Up The Chimney
I should have known better. There we were dozing by the fireside, old Tom and me, and there’s a stranger telling some story of funerals and cats. Old Tom, he leaps up, whiskers abristle. Shouting “Then I’m the King of Cats” and disappearing up the chimney!
I’ve always been a skinny lad, and quickwitted to boot, so I leaps over the embers, which were dying then anyhow, and scramble after Tom. It’s my chance to get to Fairyland, I figure, and old dad, he’d always said, grab opportunities as they presents themselves.
If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have kept sitting there and waved Tom on his journey. It’s Fairyland, sure enough, but it’s a cat’s notion of Fairyland. Maybe there’s one for all the creatures, horses and rats and huntin’ dogs. But their notion here of entertainment is chasing mice, the whole kit and court does it for hours on a time, and then they drink cream and eat sardines. I’d give my soul for an honest pint of beer.
The women, aye, they’re pretty enough, but they’ll claw you to death sure as eagles fly, and they stink, more to the point. They reek of musk and blood, and in the evenings they all sit around grooming each other and purring, an unsettling sound that unmans me whenever I hear it.
King of Cats be-damned. I’d search for some other Fairyland, but where might I end up? A fish’s land, where it’s never warm nor dry, or a beetle’s, perhaps. At least I have my fireside here, with old Tom cleaning my ears while I wait for some new story to set me free.
(It’s not too late to sign up for the 2012 Clarion West write-a-thon and get snippets in your mailbox throughout the next six weeks! Even a $1 donation will count.)