The Fury Of The Northmen

Torvald got upstairs again.

This always happens when I have no time for it. Actually, it hasn’t happened in a long time — not since the boy developed his heart condition, which isn’t the sort of thing you want to stir up with his idea of convivial play. Someone always gets bitten, or peed on, and cats roll over and over one another in tightly clenched balls like the original undivided human in Plato’s Symposium.

So when I saw that the upstairs door — I freely admit, I had to be the one that failed to check the latch — was ajar and yet an eerie silence prevailed above stairs, I was apprehensive in the extreme. I tiptoed up the steps.

Torvald was reclining odalisque on the landing. Mystery, yellow, dopey and half again his size, mirrored his posture about a cubit away. They were in suspended animation, not looking immediately hostile, but my noise must have made Mystery blink, or move, and before I could reach the top Torvald had pounced and a wild scramble ended up in the dressing alcove with a cloud of variegated cat hair flying aloft, like Jurassic dandelion fluffs. Mystery one-eightied and headed for my closet, followed closely by a growling Torvald, who clearly hadn’t had this much fun in months. I got the laundry out of the basket and the basket over him just in time to keep him from rushing Mystery, who was disappearing behind my formal gowns. (I have some. Don’t ask why.)

There followed a laborious process of levering the basket-encased Torvald down the stairs, one tread at a time, carefully maintaining the position of the basket to prevent escapes and going slowly enough to keep him from coming to grief. Did I mention that I had just returned from the gym, sticky with sweat and smelling like six small goats, and that a client was due in twelve minutes? I got him down the stairs finally, shut the door, released him and gratefully watched him stalk toward the door of the sunporch. I let him out there. He immediately discovered he was on the wrong side of the door and let me know, indignantly and unrepentantly.


Fig. 1

A quick survey determined that Mr. Ferguson was cowering under the bed, Lilly Bast was secreted in the nethermost recesses of the closet, and Nickel Catmium was perched tensely on the tallest platform of the cat tree. I now had eight minutes to shower, dress and be ready for my first client. By the time I had gotten clean her car was in the driveway. We know each other pretty well, so I went down in my spa robe with a towel wrapped around my head and explained the situation. (This kind of thing is happening a lot lately.) Agatha Voleslayer, who usually occupies the lower floors with Torvald (he tried to mate with her when they met, and somehow exempts her from flying tackles), was still MIA. I found her on a window platform when I went back upstairs, but ended having to haul her out from under the dresser. As soon as I dressed and let Torvald back in the house he ran to the upstairs door and said “Can I do it again?”

By the time I had beaten three suffering butts everyone was more or less calmed down, but Mr. Ferguson required a lot of reassurance.


Fig. 2

It seems my Viking is hale and hearty and has no notion that he suffers from a cardiac condition, at least at this point. He’s back to pestering me for food at all hours, and he’s up to making Mr. Ferguson, an Irish charmer if ever one existed, importune Deity with the apocryphal supplication of the Irish monks: “From the fury of the Northmen, dear Lord, deliver us.”

Torvald just wants to know when the buddies can play with him again.


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