Joan of Arcadia
The Cat

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The Slings And Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune

Joan comes into Adam's shed, saying in a singsong voice, "Larry…look what I have…" I don't know what she's got for Larry, but her hair's up in a complicated bun that's sort of got three big loops to it. It's a little Miss America Pageant circa 1967 for Joan, I think: I like her hair up, but this is way too fussy and "done." She finds Adam sitting at his table, looking sad. She doesn't see Larry anywhere. Adam tells her Larry's gone. She asks what happened. Adam gestures, saying he broke through the screen. Oh…I lost a cat that way once, many years ago. Almost lost two. Having just moved into a new rented house, I didn't realize the screen on the back door was torn around the bottom edge. It was just hanging there straight, looking like it had structural integrity. I thought it was safe for the cats to be roaming around in there. But both cats, freaked out about being in a new place, discovered the screen was actually just flapping there, and got and ran off before we could catch them. We looked all over for them. We never saw the little grey kitten again. I like to believe she got adopted by someone else and not hit by a car. The other one, much older, started appearing randomly around our house three weeks later. He didn't seem to even remember us at all; it was like we had to adopt him all over again, teach him to trust us and let us feed him. It was very weird, but eventually he settled back into old routines and it was like he'd never been gone. Sigh. Now I'm really depressed. Anyway. I know some viewers thought there's no way Larry could have "broken through" a screen, but not all of them are made out of tough materials -- some are very flimsy -- and if there was any breach in it at all, most cats I've known would be determined enough to work at making it big enough to escape through. ["It wouldn't have to be that big, either. Hobey Shawshanked himself through a hole the diameter of a tennis ball once." -- Sars] Joan assumes he must be around somewhere but Adam says he's been looking for him for hours: "He's just gone." Joan: "Well, where were you? How could you not have seen him?" Adam says, "The pamphlet said, take him out of the cage for longer periods, and he seemed really happy, so you know, I put on some music, I did some work, and...then I noticed the screen. I'm so sorry, Jane." She says it's okay: "Hey, we'll find him. We'll find him."

Adam hustles down the street, stapling up posters he's made with a colourful painting of Larry. It doesn't give any useful information: "LOST CAT / 'LARRY' / IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION PLEASE CALL JOAN AT 555-3167." Given that there's no photograph either, I'm not sure how much this is going to help. Joan puts up posters, too. She staples one to a tree, then notices her mother sitting on a park bench. Frink comments, "Arcadia's a pretty small big town." The music playing is "Shaking the Tree" by Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour. Joan calls out, "Mom?" Helen turns, surprised. Joan walks over, asking her what she's doing here. Helen smiles and explains that Aunt Olive made her stop here once to look at the birds. She points to some on a branch: "She said that one there, it's a blue grosbeak, and it migrates all the way to Costa Rica for the winter. Thousands of miles." Joan sighs, thinking of Larry. Helen suddenly wonders what Joan's doing there. She shows Helen the posters. Her mother says how sorry she is: "So did Aunt Olive." Joan: "What?" Helen says she left a note, and pulls it out and hands it to Joan, who reads it: "I know what you did / It makes me sick / I'm going to tell." No, I'm just fooling around. Hey, there's Agnes DeiPesto in the background. The note says, "'Tracked down Dr. Chin in Sedona. He said I'll walk once he unblocks the qi in my liver.'" Joan chortles over that. "'Not one for goodbyes so I'm off until next time. Remember the garlic has to be finely chopped. Olive.'" Joan pauses, and then says, "She should have let us give her a hug." Helen: "Next time." Joan hears feral meowing and notices Agnes DeiPesto over by the tree. Joan decides to go tell her about Larry. She's reading the poster Joan stapled on the tree when Joan comes up behind her and says, "I lost him." Agnes DeiPesto turns around. Joan: "I tried everything. I was just my aunt -- he's probably under a bus somewhere and it's all my fault." Agnes DeiPesto explains, "Running away -- it's his nature." Joan: "But I thought I was supposed to change him." Agnes asks, "Why do you think he's the one who was supposed to change?" Well, probably because you gave her a pamphlet about domesticating him. Just a guess. Agnes takes off with a cart full of cats while Joan stands there trying to process things. Suddenly she hears Adam's voice yelling, "Jane, catch him! Oh, catch him, Jane!" Adam's tearing after the cat, which runs up the tree at top speed. The camera draws back so we can see all the terrified birds flying out of the treetop. Adam's doubled over down below as Joan and her mother run over. They watch the birds -- about three dozen -- fly around the treetop and off into the sky, probably thinking now's as good a time as any to get to Costa Rica.

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Joan of Arcadia




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