I couldn't find Jak this morning. I woke up, went out and did the cats' food and water, and Jak, who is always first to the food bowl, didn't show up.
Jak has bad lungs from a respiratory infection that put him on Humane Society Death Row as a kitten, so I walked around the house listening for his wheezing. Not a sound. I called to him, but no answering yowl. The other two will occasionally play hide-and-seek with me, but not Jak. He's like a dog; call his name and he's in your lap two seconds later.
I checked all the rooms, in all the closets, and under all the beds. Jak is a big kitty, 22-1/2 lbs, so sometimes he gets stuck in odd places. I went out to the garage, into which Jak loves to sneak. I checked under my car and under the hood. No cat.
By this time I was convinced he'd slipped out while I was bringing the groceries in and was dead. A typical hysterical pet owner reaction, but Jak has never lived outside. He's got claws, of course, but if a fox or coyote came up to him he'd probably try to lick its nose. Then there was the local traffic; much faster than Jak. I put on my shoes and went out and walked the road, looking for his body. No corpse, and none of my early-morning neighbors had seen him.
I came home and wondered what the hell I was going to tell my family, when I remembered a closet I hadn't checked. It's under the stairs, and I had it open last night for a few minutes while I was stowing some photo albums.
I opened the door, and out popped Jak, looking highly indignant.