In the basement of my psyche there are cats. Big ones: two lionesses and a tiger. They are a sorry-looking trio, so thin that you can see their ribs and hip bones under their dull and patchy fur. Night and day they pace in the dark, roaring. They are starving, and it’s my fault: I’m too scared to feed them.
Periodically I crack the door open and peer down the stairs at them, and their stench, like a thousand dirty litter boxes, makes me gasp. I need to change their bedding, but that would mean going down there.
What are two lionesses and a tiger doing in my basement? I put them there, in a fit of insanity, because I wanted the thrill of having these wild, fierce, unpredictable creatures under my roof. What was I thinking? Now I’m stuck with them.
What if they escape? They will surely hunt down and kill the first moving thing they see, maybe somebody’s dog, or one of the neighbors. All the same, I cannot keep them here, to slowly starve to death.
Maybe I could lure them into the car and release them in some faraway wilderness, but to do that I’d have to get close to them. The only responsible thing would be to call the authorities, but which authorities? The zoo? The fire department? The police? The police will come with their guns drawn, and shoot the poor cats. I don’t think I could stand that. Or, the cats might jump on a policeman or firefighter or zoo keeper—someone with a spouse and little kids at home—and eat them. I couldn’t live with the guilt if that happened.
Either way, whether the cats kill or are killed, I will surely be questioned, and held responsible. The embarrassment will be appalling. People will think I’m crazy, or criminal, or both. But things can’t go on like this. Somehow, I must get rid of these animals.
In the basement of my psyche, there are cats….