So Ortoloni had disappeared…literally into thin air. I spent the next hour combing the complex in search of him – to no avail. At dinner I tried again, this time with treat bag in hand, shaking it and calling his name. I performed this ritual one more time before I went to bed that night; and repeated it the next morning, lunchtime, dinner time, and before I went to bed for five days straight. Each night I cried myself to sleep.
I also put-up flyers around the facilites (Praying to myself that he hadn’t tried crossing the street to the other half of the apartment complex, or beyond.) with his picture, a brief paragraph, and our apartment number.
Like I said, five days passed with no trace of my beloved Loni. I never gave up hope. It was unthinkable. (That he was lost to me.) The next afternoon there was a knock on my door. A neighbor had seen my flyer.
Although I don’t remember her name, she and her husband (and two black cats) lived in the townhouse directly across from us on the other side of the pool. One of their cats had some health issues (I believe they were neurological in nature) and was not allowed outside. That morning, she saw her cat playing with an orange-striped kitty on the opposite side of the sliding door of their living room and was sure it was Ortoloni!
In my heart I knew it was Ortoloni. It HAD to be. As we raced to her townhouse, these thoughts ran through my head: “Why on earth didn’t he respond when I roamed the complex calling his name and shaking the treat bag?” and “He’d been close-by all time.” – thankful for the latter. He hadn’t gone far.
Stepping into their fenced-in patio I saw they had built a platform over the concrete floor. To the left was a small opening leading UNDER the platform. As I called out “Ortoloni”, it was from this opening that I received a responding “Meow”. It WAS him! As I continued trying to coax him from his hidey-hole, our kind neighbor appeared with a box of cat food. Sure enough, depositing a handful of kibble into the opening did the trick. First his head appeared. Then his neck. While he ate, I was able to grab Ortoloni by the scruff and gently pull him out of his cubby (He certainly loved cubbies…).
With tears streaming down both our faces (mine and my neighbor’s) and my uttering words of gratitude, I left her house – Ortoloni wrapped firmly in my arms. Meanwhile, my boyfriend had come home from work and met us at our front door. I greeted him with a “Look who I found!”
Two bowls of cat food later, Ortoloni settled onto my lap and we became a happy household once again.