I still take a flashlight and turn on the lights on the other side of the wall -- just to make sure everything's okay around there in that cavernous space occupied only by the furnace and the work table and tool cabinet on the other side of the room. And a radiator that my contractor told me I should save in case I ever wanted to re-install it. . . My basement isn't as scary to me as it used to be.
When I go downstairs, I always close the kitchen door so that Harry won't be tempted to follow me. Last Saturday morning, I was careless. I didn't realize this until I came back upstairs from putting clothes in the dryer. The door was ajar. I assumed, I had left it that way. But Harry was nowhere to be seen. Not out on the enclosed "sleeping porch" where he had been watching the birds fly by. Not on the radiator watching the birds fly in and out of the bird apartment house on a pole in my neighbor's yard. Not stretched out on the rug in the dining room or the futon in the sun room having a nap. Not under my bed or behind a chair. Nowhere. Harry was gone.
No Harry in the basement. No Harry when I ran back upstairs and looked in all the places I had looked before as if he might have been invisible the first time.
That got him almost out, and then he dashed back when I reached toward him. Dry food. The dry food he isn't allowed to have any more because he needs to lose a couple of pounds. But I still had half a bag. Harry always responds to the sound of that bag being opened.
My hero has done a good deed (and been heroic). But now -- from his point of view -- he is late. He is irritated. Since he is far back in the crowd, he looks around at the faces as Ms. Anderson sings. He sees joyful, transfixed faces. He sees a few people weeping. He seems my villain -- who shouldn't be there in that crowd. Their gazes meet. My hero is puzzled, disconcerted. . .