The couple of days before Tori and I left on our trip I did as much as I could to clean the house. It was really just the basics...do the dishes, clean the counters, sweep and mop the kitchen and bathroom floors, clean the bathroom sink, tub and toilet...vacuum the carpet, wash the cat prints off of the furniture and lastly I cleaned out 5 cat boxes. The morning before we left as we were waiting for the town car to pick us up Tori fine tuned the cleaning process a little more by trying to clean up Andrews mess in his part of the house.
Knowing that Andrew might not be as diligent at keeping the cat boxes clean or keeping the cat's water bowl full I secretly went to one of my young neighbors, (who used to be madly in love with Andrew), and asked her if she would please, please, please periodically check to make sure that the kitties had water. They have an automatic dry food feeder so I knew they wouldn't starve to death. The bigger kitties know how to drink from the toilet if they need to but the kittens aren't as well versed in the skills of indoor survival. She assured me that she would check in at least once a day and thus I left on my trip feeling secure in the fact that my fur children would be safe and sound in my absence.
When we got home Andrew was outside smoking a cigarette and he greeted me by telling me that all of the adult kitties were on the lamb and had been gone since before we even got on the airplane. I felt the blood drain out of my face and fought the urge to throttle him. I asked him how that happened and why hadn't he gone out and find them and bring them home....
His answer.....(urgh...must resist urge to throttle young nephew)..... "After you guys left John and I went down to the pool and when we were down there Ashleigh tore the screen in the bay window and they all jumped out." I said, "HOW DID ASHLEIGH TEAR THE SCREEN IN THE BAY WINDOW WHEN THE VERY LAST THING I DID BEFORE I GOT IN TO THE TOWN CAR WAS CLOSE THE BAY WINDOW AND TELL YOU TO KEEP IT CLOSED BECAUSE ASHLEIGH HAD BEEN WORKING VERY HARD ON TEARING THE SCREEN AND I DIDN'T WANT HER TO SUCCEED AND THEN BE ABLE TO GIVE EVERYONE THEIR MUCH SOUGHT AFTER FREEDOM?????" His response.."It was hot in here." All I could think of was the possibility of little Nort jumping out of that window and breaking her back or at the very least re-injuring her previous injury. I was very happy to get inside the house and see Nort and her little white sister safe and sound and inside the house. Fortunately they were too scared to jump and they seemed to enjoy their tenure and the only feline residents of the house for 12 days. Believe it or not they did have water in their bowl so apparently my neighbor held up her end of the deal. However none of the cat boxes had been cleaned since I left.
Also inside the house was a dirty, filthy Lorenzo. Andrew said that he came home earlier that morning. Of course he was very upset that he came home and his woman was no where to be seen. His response to this tragedy was to squall his head off non stop until she finally came home. I went outside and went looking for Ashleigh, Elijah and Willow. I had a couple of fleeting sightings of Elijah but he wouldn't go near the house and I couldn't get close enough to him to catch him.
Andrew had his back pack packed and jumped in the truck and went home with his mom. I figured it was because he wanted to escape my wrath over his irresponsibility regarding the cats. I stayed outside looking for the kitties until almost 10 o'clock that night. By then I was so tired I actually couldn't see straight.
Ashleigh sauntered home early the next morning but there was no sign of Elijah or Willow. I put all of the kitties in the bathroom and left my front door wide open with a can of cat food and a bowl of water at the threshold just in case it might entice either one of them to come home. This was all to no avail.
Several days later I heard Elijah squeak. I very carefully opened the door and did everything I could to try to coax him inside. He kept acting like he was afraid of coming in to the house and like he was afraid of me. Finally I did what I saw Drew Barrymore do when she was trying to get E.T. to come out of the shed....I put a few treats in front of the house and then I made a trail of treats that went up the stairs and in to the house. IT WORKED! Elijah was absolutely, disgustingly, dirty. He was covered in grease and oil, cobwebs, stickers, mud and fleas. Millions of fleas. I picked him up and held him and he was so skinny that it just about made me cry. I can't imagine what it was like for him out there for 16 days in the heat of the summer with no direct access to food or water.
I spent the next week combing the mobile home park for Willow and I'm devastated to say that I have never found him. Haven't even seen a glimpse of him. He was a very beautiful solid grey kitty and I have convinced myself that someone took him in and he's living the life of Reilly sitting on a pillow eating greenies out of a crystal dish.
If you are anything like me you would think that failing so miserably at one aspect of house sitting might cause you to try to kick it up a notch in other areas of the job however with Andrew this is just never the case.
In addition to being non-plussed about the kitties being on a walk about he was equally unconcerned with the condition of the house. It was evident that he had smoked inside the house. (No wonder the kitties left) I can't decide which was a bigger betrayal...letting the cats roam free or smoking in my house. I am adamantly opposed to either activity and anyone who knows me knows this. I have no idea what else went on inside my house during my absence but my kitchen and bathroom looked as though they had been used by an army of bachelors. How that much filth can accumulate in 12 days is beyond me. Every dish I owned was dirty and there was cereal and Top Ramen congealing nicely in the sink. The stove was covered in splattered grease and red candle wax. I asked why there was candle wax on my stove and I was told that the candle got knocked over and subsequently the pilot light caused the candle to melt and drip. When they, (apparently Andrew's friend John stayed there the entire time I was gone), discovered the drip Andrew told John to clean it up. For reasons only known to God...John attempted to clean up the wax with my carpet cleaning brush. The end result was wax smeared all over the top of the stove and red candle wax embedded in my carpet brush.
When I washed the dishes I discovered that all of my tumblers were missing. When I gathered laundry I discovered that all of my towels were missing. When I attempted to have a beer I discovered that all of my beer was missing. When I changed my mind and decided to have a diet coke and vanilla vodka....I discovered that someone was too stupid to know that vodka kept in the freezer will not freeze but when you drink the entire full bottle of vodka and replace the contents with water and put it back in the freezer...the water will freeze.
It was becoming more and more apparent that a party, (parties?) had taken place when I was gone. Unfortunately it would take a few more days and a call from the park manager before I would find out the extent of the fallout of me being foolish enough to trust Andrew with my house for 12 days.....