Brian returned from deployment just a couple weeks before Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday for many reasons, not the least of which includes social acceptance for dressing up as someone or something else. It harkens back to my days as a theater nerd and my love for the creative process of transformation.
Since I’m a brunette from Michigan with a penchant for accents, particularly one very close to my native tongue, and it was a few days until the Presidential Election – I dressed as Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin. Sadly, I needed not look any further than my own Republican wardrobe to fit the part. The results – Pure Palin Magic. Every parent with trick-or-treaters from my neighborhood appreciated the costume and it usually led to a couple seconds of political chat while I stuffed candy bags.
We joined fellow revelers at a party hosted by some of Brian’s Navy friends for a couple hours, where I even got to pose in a picture with a girl dressed as Sarah’s pregnant daughter, Bristol. On her pillow-stuffed t-shirt she wrote: My mom believes in abstinence. We decided to show off my dead-ringer impersonation in downtown San Diego, but the scene was uncontrolled. Upon my first few steps out on the streets, I felt a fear of being mobbed.
Fellow San Diegans screamed “It’s Sarah!,” “I voted for you!” and “Don’tcha know!” from every direction. But it all went sideways when I saw another impersonator – Senator John McCain of Arizona. We walked up to each other to poke fun at the other, but we were suddenly surrounded by the paparazzi.
Brian tried to grab me and pull me from the crowd as the crush closed in around me. I felt scared. He finally yanked my hand, retrieved me from the pile and we dashed back to our car to call it a night a touch early.
As we settled into our cozy bed, both kitties lay at the foot sound asleep. As I began to drift off, I felt a disturbance on the bed and suddenly, a back claw ribbed open my face from the left corner of my mouth to my throat. As the cat continued on the circular path of destruction, Brian nearly caught her mid-leap as he sat up to the sound of my scream.
In a second, the light came on and I looked down at my pajamas. Blood already trickled down to my chest. I ran to the master bathroom and turned on the vanity lights. There was so much blood, I couldn’t tell how many scratches there were. As I frantically cleaned my face and tried to find bandages, my adrenaline continued to rush. Alcohol stung my wounds as I disinfected them from the filthy cat scratches.
It suddenly occurred to me that Brian wasn’t there. But I heard stomping, screaming and running back and forth up and downstairs. Both cats, terrified ran back to the bedroom to hide under the bed. He trapped one, dragged her out while she screamed and disappeared. He returned for a second one.
“Brian, help me!” I cried.
“In a minute,” he said, running off.
He returned, out of breath and helped me bandage the three scratches – one of which was quite deep. A giant gauze covered the left side of my face from mouth corner to mid-throat. Once I calmed down from the violent wake-up, I realized that Tuesday was Election Day and I would have to walk around to the various campaign parties looking like Freddy Krueger got a hold of me.
I went back to sleep and woke up in the morning to realize the kitties were not around. In the frantic aftermath, I didn’t think about where Brian had put them.
“I threw them outside,” he said.
“What?” I asked. “Those are MY kitties. You got them to keep me company during your deployments. You have to find them! Right now!”
“Baby, one of them scratched you badly,” he said. “A dog bites you, you have to shoot it. Clearly, they aren’t tame enough to be pets. Look at your face.”
“I don’t care,” I said. I started to cry. “You have to find them right now! Not tomorrow, not after breakfast – NOW!”
He searched for the rest of the day. I heard Holly crying in early afternoon. I opened the front door and she ran in. But there was still no sign of Violet. I envisioned her being hit by a car or scarfed up by a coyote. I moped all day while Brian sat in the dog house.
That night, I found Holly sitting with her nose pressed against the sliding glass door looking out in the dark. I walked over to see what she was looking at and Violet was pressed against the other side, her little whiskers covered in cobwebs. She dashed in and hid for the rest of the night.
Days later while telling the story to a friend, they asked a simple question that had not occurred to us.
“So, your neighbors saw you in your pjs tossing your cats one-by-one outside?”
“No,” Brian said. “They saw me naked tossing our cats outside.”