I had recently moved back home to Brunswick from Rochester, New York after a recent divorce. My father had kindly volunteered to drive with me back to Rochester to help me gather up the rest of my belongings.

My husband and I were quite civil dividing up the last of our things and packing them into the U-Haul trailer, until it came to the last item: Fat Albert, our 17 pound black and white cat who had appeared one day on our “welcome ” mat and never left. Getting custody of FA, was achieved after a brief debate about who was going to be more miserable without him. Luckily, after summoning up a few appropriate tears, I became the winner and FA was ceremoniously ensconced in the back seat, along with his litter, water, and blanket.

Soon we were driving east in the twilight along the notoriously endless New York Thruway. It wasn’t long before we became subjected to what sounded like a fast approaching policeman with blaring sirens. The sound was ear-piercing and after several miles of anxiety, we discovered it was actually FA, wailing in obvious torment and despair at being trapped in a dreaded car. After a few more miles, we wisely decided to stop for the night at the first motel.

Gratefully, we got two adjoining rooms, put FA and the litter box in the bathroom, got into our PJ’s and ordered pizza. Soon the delivery man knocked on the door and we opened it. Out of the blue the cat shot out of the door like a cannon ball into cold October night. In a panic, my father and I ran after him into the parking lot, hollering “Fat Albert” until the motel doors began opening in alarm.

Finally, we cornered him under a car and were able to grab him and thrust him into our car. With great relief, we returned to our room, only to find to our dismay, the doors were locked! We hurried down to the office, fearing it might be closed by now. But we were in luck. With great relief, we approached the desk clerk in our PJ’s, oblivious to the stares of the other guests.

“I’m afraid I’ve lost my key and we are locked out,” explained my tall, dignified father. The man behind the desk looked from one of us to the other with what looked like a wry smirk. My father picked right up on it and pointed out, “We have adjoining rooms you know. She’s my daughter!” he added.

As the other people began snickering, the man remarked sarcastically and rather loudly, “Yeah, RIGHT, sure she is!”

The next morning, we continued on our way to Maine. We had only gotten half-way down the endless thruway, so there were many, many miles yet to Massachusetts and beyond.

FA had had a good rest too, and proceeded to crank up the volume all the way to Maine. Finally, he suddenly became mute about ten miles from Brunswick.

We were so very glad to be home.

Meetinghouse is a community storytelling project hosted by the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Read more stories from Maine at www.centralmaine.com/meetinghouse

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