About four years ago, our cat Theo disappeared never to be seen again. Before Theo, I was a strict "dog person" who would have little to do with cats. When Theo went missing, I was inconsolable--forever hoping that he might show back up someday.
As I was mourning the loss of our cat, I began to create this elaborate narrative about him running away to join the Taliban...
The story is this, after 9-11 Theo's dislike of the waste and spiritual corrpution of the west reached critical mass and he felt he could no longer exist in a country that continued to, as he put it, subjugate the faithful and victimize the poor in favor of a corrupt commercial empire. We had had several heated discussions on the matter. I said some things I now very much regret. Eventually we stopped speaking altogether. Consumed by wanderlust, he siply left. His litterbox and toys--the trappings of his existence as a tool of the western infidels, lay as he left them. In October of 2001, he called me from Pakistan where he was living in a madrasa with other cats--likewise cast aside. To say I was worried was a gross understatement. I wired him about 200 dollars and told him to take care. He told me that he was a faithful and loyal servant to Allah and his prophet Mohammed, what could happen to him? Oh Holy Hell, I thought.
In early 2003, I learned that Theo had been captured and was now a detainee at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Apparently, he was caught in the cave region of Tora Bora by the Northern Alliance while trying to get back into Pakistan. Now calling himself Ahmed and speaking in a thick accent, he was thought to be of Iranian descent--until his name and photo appeared on a CIA and INTERPOL registry as "flagged." He was detained in Cuba for 10 months and thoroughly questioned by the CIA. The State Department finally released him on the grounds that he was, well, a cat and no significant threat to national security. At his request, I sent him another 500 dollars via Western Union. We spoke on the phone for 5 minutes. He thanked me for the money but said that he could not return to Atlanta. He said that he has to find a new life for himself in a new city. I was dissapointed but, frankly, relieved since we had no gotten a new cat, Frodo. She isn't very supportive of our relationship with Theo. She thinks that by sending him money we are enabling him. Of course, I think that she's just jealous.
About a month ago, I got a surprise call from Theo--who now wishes to be called Carlo (he just remembers a happier time in his life when he was called Carlo). He is doing quite well and living in San Clemente. He is working at a local Starbucks and living at the beach in a large house with his new friend Drew. Drew is an independently wealthy and morbidly obese tabby with three legs and a pronounced lisp. Theo--I mean, Carlo is now a Bhuddist and a vegetarian who sells driftwood mobiles on the weekends for extra cash. They seem happy and I certainly wish them well. I had hoped that Carlo and Drew could come for a visit this holiday but I think it's a little soon. In the meantime, we communicate via email and the odd (and I do mean ODD) phone call here and there.
Anyway, that's the long and sad tale of our wayward cat Theo. Above is a drawing of theo as I envision him... I do hope he is well and having a happy X-mas with Drew.