Original Short Fiction: "New Friends"
Rats Love Cats
"New Friends" is the title of the eleventh installment of the Eden Valley fables attributed to the Eden Valley resident, Jiggery-Jee.
Text of the Fable
Mr. Rat Narby had been spending a lot of time in Carrot Valley. Mr. Cat Fink, his housemate, was getting lonely and bored. Instead of the pleasant chats over a pleasant dinner that Mr. Rat Narby had prepared, Mr. Cat Fink began wolfing down cans of beans and corn flakes and then just falling asleep in front of the TV. No more pleasant walks in the evening, no games of checkers, and no plans for dinner parties. Mr. Cat Fink wondered why Mr. Rat Narby had been rushing off every evening and not returning until past midnight. So he decided to ask Mr. Rat Narby the next day at breakfast. At least Mr. Rat Narby was still preparing scrumptious breakfasts for the two of them.
Sunday morning at breakfast, Mr. Cat Fink sipped his fresh squeezed orange juice, and then he started the conversation:
“Oh, Narbs, this juice is outstanding as usual. What do you plan to make us for supper? Would you like to have a game of checkers or take a walk over to Jiggery-Jee’s this evening after supper?”
“Um, Mr. Cat Fink, I’m afraid I have plans for this evening, but I’ll leave you a nice rice casserole in the freezer. All you have to do is heat it up.”
“But, Narbs, I don’t know how to heat it up,” whined Mr. Cat Fink. “And I was hoping we could stroll over to Jiggery-Jee’s and take him and Miss Fuzzy Bunny a nice dessert, like, maybe, that fluffy lemon-pie you make so well.”
“Oh, that does sound pleasant, but as I said, I already have plans. Maybe another night.”
“Um, hey, you know, well, I mean—uhh, uhhh—well, I’ve been wanting to ask you something, but I haven’t been sure if I should,” said Mr. Cat Fink.
“You can ask me anything, Mr. Cat Fink. We are friends,” said Mr. Rat Narby.
“Ok, Narbs, here goes—where do you go in the evenings? You used to spend time here with me. We’d play checkers and marbles and read the paper and laugh at the funny stuff, and now you just go somewhere every evening almost. I’ve been getting lonely, and I don’t understand why you keep going off like that.”
“Oh, my, Mr. Cat Fink, I didn’t know you felt that way. I didn’t plan to hurt you or leave you lonely. But I do have some news. I’ve just been waiting until the time was right to tell you.”
“Can you tell me now?” asked Mr. Cat Fink.
“I guess so. You see, Mr. Cat Fink, I got a letter about a month ago from a friend I went to Rodent School with. She had just lost her family at the people house when they called in that exterminator. She had heard that I might be living in Eden Valley, and she got my address from Cindy Ratling—you remember her, we met her at the barn dance last Easter.”
“So where is she? Does she live in Eden Valley?”
“No, not yet, but she’s thinking about moving here. She lives in Carrot Valley right now.”
“Well, are you going to get married, or something?” asked Mr. Cat Fink.
“Oh, I don’t know. We haven’t even talked about that. But we do enjoy spending time together. You know, Mr. Cat Fink, I have an idea. Why don’t you and Fanny Feline join my friend and me for supper? We have planned to take a picnic over to Trace Woods. It’s always so pleasant there this time of year. I’m sure Sylvia would love you to join us.”
“So her name is Sylvia?”
“Yes, Sylvia Barnrat. She wants to move here because she doesn’t know anyone in Carrot Valley, and she knows several Eden Valley residents. Besides me she knows Cindy and Marty and the Alleys. She even met Jiggery-Jee once at a fundraiser for the burning bridge victims in Tulip Valley. So what do you think? Why don’t you go call Fanny Feline and see if she’s free this evening?”
“Ok, Narbs, I’ll do that. And thanks for inviting me. I don’t think I’ll feel so lonely this evening now.”
“Good. Now, go call Fanny Feline.”
Sylvia Barnrat was all ready to go on a picnic with Mr. Rat Narby. She was sitting on her porch swing waiting for him to come and pick her up. Right on time, Mr. Rat Narby pulled up in front of Sylvia’s house. She smiled and waved as he walked up to her porch.
“Hello, Mr. Rat Narby. What a beautiful day for a picnic?” said Sylvia.
“Oh, yes, isn’t it lovely? I have some wonderful news. I have invited my housemate, Mr. Cat Fink and his friend Fanny Feline, to join us for the picnic. I do hope that is all right with you. I would have called first, but Mr. Cat Fink was very lonely today, and I decided I should spend some extra time with him.”
“Sure, that’s fine. I’d love to meet him and his friend. Are they coming here or are we driving to Eden Valley?”
“I thought we would drive to Eden Valley and pick them up and then drive out to Trace Woods,” said Mr. Rat Narby.
“That sounds very pleasant,” said Sylvia Barnrat. “I’ve only been to Trace Woods once, and that was a long time ago. I’ve heard that they’ve planted lots of roses and zinnias, and those are my favorite flowers.”
Mr. Cat Fink and Fanny Feline were sitting on her porch swing, when Mr. Rat Narby and Sylvia Barnrat drove up. As soon as Mr. Cat Fink saw Mr. Rat Narby’s car, he grabbled Fanny Feline’s hand and said, “Here they are! Let’s go.”
“Hi, Mr. Cat Fink. Hello, Fanny Feline, I haven’t seen you in a long while. How have you been?” asked Mr. Rat Narby.
“Oh, I’m not too bad now. Yesterday, I had my tail rocked on by those nasty little Bummly twins, you know, at the people house. I tell you, I’m never going there again. Besides, they always give me the sourest milk. And they expect me to catch mice for them. Those people are sickos. I tell you they are.”
“Well, I’m sorry to hear that, Fanny Feline. Maybe you could move to Eden Valley and find a job. Oh, have you met my friend Sylvia Barnrat? Sylvia Barnrat, this is Fanny Feline.”
“Nice to meet you, Fanny Feline,” said Sylvia Barnrat, holding out her hand to Fanny Feline. Fanny Feline grabbed her hand and shook it as if she was pumping water.
“Great meeting you. I usually don’t associate with rats, but Mr. Cat Fink has told me about how nice Mr. Rat Narby is and how good they live together and all, so I figured it was all right.”
Soon Mr. Rat Narby and Sylvia Barnrat and Mr. Cat Fink and Fanny Feline were heading to Trace Woods in Mr. Rat Narby’s red convertible. They had the top down, and the sun was shining, and the afternoon was perfect for a picnic.
Mr. Rat Narby pulled his car up next to the picnic area, and the friends started to unload the picnic baskets. They spread out the food and began eating. Fanny Feline finally broke the silence, “You know, I’m thinking I will move to Eden Valley. I’ve been wanting to move away from that people house for the longest time. But where would I live and what would I do? I don’t know anyone in Eden Valley except old Cat Fink here, and he has a living arrangement already, what with Mr. Rat Narby and all. Just where would I live?”
“Well, I’m sure you could stay with Mr. Cat Fink and Mr. Rat Narby until you found your own place. How about it, boys? What do you think?” asked Sylvia Barnrat.
“Oh, my—I hadn’t thought about that. But there is that extra room, Mr. Cat Fink. I could clean it out in no time, and we could go shopping for a bed and bureau drawers. It would make a fine room for a guest. Actually, it would be big enough for two guests. What do you say, Mr. Cat Fink?” asked Mr. Rat Narby.
“Oh, dear, me-oh-my. That room is such a mess. Do you really want to tackle the job of cleaning out that old room? I don’t know. I suppose it would be all right, if that room was fixed up. Gosh, now that I think about it, it might be fun having a houseguest. That way when Narby is out, I wouldn’t have to be so lonely. I get lonely you know, I don’t like being left alone, like Narby has been doing lately.”
“You know, Mr. Cat Fink, I just had another idea. Since Sylvia Barnrat also wants to move to Eden Valley, why not have her move into that guest room too?” said Mr. Rat Narby. “What do you think about that, Sylvia Barnrat? And, Fanny Feline, would you mind sharing the room with Sylvia Barnrat?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t mind one little bit. I think me and Sylvia Barnrat would get along great together,” said Fanny Feline.
“Sure, I think that would be fine. That way I wouldn’t have to go through all the trouble of looking for a place, and I could move right away,” said Sylvia Barnrat.
“Well, it’s all settled. I’ll clean out that room, and order two beds and bureaus, and you two ladies can move in by the end of the week,” said Mr. Rat Narby.
“That’s perfect,” said Mr. Cat Fink.
“Now how can we announce to our friends our new arrangement?” asked Mr. Rat Narby.
“Well, Miss Fuzzy Bunny is joining the Joyists, and she and Jiggery-Jee are throwing a big bash to celebrate. We can announce it at Miss Fuzzy Bunny’s party,” said Mr. Cat. Fink
“Oh, of course. I’m sure Miss Fuzzy Bunny will be very happy to have us announce our new arrangements at her party,” said Mr. Rat Narby. And turning to the girls, he said, “You both will love Miss Fuzzy Bunny. And even though she is joining the Joyists, she will still be close by. Her order has a new house right next to Jiggery-Jee’s farm.”
“That’s wonderful. I think I might want to be a Joyist Sister one of these days, that is, if I don’t get married soon,” said Fanny Feline.
“I think the Joyists sisters are wonderful, but I want to get married and have kids,” said Sylvia Barnrat. Mr. Rat Narby looked pleased, but he noticed that it was getting late, and he wanted to get started fixing up the guest room for Sylvia Barnrat and Fanny Feline. He was very pleased that the ladies would be joining him and Mr. Cat Fink. The house would be full of friends, and who knows maybe those friends could become life-long partners, thought Mr. Rat Narby. But for now he had to get the room ready.
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes