Sunday, January 11, 2009

Crazy Ghost Cat

The story you're about to hear is true. I've never been one to have a paranormal experience. I'm a believer in science and natural law. I'm not saying I don't have the capacity for wonder or awe or reverence. It's just that I get a little nervous when people tell me they saw UFOs or that a ghost grabbed them by the ankles. I mean, a couple of times I saw a UFO ... I think one was space junk (satellite parts reentering the atmosphere) and another, the most exciting I saw was probably cruise missiles being tested at night flying in formation off the wing of a B52. So, you see, I look for an explanation of that sort, one that makes "sense."

So, I'll tell a story of what happened to me today, and you can decide.

I received a 1000 piece puzzle for Christmas, a wonderful painting called "Birds of our shores." I had a few days off, so cleaned off the table and began to work on it a few days ago. The cats love it, and every so often Jelly Bean tries to sneak a piece off the table. Sometimes she gets one to the floor and I tell her to stop and put the piece back on the table. I assembled the border, and the obvious birds like flamingos that were all the same color, and the names of the birds. Putting together the bird names is fairly easy. Connect "Great Blue" to "Heron." If you know birds, it's easy. Finding where the words go is a bit more difficult.

After a few days of work I was nearing the end today. That's a fun time, because some pieces are just impossible to find in the pool of unassembled parts, and there's great joy in finding the piece with the Mallard's head that seems so obvious only once it is in place. There was one piece like that, that I frequently looked for. It would have been all white, and one side was straight and it would have black type on it ... the name of the bird. Now, I only had a few white pieces left, maybe four, and it still was not there. But, you know how pieces can hide, and there were others that also should have been easy to find, but were not.

So, as I placed the final loose piece I was disappointed to notice that the white piece was not on the table. Maybe under the puzzle? I felt all over ... there was no bump underneath from a stray part, and by swiping my hand all over the surface I found there was not a piece somewhere on the puzzle either. When I awoke this morning, on day three of the puzzle assembly adventure there were two pieces on the floor, one with a few bite marks. So, there were a couple of possible explanations that came to mind as I looked in dismay at the spot where the final piece ought to go. Most likely, Jelly Bean had knocked another piece on the floor. Or, this family puzzle which had been assembled previously and then sent to me had a missing piece, which is entirely possible. Puzzle pieces do have a way of "escaping."

That would be disappointing, to have to confess to my parents that the puzzle they had given me was missing a piece. I hoped the cat hypothesis was the more accurate of the two. I crawled on all fours and looked under the benches and chairs, behind furniture, and under every cushion. Well, maybe under the stove or refrigerator? The closet door has a space under it, and I looked in there. In the playbox? The piece was not to be found.

Through with the puzzle, and feeling the need for exercise I went to the gym for an hour. That in turn made me hungry, so when I got home I started cooking dinner and cut up an apple as a snack. While munching the apple I went over to enjoy the birds that were on the puzzle. The Buffelhead is elegant, and the wading herons magnificent, and ...

The missing piece was in place.

I reached out and touched it.

I got a very strange feeling. Like somebody was in the house. Or something.

But I needed an explanation. Burglar? Burglars don't usually do puzzles. That would be creepy, somebody in the house. Sort of an elaborate practical joke, some neighbor somehow spiriting away one piece, only to return while I was at the gym to put it in place? I have no practical joker neighbors, and nobody has a key to my house. Hmm. My credit card company called today, to report a fraudulent charge on my card this morning, which they had detected and were kindly resolving for me. Uh, oh. Somebody in the house, putting the final piece in place, the piece that says "Masked" on it. (Next to the one that says "Booby.") Or, I'm suffering from dementia, insanity, or some trick of the mind. I can't recall ever having dementia. Does anyone? To test this theory I went to the computer, so see if I had visited the website from which the credit card company told me the $800 in clothing was attempted to be purchased today. To my relief, it was not in my history ... I had not ever visited the site.

So, an intruder. I checked all the doors, and they were locked. I checked, nervously, every room and closet. There was nobody there. I thought about the roof crawl space, but remembered what a mess the insulation made when I opened it for the cable guy. There were no insulation shreds (and some were still jammed in the hatch) on the floor below the hatch, nor was there any sign of recent vacuuming. I rarely vacuum. It's a good way to detect intruders. When they vacuum, I notice it.

Some sort of split from reality? I remember watching "A Beautiful Mind" and recall that the main character in this true story at first did not know he was crazy. So, I could be crazy and just not know it. Somehow this was a bit less creepy than intruders, but honestly still unsettling. I decided to call my Mom on the phone, to see if during our conversation she piped up with, "By the way, you're acting a little crazy recently."

I told her the story, amazed myself at how a puzzle piece could hide and then somehow be there. I used various recollections to refute her theory that I was just tired after puzzle assembly for three days, and that I had put it there myself. Hey, I was really curious myself about what kind of Booby it was. Was it going to be "Blue-footed"? And, it was an almost all-white piece with a very distinct shape. I had been looking for it for days, to no avail. The final four pieces that I placed showed some green water and pond plants that really had no up or down to them. This piece had the word "Masked" printed in black on a white background. It would have been pulled out on day one, turned right-side up, and matched to its other half.

She confessed that a piece had been found on the floor, after the puzzle was reboxed. Now I thought that this was a "haunted"piece. I was fairly sure that this one piece had some vital force, or was being moved by a vital force. I asked what piece it was, ready to name the one in a thousand pieces that would make a case for a paranormal experience. Unfortunately, Dad couldn't remember which piece it had been. Mom joked that he was getting older and didn't remember things as well as he used to. There was that dementia theory again, and even with a family history. She could tell that this was unsettling to me and said, "Well, maybe the cat did it."

Yeah, right. Cats don't have the use of opposable thumbs.

And, I don't think there's a history of puzzle-assembly by cats done in a lab ... probably because they can't assemble puzzles at all. Though Jelly Bean does have her own line of ecofriendly cat toys stuffed with organic catnip. In this photo she helps adjust a catnip stuffed tighty-whitey underpants cat toy for a photo shoot.

"They carry them in their mouth," said Mom. "Then maybe she was pushing it around and it just went into place." I felt that ghosts were a better explanation. I took the piece out of the puzzle and examined it. It had something stuck to it. No, it had a little dimple mark, just like the one on the floor that had been chewed by the cat this morning. Hey, it had a dimple on the other side, too. Bite marks, from a cat's teeth.

I called Jelly Bean and showed her the puzzle with the hole, and put the part on the table. She did not assemble the puzzle, but dragged the piece to the floor and chewed it. I took it away from her and observed that the indentation now had a companion. Two bite marks, from Jelly Bean's teeth.

Sherlock Holmes once said that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

I have asked Jelly Bean if she hid the final piece of the puzzle until I left the house, then when I was away took it up on the table from the hiding spot known only to her and manipulated it into place and pressed it down. Besides lacking opposable thumbs she also lacks the ability to speak English, so I do not know that she put the final piece in place. But, I'm relieved to have an explanation that does not include ghosts or insanity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh how funny!! I'm sure Jelly Bean did it just to drive you crazy. If you hear some snickering when no one's's probably her too!
I LOVE that story!