Along one wall of my kitchen-combination-broom-closet runs kitchen cabinets, including the cabinet underneath my sink. Next to the sink and the cabinet beneath the sink is my dishwasher. Underneath the sink cabinet there is an overhang, a lip protruding about four inches out. Beneath this lip is the baseboard, about three inches high. Late one summer time, after a long long and hot hot day, I was playing with the little guys. about 1:00 am. Then I just watched as Inspector Gadget disappeared into the wall, between the sink cabinet and the dishwasher.
Wonderful. Cats are great at the secret compartment. They’d make excellent spelunkers. Unknown to me when I bought the house, there was a hole, mouse size, on the upper lip of the cabinet overhang. Inspector Gadget found it and had to explore. I don’t know if curiosity killed the cat, but it sure gave me high blood pressure.
I rifled through the empty Windex bottles and ripped underwear rags in the cabinet below the sink. He wasn’t in that cabinet. I emptied out the dishwasher. Wasn’t there either. Well then where the hell was he? He wouldn’t come out. He wouldn’t respond to his name, which he had no way of knowing was his name yet because my neighbor, Jill, just gave it to him. I had no idea where that mouse hole went. To some other dimension that exists somehow between walls.
I figured out that the compartment Inspector Gadget (hereinafter referred to as “IG”) discovered was between the cabinet under the sink and the dishwasher. My hand wouldn’t fit inside this worm hole to another universe. Maybe he’d traveled up the wall. He could be in the attic by now. He could be being ethnically cleansed by an unspeakable mouse colony, because he hadn’t made a damned sound in 20 minutes. I can’t call the vets because they’d realize I had a panic disorder all along and the medicines they’d give me, like ketamine, while wonderfully they’d transport me into the kitten’s dimension, wouldn’t help either of us return from it. I can’t call the plumber because they had no expertise that’d bear on the matter other than the fact that IG was possibly near some pipes or behind the dishwasher. I couldn’t call my dad, because he was 75 and I was trying to resolve my dependency issues with him.
And then I remembered: When all else fails, do nothing. This is the cowards’ version of Buddhism, called Passive Hopeful Zen. So I waited 20 more minutes, attempting to communicate using symbolic audio linguistic cues in one of the most difficult languages the Indo-European language group has ever produced (English) with a 95% feral, five week old kitten that had an IQ of 2 and no incentive to obey my low frequency emanations. I’ve since abandoned Passive Hopeful Zen.
My fear was that he was lodged underneath the dishwasher and if I slid it out, I’d smear him all over the floor. Passive Hopeful Zen took over for a while there again. After my threats of no food for the rest of his life failed, I rolled out my biggest cannon: I placed a plate of sea food fish cat bonanza extravaganza before the worm hole. Didn’t work. He could be behind the stove, willfully disconnecting the gas lines in an attempt to explode me as an act of revenge for wrecking his family. So I had to take the chance. I decided to pull out the dishwasher. I yanked my Dr. Smith back, recently recovered from a bout at the chiropractor. I pulled hard as I could. Wouldn’t budge. I mean, it was like tugging on Tom Cruise’s ego. It was then that handy man Mike deduced the dishwasher didn’t have its own self-generating spring from which to draw water or a self-contained reactor to power it. No, my dishwater was connected to practically every other utility known to humanity. There were lines running to the sink pipes to give it water. And there were lines running to an electric box underneath the sink to give it power. Hell, there were even lines to the garbage disposal, and I still haven’t figured that one out. The problem was, all those lines had to be disconnected, or, if you’re me, cut. And even I, the ultra-literate, building-trades challenged man that I was, knew that if you cut live electric wires, you risked an afterlife in which you were shut out of heaven just because you scored low on the Insight portion of the admissions test. So I pulled away the microwave oven that blocked my access to the fuse box. I pried open the painted shut door to the blessed fuse box. I turned off all the lights to my house. All while the three remaining kittens watched me with concern for my safety from their dwelling beneath the kitchen desk.
I cut the electric lines with baby scissors. Heave! Nothing. Guess I’ll have to disconnect PCV valve now. Pull! Zero. (Pull harder). Go! It scrapes out a couple inches, the sound of sharp metal grinding against soft yellow virgin tile. More! More! More! Finally, all the way, stripping off a goodly portion of kitchen tile to reveal the sticky miasma that forever weds linoleum to cold concrete.
And lo! IG peered up at me from his place behind the recently dismembered dishwater: Oh, so that’s where the world went, he seemed to be thinking as he glanced up offhandedly. He was back by the gas lines all right, covered in appliance excrement. He decided to come out now. I pushed the irreconcilable dishwasher back into semi-place, and sealed off the gateway to another universe forever more—with a second-hand toaster laid on its side, wedged snugly under the overhang. So. Now you know how Inspector Gadget got his name.
I’d like to say this was the last time the wormhole was breached. But I can’t. I guess the toaster didn’t fit as snugly as I wishfully imagined it would. Kitten play inevitably coaxed the crumb-bottomed, anachronistic appliance out of place, and IG was joined in the behind-the-dishwasher dimension by his sib-ship, except for Clio, who had better sense. Finally, after one last dishwasher exhumation, I nailed a heavy piece of cardboard over the portal. And that was the end of the kitten evil.
© 2021 by Michael C. Just
Mike’s novel, The Dirt: The Journey of a Mystic Cowboy, is available in softcover or eBook formats through Amazon.
You can purchase the book through this website. Or go straight to amazon at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+dirt+journey+of+a+mystic+cowboy&crid=1S40Q4BXSUWJ6&sprefix=the+dirt%3A+journey+of+a+m%2Caps%2C180&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_23
Mike’s other titles, including The Crippy, The Mind Altar, and Canyon Calls, are available through Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002
Two of his short stories have recently been published online. The Obligate Carnivore has been published by the Scarlet Leaf Review @ Category: MICHAEL JUST – SCARLET LEAF REVIEW
I See You, Too has been published by the 96th of October @ I See You, Too – 96th of October