Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Broken Contract

My animals and I have a very basic living agreement. They each take care of certain responsibilities and in return get eternal love, food, shelter, Cosmo gets a couch and Juliet gets her Egyptian cotton sheets.

Juliet’s sole job is to keep the apartment critter free. She does it well. Other apartments in my little building have reported mice. One once made a wrong turn and came into my kitchen. Juliet got him, chopped his head off and put it on a spike as a warning to all other mice. That was 4 years ago and no other mouse has ever ventured into apartment 1F.

She keeps her skills sharp with the occasional bug on the wall. Her most impressive talent is how she can catch a fly midair between her paws. She likes to stun the insect and play with it for a while, before calling me into the room to show me her handiwork.

Cosmo’s job is to defend the homestead. He’s 150 pounds and his bark rattles the windows. When he hears an odd noise in the hall his ears perk up and he makes enough noise to send any would-be intruders on their way. After a walk, he will stand at the top of my building’s front steps and assess the situation on the street. If there are strangers or shady looking people, he will hold his ground with a ferocious look on his face until the threat has passed.

A few weeks ago he barked at a biker who was cruising down the sidewalk at 2am. The guy was so startled he crashed into a parked car. I pretended to scold Cosmo, but he knew there were extra biscuits for him once the guy was out of sight.

Last night, I got home from work shortly after midnight.

It was 13 degrees out and windy.

The lock on my building’s front door had broken last week, and they replaced it yesterday, apparently with a new lock that would accept the old key.

My old key didn’t work.

My first attempt to get into the building was to ring the bells of some of the neighbors I know. I was disappointed, but I also understood, when not a single one of them trudged downstairs to the front door to see who was a-knocking at 12:10am.

Plan two was a break-in. And one note here, I could be a burglar. I have always been good at forcing entry into locked places.

The problem with the break-in was the fear of being mauled by Cosmo. Like I said, it was cold, I had a hat and a scarf on. I looked like a burglar.

But it was either that or sleep in my car.

So, like Spiderman, I scaled across the front of my building to a window I know I could jimmy. Like Magnum, I forced the screen out of its track and picked the window lock open. It was a very loud process.

Then, like T.J. Hooker, I hurled my body through the window, did a somersault and sprung up behind a couch, ready to defend myself from my massive watchdog.

The only sound was a long, annoyed sigh. Then a weary pair of eyes popped over the top of the couch.

Cosmo took one look at me, snorted, and went back to sleep.

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