…And Then Things Got Weird….

Books, Cartoons and Podcast


November 2021

Perdido – Chapter One. Amnesia is an Island.

Danielle Bright – 

Danielle had just picked up a new copy of ‘They Called Me Mad’ (‘The Journal of Extreme Science) while at The Second Annual Marvinette Peng Karma Fest outside of Chicago. 

Postel Amok, the award winning husband of her best friend, Maggie, was featured on the cover. She believed that seeing his picture was ‘a sign.’ Danielle was always tuned into ‘signs.’

Danielle’s teacher, Doctor Irving Weiss had an article in the issue about his own father’s meeting with a client in 1939. The elder, Dr. Melvin Weiss had interviewed a man who called himself Paul Deen. Mr. Deen insisted that he had important and ‘personal’ information about Amelia Earhart’s last flight.

Mr. Deen had been suffering from amnesia for two years and advertised himself as ‘a journeyman chef’ who operated along the Atlantic coast. Though he was often on the move, his life was stable and quiet.

Doctor Melvin Weiss’ Interview 1939:

Dr. Weiss: “You say that you were on an airplane two years ago, in 1937 when it went down. What were you doing when the plane went down?”

Mr. Deen: “Making crepes… for breakfast.”

“You’re a cook? You wrote here that you were a co-pilot.”

“Oh, yes! I’m still a cook these days. I make the best crepes you’ll ever eat. Come down to my breakfast joint, Deenie’s. I’ll have to re-name it Fred’s, now.”

Dr. Weiss: “Why is that? Are you selling your diner?”

“No, sir. I remembered my given name just this week! I’m so excited! Finally! I remembered that my name is Fred Noonan and I was Amelia Earhart’s co-pilot when her plane went down.”

“What?! Mr. Noonan. Are you telling me that you’re the young man who went missing with Amelia Earhart?”

“I’m not missing any more, am I ? Yes. I leapt out of the Lockheed Electra with a parachute expecting to drown in the Pacific, but later learned that somehow our plane had ended up over the Atlantic. Amelia stayed on board, refusing to abandon the Electra, her plane.”

“Your plane didn’t get lost over the Pacific? We ARE talking about Amelia Earhart? I just want to make sure. Geez.”

“Wow, Doc. Yeah, boyyyy did we ever get lost! Our craft was surrounded by what looked like a black cyclone. We completely lost our bearings. When we were heading almost straight down, the storm’s funnel opened over a tiny island, I panicked and jumped for my life. I thought she was behind me but she must have changed her mind. She must have crawled back to the controls. I believe that she may still be alive because I saw her land the plane land while I was in the water banging a shark over the head with my favorite iron pan which I refused to let go of. A few days ago I began to remember everything! My own personal doctor told me to seek you out, specifically. I should have guessed that Amelia would never let a plane crash. She could land anything!”

“So. You think that she survived? Where were you two headed, again?”

“We were supposed to be flying over New Guinea but somehow  we eneded up flying over the Bermudas. Amelia is NOT laying like a collapsed souffle on some a tiny atoll in the Pacific!” Amelia, most likely, performed a perfect landing. Speaking of the Bermudas, how do you like my Bermuda shorts?”

“They’re hideous.”


“Are you color blind, Mr. Noonan?”

“I guess they are bright.”

“I said hideous.”

“They are so hideous that when I put them on this morning, they shocked me into remembering who I really was!”

“So, you believe that Amelia Earhardt is alive as well…Wow.” 

Mr. Noonan walked over to the doctor Weiss’s desk and spun the globe. “Amelia landed here, sir. That is where I was trying to avoid becoming lunch! I fought off sharks all night until a ship, came by at sunrise and picked me up!”

  “Amazing. What was the ship that saved you?”

“An old trawler, The SS Peachfuzz.” (Doctor Weiss would look it up.)

“Do you miss Amelia?”

“Of course I do. I was married when we went on that last trip together, but I confess that was falling in love with her. However, I do not miss how she would make me polish the plane every day. She was really retentive, if you know what I mean. A perfectionist.”

“Mr. Noonan. Sit back and relax…”

The hypnosis session:

“Imagine your going deeper,” said Dr. Weiss. “Your like a pebble dropping into a body of water. Watch the pebbles drop and the ripples. Keep watching. You’re going deeper, into the depths of your subconscious 10…9. Each drop of water is taking you deeper, down …8…7…deeper and deeper and…”

“I’m falling.”

“Dropping.Ahem… Tell me if you want to stop, Paul.”

“No! I’ll always be dropping. I have to go into the water.”
“6…5 deeper….into your subconscious… accessing your memories…”

“ I have to find Amelia. She’s still alive,” said Paul/Fred to himself, softly. “I know it.” 

“Tell me about her.” The doctor’s eyes were monitoring the man’s reactions. He could bring him out of the hypnotic state if he appeared to be too anxious or suffering in any way. “What happened to her? Is she lost? Where are you falling into the water?”

“She was never lost,” said Fred, in his hypnotic state. “We’re flying. Approaching Howe Island, in the Pacific. The weather is getting rough.”

“Tell me what you see. Can you tell me?” Fred Noonan was grabbing on to the chair arm as if he were trying to hold on for his life. The doctor’s cluttered office seemed to be shaking. Stacks of papers were falling to the floor. Weiss found himself swept up in the adventure. “Are you landing, he asked”?

“There is a storm and Amelia decided that she wants to put the plane down on Howland Island. How come we are not landing?”

“Are you in the plane right now? Tell me what Howland Island looks like. Again, who are you?”

“I am Fred Noonan., born 1897 – and presumed ‘really, really, really hard to find’ in 1937.”

“I know. Tell me something new.” He cannot be Fred Noonan, thought Dr. Weiss. Though he did resemble the old pictures of the co-pilot in the encyclopedia open on the doctor’s desk.

“Amelia was petting Mr. Mittens who was on her lap. Trying to calm him.”

Dr. Weiss, jotted down the name ‘Mr. Mittens.” 

Fred resumed his tale. “She is smiling and laughing. She is not worried. Such a brave woman. I can see her smile, always.”

“Why is she so happy? Tell me about the storm.”

Fred flashed a big wide smile. To Dr. Weiss the old fellow  suddenly looked like the happiest man in the world.

“You look happy too.”

Fred continued, “During our New Guinea stop, I surprised Amelia with a ring I’d made. I slipped a 24 Karat gold exhaust manifold nut, that I’d gold plated myself, over her finger.”

“What is happening outside the plane?”

  “Turbulence! The compass has gone wild, and we are spinning in the dark. The plane is being tossed like tissue paper.” Fred relaxed. “We must be in the eye of the storm, I’m checking the navigation instruments. Wow! It looked as though Amelia had somehow dragged our Electra half way around the planet. We’re at 25.0000° N, 71.0000° W, over the Bermudas in the Atlantic. This can’t be right!”

Fred was going deep again. “What is that? A storm out of nowhere. A black cloud is engulfing our craft and the door has been pulled open. Amelia is wrestling with the controls, yelling at me to grab and hold onto Mr. Mittens. I look out the window and our plane seems to be sandwiched between storm clouds. The door is being ripped off. Mr. Mittens is frozen in time and so vulnerable.”

“Okay. I need to know. Where did Mr. Mittens come from?”

“Mr. Mittens was a grey kitten with white paws who had hitched a ride with us from New Guinea. He’s going to be sucked out of the plane! I can’t hold the door closed and the cat, who is panicking, is turning my arm into bloody confetti, scratching my arm, as the plane is plummeting thousands of feet toward the water. Did Mr. Mittens fly out of the hatch? I don’t see him. I’m holding onto the door handle. I can’t close it. I’m falling …tumbling, hundreds of feet. But now, the sun is out and it’s warm. I hit the water, hard.” 

“I was watching the storm from the water and the updraft keeping the plane aloft. I see her the Electra going in for a landing. Go Amelia! Go girl! (pause) She can land a plane anywhere…any time.” 

“Paul,,,I mean Fred, what year is it?”


“You said that you saw her land? Safely? You are in the water? Are you drowning?”

“ No. My life jacket is keeping me afloat. I’m not drowning. I’m….oh, nuts. My arm is all scratched up and bleeding. Sharks are circling. I’m going to be dinner. No. Wait. It’s still only 10 a.m. That makes me brunch. Ha!”

Note to self: My patient is also completely nuts. I must refer him to Dr. Freud’s nephew, Elmer. 

Fred seemed delirious. “The sharks have banged into an invisible barrier it seems. They’re swimming away. Looking back at me, mad. I also feel that Amelia has landed safely, and everything will be okay. I’m waving bye bye, darling. I promised I’d see her again.”

Weiss asked him, again, “What is your full name?” 

“Fred Noonan. Why do you keep asking me that? I’m a navigator from Illinois. I was … All I know is….”  Paul spun the doctor’s desk globe while his eyes were closed and put his finger onto the Bermudas. “Amelia landed here, probably less than a mile from where I went into the water.”

“If she could have flown out of there, she would have. I think that she may be a prisoner or somehow stuck. I hope the cat is okay.” Fred Noonan suddenly sang, “Nah nah nah nah nahhhhh. I don’t have to polish the plane no more… but, I sure miss Amelia’s smile.”

(Amelia would never have to have the plane polished again. because nothing aged on the ‘very, very, very hard to find’ Isla de los Pérdidos.)


After Danielle had finished reading Dr. Weiss’s story, the wheels in her mind began to turn. Still alive, but ‘no longer with this world.’  But not a past life, either. These missing people might be “somewhere else” — no longer of this ‘plane.’ Airplane? Or plane of existence? Danielle could not stop thinking,“De Plane! De Plane!” 

A few days ago, Danielle had also read an article about the missing Teamster Leader Jimmy Hoffa. One of his so-called friends, Louie ‘The Warehouse’ Commaniche, a gangster whose body was later sighted a record of forty-seven times in New York’s East River, (so many times, in fact, that the Governor of New York had designated Louie as New York’s State Fish). Louie who had stood six-foot ten inches and weighed four-hundred pounds had been a Hoffa ‘associate.’ He’d told a reporter that Mr. Hoffa had been holding a cat named Bootsy-poo when he disappeared beneath a black shadow, while the two spoke in a restaurant parking lot, never to be seen again. 

Danielle looked up the name D.B Cooper. The hijacker D.B. Cooper disappeared after taking a $250,000 ransom in a briefcase that also held a kitten inside, when he jumped from an airliner, also never to be seen again.

Danielle was suddenly intrigued about the cats and their possible connection to famous missing people. She’d been planning to visit Miami to film new segments of her cable show “Key to the Stars.” She called up Maggie Amok and make plans to visit her on the family’s private island, and then, maybe pay a visit to the mysterious Bermudas for a documentary about missing souls — and perhaps a little vacation.


Hoffa. Wouldn’t it be funny if the big tough guy was petting a cat when he disap….Ha! No. The public could never ‘buy’ such nonsense. Neither could she, even if she was a renown regression therapist who, in her heart, truly believed that anything was possible.  


Late at night, after his session with Dr. Melvin Weiss, while Fred Noonan prepared for bed, he heard a scratch at the door. When he opened his door, a kitten, who looked identical to the cat from New Guinea stood at the door. Indeed, Mr. Mitten’s had returned to adopt the unsuspecting human, and complete the human’s ‘aborted’ abduction during, yet another nasty super cell storm that would appear the following week.

By Friday, Mr. Noonan, settled in on the island of Perdido would feel young and chipper.


The Horror of Black Friday — from ‘Batshit.’

Black Friday

Kapitän Flitzer looked over the top of the castle wall. In the moonlit forest and across the moat below, he saw a sea of ten thousand women. Lupta Axe’s new army of fans had surrounded the castle. The Black Friday shoppers had built a bridge; a human bridge fashioned from the bodies of sacrificed shoppers to reach across the moat to the drawbridge. The women who had the free samples of Outa-My-Way-Asshole! brand coffee were already tearing at the drawbridge with sharpened fingernails. Others beat at the twenty-foot wooden barrier with heavy handbags and stiletto heels.

“Commander!” Flitzer called down. “You have to see this!”

A woman’s voice called up to the frightened soldier, “Open up, Flitzer. It’s  your Aunt Elsa! Open up! It’s midnight!”

“Hi aunt Elsa!” waved Flitzer.

“That is correct, ma’am. It is midnight. What do you want?” asked commander König, who had joined Flitzer at the top of the wall. “I am the commander and you should all be home sleeping!”

There was a sudden calming in the fields below Poenari castle’s high walls. The moonlit crowd parted like the Red Sea. A woman built like a bulldozer approached the drawbridge swinging a purse loaded with dozens of heavy, greasy beignets. She stared up at König and ground her strong jaw.

“Go away, whoever you are!” said the frightened Commander. “The castle  and the park will open at 10 a.m.! Go home.”

“They call me Pauline! Open the drawbridge or I’ll soon be using your skinny neck for butt floss.”

There was more banging. More determined women’s voices.

“Open the drawbridge!” demanded Pauline with a grating roar akin to Godzilla.

“My credit cards are burning a hole in my wallet! Eeeeeeeyahhhh!” another woman screamed.

Flitzer watched their torches in their left hands pierce the darkness as they chanted, “Sale! Sale! Sale! Sale!” Purses in their right hands swung like spiked medieval flails. Pauline stood at the head of the crowd and spat acidic venom that began to burn a hole in the wooden barrier.

“What are you people? Go home!”

“We’re here to spend money! It is NOW Black Friday. We’re looking for shoes, clothes, and free stuff. And You are worms! Worms who will die if you get in our way!”

“Quick, Flurry Schamhaar (Flurry Pubes),” said König, “I want all of the Meine Runt-Pferde suitcases brought out here into the courtyard. All of them. I want them unpacked and the clothes folded neatly on the tables. Now!” König called out to the women at the moat, “Give us another minute!”

“All of our clothes, sir?” asked Flurry.

“Yes!” said König. “We all overpacked for this trip. Hurry!”

The women outside began to chant “Now! Now! Now!” Inside the courtyard the heavy wooden beams of the drawbridge began to splinter.

König ran down below.

“Sir!” said Flatternscheuen (Poser). “Things are about to get ugly! And 50% off!” He handed Commander König a flyer he’d picked up off the ground.

“Damn! Black Friday Sale!” said the commander.

Flatternscheuen turned the flyer over and read the back, “‘For the first two thousand of my loyal fans who storm Poenari Castle at midnight, all clothes modeled by the Meine Runt-Pferde will be 50% off!”

“Wait,” König said to Flatternscheuen. “Vlad’s witch is talking about giving away our clothes, sweetie.” Flatternscheuen continued reading aloud, “Stick around for a free Chanel gift certificate, and there will also be dozens of available men.”

Oh, really? thought König. He read aloud the rest of the flyer:

“…and lots of designer shoes. PLUS, I will send a copy of my new book—FREE!—to everyone who mails me back their flyer. Signed Infinity Upton-Downes.”

The commander glanced at the witch’s flyer. “Infinity Upton-Downes! I love her books. Especially Riders of the Purple Sausage!” 

Little did König realize that his enemy, the witch Lupta Axe, and Infinity Upton-Downes, author of the Tragic Lust series, were one-in-the-same person 

König Buckel dropped his weapon belt, grabbed his Chanel bag and turned to his weary soldiers. “Girlfriends! I’ve only heard of them in legend. Beyond these walls are the Black Friday Shoppers. If they are who I think they are, they are unstoppable. So it’s goodbye, my comrades. Auf Wiedersehen! So long my little Frechen Säugen (Perky Suckle), my brave Mond Mich (Moon Me), my handsome-but-straight Brust Gucker (Breast Gazer),

CRACK!!! The drawbridge shattered. The women stormed the courtyard with fire in their eyes trampling over each other to get to the tables first. Others attacked König’s fashion conscious troops. “Sale! Sale!” the women were chanting.


Pauline led the charge dressed in a badass polka dot dress and matching hat. She met the commander eye to eye at the bottom of the staircase. She pushed him against the stone wall then swatted the punk with her wide brimmed hat. “Give me your boots,” she said to Commander König, who was shaking in his pair of Nudie Saddle Ups. “Strip!”

König nervously removed his cravat, twirled it over his head in time to his own internal music — and with a wink tossed it to Pauline. 

“Just the boots, cupcake. Besides, you are not ‘all that.’”

“These were a special gift. So, no! Besides, you look like you wear a size eleven and these are nines.” Pauline started to twirl her beignet laden purse slowly. “No! Stop! They’ll never carry these again at Nordstroms, you beast,” he said. Commander König slowly backed his way up the spiral stone staircase, while Pauline matched his every move. He lashed out with his own handbag and missed.

“What do you want for those boots?” Pauline asked as she swung at his head. König ducked, saving his skull from being cracked like an egg.

“They were a birthday present from Heinrich Van Helsing! I’ll never find these again. Nudie stopped producing this line in 1995.”

“Heinrich Van Helsing? Are we talking about the football player? The son of  Hansel and Gretel Van Helsing?”

“Please!” König screamed. “Oh, Heinrich! Heinrich!” Oh Lord! Where is my Heiny???

Pauline forced him further up the staircase. Her eyes were bulging wildly and her skin was turning red. König, nearing the top, threw his handbag at Pauline, breaking the fake pearl necklace that she’d paid over ten dollars for on Ebay.

Smoke billowed from Big Pauline’s nostrils as she charged like un toro. She chased the commander across the west tower. König had nowhere to go. Think! Think!

 König turned. “I have to ask you this, Pauline? Is your hat a Christine Moore?” he asked in desperation, as he backed toward the parapet. The wind caught Pauline’s prized hat and blew it over the wall.

“No!” Now Pauline was really pissed.

“Oh, No! Your hat! I am so sorry. It was to die for.” König was now leaning back upon the edge of the parapet.

“Yes it was,” Pauline said, approaching steadily. “So are your boots!” She grabbed the twerp by the ankles and dumped him out of his Nudie footwear into the mouth of a croc in the moat below. Pauline, triumphant, turned to the hordes of shoppers below, held up the prized footwear, and bellowed beneath the moon, “Look what I scored, ya stupid biatches!”

Chapter 26: Sssssss-slaughter is the Best Medicine: Aftermath 

It was a miracle that only a handful of people perished in the Black Friday battle for Poenari Castle. Two of the Meine Runt-Pferde mercenaries, Golden Dusche (Golden Shower) and Frechen Säugen (Perky Suckle), were trampled during the initial assault as they stood by the heavy wooden doorway and were relieved of their trendy clothing. There was no stopping the ravenous hoard of Black Friday Shoppers, until every stitch on every mercenary was gone.

The Kingdom of the Cats, Part 1.

The Kingdom of the Cats

A “human black hole,” is reborn under his own house — with his not-so-dead cats.

Kvetching is an art.

Chapter 1

Dave “Kvetches”

Dave Berg just couldn’t imagine “himself” appearing on the cover of FAART,orAARP, orAARF for Retired Fidos or AARGH for Modern Pirates whatever the goddamned magazine was called. The slick advertising had lain in his mail box since last Monday. 

He was not a 6-foot tall, trim, WASPy guy, with a slightly greying hottie for a spouse. Nor did he ride a mountain bike or wear a Land’s’ End sweater tied around his neck.

Dave stood only 5′ 2″ in shoes — with lifts. He weighed two-hundred and eighty pounds. He did not have a full head of executive hair, or perfect teeth—More hair grew from Dave’s ears than on the top of his scalp. But not more than the hair that grew from his droopy nose. 

His smile? With teeth that only an Englishman or a hillbilly would envy. 

Perhaps an English hillbilly. 

“Crap!” he said, remembering Linda.

Linda Berg, Dave’s wife, would never be the woman with a “healthy, active lifestyle” on the cover of a senior citizen magazine. Linda, the slug, was long gone. She’d run off with Dave’s psychiatrist. 

Both Linda Berg and Dr. Mel Tishman had to get away from “that black hole of a human being.” Mrs. Berg and Dr. Tishman had only met for the first time, and fallen in love ten minutes before their plane lifted off for “anywhere-else-but-where-Dave-Berg-is, USA” Dave never heard from either of them again. 

After his “healthy, active” walk of twenty feet to his mailbox, Dave was even more depressed than he had been earlier in the day, when he’d awoken to discover “Mr. Decay” looking back at him. Mr. Decay lived inside Dave’s bathroom mirror, and this morning he looked like a plucked turkey. Not the little one, but the big prize turkey hanging in the window of the butcher shop on Christmas Day. 

Who’s this guy? What is he doing in my mirror? thought poor, poor Dave.

The photo of the handsome bike riding couple on the cover of FAART or AARP was the last straw. 

So again, Dave had left the magazine in the leaky mail box.

“Let’s see who rots first, Mr. Magazine!” he said while grinning at its mold spots. 

Sunday, July 10 was a “day of hurt.” Dave had once been a reasonably handsome and successful lawyer. Divorce law had worn him down and depressed him until one day he’d tried to strangle attorney Gloria Allgood in front of the judge and the court.

A bad day it was.

That day wasn’t as bad as this day. Dave was sure that this day would be his very last day on Earth.

He decided to crawl beneath his paid-for house and dig a comfortable shallow depression in the sandy soil, 

lie down, 

and die. 

Like many of the brave cats that he had known, he would leave this world without causing a mess for his famil…uh…

“Crap!” he said. 

Dave didn’t have a family. There hadn’t been another human in his life for nearly ten years.

 Even the cats were all gone.

Under the house—they had died there. Nearly all of those cats. A few of his “old” friends, notably Coco and Spook, were among the last two cats to disappear beneath the house four years ago. 

He’d last seen them, staring at him, patiently waiting for death, out of reach.  

His last cat (What was her name? Foo-Foo?) may have ended up under the house as well. She’d disappeared only two months ago, before she’d even been given a proper name. 

Dave had read, “When a cat’s health fails, it will often crawl away, to a dark quiet spot where it can be alone with ‘its maker’ and perhaps, without any muss or fuss, it can calmly and nobly accept death— to gracefully ‘move on’ to wherever it is that they ‘move on’ to.”

Dave could vividly remember the eyes of Coco and Spook, reflecting the beam of his flashlight when he went to look for each of them. Regardless of bribes, they had both refused to come out from beneath the house. He was sure that he’d never see them alive again. They had passed on without any complaint, nor odor, beneath the area of Dave’s living room.

In his later years, two or three of his other cats had probably done the same, when they too went missing. Dave was just never able to spot those sick cats when he searched with his flashlight through the wooden skirt around the home’s perimeter. 

“Crap!” Dave had a very hard time bending down these days. As for wanting to peek under any skirt, he thought…

“Crap!” Dave paused. That thrill was gone as well. 

Show’s over. Drop the curtain.

A handful of the Berg cats had been buried in the backyard years ago. Too many of them became the victims of cars as they raced across the busy street nearby.

Cars. Ten years ago, Mr. Fuzzy committed suicide beneath the tires of “his Dave’s” own Toyota station wagon, as he backed out of his own driveway. All that Dave saw was a black flash in the car’s rear view mirror. 

The very old and sick Mr. Fuzzy had used his last burst of energy to dart behind, and end his life, beneath the car’s right rear tire. 

Mr. Fuzzy had become one of those souls buried in the backyard, among the other pets. He was buried beside the various fishes, birds, and iguanas, and directly on top of over $700,000 dollars in gold coin. The gold had been buried in Dave’s backyard by Mr. Alvin Raymundo, the home’s previous owner. 

Dave always lived with the definite knowledge that he’d missed out on everything good in life, so of course he knew nothing about the buried treasure in his yard, or Mr. Raymundo. 

By day, Mr. Alvin Raymundo was a solid citizen and a “respectable” businessman. By night, Mr. “R.” was just a crazy bastard who enjoyed burying gold in his backyard.

* * * *

(Sorry. I was talking about cats’, wasn’t I?)

Together, about twenty cats lay around and under Dave’s house. Most had lived pampered lives within the long decaying downhill slide of Mr. Berg’s miserable life. 

Pili, Meshugellah, Seven-Toes, Gravity, Sylvester (Bubums), Felicity (Flisky), Maui (Mr. Kitty), Einstein, (crazy) George, Coco, Fart, and Spook were among the personalities interred beneath the Berg’s home. 

All were loved. All were missed. 

It troubled, no… it didn’t surprise Dave that he could no longer remember all of their names.

The rest of Dave’s human family had moved out of the old man’s life long, long ago. Either they too had passed on, or left the house because of Dave’s bitching. Most just couldn’t listen to him anymore, and were jealous of the attention showered upon the cats.

On Monday, July 17, Dave paid his bills, closed his bank accounts, and completed and signed his will, leaving most of his money as a gift to a few animal shelters. He cleaned the house, removed the food from the refrigerator and cabinets, and when he was done, he left a goodbye “to whom it may concern” note on the front door, as if anyone, anyone at all, would stop by to say “hello.”

The note read, “I have gone to take a long nap. See you in the next life! Signed Dave.”

No one would even notice that he was gone. Sad, but true.

Across an open field, just upwind of his house, stood the ugly rusting three-story Royal Tallow Glue and Rendering Company. Since 1945, they’d “boiled down” dead farm animals and pets into liquid, later to be made into bars of luxury bath soap. Therefore, nobody would notice the inconsequential smell coming from beneath Dave’s foundation, even if he were to rot like that moldy AARP magazine in his mailbox.

* * * *

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, he was looking into the bright green eyes of his ex-tabby cat 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, smiled and then turned back toward the two cats behind her.

Dave immediately recognized the other two. “Gravity? Seven-Toes? 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.

Chapter 2

Dave Enters…The Kingdom of the Cats

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