A few days ago I opened the front door and once again there was big, fat Frankie just standing around, waiting. We glared at each other for a minute, and then he turned tail and disappeared. I won, at least this time.
Frankie is a very large black cat (and I mean big--at least 25 lbs.) who lives upstairs on the 14th floor. Frankie's person is a lovely, strange woman who believes cats should be allowed to roam the halls as they please. The management of my building has no issue with this, oddly, and so Frankie spends his days slinking up and down the stairs.
Problem is, the outsides of all apartments look the same, and Frankie can't count. He and I met for the first time about a year ago, when I opened the door one Sunday morning to retrieve the Times and all of a sudden a big, dark... thing ran inside, right over my feet. My first thought: help, it's a beast. I don't know what I meant by that, but it was the only word that came to mind in my state of shock and rapid heartbeat. My second thought: if this is a giant rat, only Moshiach can save us. By the time I reached a third thought I had identified the beast as a cat, as did both my own. A Keystone Cops-style scenario quickly ensued as Don Carlo (18 lbs., all chicken) tried to squeeze behind the refrigerator and Claudio (8 lbs. and fearless) chased the interloper in circles from room to room, and I ran maniacally after them all. She (Claudio is a girl, and just fine with her name) finally cornered him in the bedroom closet, and I slammed the door and tried to figure out what to do next.
I called downstairs to the doorman and asked if he knew of any missing black cats. I do! he answered, and a few minutes later a neighbor knocked on my door. She took one look in the closet--oh, sorry, he's not mine. Yes, there's more than one strange woman in my building who lets her black cat wander the halls. Meanwhile, the beast hissed and cowered behind a pile of shoes. I opened the closet door a crack to shove in a bowl of water, and then decided to sit down and eat my own breakfast in hopes that food would give me more strength to ponder a next move.
Just as I started chewing a forkful of omelet, I heard sounds from the hallway.
"Frankie? Frankie? Frankie Valli? Come to mama! Frankie?"
I opened the door. "Are you looking for a cat?"
"Yes!' said my strange upstairs neighbor. I led her to the closet, where she scooped up the large, shivering animal. He began to purr. "I'm so sorry! He must have gotten confused and thought he was on 14."
I've since pondered this strange invasion and decided that Frankie Valli the cat is very much like God. He (I will use a gendered pronoun in Frankie's honor) often shows up where we least expect Him, and can be frightening. But He's always around, whether we like it or not. We try to reject Him, but He's stubborn. If we show love, so does He. If we spend our lives running away, He still stops by to visit.