I really wish I had video of this one, but I didn’t want to queer the situation by running for a camera. What happened was, I was at the computer when I heard a doorish sound, but then there are doors all over the house that the cats push open wider or bump, and I went on with what I was doing — which was watching a video about baby bobcats, actually — till I realized the moaning feline sound I was hearing came from down the stairs and not the speakers.
I was there in two paces. Torvald was lolling on his side at the bottom of the basement steps. He had been squared away in the laundry room with his supper, as I do every day about that time, but there are three doors in and out of that room — one at each end and one to the storage under the steps, which have open risers. The storage area door doesn’t always latch perfectly. It’s a stiff sticky door, hard to open and close, but Torvald had managed it. I guess he just came sashaying out from under the steps in front of the appalled Fergie, who must have reacted by scooting under there to safety. As he saw it.
Fergie crouched under the next-to-bottom step, moaning and growling. Torvald rolled and waved his paws in the air.
I stepped down past him. He hopped up onto his feet and rubbed his cheek against the stair in front of Fergie.
Fergie made a noise like a slowly deflating inner tube or the pressure gradually seeping from an opened vacuum jar.
Torvald reached a paw toward the stairs, then pivoted — you know, the way they wind themselves around your ankles — flopped to his side again, and exhibited his belly.
It was like those photos from the ’60s and ’70s where protestors are putting flowers in the rifle barrels.
I opened the nearest laundry room door, concerned that Fergie would be provoked into attacking by this show of warlike behavior. Torvald peered at him from a few more angles, shrugged, and wandered back toward his food dish.
I secured the latches while Fergie slunk cautiously back upstairs.
Search me. It reminds me of C.S. Lewis remark that he knew a girl whose childhood terror — and he was talking about sleepless, wet-your pants terror — was the unabridged edition of the “Encyclopedia Britannica.” If Torvald were any more innocuous, he would have a G rating stamped on his rump.