Sunday, 11 November 2007


Emma J. Lannie has just submitted a Cat Boat story about the cat James. thanks, Emma.

here is Emma's story:


James the cat wakes up, looks around, blinks a bit and then yawns. The first words he hears are: “I been around the world and all across the seven seas.” I am still on the Cat Boat, he thinks. He is a little unimpressed by this. He was dreaming of his other life, the second one. The one where he had songs written about him, the one where he drank the finest buttermilk and actually got paid to chase birds and butterflies. Chasing birds and butterflies were his most loved hobbies. And they paid him good money to do it! In that life, he really was some cat. All his dreams take him back to that life, and they feel so real that on waking, there is always a shudder of disappointment.

James the cat tries to make the best of it. He tells himself that this life, the sixth life, the life at sea is better, much better than the previous three. He tries to focus on this fact. He tries to be glad that he's no longer part of that drama troupe that toured the Working Men's Clubs in and around the Huddersfield area with their ten-minute versions of Harold Pinter plays. That was a life he was glad, so glad to be rid of. But then, just as he thought he'd hit litter bottom, his next life brought him that awful contract with Lionseal Windows. He hated putting his name to those humiliating commercials. He would try to hide his features behind the robes they'd tie onto him, but he couldn't hide from himself. The shame of it kept him awake at night. It took a bottle of Dubonnet to knock him out, and even then, his sleep was fitful. In the end, the ever-increasing Dubonnet consumption kept James the cat in his room for longer and longer periods, until the bigwigs at Lionseal let him go. And then began life number five.

In this life, James the cat really tried to be a normal cat. He used his best “Method Acting” to bring his role alive, to make himself believable. And the little girl bought it, hook, line and sinker. At first. James the cat would chase that stupid, pathetic effigy of a mouse for hours. He acted like he really, truly believed it was a real mouse, and she squealed with delight at either his stupidity or her own cunning. But it didn't last. He couldn't sustain the pretence, and she grew bored of his refusal to jump after a piece of string. It was his eavesdropping on a conversation that included the words “animal shelter” that led to him being on the Cat Boat. He reminds himself of all this each time he wakes.

After a big stretch, James the cat sidles over to the starboard bow. Some of the cats remember him from his glory days. Sometimes, after one of the carrying-the-Christmas-pudding events, they ask him to recount his tales of fame and fortune. And he laps up the attention. No one mentions the Lionseal commercials. He hopes this is because they don't know about them, but he suspects they are just being kind. He is grateful for that. Ethan Hawke prowls up next to him. They have become good friends. They spend long afternoons discussing the thrills and the pitfalls of fame, giving each other tips on “Method Acting”. They speak of setting up their own drama group one day, when the Cat Boat finally comes to shore. Neither of them knows when that will be.

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