For a brief moment of time many years ago in what feels like an alternate universe, I had my dream job. I was paid to go to people’s homes and businesses in a quaint, touristy town and ask semi-nosey questions and then write about it. It wasn’t steady work and it paid like a side job, but I loved meeting new people and hearing how each one opened up in an hour’s time.

The retiring Persian rug shop owner was my first and gentlest. I never did crack the all-business veneer of the upscale coffee barista. My favorite interview was probably the bubbly flight attendant who ran a feral cat rescue from her home and drank from both her coffee cup and mine during what felt more like a meeting with an old, hyperactive friend.

At one point, the flight attendant/cat rescue lady shared an idea she had for a book about a beloved stray who stopped by for breakfast every morning and then headed off to a boatyard in an adjacent lot like it was his job to chase birds and probably nap a lot. We agreed it might make a cute story to set some photographs and text in what would have been a zine or blog post before either of those things were invented.

The problem was she wasn’t a writer and didn’t own a camera, so this woman I’d just met basically handed me the perfect opportunity to try something creative and outside my comfort zone. And I nodded enthusiastically and agreed it was a terrific idea and I went home and wrote a glowing piece about her and her rescue cats, leaving out the part about her drinking from my coffee mug, and I never spoke to her again.

Yesterday I was reminded of this regret after falling in love with Horace and Agnes on account of the absurdist anthropomorphism, and of course those sharp photographs. 

I thought it might be fun to have my daughters pose favorite stuffed animals in a Toy Story meets Marwencol photo shoot and make up a little story about the characters. I swear this idea seemed less psychotic earlier, but now we’re in the middle of another snowstorm and psychosis is starting to feel like an old friend bearing milk and eggs and trashy magazines.

We posed the stuffed cat and panda by a cardboard house I swear neither of the cats normally pay any mind to.

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A story unfolded before our eyes, but it wasn’t the one I was expecting.

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What started out as a seemingly innocent visit to what was believed to be an abandoned beach cottage turned into a courageous battle by one cat to defend his home against malevolent intruders.

A cat’s gotta tell his story. There’s no way around it.

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