The Functions of the Latch

In the fall of 1996, a day after Robert’s opened the door and aiming for the playground ran through the narrow streets and the treacherous parking lot of our apartment complex , my husband installed a latch on top of the door.  Robert quickly understood its function  and sincerely detested it. It was there to prevent  him from going out.  Robert wanted out, out, out.  So a few times a day, he stretched himself along the door’s surface, his head tilted backwards while short, little hands extended dramatically toward the latch.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not.

There were many reasons Robert wanted out.  He wanted to go to the playground, to the swimming pool, to the grocery store to buy more bubbles, and he wanted to admire Louis.

Louis was a black and white cat, living across the street (and the parking lot), who at some point started to spent a lot of time on the steps leading to our townhouse.  It is possible that it was because in the afternoons, the sun warmed up our side of the street.  It is possible. However,  I am convinced that Louis kept coming because he loved Robert and Amanda. He waited for each of them to return from their schools, but he hid between the bushes and the wall of the townhouse  when other children tried to approach him.  Louis  clearly felt pampered and entertained  by Amanda who, pretending to be Isadora Duncan, danced for him with thin shawls twirling around. Louis also accepted gracefully Robert’s dance of appreciation, quick bouncing in place and flapping arms.  So he kept coming to our stairs, and Robert kept going outside.

It was unavoidable that at some point Louis would enter our apartment. And he did.  As soon as Louis entered, Robert shut the door, stretched his arms as high up as possible, and kept repeating,”Close, close, close”.

Suddenly, the latch from a despicable obstruction changed into Robert’s ally. Robert wanted Louis to stay in our home, and the only thing capable of assuring that was, in Robert’s mind,  the latch.

So Louis stayed for the whole afternoon until his owner, Ann, came to pick him up.

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