The following screenplay is based on a true story. Okay, I've taken a few liberties with the details but - trust me, please - the "spirit of truth" remains intact. Honest, cross my heart, etc. I intend this story as a tribute to the indomitable-spirited Joni Butler (aka Joni the Cat Sitter) who looked after my cats when I was in the hospital.
A black screen Ö Then in the blackness we see two points of light, both in the shape of cat's eyes, coming toward us. Is this indeed an approaching cat? No, as we hear a solo saxophone on the soundtrack, we now see the lights are a car's headlights coming toward us. Slowly the street lights of night time Rochester, Minnesota, evanesce out of the darkness. We then hear Joni speaking in voice-over.
JONI: Cats, they're my life. I don't know if they're extraterrestrials, the thoughts of angels, or the sly signature of the devil. I only know I love 'em.
The car comes to a halt in front of us. The car door opens and Joni gets out - she stares into the middle distance with an expression of world-weary wisdom.
JONI: (voice-over) My name is Joni. I am The Cat Sitter.
As the sound of the sax continues to wail, the camera pans over the night lights of Rochester.
FADE TO: JONI'S OFFICE
We see Joniís silhouette through the creamy glass of her office door as she answers the phone.
JONI: (voice-over) He told me his name was William. As soon as he reached me on the phone, his troubles began spilling out of him faster than cheap whiskey out of a stool pigeon's shot glass. The bottom line: the Mayo Clinic told William he had to have immediate surgery. Trouble was, William had come up to Rochester from Chicago and he was staying at a hotel. Staying at a hotel with a cat named Fergus who needed two shots of insulin a day. Oh yeah, I'd seen this before - another kid who'd left the farm for the bright lights of Cat City. Then he'd fallen for the little sack of fur harder than a back-alley palooka goes down from a Jack Dempsey left hook. It's a story as old as Samson and Delilah, only this time the Delilah was an orange Maine Coon named "Fergus".
CUT TO: Camera following Joni as she walks down the long hall of a hotel.
JONI: (voice-over) I'd half-expected William would ask me to meet him on a mist-shrouded dock at midnight, but instead we agreed to meet at William's hotel room. It added up. That's where Fergus the Cat was. William sounded nervous. I was prepared for that. Cat owners aren't in the habit of trusting their little hellions to just anyone. Before they meet me, cat owners can go through all kinds of paranoid imaginings Ö
CUT TO: INSIDE HOTEL ROOM - we see the hotel room door opening to reveal a huge, bald guy, tight T-shirted, heavily muscled Vin Diesel-type standing in the doorway.
GUY: Yeah, I'm Joni the Cat Sitter. Where's the cat? It's clobberin' time . . . .
CUT TO: INSIDE HOTEL ROOM - now we see the hotel door opening to reveal an elderly, frail-looking, timid woman who is blinking rapidly behind glasses with coke bottle-bottom lenses.
WOMAN: Oh dear. I am Joni The Cat Sitter. Have I got the right room? My eyesight isn't quite what it used to be ... could you help me through the door?
The woman stumbles, trips, falls out of frame.
CUT TO: OUTSIDE HOTEL ROOM - As we see Joni nearing Williamís hotel room at the end of the hall.
JONI: (voice-over) What can I say? Cat sitters come in all shapes and sizes. All I can do is be myself.
Joni knocks on Williamís door.