It all started because I had two cats I needed to get rid of. And by get rid of, I mean give them away to a good home, not drown them in the bathtub or anything. I should tell you right now I am not a cat person. I am a bit of an attention whore and I need animals who will stare deeply into my eyes all day, follow me around, and laugh at my jokes. That’s why I have dogs now. Hell, it’s probably why I have a kid. But cats make you work for their love, and I just didn’t have the time.
It was 2003 and I was living completely alone for the first time ever. I had an adorable loft apartment across the street from a crack house on the outskirts of downtown. It was great. When your neighbors are prostitutes and drug dealers, no one cares if you have your stereo up loud at night. One afternoon I remarked to a fellow I was casually dating, “you know, I think I need a pet.”
The next time he came over he brought two tabby kittens. Obviously, Romeo didn’t know me very well. A sensible gentleman would have brought me a goldfish, or paid for me to go to rehab. But I bought all the necessary cat junk for the little fur balls and promised myself I would be a good cat mommy.
I used to break all my promises to myself.
Fast forward six months. Romeo is history, like many a Romeo before him, and I am dating Johnny Hollywood. (Remember him? The guy who bought me these.) I am spending most nights at his place, because it is nicer, and since he has a severe case of psychosomatic asthma, the cats are not invited. “Well, at least they have each other”, I thought, as I dumped three days worth of kitty chow into a bowl. I would even leave the TV on CNN so they could stay up to date with world events and not feel sequestered.
Two young cats left to their own devices can be real assholes. They shredded my vintage leather jacket. They shredded my Dad’s old Pottery Barn couch. They shit in weird places, like on my pillow and in my shoes. After a month of little human contact and sporadic feeding, they had become mostly feral and had taken to scrounging for old Taco Bell in the trash.
Meanwhile, Johnny Hollywood had invited me to move in. But first, the cats had to go. But where? Hollywood suggested I place an ad on Craigslist. I thought Craigslist was just something guys used to have secret gay sex, but he assured me it works like a charm for getting rid of unwanted pets. I placed my ad (adorable cats free to good home) and waited.
And waited. And waited some more. Two weeks passed. One Monday night, I was sitting at my laptop googling “how to humanely kill cats” when my email notification pinged. It was a message from someone calling himself Andy. He wanted to come see the cats, he said. He and his girlfriend would take them if they were healthy. I texted the number with my address and told him to come on over. Praise Jesus, I thought, breathing in the ammonia scented air, these jerks are out of my life for good.
Less than an hour later, my doorbell rang. I opened the door, and immediately I felt something was wrong.
Ok, it wasn’t that wrong. It was more like this…
He was a youngish white guy. Pasty, thin. Completely nondescript. But even as I was ushering him in, my spidey sense was tingling like crazy. He stuck his hands in his pockets, shrugged his shoulders, and smiled. With his mouth, not his eyes. His eyes were like two dead fish floating in a bowl.
“Hi. I’m Andy. I’m here to see those cute wittle kitties.”
I’m not kidding, he seriously said “wittle”. I started to feel panicky.
“Uh, yeah. Sure, sure. Um, let me go grab them. Uh, where’s your girlfriend? I figured she would want to check them out, too.”
“Sabrina’s at work. She trusts I’ll make the right decision. I always make the right decision. Ha! Well. We just really want…pets. Just some little things to love.”
“Umm, ok. They’re probably upstairs in my room. You just, um, hang out a minute and I’ll go get them.”
So I left him there, leaning creepily against the foyer wall while I climbed the spiral staircase to my bedroom. There were two thoughts swirling in my brain. One: something is up with this guy. He just doesn’t seem right. At all. Two: Once again I have proven to be too stupid to live. No one knows this guy is even here. Who invites some random Craigslist stranger into her home? All that reading up on serial killers, and I fall for the oldest trick in the book.
When I got to the top of the stairs, I stole a glance back down. “Andy” had moved over to the big windows on the other side of the room, and was peering outside through the slatted blinds. I crept into my bedroom and looked for the stupid cats. I finally found them sleeping in my closet, and stuffed one under each arm and crept back downstairs before Andy could locate the knife drawer.
“Aww, there’s the cute wittle guys! Hey, kitty kitty! Hey, kitty kitty!” He cooed in a strange, loud voice. He reached out a pale and flaccid arm toward me. Both cats jumped from my arms onto the couch. Their ears were laid straight back on their skulls. One was actually hissing.
“They’re actually total sweetie pies” I said idiotically. “They just need time to get used to people.”
“Ohhhh, I can tell. I can tell you wittle kitties are sweet. Samantha is going to love you guys.” He was still smiling that weird smile. His hands were balled into fists. A muscle twitched near his eye. I crossed over to the windows. The blinds were always closed, because I lived across the street from a crack house and all. I opened them now, and looked out. A lone hooker stood on the corner, hot boxing a Newport. As I watched, she ground the butt under her heel and walked away. The street was utterly deserted. No one to bear witness to my grisly murder.
“I thought you said her name was Sabrina.”
“That’s what I SAID.” For the first time, his smile faltered, and he looked nonplussed. “You think I don’t know my own girlfriend’s NAME? You need to clean out your ears. Hahaha!” He reached for the cats again. They darted behind the couch. He threw his arms out wide and smiled a huge crazy smile.
“I’ll take ‘em!! This deal is too good to pass up. You said you would give me the carrier too, right?”
“Ummm, yeah, the carrier is included. I have half a bag of food too, and toys.”
“Just the carrier. Samantha already got them food and toys. And TREATS. Lots of treats for my new wittle kitties.”
“Ok, well. Ok. Like, you want to take them right now?”
“That’s what I SAID, isn’t it? I’m a busy guy. I took a break from my important JOB to come over here. Sabrina can’t wait to see these little guys, and I know better than to disappoint my Sabrina.”
My body was buzzy with adrenaline. My butt was all sweaty. I couldn’t think clearly. I just wanted this guy out of my apartment. And I hadn’t forgotten my objective, which was ridding myself of these cats.
“Their carrier is upstairs. I’ll go get it.” I climbed back up the stairs, back into my room, and was in the closet reaching for the carrier when I heard an unmistakeable noise. The light tread of footsteps on my wrought-iron stairs. I whipped around, holding the carrier out in front of me like a lion tamer with a stepstool, and he was in the doorway of my bedroom.
“What are you doing?” I said in a choked voice.
“I just wanted to see what was up here.”
I pushed past him, still holding the carrier in front of me. “It’s my room. Just my room. Do you want something to drink? Let’s go downstairs so you can get something to drink.”
He followed me down the stairs, and for the whole 6 seconds I kept waiting for his hands to close around my throat. They didn’t. I gave him a can of Mountain Dew from the fridge which he slurped greedily while I wrestled the hissing beasts into the carrier.
“Please take good care of them.” I was almost in tears.
“You know I will.”
And with that, he was gone. After I slid the deadbolt, I realized he never even asked the cats’ names.
Oh, man, I hope he didn’t kill my cats.
Oh, shit, I kind of think he killed my cats.
So. That’s the story of the time I met a serial killer on Craigslist. I mean, I’m pretty sure he was a fledgling killer, and I think by now he’s probably killed at least a few people. And what did I learn? I learned to be a little more careful about strangers. I realize most people cover this territory in elementary school, but alas, I took the road less travelled to maturity and adulthood.
I also learned that I am a complete asshole. I sacrificed those poor animals to save my own precious hide. But it didn’t bother me for too long. A week later I was on a flight to Amsterdam with Johnny Hollywood, and Andy and the cats were just another memory shoved down into the vault.
P.S. What do YOU think? Was Andy a killer or was this just my imagination gone horribly awry? Have you ever felt Stranger Danger? How did you deal with it? Tell me all about it in the comments.
P.S.S. Please don’t call PETA on me. I take lovely care of my animals these days.