Cats and Couches And Settling In

Written By Barbara O'Brien

Kevin and I eloped on a Friday 13th thinking we were already taking a chance on the marriage, why not take a chance on the day. When I told my boss that I needed Friday off because I was eloping, she took pity on me and pressed a $100 bill into my hand. She wished us the best of luck and asked when I would be back. “On Monday, of course” I told her. I wasn’t going to miss any work.

We were married by a bemused Clerk of Court and then went to a pizza place for dinner.

As our apartment in the farmhouse was empty, we gleefully took the $100 and spent it at Target, stocking up on cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and towels. We also made a trip to the grocery store to get some food.

We hauled in a twin mattress that Kevin had commandeered from his house and taped some boxes into a makeshift dresser for our clothes. We put the few groceries we had away and looked around with satisfaction at our new life together.

This was all well and good, but something was missing. I finally was able to live out on the farm. Babe, the horse I had loved for so many years, was right outside my door.

There were sheep and chickens and goats and cows to care for. What more could I want?

I knew what I could want. A cat. All of my life I had been denied a cat because of my brother’s allergies. The next morning I set out to rectify the situation. Like most farm owners, Mrs. Villaume had a wide selection of barn cats that would like nothing more than to be upgraded to the life a pampered house cat.

I had been going to the farm for years, so I had a pretty good handle on the cat population. I would have preferred a kitten but it was mid November and too late in the season. The closest thing was a six-month-old calico that had been raised by Mrs. Villaume’s grandchildren and was already tame and friendly.

She had round copper colored eyes that were bigger and brighter than the rest of the cats. Her fur, although dirty and matted, was still thick and soft. She was brown and orange and black with four white socks and a bib that stretched up to her nose. Mrs. Villaume believed that calicos were good luck and called them money cats.

I took her into the house, gave her a bath, and carefully combed out the mats and burrs from her coat. When I was done, I laid down on the mattress on the floor with her. I petted her and she blissfully rolled onto her back to have her belly petted. She purred and purred and seemed quite content with her new life.

I named her Wolf because of her copper eyes and her fierce hunting skills.

Within a few days, after the shock and surprise of our elopement wore off, our families began to donate furniture and dishes for us to use in the apartment. We now had a folding table and chairs, a real bed, and a bookcase. We had everything we needed except for a couch.

Mrs. Villaume heard about our dilemma and mentioned that there was a couch in the shed that we could have if we wanted. We found it covered with tarp and more than a few cats. It was an old Victorian couch with carved wooden legs, a tall graceful back and arms that looked like a Victorian lady herself. It was old and heavy and really cool. Kevin and I grunted and groaned as we pushed it up the steps to our apartment.

Now we were truly settled. We had our home, each other, and our little calico cat.

We spent hours on the couch with the cat in our laps, watching the screen of a little black and white portable TV while receiving the sound from a larger wooden console TV below. Beggars can’t be choosers, you know.

After a week or two of a marital bliss we began to notice little red bumpy marks on our ankles, calves and across our stomachs. They itched like crazy and would scab over if you scratched too hard.

We could not figure out what was wrong. Every time we sat on the couch, the itching became worse.

The next day we were to go to my grandmothers for dinner. This excited us because she was making my favorite meal and we were running out of food.

As we were getting ready, we noticed the red marks had become more numerous, now spreading to our arms and legs. Then I spotted it. A little brown dot leapt from Kevin’s knee to the floor.

It was moving. We had some kind of BUG!

We stared at each other. It took a moment but then at the same time we said FLEAS! We looked at each other again and then, we looked at THE CAT!

Wolf, who was curled up in the arm of the couch, looked at us with amusement.

We stared at the couch and we were able to see little brown specs moving about in their own little flea circus. I watched one jump on the cat and disappear.

Kevin reached for Wolf and announced loudly as he carried her down and outside that she was not coming back in until she had been rid of fleas. He came back up and picked up the end of the couch and began dragging it across the room to the stairs. I grabbed the other end and we pushed, and pulled, and carried it until we had put it back into the shed where we had found it.

Because we had to stop at the pet store to buy flea shampoo for the cat and spray for the house, we were late to dinner with my grandmother. She was upset with us, but we were too embarrassed to tell her the reason why.

We learned a valuable lesson that day. Never bring in a barn cat without checking for fleas and beware of really old and really heavy couches that that have spent their last few years in a shed.

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