“The Great Curtain Caper” by Pat Wahler

This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Cats.” 

Every home contains at least one item, prized beyond measure by its occupants. It’s something to admire, fight for and treasure chesttreasure.

I found my Holy Grail of Housedom in a pair of cur­tains. The moment I saw those bronze basket-weave window panels, I knew they would be the perfect companion for the sliding glass doors in our great room. I carefully measured length and width as a smile lifted my lips. Decorating had never been my forte, but even I could see these curtains would be perfect.

I ordered the panels and a week later, they arrived in an extra-large mailing envelope. I tore it open and pulled out two tightly compressed fabric panels. A snapping shake unfolded each one. Bogey, my tiger-striped feline, immediately nosed his head inside the empty envelope. He scooted it across the floor, making the en­velope look as if it had unexpectedly sprouted four legs.

“Can’t you stay out of trouble for even five minutes?” I said, as I removed the envelope from his head.

Bogey meowed in response, no doubt informing me in cat-speak that such a question could only be rhetorical. I had no time to dicker with him. My husband had already hung the onyx-colored rod and I couldn’t wait to see how the cur­tains looked in their place of honor. Wrinkles and all, I slid the panels onto the rod and stepped back to take a look.

A brief three-step happy dance followed. The curtains just touched the floor and were a lovely complement to the room. They made the entire area look warmer and perfectly finished. I’d made the right choice.

Bogey sauntered over to inspect the new addition. His tail stood straight up as he sniffed his way across the folds of fabric. Not 10 seconds later, his haunches tensed and he jumped at least 6 feet straight up. His claws latched securely to the curtain and he hung on. I couldn’t help but notice how efficiently he had attached himself to the fabric. A util­ity lineman scaling a telephone pole could take a lesson from Bogey.

Finally, I found my voice and shrieked, “Bogey! Get off there now!”

Bogey released his hold and dropped neatly to the floor. I raced over to check the damage—he had punched several pin-sized holes into the fabric. My shoulders slumped.

Long ago, Bogey had demonstrated a penchant for knock­ing collectables to the floor. His behavior taught me to always ask myself one question before making a purchase: What will Bogey do to this? In many cases, the answer was enough to dis­courage me from buying an item. But curtains? It hadn’t even occurred to me that curtains would present a problem.

Bogey meowed again and rubbed against my legs. I picked him up and stroked his head. He purred and my annoyance melted. Perhaps he’d been overly excited about seeing some­thing new in the room. Cats tend to roll that way. Now that he’d gotten acquainted with them, surely he’d leave the panels alone.

But Bogey didn’t lose interest. Any time I sat on the couch, he would leap and attach himself to the curtain. Then he’d turn his head like an owl and stare straight at me. The gauntlet had been thrown. I’d jump up and he’d drop to the floor and sprint away. It wasn’t long before the new curtains had more tiny holes than a piece of Swiss cheese.

Bogey and the infamous curtains

Bogey and the infamous curtains

My husband ventured an observation. “He only does this when you’re in the room. I think he’s trying to get your goat. Why don’t you just take the curtains down?”

“No way,” I scoffed. “Besides, I have an idea.”

I had read an article that said cats don’t like sticky things. So I purchased clear contact paper and clothespins. The clothespins did a neat job of clamping the paper—sticky side out—over each curtain panel. While the result was eeri­ly reminiscent of a plastic-covered couch found at Grandma’s house, I didn’t care. It worked. Bogey did not attack the cur­tains again, although he glared at me every time he walked past them. I felt smug about finding a simple solution to the problem.

A few weeks later, I watched as Bogey casually walked by the curtains, gazed toward the curtain rod, crouched and leaped. He cleared the contact paper with room to spare and hung from the top of the curtain. As soon as I yelled and moved toward him, he released his hold. I swear that cat had the most self-satisfied expression I’d ever seen on anyone’s face.

Later that evening, Bogey jumped above the contact pa­per again. And again the next day. Now even bigger holes gaped in the fabric. My beautiful curtains began to droop as threads stretched and unraveled. Bogey’s endless game of “Jump the Curtain” had clearly taken its toll.

Even the most fanatic soldier realizes when it’s time to surrender. I took down my tattered curtains and gave them a dignified burial deep in our dumpster. I finally realized that no mere mortal would ever win in a power struggle with a cat, so my sliding glass doors remain naked to this day. It’s much easier on my nerves to decorate around Bogey, al­though I’ll never admit the truth to my friends. Instead, I describe my new style as “Modern.” It’s a simple decorating scheme that features only one risk-free accessory.

Cat hair.

Cats 250_rgbPat Wahler is a grant writer by day and writer of fiction and essays by night. Her work can be found in both national and local publications. A lifelong animal lover, Pat ponders critters, writing and life’s little mysteries at http://www.critteralley.blogspot.com.

Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Cats.” The book is filled with 62 cat-approved stories written by their humans. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1CdPXYt) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1zFY1kd).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.