A friend's son read this story to his 3rd-grade class and got a standing ovation. So, maybe I'm on to something here.
Calamity Cat Finds a Home
by J. C. Reeds
Clem and his pet dragon, Vena, were walking through a part of town where no one cared. People had scribbled on the walls, there was trash, junked carts and wagons, and, it seemed no one had learned how to use a chamber pot properly. The place smelled. That’s the thing about not caring. It shows.
They were walking along when they saw a big wagon with the back gate open. On the wagon deck sat a man who clearly didn’t care. His clothes were rumpled and stained, his hair was tangled and dirty, and many of his teeth were missing. But it was when Clem looked into the man’s eyes that he saw the real problem. The man’s brains were clearly scrambled, salt and peppered, and served with cheese.
Also on the wagon deck, was a big, nearly clear, gut bag, tied shut with a knot, and holding water, air, and… something else entirely. A sign next to the bag said “Fish for sale.”
Both Clem and Vena walked up and leaned in for a closer look. Seeing the object in the bag they both looked at the sign, then each other, and then at the man.
“That is not a fish, sir!” said Vena, her frills fluttering with alarm. “That is a cat! A kitten to be exact.”
The man looked quite surprised and Clem expected the man to say, “Why, so it is.” But instead the man said, “That dragon can talk!”
Vena looked confused and then offended. “Of course I can talk. I know thousands of words and I’m not afraid to use them.”
“But, but,” the man said. “Most dragons just hiss and grumble.”
Vena leaned back, eyeing the man suspiciously, “And most people grumble and moan, they complain and whine.” She looked around at all the junk and trash. “And they never do anything to improve their lives.”
The man held up a hand, “I meant no offense dragon.”
“Very well,” said Vena. “Now, about this cat. It will surely die if you don’t take it out of that bag immediately.”
“That is not a cat,” said the man.
“It is too a cat!” said Clem. “It’s a little baby, a kitten!” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“A catfish, maybe,” said that man, rubbing a dirty hand on the front of his shirt.
“No,” said Vena. “That is clearly a cat.”
And it was a cat, or, as Clem had said, a little baby kitten. The poor kitten’s nose and mouth were barely above the water, trying to breathe what little air was in the bag.
“You must get it out of there immediately,” said Clem, as Vena agreed, her head nodding rapidly and her frills starting to spark.
“Are you going to flame me dragon?” the man asked, his eyes going wide with fear.
“I will if you don’t take that cat out of the bag!”
“It’s not a cat!” the man yelled. “It’s a fish!”
Clem could see this was going nowhere; the man clearly believed there was a fish in the bag and not a kitten. Eyeing the man, he asked in his most serious voice, “How much is the fish?”
“Ha! So you admit it is a fish.”
“Yes sir,” said Clem. The sparks on Vena’s frills faded and she looked at Clem as if he was crazy himself now.
Clem winked at her. “And a fine fish it is, all silver and grey, with lovely black stripes. A fine fish indeed.”
Inside the bag they could hear the kitten mewl with fear.
Worried, Clem asked again, “How much?”
“Just a couple bits.”
That seemed a reasonable price for a cat or a fish, so Clem handed the man two bits.
The man smiled and slowly handed over the bag.
Clem took the bag and he and Vena walked quickly away from the man with the scrambled brain.
“Open it, open it!” said Vena.
The bag was difficult to open, so Clem finally just tore the bag open. Water went spilling everywhere, and Clem caught the small kitten in his hand. The poor little kitty was tiny even by kitten standards and it sat in Clem’s palm and looked up at him and gave him a sad and long meow.”
“Oh Clem,” said Vena, her frills drooping. “That poor kitten. Climb on and let’s get it by a fire.”
Clem nodded his agreement. He tried to dry the kitten as best he could using the bottom of his shirt, then he tucked the sodden thing in his shirt and climbed on Vena’s back. There he sat in the natural saddle where Vena’s neck met her shoulders and wings. With a jump and snap, Vena spread her huge wings and in gust of air they were climbing through the sky. The poor kitten mewled and cried at first but finally settled down.
Soon they glided to a cave where Vena lived with Clem and other dragons and humans, and they got the little kitten by the fire and fed it a bit of goat’s milk. Soon, the kitten was bouncing around, feeling much better, and amusing all the dragons and humans that had gathered around to see it. They discovered the kitten was a boy, and that he was indeed grey with highlights of silver, and black strips everywhere except for his chest, stomach and paws, which were pure white.
Eventually, the kitten crawled onto Clem’s lap, softly meowed at him what seemed a cat version of “Thank you,” and curled up and fell asleep.
“It needs a name,” said Vena, as she leaned over Clem’s shoulder to look at the kitten.
“How about Calamity?”
“That’s not a name!”
“It is now. Calamity the Cat. Seems to fit somehow.”
“Calamity Cat. Sounds good to me,” said Vena, and she laid down by the fire. Clem leaned back on her chest and she brought a wing around like a blanket and covered Clem and the cat. They all fell asleep like that, and they slept well and long, and had good dreams.
@ Copyright 2017 by Jeff Reeds