They still remember the day he came home with them. They had deliberately chosen the one who was to be his brother: orange and white and cowering in the “multi-cat room,” afraid of the other cats. He had to be saved first. Draper. They had tried one or two other cats near him, but the cat seemed so afraid of everyone. Then, it was suggested that they try Charlie, who had been surrendered when his owner could only have one cat in the new apartment. Charlie was a blue-eyed Lynx-point Siamese and the woman had seen him and wanted him immediately, but she tried to be logical: a cat’s appearance tells one nothing about the cat, really, and so she disregarded him. After all, a Siamese would take no time to find a loving home. But when the worker suggested Charlie and they had him brought him out, he looked at Draper indifferently, and decided the cat room was better. That’s when they brought both of them home.
The very first night, Charlie made himself at home while Draper preferred to hide under the bed. Charlie explored the house and even stuck his head into the man’s plastic tumbler of Kool-Aid, and started lapping at it with gusto. By evening, both had come down to sit in the same room with the man and woman, so they knew it was a perfect match.
And so it was for a short time. But the man and woman were newlyweds, and before long, they discovered that the woman was pregnant. They were afraid, since Draper’s tag had indicated that he was ejected from a home with a new baby, that babies were going to be a problem, but when the woman’s son arrived Draper became the nursemaid, carefully staying up at night to help with the baby. Charlie didn’t much care for the new inhabitant and preferred late-night video gaming sessions with the man. But it was Charlie who directed most of the cats’ play, deciding to engage in wrestling matches or chasing games, at his leisure and Draper gleefully joined in. One night, when the woman was away at a class, Charlie chased Draper through the living room. Draper skirted the opened glass television cabinet doors skillfully. Then Charlie ran right into the glass, shattering it. He was dazed, but okay. Then there was the time when Charlie was watching a bird from an upstairs window and became convinced that he could catch it. He leaped as high as he could and caught the blinds. The man watched, unsure whether to be amused or concerned, as the cat panicked and fell, taking the blinds with him. Again, Charlie was just fine.
Charlie’s antics continued after the man, woman, and their child moved with him and Draper to Minnesota, where he had a much larger home to enjoy. Here he discovered he could access the cabinets above the refrigerator, where a ceiling vent distributed warm and cool air. The man and woman had long ago given up trying to explain Charlie and his antics to babysitters, who learned to nod and smile at whatever he did. Draper, ever the rules cat, would give a look of panic whenever Charlie engaged in what must have been “not allowed” behavior at his former house, but even he accepted that Charlie was special and could therefore do whatever he liked.
Around the time that Draper wouldn’t come out of the walk-in closet, Charlie began acting strangely. The man and woman got him to the emergency vet, but he was too ill, too dehydrated, and the options were all likely to be fatal. Charlie looked lethargic and had stopped washing. He was gaining weight and, looking at Charlie, the man and woman then realized how long Draper hadn’t been himself. Charlie had seen what they hadn’t. The next day, the man and the woman found themselves wandering over to a pet store, where they had rescues, and a woman handed them Tommy, declaring him a “great cat.” They took him home, on their son’s second birthday, and presented him to Charlie. Charlie was immediately in love.
By the time the family moved to Wisconsin, Charlie was slowing down. He rarely provided much amusement anymore, and had lost weight. He preferred being carried around and even put his paws up, like a young child so that the woman would carry him around the house. He started having trouble breathing and didn’t seem to be eating, and the vet said the options weren’t good. The woman brought him home for one last night, and the man and woman said goodbye to him the next day.