Apparently in a fit of sudden madness, Ben bolted out the door as James was going outside, and took off across the yard. James gave chase in terror, thinking something to the effect that Ursula might well forgive murder, kidnapping, adultery, arson, high treason, and/or genocide--probably with a shrug and a "Hey, these things happen..."--but if he lost my cat, particularly NOW, the only way they'd identify his body afterwards would be from the dental records.
At this point, James's friend Lance arrives, and also gives chase. They pursue Ben across multiple yards, tearing through the neighborhood, when at last Ben reaches the home of Buddy, the chocolate lab who lives down the street. Buddy is desperately excited by the notion of NEW CAT FRIEND! and begins expressing this in his usual lunatic chocolate lab way.
Ben decides that maybe home wasn't so bad after all, makes a U-turn, and bolts back the way he came. James continues to pursue, and on my phoned advice, grabs Ben's favorite food in the whole world--Athena's prescription stuff that he's allergic to and isn't supposed to eat--and dumps it out in front of the wayward Ben.
Seduced by the allure of forbidden chicken byproducts, Ben halts. James scoops him up and rushes him inside, then collapses into a wibbling pile of nerves, just about as I drive up saying "Get the feather-onna-stick! He can never resist the feather-onna-stick!"
Ben is none the worse for his adventure, and escorted me politely into the bathroom upon my return.
(Ben is in fact microchipped and all, but I'd just as soon not test his traffic-dodging skills.)