She skulked into our room just as the blue-speckled morning light was breathing in pink from the sun, and started to howl.
"Your turn," I say to the mountain of covers to my left. "I already handled a squirrel, two chipmunks and what I can only presume was a bird this week. I'm taking the morning off."
Wordlessly, he pulls on a shirt and stalks downstairs passing Ittybit in the hallway.
"Where's he going?" she asks, scooping up the squalling mass of feline flesh as awkwardly as humanly possible. In Ittybit's arms, our black cat is more of a rag doll. She just limply hangs, catatonic.
I don't get a chance to answer before a stream of expletives and a few Lords'-Names-in-Vain come charging up the stairs.
"OH GOD! JESUS CHRIST! OHHHHH, FOR-FUGS-SAKE!"
"What did she kill?" I yell down in response.
"Nothing. It's still alive and its running around in the kitchen!"
When I reach the place where the coffee and toast are born, I find him standing by the coffeemaker. Perhaps he's willing it to become a Haveaheart trap, but I suspect he's more interested in getting a cup of caffeine to clear his mind.
"Coffee first. Then I'll think about what to do. It could be anywhere at this point."
He saw it scoot behind the dog food container and a case of bottled ice tea. All sorts of critters go back there, never to be seen again.
I moved the containers and saw the chipmunk all curled up in a ball. No head, no tail visible in the shadows. On the counter above it is a small movie popcorn box, saved for reuse because of its red-pin-stripe quaintness and lack of visible butter stains.
I grab it and bend to scoop up the cat's escaped snack.
In it goes to the bottom, scrabbling around for a second and then settling back into its protective orb.
I head for the great out of doors.
Ittybit wants to help release the varmint, but minds my urgent request and feeds the cat as a distraction. I tell I'll wait for her, and to meet me at the tree in front yard.
When she arrives, I pour out the popcorn box, kernels, critter and all.
For a long moment, it stands there all stretched out and close to the ground. I fan the box in its direction and it skitters up the tree trunk. Ittybit follows it, circling the tree, telling it all manner of helpful advice.
"Have a nice life."
"Be more careful."
"Stay away from cats."
As she skips around the tree, a first-grade Ann Landers, it chitters at her, loudly.
Its charm delights her.