I didn't used to let him out, and I don't know why I decided to start doing so. I thought that he needed to be brave, that he was a cat, that he could handle it. A few weeks ago I would let him out when he tried to run past me as I arrived home from work. I'd stand at the bottom of the stairs and keep my eye on him and it wouldn't take long for something to startle him, and then he'd race back up the stairs to our house. Eventually I wouldn't babybsit him, but he never stayed out longer than ten minutes. I thought he could handle it.
Last night I came back from scootin' at around nine pm. He tried to get past my legs when I came in; my first instinct was to keep him in, but then I remembered the new policy, so I let him out. He was back in five minutes, and I closed the door behind him. A few minutes after that, he was yelling to go out again, so I let him. And he never came back.
I walked around my complex a bunch of times last night, and again this morning, calling his name and making kissing noises. I left a bowl of water and a bowl of food at the bottom of the stairs before I went to bed last night; a lot of these buildings look the same and maybe he got confused and couldn't find his way back, and I was hoping that he if happened to pass by, the familar food in the familiar bowl would remind him that he was home. I slept on the couch so that I could hear him scratching at the door, but he never came home.
Just before I woke up I dreamed that I had found him, I was holding him in my arms. Ben had found three orange-and-white cats, and at first I couldn't tell which one was Hank, one had a snaggle tooth, and one's hair was too long. When I woke up, I realized how absurd that thought is, that I wouldn't know Henry.
I don't know what to do. I don't know where he is. He is so scared. Maybe he's lost, or maybe someone grabbed him (who could get close enough? Who would keep him, with the scratching that he does?) He's my best friend and my roommate and he's only six and I'm so worried and I feel so helpless. I'm going to print a bunch of flyers today and post five thousand of them on every surface I can find when I get home from work, even in the neighborhood where that crackhead ninja lives, but I'm so worried. He has a collar on, with a small silver tube that has a slip of paper in it, with his name and my phone number. But who could get close enough to open it? I don't picture him in a house, I picture him cowering under a bush, alone and terrified and hot. I fucked up, I messed up, he was my responsibility and I just let him wander off with no supervision. I can't believe I did that. I can't believe I just opened the door and let him go, he didn't even get out, I let him out. He was my responsibility and I let him down, I fucked up. He wandered away and got spooked and ran in the wrong direction and then suddenly he was lost, and he needs me, and I don't know how to find him. Please don't even mention that possibility that he got hit by a car, I can't even think about that yet.