Lister escaped last night. He busted out of his harness and wandered off into the darkness. Spoiler alert: He came back and is just fine. But he sure had me going for a while.

We had a nice campfire going last night in Allyson’s redneck fire pit (the shell of an old wheelbarrow), which we brought over next to the van. I’d been keeping a close eye on Lister, since he’s reacted poorly to campfires in the recent past — no doubt some PTSD from the apartment fire. In this case, though, he did pretty well with it. Allyson, Alex, and I hung out talking until after dark. Normally I have Lister inside by dusk, since I don’t want to go searching for a black cat in the darkness. He’d been so well behaved, though, was doing great with the fire, and I didn’t want to spoil his fun.

The others went inside. I let the fire die down, put a lid on it, then followed the tether to bring Lister in. All I found was his empty harness. The jerk had pulled a jailbreak and wandered off.

I looked for him for a while. Allyson and Alex helped. There was no sign of him, though. My buddy was gone. “Everyone else I care about leaves me, so why wouldn’t he, too?” was my thought. In the end, I shut down for the night, crawled into bed, but left the van door open so he could get in if he found his way back. I didn’t expect him to.

A couple of hours later, I heard his distinctive meow as he hopped back into the van, all smug and happy from his solo adventure. I shut the door, held him tightly, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. And I let the search party know he was back so they wouldn’t worry about him. Or me.

Clearly, I need to upgrade Lister’s harness. No matter how tight I make it, he can still manage to bust out of it anytime he wants, negating its purpose. So that’ll be an Amazon purchase in the near future. I prefer to support local business when I can, and getting stuff delivered from Amazon is more difficult when you’re on the road, but the local pet store I bought his current harness from had almost no selection. The one I have now was literally the only one in stock in the right size.

You might say I’m better off just letting him roam free. It’s possible you’re right. He has natural instincts, but he’s always been an indoor cat until three months ago, and has little experience with the outdoors. Outside is good, but I want to keep him close for now, even if it means untangling his tether from getting wrapped around the van’s wheels every five minutes. He’s been a huge help to me though several difficult times in my life, including most recently. As last night reminded me, I’d be heartbroken if he left and didn’t come back. I’ve lost almost everyone and everything else.

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