A Tail of Two Kitties

Jeff Charlebois
The year was 492 BC and Zotikus had just arrived in Athens to study under the astute philosopher Euripides, so named because as a ticket-handler, theatergoers handed him their tickets and said, “you rip a these.” While Plato and Aristotle had stressed the mind and the body, individuality and happiness, Euripides was less conventional. He found thinking too much about anything was time consuming and stressful. Socrates felt it important to lead a questioned life; Euripides, on the other hand, felt that the less one knew the more one could get away with. He surmised that claiming ignorance was noble.

When an inquisitive student asked Euripides if man was meant to suffer, the philosopher paused for a few seconds, winked with both eyes, shrugged his shoulders and slowly nodded with a “maybe.” He felt by being non-committal he had less of a chance of being wrong. Students became disillusioned with the teacher, Zotikus even asked for his money back. After refusing to return the student’s funds, the irate prodigy snippily asked the charlatan if he had ever read any accounts on ethics by Socrates. He slowly nodded then simply replied, “and Socrates is?”

Zotikus grew older and developed a love for the arts. One night, the young man went to a musical play written by Homer and Hammerstein, about an illustrious affair between Zeus and a peasant flower girl. It was called “Gods and Dolls.” The plot line was Zeus teaching an earthly simpleton to portray herself as a societal goddess. Throughout the second act he would attempt to teach her proper English but, it was all Greek to her. The show stopping number was called “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Pomegranates.”

While at the play he met a beautiful actress named Kaliope, who played a cypress tree and was enamored by way she gracefully swayed her branches. This talented artist was actually the king’s daughter and had gotten the part as a result of the casting agent, Nepotism. The couple fell head over gladiator sandals for each other and it wasn’t long before they began discussing the M-word, which was obviously money. Prior to reciting their nuptials, Zotikus wanted to know the status of the dowry.

Before King Vasilis would allow this Greek geek to marry his daughter he wanted to ensure that the fellow was worthy. Zotikus would be given a simple task of going to the island of Crete and picking up a bottle of perfume for the king to give to his wife, Queen Gagaga. Their anniversary was just around the corner. Lately, she had been on a new fad of dabbing sheep urine behind her ears, all the rage—but the ruler lacked the guts to tell her she smelt bhaaaaaad.

“Can’t you get anyone else?” Zotikus questioned. “I’m the lead in a new play called “The Odyssey” and it opens next week.”

“You’ll be back by then,” the king shrugged.

“I hope so. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime role,” Zotikus responded.

“So is marrying my daughter,” the king sternly replied.

“Let’s hope so, I signed a pre-nup,” he retorted.

The king had some serious reservations about his daughter marrying an actor. “They don’t make any money,” he stated. “Plus, they’re always saying ‘Look what I can do.’” Down deep, he was hoping the wannabe thespian would get lost at sea or, better yet, get a job.

That night, Zotikus met up with Kaliope to say his goodbyes before departing on his journey the next day. She was worried. Kaliope gave him an emerald bronzed fibula. This was a safety pin to help keep his toga closed. She did not want him hanging out in faraway lands.

“It was my grandmothers,” she smiled.

“A knife or a sword might be handier,” he remarked.

“You have my love,” she assuredly responded.

“Love doesn’t kill Titans. You don’t have a bow and arrow, at least a shield?” he suggested.

“Don’t be silly,” she laughed. “You’re just grabbing a bottle of perfume.”

They stared into each other’s eyes for almost an hour, gazing lovingly at one another. Suddenly Zotikus jumped up and shouted, “You blinked! I win!” and he punched her arm. Then he kissed her like he had practiced on the Venus statue, except this time it didn’t taste of city grime. He patted her head then vanished into the darkness.

Before departing, he swung by Mount Parnassus to have his fortune read. There was a flame rising from a crack in the rock, the hot spot for people in the know or at least wanting to be. Most likely, a lightning strike ignited the natural gas, but to the Greeks, like their yogurt, it was sacred. They believed the flame to be of divine origin and built a temple around it. This housed a priestess who was known as the Oracle of Delphi, giving out prophecies she claimed were inspired by the flickering flame. Zotikus was curious of what fate awaited him, and he wondered about the two lotto tickets he bought a week earlier.

In the dingy cave, he put coin in a clay vessel then sat on a small boulder, waiting for the show to begin. Through the eerie smoke, the Oracle appeared. Gracefully dancing and twirling “a perilous journey awaits you,” she murmured. “You will go through many trials in many lands. You will be weak at times and strong at other times. Some days you will be dirty and some days you will be clean. You will find love, lose love and, who knows, maybe find love again. But, and this is very important, no matter how you slice and dice it, it ain’t gonna be easy.”

“Will I make it back home alive?” he anxiously inquired.

The Oracle’s pupils grew big as her eyes penetrated him like a toothpick in one of those tiny wiener dog houre d’oerves. “You will, you will, you will…. I’m sorry your time’s up,” the woman snapped.

Zotikus leaped up, frantically checking his pockets for loose change to throw in the vessel. The Oracle slowly moved back into the thick smoke.

“No! No!” he screamed as she vanished. “What about the lotto tickets?!” he cried.

Zotikus had gathered a group a guys to go with him. He brought his best friend Maximus, a well-known playboy who hated Trojans. Also with him were a group of his artsy clan; Atropos the juggler, Funicius the comedian and Efimia the mime. Basically, they were all out of work and were looking for something different in life. Kicking a clay pot in the street was getting old. “Why not get away for the weekend?” they agreed.

They boarded a ship called Halkyone. Nobody knew that it was a Persian name that meant “Water Leaker.” The gang seemed to be lackadaisical regarding the voyage and tended to look at it as more of a toga party cruise. They set sail. The fellas awoke with their ship lodged on a sandbar. They jumped in the water and, after a quick game of Marco polo, they swam to shore. Everything was quiet at first then from the green forest came the sound of a million meows. The crew had found Catlypto, the lost island of kitties. A rumbling noise was soon heard growing louder and louder. They picked up the brown rocks on the beach to have something to throw at any would-be-attackers. It was useless. The beach was actually a humongous litter box and they weren’t holding rocks.

Suddenly, a herd of kitties appeared from out of the jungle and were charging full speed. Zotikus, thinking quickly, pushed the juggler in front him and jumped on the shoulder of Maximus. Closing in, the kitties were in a full gallop. The men cowered down as they prepared for the worst. However, the kitties stopped dead in their tracks then, lovingly, began circling, rubbing their furry cheeks on their furry legs.

The kitties led them into the multi level cat condo that was about the size of the Acropolis. It had obviously taken years to build the feline nest. Sitting on a throne and nibbling ironically on cat fish were the leaders Andromeda and Pussywillow. He and she were an adjoined Siamese cat with two different gendered heads and one fat, fluffy gray body. Together they were both one powerful Peloponnesian pussy.

The kitties had made the boys slaves. They were ordered to bathe the cats once a week. After the fellows were through licking the cat’s body they would cough up fur balls for several hours. The cats were ruthless. For three months the outsiders were subjected to catch fish, fill kitty bowls, carve scratching posts, make small decorative squeaky toys and provide round-the-clock belly rubs. The men knew that their own survival depended upon escaping.

Zotikus approached the rulers one day and told him her that he and his colleagues would like to thank all the island kitties for their hospitality and wished to make them a great feast.

“What would be on the menu?” Andromeda inquired.

“The main dish would be fish gumbo stew served with sardine appetizers, a few gyros, a little baklava, and some lobster tail.”

“I’m allergic to shellfish,” Pussywillow interrupted.

“Then I’ll make you a seaweed feta salad and some keftedakia?” Zotikus shrugged.

“May we also have a side of spinach phyllos dipped in a cucumber sauce?” Andromeda excitedly asked.

“I don’t see why not,” Zotikus slyly remarked. “After all, you are the king and queen kitty.”

“That we are, you petty, worthless stinking Greek,” Pussywillow belittled. “That you are. Now get your hairy backside a cooking. We feast by five.”

The kitties taunted and hissed at the slave boys as they slinked off to prepare the meal.

Unbeknownst to the kitties, Zotikus had loaded the meal up with cat nip. The kitty’s bellies were full and extremely satisfied, as evident by the purring choir floating in the air. But now, they were hungry for entertainment. The cat nip was kicking in and the kitties were becoming restless and playful. To settle them down, Atropos the juggler, stood before the cats tossing up coconuts and conch shells. The little animals were bored off their tails. The magician got up and made a mouse appear from his hat. A cat pounced on him and ate the mouse then he claimed he was a better magician cause he made the rodent disappear.

Zotikus launched into an akward Zorba the Greek-like dance. As he squatted and kicked his hairy legs up, the kitties rolled around, roaring with meowed laughter at the clumsy clown. They were now peaking on the cat nip and primed for the planned escape.

Zotikus pulled out a small pan flute he had whittled out of a piece of drift wood. He began playing. The kitties became quiet, cocking their head in amazement. He continued to play the sweet song as he marched into the jungle. The cats, mesmerized, followed behind him in a straight line.

Leading them up the mountain, he brought them into a cave

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he had discovered while looking for coconut milk for a litter of kittens. The moonlight seeped through the opening as the sound echoed beautifully off the walls. The kitties, in awe, sat and listened.

Zotikus stopped playing and said, “whoever plays this will have the strength of Zeus and the agility of Mercury.” He then threw it in the middle of the cat clan causing an all out kitty brawl as they scratched and clawed each other for the musical toy. A few moments later, the cave was pitch dark. Zotikus had ducked out during the melee and his men had rolled a boulder in front of the cave, sealing the felines in. The men doggy-paddled off the kitty island to their ship.

As they sailed away, faint, rhythmic, high-pitched cries could be heard. Later on, the island would be known as “The Land of a Thousands Meows With A Pan Flute Melody.” Safely on board, the weary adventurers settled in for a long cat nap.

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by Jeff Charlebois


to be continued…

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