I spent the next two hours pacing the apartment, hands over ears, trying futilely to block out the mewling of the little grey kitten and the distressed yowls of its mother.
... and then I went to work. Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad came with me in the hopes of securing the stellar assistance of Office Boy. Office Boy was busy ordering food for the staff's iftar - the meal which marks the end of the day's fast - and couldn't be spared from calling that one restaurant. Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad left, instead, with a step ladder which given the brain capacity of Office Boy meant that Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad came out ahead in the bargain. While I taught, he and a few curious neighbours tried - in vain - to coax the kitten to edge of the makeshift roof/overhang. Needless to say, the ladder didn't quite reach and consequently, nor could Mr. This Cat. He tossed a few Turkish 'chicken burgers' (a.k.a. bologne slices) on top of the makeshift roof/overhang. The kitten greedily wolved down the slices and then Mr. This Cat summarily suspended all rescue operations until darkness fell and I returned home.
Darkness fell and I returned home.
I came home at 10:00 and we resumed our now joint efforts to rescue the kitten. We could see the paws of the kitten - more or less - through the corrugated plastic of the makeshift roof/overhang but we could neither reach it nor lure it to the edge. I would be remiss if I didn't point out the obvious; namely, kittens can be quite skittish, especially when they are scared shitless by a six-storey drop and quite shy, especially when they have had zero contact with Tall Beings Which Walk on Two Legs who are trying to grab it.
To make matters worse, of all freaking nights, all the shops on our shop-lined street were staying open for a Midnight Madness-type sale - in anticipation of the end of Ramadan, now three days away. Apparently, there is no limit to the number of polyester headscarves, plastic toys and made-in-China crap from the dollar store people require to celebrate the end of Islam's holiest month. What this meant is that every time the kitten even remotely came close to the edge of the makeshift overhang/roof, a gaggle of women, a muffler-less scooter, and/or a pack of screeching kids passed by, spooking the kitten. Eventually, it took cover behind the Singer Sewing Machine sign, completely out of our purview and definitely out of our reach.
Time passed ...
We were stymied - which really meant that I wanted to sit down on the curb and cry. The son of the owner of the plastic toy shop directly across the street from us - a child who on a good day resembles Pugsley from the Addams Family and far worse on a bad day - who hitherto had spent the last 45 minutes swinging a toy gun on a string around him and hitting passers-by, now stood in the middle of the street, stared blankly at us and gaped. I fully expected him to suddenly point at us as otherworldly screams emanated from his mouth. All in slow motion. As a preemptive measure, I wanted to take that toy gun and cause him grievous bodily harm with it.
Close to midnight, we heard a louder than usual car motor - this in itself was not unusual but tonight the street had been closed off to traffic (well, sort of) for its Midnight Madness sale - and we looked down the street to see a fire truck approaching.
Do you think if I flagged them down, I asked Mr. Cat, they'll let us use their cherry-picker to rescue the kitten?
Uh - no, he responded. (He's so negative some times.)
Then the most remarkable thing happened. The fire truck - which was having no easy time navigating the narrow street where we live - actually stopped in front of our building and then the ladder swivelled towards the makeshift roof/overhang. It turns out that one of the men who had helped Mr. Cat earlier that evening, who saw us still struggling in our efforts to save the kitten, called the fire department. Will wonders never cease? In 2009, in butthole Turkey, the fire department actually rescues stranded cats.
Pugsley Addams stared and gaped some more.
Huzzah! I cried. But not for long. One of the firemen - a young fellow who clearly had aspirations of starring in the Turkish version of Spiderman - scrambled onto the corrugated plastic of the makeshift roof/overhang. Because of its flimsiness, he had to shimmy spread-eagle across it but for every inch he advanced, the kitten retreated two inches. Finally the kitten made a daring escape onto the canvas awning of the next door building. Spiderman followed.
This being Turkey, I would add, a crowd of 50-some men had gathered around the fire truck all dispensing probably contradictory advice. The women stayed behind in the scarf shops. Spiderman grabbed the step ladder and tried again to grab the kitten. The kitten, no shabby Spiderman, or Spiderkitten itself, lept onto the wall, sunk its claws into some wires on the corner of the building, scaled the wall - amazingly not electrocuting itself - rounded the corner and heaved itself up onto another overhang of yet another store.
This overhang at least was made of concrete.
More men arrived to watch and dispense presumably contradictory advice. The women stayed behind in the scarf shops.
The fire truck backed up, the ladder swivelled towards Spiderkitten's new hiding place, and Spiderman now climbed onto the concrete overhang. He made a valiant attempt to grab Spiderkitten but it bolted, jumping and scrambling behind a another nearby store sign - not unlike a long hollow tube, open at both ends. Spiderman grabbed our ladder and positioned himself at one end while another fireman stood at the other end and tried to flush Spiderkitten out with a broom. At this point, a half dozen bystanders decided to help by banging on the metal sign.
If Spiderkitten survives this, I thought, it will need therapy for life. Or was I talking about me?
Presumably suffering from tinnitus, Spiderkitten popped out and decided to make another run for it - there were more exposed wires snaking up the wall - but its claws failed and it fell onto the sidewalk where, defying all laws of physics, it ran around the corner at speeds which would shame a cheetah - with me, Puglsey Addams and about ten men in hot pursuit. We cornered it and then Pugsley endeavoured to calm the kitten down by suddenly pointing at it as otherworldly screams emanated from his mouth and then waving his arms to and fro
1) My shouting what the fuck are you doing? at him (after all, a tongue-lashing is a tongue-lashing in any language) at which he started at me blankly,
2) The kitten turning around, running towards Mr.This Cat and taking cover between the metal grate of a security gate and a store front.
Spiderkitten was now cornered and Mr. This Cat was able to reach between the gate and the glass storefront and grab the kitten. He passed me the kitten and went in search for a box. Rather than express gratitude for its rescue, it hissed, spat and dug its not-as-miniscule-as-you'd-think claws into my hands and bit me. Hard. I realized then why Spiderman was wearing large industrial leather gloves. Then it shit on me. I couldn't help but notice that its turds were quite firm so I made note to continue buying the same brand of kitten food for it and its siblings.
Mr. Cat found an empty and followed me into our apartment building foyer into which I threw the little ingrate. Thank the firemen! I called back to Mr. This Cat as I ascended the stairs and sucked the blood pouring from my hands. He did.
As I thought about the incubation period for rabies and wondered if feline distemper was communicable to humans, I brought Spiderkitten upstairs and opened up the box. It spat and hissed some more. Such anger in such a little kitten.
That night, we spent a sleepless night listening to Spiderkitten cry pitifully for its mother, root about the bedroom for a place to hide, and hiss and spit at me whenever I approached it, until it - and by extension we - all fell asleep around 6 a.m. We woke up a few hours later to find it curled up asleep on the floor beside our bed.
We weighed our options but knew that we couldn't keep it; we were going away on the weekend and we couldn't leave this feral firebrand alone for three days, no matter how cute it was. (And it was.) With throbbing and possibly rabid hands - I grabbed Spiderkitten and returned it to its box. Mr. This Cat and I went out and rounded the corner to the normally locked door of the building which is home to Slutty Mom Cat and her brood. The door was open and we climbed the stairs to her penthouse. The door to the top floor was uncharacteristically open as well, and entered the unfinished space, bending down below the rafters. Slutty Mom Cat was there as were the other three kittens.
From deep within its box Spiderkitten began to meow and Mom's ears perked up. We positioned the box in the middle of the room, opened it up, and stepped back. Slutty Mom Cat approached the box and, at the same time, Spiderkitten popped out. Mother and kitten ran towards each other and there was much headbutting and mewling.
As Mr. This Cat later said, if you had seen this reunion and not been moved to tears, you would have to have a heart of stone.
We patted out backs. We had done the right thing and hopefully, just perhaps - maybe maybe maybe - Spiderkitten will have learned a valuable lesson. For the rest of the morning and afternoon, we could hear it mewing softly but these were no cries of distress.
We patted our backs some more. By the end of the night, it was back on the cement balcony roughhousing and tumbling about the precipitous edge with its siblings. Fuck almighty.
If it falls again, I muttered to Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad, it's on its own.