Lemon was missing.
The entire household had only noticed when Mistress in her usual every-morning duty had come to bring her feline majesty her breakfast that morning. I’d just returned from my morning prowl around and bowel-emptying duty and was on my belly keeping a watchful eye on the goings-on in the yard.
I’d vaguely wondered about her absence from her kennel, but hadn’t thought much it. For one thing, she was a cat and they are night-prowling animals and for another her whereabouts wasn’t any of my business unless of course she crossed into my boundary.
So when Mistress had come strutting over like a peacock on a mission, calling out in her usual squeaky voice, I hadn’t even bothered to raise my head.
“Lemon. Lemon?” She called reaching Lemon’s kennel and stopping right in front of it. “Lemon? Baby, it’s time for breakfast.”
There wasn’t any purring response.
Mistress stooped down to look into the wooden kennel on a stone ledge. “Lemon? Where are you?”
The kennel was empty.
She raised her head. “Where can that cat be?” Mistress asked looking at me with a puzzled frown.
And how the hell am I supposed to know? I sniffed twirling my tail in nonchalance.
“But she’s always in her kennel ready for her food every morning.” Mistress continued her eyes darting around the yard on the lookout for her precious Lemon.
I chose to completely ignore her. This was my lie-on-my-belly-doing-absolutely-nothing relaxation time and I wasn’t going to allow a disappearing-mode cat and her prissy mistress to mess up with my schedule.
“Lemon?” Lemon’s pink bowl still in hand, Mistress turned in the direction of the house calling out at the top of her voice. “LEMON!”
Some couple of minutes later, Master joined the search party.
“Lemon?” He called out, marching all around the yard in a to-and-fro walk. “LEMON?” His voice was now a rough impatient bellow. “Where the heck can that damned cat be?” Master asked his irritation clear in his voice.
His to-and-fro march led him to my kennel. “Libeck, where is Lemon?” He asked looking directly at me with dark annoyed eyes.
You too? When did I suddenly become Lemon’s official guard dog? I made a low growl in my throat and went back to my tail twirling and tongue drooling.
“Libeck, where is Lemon?” Master repeated now looking at me with somewhat suspicious eyes. “Did you do something to her last night?”
That unjust accusation had me raising my head to stare wounded-eyed at Master.
You are accusing me of her disappearance? You think I killed her and disposed of her body? My low growl was almost a whine now, a piteous heartbreaking whine.
That obviously got Master thinking straight again because he expelled a deep breath “Of course you didn’t do anything to her.” He shook his head. “You are a good dog and would not unnecessarily harm anyone.” He bent over and patted my head.
“But where can this trouble-making cat be, for heaven’s sakes?” Master wondered aloud, strolling off in the direction he’d come. “I’m going to be late for work.”
Maybe it was Master recognising that I wouldn’t harm anyone including the trouble-making Lemon or because it was my duty to find out what exactly was going on in my territory – whatever it was – I found myself getting to my paws and joining in the search for that feline witch.
All day, we searched the entire yard, over and over, inside and outside, Mistress and I, because Master soon left for work that morning. I don’t know why Mistress didn’t go to work herself, maybe humans took a day-off when their cats go missing… I don’t know. But together we searched everywhere and even went out together to search the neighbourhood.
But Lemon was no where to be found.
It was now dark and the day’s search had ended just barely an hour ago, with Master back and going on another futile neighbourhood search.
Lemon hadn’t turned up.
Sad and weepy, Mistress slogged inside with a cooing, placating Master at her heels.
I was now lying just outside my kennel looking at the pink-painted wooden kennel on a stone ledge and for the zillionth time since I’d joined the search that morning I wondered where that trouble-making, treacherous, territory-threatening, interfering feline witch could be.
I flattened my head on the ground and making a low gutting growl, wondered why I suddenly felt like a heavy metal lead had just been dropped over my fast-thumping heartbeat.