Original Short Fiction: "Mr. Cat Fink Becomes a New Cat"
Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories - book cover
"Mr. Cat Fink Becomes a New Cat" is the first story in my book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories. The collection of fables follows the lives of a handful of residents who live in the paradisiacal Eden Valley.
Visiting these fabulous characters, readers will encounter such difficulties as selecting a birthday present for a friend, salvaging a dinner party that suddenly turned sour, the offering of sage older sisterly advice, meeting the challenge of quieting the heart of an evil-doer, and other issues that pop up in the lives of fictional as well as real characters.
The first story finds the character Mr. Cat Fink embroiled in a health problem that is eventually solved by the unlikely appearance of Mr. Rat Narby. Their hijinks offers a rollicking space of unlikely events, meant to challenge as well as entertain.
Mr. Cat Fink Slinking
One day Mr. Cat Fink was slinking past Jiggery-Jee’s doghouse. As he peeked through the door, he got a big surprise. There sat a bunny rabbit—just like she belonged there. Mr. Cat Fink could hardly believe his eyes. He thought to himself: “A rabbit in a doghouse! What a fight there will be when Jiggery-Jee gets home. Think I’ll hide behind this bush and watch.”
As Mr. Cat Fink had tucked his tail out of sight, Jiggery-Jee came home. Mr. Cat Fink got another surprise. Instead of a fight between Jiggery-Jee and the bunny, Mr. Cat Fink heard this conversation:
“Hello, Miss Fuzzy Bunny. How was your day today?”
“Hello, Jiggery-Jee. Oh, I had a wonderful day. I swept the house, cleaned the water bowls, and then had time to go carrot hunting. I didn’t find any carrots today, but I gathered some fine lemon grass, and it is delightful. And how was your day, Jiggery-Jee?”
Mr. Cat Fink now couldn’t believe his ears. Jiggery-Jee the dog was talking to a rabbit as if she lived there. Mr. Cat Fink began to mumble to himself: “How disgusting! No fight! They’re talking like they were the best of friends. Jiggery-Jee must have lost his doggy marbles. Doesn’t he know rabbits and dogs aren’t friends? How silly! How sickening! How yucky!”
Then Mr. Cat Fink went slinking off still mumbling and grumbling, disappointed because there was no fight.
Just as Mr. Cat Fink was grumbling his third or fourth “he must have lost his doggy marbles,” a little mouse ran from the people house and disappeared into a trash pile. Mr. Cat Fink’s thoughts changed to cat and mouse fights, and suddenly he felt very hungry for a taste of mouse and a bite of rat. So off he ran at full cat speed to the people house to capture a rat or a juicy mouse.
After swallowing his third or fourth mouse, Mr. Cat Fink licked his mouth with his long cat tongue, and feeling quite full, he realized he was very thirsty. So he dragged his overloaded belly home where he lapped up great quantities of water from his cat bowl. Suddenly, Mr. Cat Fink didn’t feel so well. His belly began to ache. The pain hurt worse and worse. Soon Mr. Cat Fink could hardly stand; he dragged himself into his house and sprawled out on the floor moaning and groaning. The pain was becoming so bad, he was sure his mouse-eating, rat-chasing days were over.
Still moaning and groaning, Mr. Cat Fink opened his eyes and was shocked to see a rat standing near him.
“Hello, I’m Mr. Rat Narby,” the brazen rat introduced himself.
“I’m . . . a . . . cat!” growled Mr. Cat Fink weakly. “Aren’t you . . . afraid . . . to be in my . . . house? OOOoooOWWW!”
“Well, no, I’m not afraid of you . . . at least, not at the moment. Your condition is very serious. Are you aware you could die without proper care?” replied Mr. Rat Narby.
“What do you know about my condition? You’re a rat; I’m a cat. All you know about me . . . is that—OWoooooOWOOOOOOOOO—I eat up the likes of you . . . owwwowwoww-OOOOOOOOO!”
“Yes. I do know that, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with you.”
“What . . .?” groaned Mr. Cat Fink.
"You gobbled up some of my poisoned relatives. You see . . . the people up at the people house are poisoning us with poison and trapping us with traps. Oh, yes, I’ve lost sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, and cousins. My father and mother ran away to become alley rats. My wife ran away to become a shed rat, and our children are aboard a ship sailing to China. I miss them so much, but with all that poison and all those traps we had to leave that house. When I saw your house here, I thought I’d hole up here a while before I decide where to go. And now I see it’s lucky for you I’m here.”
“What!” moaned Mr. Cat Fink. “What can you do for me?”
“Well, first of all, I’m going to make you throw up. You’ve got to get those poisoned mice out of your belly.”
Quickly, Mr. Rat Narby jumped up on Mr. Cat Fink’s belly and began to jump up & down, up & down, up & down, as if that belly were a trampoline.
“OOOOOO-OWOWOW-OOOOOOOOO!” moaned and groaned Mr. Cat Fink. Then in a flash he was up running outside where he in a flash threw up the poisoned mice and rats. After that most unpleasant act, he dragged himself back inside his house, where Mr. Rat Narby was waiting with some fresh catnip fennel and other sweet herbs.
“There, now, I’ll bet you feel a little better already,” said Mr. Rat Narby, as he started stuffing the herbs into Mr. Cat Fink’s mouth.
“Oh, a little,” replied Mr. Cat Fink softly, “but what is this?” He gulped, “I don’t feel like eating.”
“Oh, this will really help you; it will clean out the rest of the poison, eat up!” commanded Mr. Rat Narby.
Soon Mr. Cat Fink was taking a nice catnap. When he woke up, he felt like a new cat. The pain was gone! He stood up, stretched his legs, took a deep breath, and that’s when he noticed how clean his house was. He had never seen it in such a neat order, because he was always too lazy or too busy chasing mice to clean house. Just then Mr. Rat Narby crawled out of a hole he had dug in the floor.
“Well, I see you’re feeling much better,” said Mr. Rat Narby happily.
“Oh, yeah, yeah, like a new cat you might say,” replied Mr. Cat Fink. “Say, what did you say your name was?”
“Oh, I’m called Mr. Rat Narby,” said Mr. Rat Narby. “And what is your name?”
“I’m Mr. Cat Fink, and I’ll tell you, today I truly feel like a new cat. I never thought a rat would save my life and then clean up my house to boot. Hey, you can stay here as long as you like, Mr. Rat Narby, and I’m feeling awfully sorry about your relatives—not just because of the pain in the belly they gave me.”
“Oh, yes, well, that’s the way it is sometimes with us rats. But I’m glad I had the chance to help you, and I’m grateful to you for offering me a place to live. I think I’ll like it here.”
Mr. Cat Fink in the Sun
A few days later Mr. Cat Fink was sunning himself by the big oak tree near Jiggery-Jee’s doghouse. As he looked up, he saw Miss Fuzzy Bunny pouring fresh water into the water bowls; then she scurried back inside with an armload of straw which she began to scatter on the floor. Mr. Cat Fink thought to himself, “When is that big stupid Jiggery-Jee going to realize he’s a dog, and dogs don’t live with rabbits. Lost his doggy marbles he has. I wonder what his neighbors think and what dog in its right mind would ever buy Jiggery-Jee’s house if it knew a rabbit had lived there?”
Mr. Cat Fink was so bothered by Jiggery-Jee’s living arrangements that he couldn’t rest any longer. So he got up and started slinking home. As he was slinking past Jiggery-Jee’s house, he kept grumbling to himself about how stupid Jiggery-Jee was. Miss Fuzzy happened to hear him calling Jiggery-Jee names: “That stupid mutt! Jiggery-Jee living with a cottontail. Lost his doggy marbles he has. How sickening! How ridiculous! How unnatural!”
Miss Fuzzy Bunny became worried about Mr. Cat Fink; he sounded so flustered. When Jiggery-Jee came home, Miss Fuzzy Bunny discussed the problem with him over dinner.
“Jiggery-Jee,” began Miss Fuzzy Bunny, “I’m very worried about Mr. Cat Fink. He was slinking past the house today, and he sounded so unhappy. He was saying very unkind things about you. He said you had lost your doggy marbles and that you were stupid.”
“Why did he say that? Do you know?” asked Jiggery-Jee.
“Oh, yes,” said Miss Fuzzy Bunny sadly. “It’s because you, a dog, are sharing your house with me, a rabbit. He was grumbling that it was sickening, ridiculous, and unnatural.” Miss Fuzzy Bunny’s eyes filled with tears as she leaned forward and said softly, “He even referred to me as a ‘cotton-tail’.”
“Oh, Miss Fuzzy Bunny, I’m sorry you had to hear such language, but Cat Fink is high-strung, and he comes from a long line of hard-nosed felines. But don’t worry. I have an idea. After dinner we will go pay a visit to Mr. Cat Fink, and I’m sure he will understand how happy we are and how well we get along once he has a chance to talk with us.”
As soon as Jiggery-Jee and Miss Fuzzy Bunny had cleared away their dinner dishes, they began their walk over to Mr. Cat Fink’s house. It was a pleasant evening, and the two friends felt very good to be sharing it.
A Visit from Jiggery-Jee and Miss Fuzzy Bunny
When they arrived at Mr. Cat Fink’s door, Jiggery-Jee knocked loudly and to his surprise, the door was opened by Mr. Rat Narby.
“Hello, I’m Jiggery-Jee, and this is my friend Miss Fuzzy Bunny. We’ve come to pay a visit to Mr. Cat Fink. Is he in?” asked Jiggery-Jee politely.
“Yes, he’s here; we were just having dinner. Won’t you join us?” came Mr. Rat Narby’s reply.
“Oh, thank you, we just finished dinner, but we would like to speak with Mr. Cat Fink,” said Jiggery-Jee. Then Jiggery-Jee and Miss Fuzzy Bunny followed Mr. Rat Narby into the dining room.
“Mr. Cat Fink, we have guests,” said Mr. Rat Narby.
Mr. Cat Fink looked up, gave his whiskers a wipe, and said, “Jiggery-Jee, well, well, how nice of you to drop by.” Mr. Cat Fink looked suspiciously at Miss Fuzzy Bunny; then he continued, “Come on in and have some dinner with us.”
“Thank you, Mr. Cat Fink, but we just came by for a visit and actually there is a little matter we would like to discuss with you,” said Jiggery-Jee.
“Oh, what is it? I can’t imagine what it could be. Now, Jiggery-Jee, if you intend to scold me for borrowing some of your chew bones—well, I’ll tell you, old J. J. Boy—it’s just that I began to wonder if you know you are a dog. I mean I’ve never seen a dog get so cozy with a cotton . . . uh, rabbit. You gotta admit that is kinda strange, and so when I saw those chew bones just lying around, I figured you must have given them up like you did your other doggy habits, like fighting rabbits. But they are out back. I never meant to keep them. Just run out there and get them, if you’re still dog enough!” Mr. Cat Fink spoke very defensively, and his whiskers began to twitch with hostility.
“No, Mr. Cat Fink, we didn’t come for chew bones. I didn’t even miss them. We came to try to put your mind at ease about me a dog living peacefully with Miss Fuzzy Bunny a rabbit. You see, Mr. Cat Fink, Miss Fuzzy Bunny saved my life. I had eaten a rabbit that was filled with buckshot, and with a belly full of lead I almost died until Miss Fuzzy Bunny helped me throw up the buckshot, and then she fixed me an herb medicine and nursed me back to health. I’m telling you, since that experience, I’ve been a new dog—a much happier, more peaceful dog, and I’ve learned so much about life from Miss Fuzzy Bunny, and in return I’ve offered her a home. We share our lives and live peacefully and happily,” explained Jiggery-Jee.
While Jiggery-Jee was speaking, Mr. Cat Fink realized how close to his own story this one was. But before he could speak, Mr. Rat Narby came into the room carrying drinks for the visitors.
“Would you care for some herb tea?” offered Mr. Rat Narby. “Mr. Cat Fink and I have some almost every evening. It is so soothing.”
“Mr. Rat Narby, you mean you live here with Mr. Cat Fink,” said Miss Fuzzy Bunny, pleasantly surprised.
“Oh, yes. The people at the people house were poisoning us with poison and trapping us with traps. I’ve lost most of my relatives, and Mr. Cat Fink was kind enough to let me live here in his house,” replied Mr. Rat Narby.
Mr. Cat Fink Sees the Light
Then Mr. Cat Fink finally understood something he had overlooked for a long time. He slowly began to speak: “I guess I’ve been pretty silly. I’ve made fun of you, Jiggery-Jee, for sharing your house with a rabbit even after Mr. Rat Narby came to share mine. I guess I didn’t realize that the important thing is why you want to share with someone and not just whether you are a rabbit or a rat or a dog or a cat,” admitted Mr. Cat Fink.
And he went on: “You see, Mr. Rat Narby saved my life after I ate a belly full of his poisoned relatives. So our stories are the same. Since living with Mr. Rat Narby, I’m a new cat, and today I’ve learned even more about life. I’m very happy that you and Miss Fuzzy Bunny came for this visit. I hope we can be good friends and visit one another often.”
“Oh, I’m so happy too, Mr. Cat Fink,” said Miss Fuzzy Bunny, “and Mr. Rat Narby, you must give me the recipe for this delightful tea.”
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes