His name was Not Charlie
I once had a cat for a very short time, his name was not Charlie. I met Not Charlie soon after high school. A young adult still living at my parent’s house, I was out for a walk when we crossed paths. He was a friendly orange and white kitten. I stopped for a minute to give him a pet and the next thing I knew, he was following me home. I tried to shoosh him away, I tried to leave him behind, but every time I took a step he was there at my side. There were houses nearby, but he wanted nothing to do with any of them. He seemed determined to claim me for his own. So home with me he went, by the time we got there he was riding on my shoulder. No one was home when we arrived. I gave him food and water, left him in my room and headed off to work.
When I got home the cat was gone.
Imagine my parent’s point of view. They came home to find a small group of strangers in our yard, all looking up at my bedroom window pointing and waving. An unknown kitten sat looking down at them meowing for all he was worth. My parents wanted to know what the strangers were doing in our yard and the strangers wanted to know what their mother’s cat was doing in my window. Their mother was devastated on the loss of her precious puss and had been inconsolable. They had been searching the area all week in the hopes of finding him. And now they were sure that was him in my window.
My parents didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know where I was, and since this was before the days of cell phones, they had no way of contacting me. They didn’t want to just hand the cat over in case I was cat sitting for a friend. The strangers insisted and it soon became clear they had no choice. The cat was retrieved, examined and proclaimed to be the missing pet. Their mother would be so pleased. Against my parent’s better judgment, the kitten left with the strangers. Mom and Dad worried about what might happen if the cat belonged to a friend of mine.
They need not have worried. An hour later the cat was back. Although he had been thoroughly check out and proclaimed to be an exact match, the mother had taken one look at him and declared “that’s not Charlie” and turned her back. She demanded the imposter be taken away. So he was returned to our home. My parents, who did not like animals in the house, kept him outside and by the time I returned home he had wandered off again. On discovering this, they were very relieved to learn that I wasn’t responsible for him.
I never found out his real name, but I know without a doubt that he was not Charlie.