for a good five minutes, after jumping into my lap.

I began searching and calling for Gray, with no results. Then I saw that two windows had been thrust wide open, with the screens knocked out, to allow air to circulate. One window was Gray's favorite lounging spot, and it dawned on me that he might have jumped, to escape the smoke. My apartment is three stories up, and while my first cat, Candy, had proved to me that a cat could survive such a leap, I felt my heart sink.

A fireman stopped by to see if I needed further assistance. I asked him to please look outside for a big gray cat, and he promised he would. I looked around my apartment, surveying the damage...broken window screens, a ceiling fan ripped out, my "Graces" statue in the bathroom cracked in several places. The whole place stank of oily smoke, with pieces of various knick-knacks scattered around the floor. I couldn't stop coughing, but at least Pi and Kit were okay, and despite my heartache for Gray, I felt fortunate!

I walked to the kitchen, the pair of cats close behind me, cleaned their bowls, and got out their cat food, as they'd missed their dinner. I tried to resign myself to the possibility of life without my beloved big cat...but the prospect quickly had me sniffling, yet again! Turning to place the meals on the dining room table, a familiar head popped out from around the corner...and I dropped both bowls to the floor!


He quickly dashed into another room and hid, but I felt a tremendous sense of relief...My whole family was safe!

The most timid of my brood, despite his imposing size, he had hidden deep under a pile of clothes in a closet at the outset of the fire, and had been too terrified to come out, when I called and searched for him. It took nearly two hours for Gray to calm down, but he finally seemed to sense the danger was past, and jumped up on top of the refrigerator (our spot!) so I could pet him...

I'm afraid the fire has taught the cats that I'm not God, and I can't keep them safe from everything...

But they also know I love them!

The Love Affair CONTINUES!

"It's funny how dogs and cats know the inside of folks better than other folks do, isn't it?"
- Eleanor H. Porter (1868 - 1920): Pollyanna (1912)

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Remembering Candy!