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Freddy Barnett's

And Then Things Got Weird….

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September 2019

The Kingdom of the Cats (Poor Dave)

Have you heard about shit-shoveler Dave?

For sixty years, worked like a slave.

He learned how to chisel,

When it started to drizzle.

Just in time to slip into his grave.

On Tuesday morning, July 18, Dave Berg squeezed his flabby frame beneath the back porch of his home. Then he dug a shallow, comfortable indentation in the sandy soil, lay down on top of his new sleeping bag, ate an entire two pounds of See’s triple-chocolate fudge, and a lethal dose of Seconal, which he washed down with his favorite Dr. Brown’s cream soda as he waited for death.

His cell phone lay by his side…. You know, “just in case.”

At two a.m. on Wednesday, July 19, a giant roach ran across his arm. He went back to sleep.

Not dead yet.

Six a.m. Friday, July 21, Dave dreamt about various “cat noises” and a short, violent cat confrontation.

Not dead yet.

Two a.m. Thursday, July 27, he felt a cat sleeping on his feet.

One hour later, at three a.m., he dreamt about a cat purring on his chest and occasionally batting his nose with a soft closed paw.

Still not….

Five a.m. Sunday, March 30, Dave opened one eye to see what looked like a catnip mouse and a bowl of milk next to his head. The phone was missing. Still in a haze, Dave thought that he’d heard “almost human” voices around him. A few of the catlike, but familiar voices discussed whether to let Dave “stay dead as planned,” or “join the group.” They voted, unanimously, to “let him live with them in this place” (wherever “this place” was) and “teach him the law” and “the responsibility of nine lives,” when he finally “woke his lazy fat ass up.”

Suddenly, Dave was looking into the bright green eyes of his ex-tabby Felicity, her striped head tilted in her familiar upside-down posture and with her tail tapping impatiently. Felicity stared her comic stare as Dave lay on his side nose-to-nose with the fuzzy girl. Dave was having trouble focusing.

Around them, the frame of the house floated as if it were only a vague outline above a sunny field of grass, surrounded by flowers, trees and hundreds of chattering birds. Mice raced by. A small patch of blooming catnip stood by Felicity’s musical tapping tail. Some trees in the area had grown with ready-made platforms and scratching posts.

“Felicity?”

Felicity, smiled and then turned back toward the two cats behind her.

Dave immediately recognized the other two. “Gravity? Mr. Kitty? It can’t be!”

Felicity turned and asked the two cats, in perfect Human-ese, “Should I?”

They both nodded affirmatively.

Should you what? thought the groggy old man.

Note: This chapter was originally printed in large, easy-to-read type for children — Yeah. That means you “four eyes!”

“Where am I? How can you all be alive?”

“You know, Dave, Felicity said in perfect human-speak, “that you cannot tell anyone about this place. Any… one! We mean it. If you do tell someone, I promise you, you will be sent to, sh…heck, I dunno, sent to bed without any dessert.”

“We? What place is this? We’re under my old house for Christ sakes!”

“No!”

She quickly held a paw up to his lips. “Cool it with the language, crusty old dude! We’re in a children’s book. Notice the big type font?”

Dave had no idea what-the-Fu… Fuzz Felicity was talking about.

“So, think ‘cute,’ Dave. You’re in an alternate universe discovered by your old cat Einstein.”

“Think ‘cute’? Einstein?”

“In the ‘Kingdom’ everything is cute,” said Felicity. “Really fuh … I mean really, really cute. Got it?”

Dave turned over onto his stomach, and lifted up his head. He’d spotted his old friend. Oh my God! It’s Einstein!That IS Einstein over there.

“Finally voke up, did chu!” said Einstein. “Feeeeeeed me! Just kiddink!” said the brilliant blue-eyed Burmese kitty. Vee are ALL here David. All of your old cats are here. Ve’re all alive undt vell In zis place. Efery cat zat anyone has effer known liffs here.”

“Some of us only have a few lives left,” said Felicity.

“Too many of us haff to stay inside ze community because ve haff used up all uf our 9 lifes. Zhen zhere are many cats here who are about to start new lifes as kittens, vhere zhey vill go out into ze first three dimenchunts again. Vould you like a sniff of this mighty fine catnip dot I haff been vorking on?”

“Mr. Einstein, this dialog is becoming a little too complicated for a children’s book,” said the Flisk, “and please lose that annoying German accent.”

“Thanks Fliskers,” added Dave.

“Where vas I?” Einstein continued. ” I mean,….Oh yeah! Just a few days ago, we were talking about you, Dave. Normally, we would just let a human die. Instead, we decided to take a vote, and offer you an honorable place in our world. Though you vere depressing to every human that came near you, you vere very good to us. You always kept treats. Felicity is right. You have to keep this place a secret. It’s always been a cats-only place.”

Sylvester, looking dapper in his permanent tuxedo, spoke next. “Tally ho, old bean! All the chaps here agreed that—you deserved a better ending than crawling under a house and dying in utter loneliness. We can only offer you one more lifetime, Guvnor. George gave you one of his own lives because – pip pip – You, Dave, cared enough to scrape him off of the pavement while he was still toasty warm… even though his eyes were hangin’ out and shi… stuff. Be careful my lord. George’s lives are action packed.”

“Undt, I mean, and,” said Einstein, “if you fuh…mess up this last chance for a happy life, you are Kaput! Finished!”

Einstein stopped to lick his paw and then resumed, “Did you know that humans, according to Tac, are just not cool enough for multiple lives. Two lifetimes, max.”

“Tac? Who’s Tac?” said Dave.

“Tac is our lord who you must thank for bringing you here,” said Einstein. “First, we must find George.”

“Please tell me Einstein, is this Kitty Heaven?”

“Tac no!. This …. (dramatically, with reverb-turned-up-to-ten) ….. is……

The-Kingdom-of-the-Cats!”

Terry and Bobbi Joe.

American Legends:

Terry and Bobbi Joe

They had met in a head-on crash. Terry and Bobbi Jo had been jettisoned through the front windshields of their respective cars, smashed into one another in midair and died face to face on the rough, wet pavement. Rather than die alone, they had reached out to one another. Their cooling hands intertwined, forever bonded on that lonely country road.

Both had been speeding: Blame it on youth.

Both had been texting: Blame it on technology.

Both had been sipping beers: Blame it on the alcohol.

Both had been scanning their radio dials: Blame it on rock ‘n roll.

The roads were dark and slick: Blame it on the rainy night.

The head-on crash: Blame it on love, baby, baby, baby.

There was a ballet in midair when Terry and Bobbi Jo’s bodies collided, mangled and tangled. They’d almost reached their goal, the perfect melding of flesh and spirit that the two teens had been working toward. They were splayed out only a few yards north of the wreckage, among a glistening field of glass and burning debris.

“We have to stop running into each other this way,” said Terry, who was always the class clown.

“Hey, Terry, listen.”

“Sirens. Grab my hand, Bobbi Jo. The response time is quick today. I have to admit, I called in the crash ten minutes ago on my way over to Highway 95 and Cedar Lane.”

“A ten minute warning? Fucking with their heads. That sounds like you, Terry. Do you think that anyone will catch on to our routine?”

“Nah! Before the light fades from your beautiful eyes, Bobby Jo, I want to give you new flowers.”

Terry’s last human act was to hand Bobby Jo the bloody bouquet.

“Awwww thanks, Terry.” Blood spilled from her lips onto the pavement as she mimed a kiss. (cough, cough) “You brought me white roses this time. They’re beautiful. I’ll…I’ll see you at the funeral. I hope that they can bury us closer this time.”

________________________

“Poor thing. The flowers are still in her hand. Love at last sight,” said Don, the older of the two highway patrol officers, walking around the wreckage in the rain. “The girl’s car is still running. I can smell smoke from the burning rubber. This just happened.”

“I’m so tired of this spot,” said his young partner Christine. “Are they ever going to put some lights out here?”

Don shook his head. “Yeah. Another one. I feel like God is a seven-year-old boy who gets off by watching shit blow up.”

“This is so wrong,” she said. “Someone called this accident in. The boy must have been bent on suicide.”

“He was hell bent on killing himself and others as well. There must be a registration in here,” Don said as he searched though the glove box.

“Maybe it was her idea,” said Christine. “They both had to be going over a hundred to do this.”

“I hate this damned Dog Park Road,” said Don. “In less than five years we’ve had half a dozen bad accidents at this intersection. Each time, bodies were launched through windshields.”

“Her name is—was Barbara Jo Murray. Poor thing,” said the young patrolwoman as she held the girl’s wallet taken from the spilled purse. “Those flowers. She must have been coming home from a date. What is it about the name Bobby Jo that bothers me, Don? Do you remember, a few months ago, when some creep was stealing flowers from the graves at Acadian? I was there when they found the pile of vases and stems on a grave of another Barbara Jo—Barbara Jo Massey.”

“A few of the young female victims on this road were named Barbara, Bobby, or Bobby Jo. Our boy was Terrence Lazarus, age 18,” said the patrolman holding the boy’s registration.

“Lazarus?” said Christine.

Don studied the wet registration card.

“What? What are you thinking?”

He looked up at Christine through the rain. “Jesus told Mary of Bethany, ‘Your brother, Lazarus will rise again.’”

“Enough! You’re creeping me out, Don. This is one time that I hope you are full of shit.”

__________________

“I wish they’d scoop us up and get us out of here already,” said Bobby Jo.

“Maybe next time we can get really mixed up,” said Terry.

“Mixed up? You’re talking about more than just holding hands.”

“Yeah, totally splattered. A Terry and Bobby Jo smoothie.”

Bobby Jo laughed. “They won’t know what belongs to who!”

“We’ll be totally together, babe! A tragic teenage romance!”

She loved how Terry always made her laugh.

“They’ll have to hose down the street.”

“Wipe off lamp posts for a mile,” she said. “Oh, Terry! That was sooo hot.”

“Just wait. I’ll get us faster cars, next time.”

_____________________________

“Dwayne the Lizard Falls in Love”—— an excerpt from The Love Muscle: The Hidden History of Rock n’ Roll.

Officer Joe Lavelle walked toward the stolen Cheby’s driver-side door, and asked the ugliest man he’d ever seen (Is he mooning me?) …. for his license and registration.

“Let me see your… Holy Lord Jesus!” The ‘thing’ in the driver’s seat smelled like ass and pot. “What the cough! cough!”… Rubio handed the trooper his driver’s license. Thank you verrry much.” Highway Patrol Officer Lavelle looked familiar, with the aviator glasses and turned up collar.

“This you?” asked Officer Lavelle. “You Anthony Rubio?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Is that your, uh, dog on the front seat, sleepin’next to you?”

“No, officer. That’s Felayshia. She’s my baby momma. She’s got a belly full of little Rubio. Please don’t wake her.”

“Sure, son. What you been smokin?’ Does your real momma back home know that you use drugs? I bet the poor woman who raised you from a little pup is cryin’right now.” The trooper then closed his eyes behind his gold-framed aviators, and sung softly to himself, “… and his momma cries.” The officer wiped a tear from his cheek and bent down toward Rubio, “Your poor old momma, son. Do you ever call her?”

“Call who? You know that you look like that guy, man. Cool sideburns. I like your shades, Chief.”

“Thank you verrrry much. I want to know if you call your momma and tell her that you love her, son, before it’s too late. Before your momma has left our earthly building. Don’t be cruel to your momma boy. She’s the only one you’ve got.”

“I don’t even know who my real momma is, Chief. There was this drunken party and I don’t know who my father was eith…”

“Well, it looks like you’re in double trouble, son. The names on the license and registration don’t match, and I believe that you’re under the influence, not to mention the pipe on the floor. I believe that you’re goin’ to be a-rockin’ in the jailhouse and a-cryin’ in the chapel before this is over. I sincerely hope that your momma, bless her soul, isn’t alive to see this. Step out of the car, son, and put your hands up on the roof. I’ll have to wake the girl and put cuffs on her, too. Don’t you realize that drugs are the Devil in disguise? Yes, they are.”

* * * *

Dwayne the Lizard

Twenty minutes later, Rubio was sitting in a Las Vegas jail cell. His Cheby Roach Coach was locked up in police impound with a sleeping, pregnant Felayshia in the backseat.

The impound attendant left the car unlocked. At midnight, Felayshia was dragged out of the impound yard, and into the desert by a giant glowing horned toad.

Felayshia screamed, and startled the ten-foot high toad who then inflated its sedan-sized spiny body and shot blood out of its green eyes.

She was transfixed.

They each took a long deep breath. The toad snapped off her handcuffs with his tongue.

Felayshia then leapt on top of Dwayne the Lizard’s back, patted him on the head, and together, they galloped off into the black Nevada night, toward “Happily Ever After.”

It’s nice to see a reptile have fun without having to stomp all over Tokyo.

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