The crime scene.
We suddenly had a cat trapped in our only bathroom — and no access to its facilities for the other six of us. The litter box is in there, too.
With the bathroom door closed, the louvered closet door can swing open and wedge itself against a metal towel rack on the back of the bathroom door, making a strong barricade.
When we gave up on that, I tried tools. Smart people always keep a set of tools for emergencies and repairs. We needed something that would fit into the tiny crack under the door that could also manipulate the closet door out of the way.
Our tool kit for this emergency included a long, flexible spatula from the kitchen, a wooden yardstick, and a flat, bent strip of metal we borrowed from an old-fashioned guitar stand. I toured the apartment and that was all I could find. I never said we were smart. The yardstick was too thick to the useful. The spatula wasn't bent enough to manipulate the closet door. The metal strip went under the door with effort but still couldn't budge the closet door.
I wished I could take a bathroom break to contemplate the situation, but no.
By sitting on the floor beside me and wedging himself hard against the door, my husband was able to force open it about 3/4 of an inch. With that much of an opening, I could just peer inside to see that the solid cherry wooden closet door was stuck just as I thought it was, braced hard against the solid wood bathroom door, at such an angle that we could never hope to bash it in ourselves.
We needed help. From inside. "Possum," I said, "Please close the closet door. You opened it, and now you have to close it. Don't you want to come out? Close the door, please. Come on, you can do it."
Possum heard me but was not persuaded.
Time was passing. Six of us had no bathroom. "Should we call the fire department?" my husband asked. That was a reasonable suggestion, since firemen have tools to do things like unlock car doors and so on. But we didn't need the full contingent that appears for every 911 call: at least two fire trucks, sirens and flashing lights, and a crew of burly, handsome, amused, sarcastic firemen filling our apartment, scaring the cats, and laughing at us.
"Go to the station," I said to my husband, "And see if you can get a fireman to come here by himself with tools." He went. There's a station about three blocks from us.
Possum and I were left to ourselves. I could hear that Possum was close by on the other side of the door. He was feeling chatty. He didn't meow, but made short, sharp, little comments. He wanted to come out. "Why don't you just close that door?" I said. "Push it with your big nose. You can do it."
The big nose under discussion.
I found that I could force the door open about a half an inch myself. I considered the problem again. It was stupid. It was embarrassing and silly. But it was also extremely problematic since we all need that bathroom... and I needed it soon. If a fireman came, he'd probably end up bashing the door down and it would be expensive and tricky to replace. And we'd probably have no bathroom door for weeks or months, given how hard it is to get a handyman these days. Ugh. I kept thinking.
I was confronted with a large, immovable object that wasn't responding to force. When force doesn't work, I thought, what does? Persuasion. Bribery. Luck.
I went into the kitchen for our smelliest cat treats. By forcing the door open, I could shoot them in to Possum, but on the wrong side of the closet door. If I did it correctly, he would have to push the closet door closed to get them.
He would certainly smell them, but would he be too lazy to work to get them?
The first two treats overshot their mark because they were large and I needed too much force to get them past the crack. I heard Possum chewing. I broke another treat in half and gently tossed it in and shut the door. I heard sniffing. I sat quietly, waiting. I heard faint movements inside and then, as I hoped, Possum munching. Nom, nom.
He had closed the closet door. So I could open the bathroom door. Inside I found splinters and paint flakes dusting the floor, and a cat that was happy to stay put if it meant more treats. Harris quickly joined him. Harris can't stand not being the center of attention. He wanted to be locked in the bathroom next. He had to have treats, too.
I called my husband and heard male voices in the background. "I got the door open! Come home." I said. He was stunned: "Wow, you did? How did you do it?" I explained. "That was brilliant, you're a genius." He said. "Let me tell the guys they don't need to come."
When he got home, he told me he had interrupted a fireman outside the station who was talking to a woman in a very short blue dress and high heels, with extremely good legs. I gather that both fireman and husband were reluctant to leave the scene. They were just beginning to make some progress on that when I called. I'm glad we weren't on fire.
Lesson: There will be no more bathroom timeouts in this apartment unless one of us chaperones the overwrought feline.
No worse for wear.