I AM FLYBOY

If you think cats can’t compose on computers, check this out:

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter One: In the Beginning

In the beginning, I was born on March 24, 2019, on a farm in Berrien County, Michigan, not far from the lake they call Michigan.
I don’t remember being born, but I do remember the man from animal control who came and brought my sister, Kitty, and me to the Humane Society of Southwest Michigan. It’s out there on M-139 if you want to check.
Kitty and I were put in the same cage in a row of cages full of kittens. I guess you could call it Kitten Row. That’s where they put us, and they fed and watered us and changed our litter just fine. The staff were all great, especially that guy with the bushy red beard. He was the best.
But then one day these people came and pointed at Kitty and said she was just the calico kitty cat they wanted for their little girl. They wanted a kitty cat to grow up with their baby girl.
How cute.
And Kitty was cute.
No, SHE IS CUTE.
And if you’ve never seen a calico cat before, then you should go out and find Kitty, because she is the cutest calico cat you ever did see.
Oh, a calico cat, according to my human’s desktop dictionary, is, by definition, covered with spots of different colors. You could do that with a quilt, I suppose, and then you could call it a calico quilt.
Aren’t I smart cat?
A smarty cat?
Yeah, that’s me.
Anyway, Kitty is covered with spots of different colors, and I can just picture her being happy in her new home.
Good for you, Kitty.
And, yes, I miss you so, so, so, so, so, so, so very, very, very much.
So there!
And when those people adopted you and took you away from me, I despaired and almost stopped eating and drinking. But then one fine fall day, this man who had another bushy beard walked by my cage. Hey, I had developed a liking for men with beards by that point. Remember?
Well, I was so excited I reached my little paw out to him and let out a great big MEOW!!!!
He stopped in his tracks and talked that dumb human talk to me. Like I could understand or something.
But I knew he wanted to see me in the Meet & Greet Room, and he did.
And that’s where I met him and his lovely wife, and that’s where I got my way-cool name:
FLYBOY.

(to be continued)

This is me with my buddy Red.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Two: Naming Day

I knew something good was about to happen that fine fall day in 2019 when my guy with the bushy red beard, the one I called Red, came to get me.
Red called me Rhumba because I liked to Latin dance around the place, and so he said: “Rhumba, this could be your lucky day, buddy. Some people want to meet you.”
Yes, I do understand human, but I still say it sounds so dumb.
Anyway, Red took me straightaway to the aforementioned Meet & Greet Room where stood this couple with eager expressions on their faces. Well, the one with the gray, bushy beard was eager to meet and greet yours truly, but the woman with the long, white hair wasn’t so sure.
She said to Red, “Our previous three cats were all declawed. Not that we had them declawed, mind you, but that’s how we got them when we adopted them. We have a small house—a cottage really—with knotty-pine walls and, well—“
“But Dearest,” said Graybeard, “we just read that article about how cruel it is to declaw a cat, so maybe it’s time to take the—“
PLUNGE is just what I did at that precise moment by leaping out of Red’s grasp and jumping three times my height up to the window ledge. Hey, I wanted to see what a fine fall day it was out there, and, of course, to see if any little birdies might be flapping my way.
That prompted Red to get my favorite toy, a fake bird tied to a flexible rod with a string. Red twirled that phony birdie high over my head, and I proceeded to fly higher than I even thought possible. I grabbed that piece of plastic out of the air and claimed it for my own. With my massive kitten claws, no less.
Old Graybeard grinned from ear to ear and said: “Let’s call him Flyboy. He’s like one of those World War One flying aces, you know, the ones they called Flyboys. What do you think, Dearest?”
“I think we haven’t met the other cats,” Dearest said.
“No,” Graybeard said, smiling at me, “Flyboy’s the only one we need to meet. He’s just the cat for us. Right, Flyboy?”
I flew off the floor just to let him know I approved of my new name and that, yes, just maybe, I’d take a ride with them in a day or two and check out this little cottage of theirs. You know, the one with the knotty-pine walls.

(to be continued)

This was the first home I ever knew.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Three: “Taking Flyboy Home”

The Humane Society quickly approved the happy couple’s application to adopt me.
And so they came for me on a fair Friday afternoon in late September. In the Year of Our Lord 2019.
I knew something was up because I could hear them talking excitedly at the front desk about “taking Flyboy home.”
Hmmmm.
I wasn’t so sure.
But I was sure liking my new name—FLYBOY.
If ever there was a name that fit me to a “T” it was Flyboy.
So that was a good thing—that they were referring to me as Flyboy.
FLYBOY. Yeah, baby!!!
But home with them?
I mean, who were these people?
But then Red, with his bushy, red beard came and gently removed me from my cage. The only home I had really known.
“You’re going to a new home, little buddy. Aren’t you excited?” That’s what he said to me, but I was so nervous I couldn’t let out even the softest mewl known to kittens.
So I just fastened myself to Red and allowed him to carry me out to the front desk where the fun couple were waiting with their cat carrier in which to take me home.
Their home, not mine.
Yes, I had reached out to old Mr. Graybeard when he walked by my cage the other day, but I did that more out of boredom than anything else. You stay cooped up in a little cat cage at the Humane Society for a couple of months, and see how you feel.
But I sure wasn’t bored when Red brought me out to the lobby.
If cats could say gulp that’s just what I would have said at that moment.
And just imagine what I would have said in human when Red put me in their cat carrier and said: “You’re in good hands, little buddy. Have a good life.”
And, with no further ado, the fun couple hauled me out to their car and headed for home.
Their home, not mine.

(to be continued)

You call this “going for a ride in the car?”

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Four: A Ride in the Car

The last time I went for a ride in the car, it wasn’t a car.
It was a truck. A pick-up truck to be precise. One with an enclosed box on the back, with cages for the stray dogs and cats of Berrien County, Michigan.
Kitty and I were loaded in the back of the animal control truck. There were no windows. Just a smelly, dark cage, just for us.
So I wasn’t happy about going for “a ride in the car” with Mr. Graybeard and Ms. Long-white-Hair.
Not my idea of a good time.
For sure.
But then what choice did I have, right?
None, when you’re a six-month-old kitten.
Oh, a black-and-white kitty cat. I should have said that from the git-go. Black-and-white cats rock!!! And, yes, you can refer to us as tuxedo cats. Meaning we’re dressed for any occasion, especially birthday parties and parades. But that’s a topic for another chapter and verse.
Right now we’re looking back to Friday, September 20, 2019, when I was being “invited” to go for a ride in the fun couple’s car.
Front claws or not, there was no way I could fight my way out of that most distressing situation.
So I didn’t. I just hunkered down in that mobile prison cell they called a cat carrier.
A cat carrier, my cat eyes.
I was in jail in the back seat of their maroon Honda Civic, and I was forced to listen to their endless reassurances about how happy they were to have me. And how happy I should be to have them. And to be going for a “ride in the car.”
If I hear “A RIDE IN THE CAR” one more time, I’m going to claw the keys off this keyboard I’m writing this book on. But I don’t want to do that, because I have so much more to say, so I’ll just say they chattered on and on and on and blah. blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH!
Well, at least I could look out the window. And what I saw were lots and lots of trees. Many with birds in them.
That made me happy.
Sort of.
But then they put on their music. They called it OPERA.
It sounded like humans being hit with lightning bolts, if you ask me.
But nobody was asking me.
They were just singing along with this hysterical music they called OPERA and hauling my sorry, little self off to their happy little home in the dunes.
Lucky me.

(to be continued)

You don’t hear cats howling at the moon, do you?

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Five: Moon Landing

Last summer, the summer of 2019, all you humans could talk about was that big moon landing on July 21, 1969.
That’s when some guy named Neil Armstrong stepped out on the moon. The whole world went bonkers.
Well, whoop-dee-doo!!!
If cats wanted to go to the moon, we would have gone centuries ago.
But we knew for sure there were no mice on the moon. 
So why bother?
We can see with our extra-special cat vision that there is no life whatsoever on the moon. No atmosphere, no nothing. Just a big rock pile floating around the earth for all to howl at every night.
Still, you humans made a big, honking deal out of the 50th anniversary of that Armstrong guy landing on the moon. Your grandparents probably even remember where they were that day when he said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I guess it was a big deal, but no bigger deal than my own moon landing on Friday, September 20, 2019 when the fun couple carried me into their little blue house in the dunes and said: “Here you are, Flyboy. Welcome to your new home.”
Then Mr. Graybeard opened the door to the cat carrier and bid me take one giant leap for catkind.
CATKIND?!?
Well, that Armstrong guy said mankind, so why can’t I say catkind for when I landed on my own alien planet?
Precisely.
Anyway, I looked out and saw this light-filled living room and those knotty-pine walls the fun couple had talked about at the Humane Society, and—
Well, I poked out of that cat carrier that still smelled of their previous cat, the one they called Tiger.
I sniffed around a bit, liked what I smelled coming from the kitchen, but not the bathroom so much, and then I ran for cover.
I found it in the bedroom—under that queen-sized bed of theirs.
They couldn’t reach me down there, and so I decided I would seek sanctuary there until I could figure out what was what.
Say what?
What was what!
You gotta a problem with that?!?
Good. Good night!

(to be continued)

I had to come out eventually.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Six: The Cat Who Lived Under the Bed

You’re probably wondering why I would chose to live under a bed, right?
Good question.
Well, when you were a kitty—excuse me, when you were a kid—didn’t you like to hide under your blankets during a thunderstorm?
Sure you did.
Or, if you’re currently a kid, I bet you still do.
My human, the one with the gray beard, says he would make a fort on stormy days and stay in there all day. He says he made the fort by throwing a sheet over his mother’s card table. Then he put a lamp in there, a pillow, a blanket, some books, and voilà—he had himself a cozy sanctuary for a rainy day.
Well, that’s what the humans’ queen-size bed provided for me during my stormy days of arrival at their house—a sanctuary. You hear about sanctuary cities on the news, well, I found a sanctuary kitty.
Hah, hah, hah, hah, hardy, hah, hah!
I was, as they say, happy as a bug in a rug down there, under the bed. It was dark and full of nooks and crannies between all the stuff they stored under the bed. Stuff like tennis racquets and baseball bats and boxes and boxes of who knows what. I mean, what is it with you humans and your stuff?!? Anyway, their stuff, plus all those gigantic dustballs down there, served my pussycat purposes just fine, thank you very much. And, yes, they even put a towel down there for me to settle on.
I liked that.
But I didn’t like the lack of food and water. And I knew they had a fancy litter box full of fresh litter next to Mr. Graybeard’s desk. It was all set for me to use.
And sooner or later I would have to use it. I am feline after all. Even mighty lions and tigers have to go, once in a while.
But when to come out? What to do?
So, after a day of hiding under the bed, I come to see Mr. Graybeard’s furry face poking under the bed. Like he’s some big cat or something.
Come on, buddy boy, you can’t fool me.
Then he says: “Hey, Flyboy. What’s new with you, little buddy?”
Not much, I said in cat. But I was lonely and scared, and so I went over to him and gave him a cat kiss. That, of course, is when a cat touches your nose with his nose. A whole lot more sanitary than that lip-to-lip kissing you humans like to do with each other.
All I know is that one little cat kiss changed everything.
And for the better, I might add.

(to be continued)

Proof that the ancient Egyptians held cats in high regard.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Seven: Whistlin’ Dixie

I have to give full credit to Dixie for getting me out from under the bed.
DIXIE?!?
As in way down south in the land of cotton?
Dixieland?
No, not that Dixie. I’m talking about the humans’ friend Dixie.
Dixie B. to be precise.
When I stashed my tender young cat self under the bed, the humans called Dixie for advice.
Why?
Because Dixie is an animal lover from way back and has been owned by more than 100 cats. That’s right, owned by cats.
You didn’t think you owned us, did you?
As they say, cats don’t have owners, they have staff. We came in out of the cold a long, long time ago so you upright bunch of monkeys could wait on us, in a manner to which we have grown accustomed.
You go to the Detroit Institute of Arts, or DIA, and see what the ancient Egyptians thought of cats. A whole heck of a lot, that’s for sure. You go to DIA, and you’ll see.
But back to Dixie, who really should have been a veterinarian instead a nurse for dumb humans. Dixie told my new humans to just get down on my level and be patient. Wait me out, as it were.
And that’s just what Mr. Graybeard did, and that’s why I came over to his side of the bed and gave him a great big cat kiss.
But that’s only because I was really waiting for was Ms. Long-white-hair. I knew she had been holding back on me. I knew she had some bad history with cats, starting with the accidental death of her beloved childhood cat, Figaro. Yes, that lovely male Siamese met his untimely end at the hands of a hit-and-run driver. I tell you, humans should never, ever been given the keys to a car. But that’s a topic for another time.
Meanwhile, you just need to know that I knew that the female human just needed the ultimate cat to appear in her life.
Then she would be fulfilled. She would reach that highest level of enlightenment only possible to humans who are owned by cats.
And I knew then and there, under the bed, that I was just the cat to bring this lovely lady around.
And that moment of fulfillment came right after I kissed Mr. Graybeard.
“Hey come here, Dearsie,” he said, all excited. “I think Flyboy’s coming out of his cat cave.”
So so-called Dearsie got down next to her husband, smiled, and said, “Let me try.”
I went right into her arms and melted her heart right on the spot.
And that’s not just whistlin’ Dixie, is it, Dixie?

(to be continued)

Don’t eat me!

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Eight: Seeing Tigers in Detroit

So, I came out from under the bed and embraced my new humans.
Well, cats don’t really embrace people.
If we like you, we put our tails up and rub up against your leg. That’s what I did with the humans, and they liked it so much they introduced themselves as: Charley and Natalie.
Charley and Natalie said I was their cat for life and that they would feed me only the best cat food, give me pure Michigan water to drink, and clean my litter box as needed, and do everything to make me the happiest cat ever.
Sounded good to me, but then they announced that they were “seeing Tigers in Detroit.”
I’m pretty sure that’s what Charley said, and I was immediately jealous.
Why did they have to drive across the state to see Tigers, with a capital T, when they had adorable, little me all to themselves? Indeed.
And what made no sense was that they were going to “board me at the vet” while they were seeing Tigers in Detroit.
And all this, just when I thought my life was going to turn out okay.
JEEPERS, CREEPERS!!!!
So, I said to myself, I said: “Not so fast, little Flyboy, little fella. Charley and Natalie are going to board you at the vet while they go off across the state about seeing Tigers in Detroit.”
Not only Tigers, but Twins, with a capital T, as well. Twin Tigers?
Or were they going to watch some Tigers eat some Twins.
None of this made any sense whatsoever, and what was I supposed to know about Major League Baseball as played by two teams in the American League Central Division. Nothing, of course, because the only sport cats like to watch on television is tennis, because we love to watch the ball go back and forth. The ball in baseball is hidden half the time, so we don’t watch baseball, as a rule.
And it really made no sense whatsoever when they loaded me in that cat carrier of theirs and hauled me off to the vet. Excuse me, I meant to say: the veterinary clinic. Say that three times with gum in your mouth and see if you can keep the gum in your mouth.
The humans at the veterinary clinic were friendly and all, but they right away gave me a shot in my cat butt for some feline thing or another, and then they stuck me in this great big kennel, like for a Siberian Tiger. It had a concrete floor, and chain-link fence, and a bowl of water and a bowl of dry cat food. Yuck!!!!
But that’s not the half of it.
No, the other half of it was that I was stuck next to these three barking dogs for the night.
It was, as Jeremiah the Bullfrog would say, a THREE DOG NIGHT.
Hey, that would be a good name for a rock group from the 1960s, don’t you think?

(to be continued)

Lulu has no “off” button.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Nine: A Real Lulu

Turns out there WAS a rock group in the ’60’s call THREE DOG NIGHT. They were an American rock band from Los Angeles best known for that riff about the aforementioned Jeremiah the Bullfrog called JOY TO THE WORLD. Check it out on your favorite device.
Or, do as I do, and tune into Little Steven’s Underground Garage on SiriusXM radio. I listen at night with the headphones when the humans are asleep. Easy, just tune to channel 21, and you have yourself a 24/7, commercial-free tour of rock ’n’ roll from the beginning to the present. And, so you know, I have absolutely no affiliation with Underground Garage or SiriusXM.
But enough of rock and roll history and on to my own three dog night at the veterinary clinic.
Turns out only two of those barking dogs were going to bark all night. I hissed at all three of them, showed them my wicked claws, and two of them shut right up. Good doggies.
But the third, this yappy little thing named Lulu, could not and would not be silenced.
I knew at once that she was the product of a troubled puppyhood. So I tried to tune her out. But there was no tuning out Lulu.
That dog was wired, and she barked and barked and barked and barked and barked—all night long.
I tell you, my cat nerves were shot by sunrise.
Now, I know that cats are nocturnal animals, meaning we like to stay up all night hunting and carrying on and listening to Underground Garage. But we like quiet at night so we can hear our prey. Prey? You know—mice and birds. Real cat food.
But now that we’re supposedly domesticated, we can get by on food from a can or a bag.
But try to explain that to Lulu.
She was a real cat killer, that Lulu. And I don’t mean it in a figurative sense. I mean that if Lulu could have bitten her way through that chain-link fence separating us, she would have had me as a late-night snack.
I am something of a dog-whisperer, so I spent the whole, entire night trying to explain the meaning of life to that yapping, yellow dog.
But to no avail.
Lulu never came up for air. She did some kind of weird circular breathing thing and thus barked all night and on into the morning when her owners finally came for her.
And then my new staff, that Charley-and-Natalie team, came to get me. To take me back to my new home to tell me about how the Tigers ate the Twins in Detroit or something.
But, wouldn’t you know, Team Charley-and-Natalie knew Team-Lulu’s-Owners, and they invited them over to watch—are you ready for this—OPERA!!!!!!!!!!!
You remember: that goofy music that sounds like humans being struck by lightning bolts.
The veterinary clinic was suddenly looking mighty good, but what choice did I have, right?

(to be continued)

Talkin’ ’bout my Mondo Deluxe.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Ten: My Very Own Mondo Deluxe

Everything changed for the better when Team Charley-and-Natalie bought me what this company called PURRFECTPOST® calls the Mondo Deluxe.
The company bills it as “the ultimate cat scratching post” and proudly notes that it was “handmade in the USA.” They even throw in an emogie of an American flag to let you know this is one red-white-and-blue piece of cat furniture, complete with a leopard-print bed on top, and a lynx-print muffin blanket for extra cat-comfort.
Hey, this baby stands a whopping 41 inches off the floor, and, as the manufacturer says: “This is no simple scratching post; this is a scratching tower.”
Yeah, baby, a scratching tower with a leopard bed on top.
And let’s not forget the lynx blanket.
And let’s not forget that I am not in any way affiliated with PURRFECTPOST®, or its representatives, either foreign or domestic.
I did, however, write a favorable review of my Mondo Deluxe; you’ll find it on your favorite device at: http://www.purrfectpost.com/mondo.deluxe/.
Talkin’ ‘bout my Mondo Deluxe.
Team Charley-and-Natalie brought me home, and that lovely Natalie said she had gone on-line and researched all the scratching posts available. She had decided on the Mondo Deluxe because it had all the cat-friendly features, like vertical grooves to prevent a scratching cat from breaking off his claws. Very, very important for the well-being of a modern cat.
And then that clever Charley fellow assembled the easy-to-assemble Mondo Deluxe, and said: “Have at it, Flyboy.”
Did I have at it?
Did I ever!
And then some.
I climbed right up that woven sisal post and plopped my young cat self in that comfy leopard bed with the lynx muffin blanket and counted myself one blessèd little kitty cat.
I looked at Team Charley-and-Natalie in an entirely new light. I had scored, in the first inning of my nine-inning cat life, no less.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, something always goes wrong, right?
Oh yes, oh yes.
And in my case, it happened one fine day when Team Charley-and-Natalie announced they were having Team Lulu over for “opera night.”
UH OH!!!!!

(to be continued)

The composer they call “Joe Green.”

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Eleven: Opera Night

UH OH are the right words, because when Team Lulu, complete with that yapping, yellow devil dog herself, came over for OPERA NIGHT, I was full of foreboding.
But Team Charley-and-Natalie said everything would be just fine, because they had a plan.
And their plan, quite simply, called for yours truly to be truly locked in the bedroom while Lulu had free range of the rest of our tiny, little house.
Does that sound remotely fair to you?
Sure didn’t sound fair to me.
And so I went into a big cat sulk when Team Charley-and-Natalie latched me in the bedroom with my litter box and food and water bowls.
I was a prisoner in my own house, and all because that drama-queen of a dog was being given the red carpet treatment. Mind you, we don’t have a red carpet to roll out for visiting royalty, but you get that my humans regarded Lulu as a guest of honor.
Guest of honor, my cat eyes.
So there I was in my jail cell when Team Lulu showed up. They unleashed Lulu, and she ran straight to the bedroom door and began barking. And barking, and barking, and barking, and—
There was no stopping her.
Did the humans think to evict her sorry dog butt?
No.
They kept cooing at Lulu and begging her to calm down so they could watch this opera called Rigoletto by this dead Italian guy named Giuseppe Verdi. They referred to him as “Joe Green” and thought that was hysterical because “Joe Green” is the English translation of Giuseppe Verdi.
I tell you, you learn something every day. I also learned that Rigoletto is about this embittered court jester from 16th-century Italy who gets what he fears the most. But no spoiler alerts here. Watch the opera and see for yourself, that is if you can stand all those humans sounding like they just got hit by lightning bolts.
Anyway, Lulu upped her game and knocked the bedroom door off its latch and pandemonium ensued. (Sorry about the big words, but that’s what dictionaries are for.)
Lulu ran for me and I ran from Lulu. The humans, all four of them, were clueless as to what to do, and somehow the cat-dog storm broke upon the front door, which Lulu’s humans had left unlatched.
Naturally, Lulu knocked it open, and I took off into the inky darkness, with Lulu in hot pursuit.
And I do mean took off.

(to be continued)

Great Jacqui’s Ghost.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twelve: Great Jacqui’s Ghost

I ran, and I ran, and I ran some more until I could barely hear Lulu barking.
She had followed me outside, of course, and now I could hear her humans calling for her.
“Lulu! Lulu!! Lulu!!! Good girl. Come on back.” And such like.
And such was Lulu’s pea brain that she heeded her humans and let them leash her.
She stopped barking, but I ran some more. I don’t trust leashes. You never know when one’s going to break, and some barking dog like Lulu is going to set upon you.
So I kept on a runnin’, but, as I did, I heard my humans, Team Charley-and-Natalie, calling for me: “Flyboy!! Flyboy!!! Come on home, buddy. We won’t let Lulu hurt you.” And such like.
I paused my paws, but then a voice in my head said: “There’s no turning back, Flyboy.”
So I continued running away from home.
I ran so far into the cold, dark woods of a fall night in Michigan that I didn’t know where I was. I could no longer see, hear, or smell my little home.
I was good and lost. But I wasn’t alone.
I sensed, with all my feline senses, that canines were stalking me. But they weren’t silly domestic dogs like Lulu. No, they were a pack of wild coyotes out looking for midnight snacks. And I was just the snack pack they wanted.
What to do?!?
Where to go?!?
Then a calm, reassuring cat voice, plain as day, called out to me in the dark: “Unlike me, you’ve got front claws, Flyboy. I couldn’t get up a tree to escape the coyotes chasing me that dark, sunny day in August 2018. But you’re young and strong. You have well-groomed claws with which to climb to the top of the tallest tree. Coyotes can’t climb trees. That’s your only chance: claws of hope. Use them or perish.”
So I did as the cat voice commanded and climbed way, way, way, way up a towering red oak tree. So way, way up that I could barely see those coyotes a yippin’ and a yappin’ down there at the base of that big, fat tree.
When I caught my kitty breath, I said: “Thank you, whoever you are, for saving me.”
“No,” the voice said, “you saved yourself. And you showed that you are teachable. That is the first step on the path to true humility.”
“Humility?!?”
“It means to be teachable, and you are teachable, little one, and I am here to teach you.”
“Who are you? What are you? Where are—“
“Enough questions, Flyboy. I am Great Jacqui’s Ghost, and I will lead you on your journey of discovery. I will guide you safely home, with a lesson or two along the way. Are you ready?”
I AM FLYBOY, and I am ready!!!”

(to be continued, in Volume Two: “Maturing Reflections”)

 

VOLUME TWO:  MATURING REFLECTIONS

Becoming one with the lunar landscape.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Thirteen: One with the Lunar Landscape

I was ready as I’ll ever be to hear what this Great Jacqui’s Ghost had to say for herself.
So I said: “I’m all ears, oh wise and wonderful ghost of cats past.”
“Good. And it would be good if, henceforth, you would address me not as Great Jacqui’s Ghost, but as just plain JG. Or, if you want to be totally phonetic about it: JayGeee.”
“Sounds complicated,” I said. “I’ll stick with JG, if it’s all the same to you.”
“It’s all the same to me,” JG said in that ghostly cat voice of hers. A voice that I have come to know, love, and trust with all nine of my cat lives.
I waited for more. But that was it.
So I said, “That’s all you have to say to me?!? You appear out of the dark like some—well—like some ghost of a tuxedo cat, and that’s all you have to say to me?!? You haven’t even told me your back story, for starters.”
“You know it, Little One, because Team Charley-and-Natalie have spoken often of me as their late, lamented cat, Jacqui Jackson. I am the one they cite when they warn you about escaping out the front door. We don’t want you to end up like poor Jacqui, they say. Well, I say that I am the beautiful black-and-white cat who had seven good years with them and one bad day.”
JG paused.
Then JG continued: “And that bad day was Sunday, August 12, 2018—six months before you were born, mind you. It was an absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful, gorgeous-beyond-belief summer morning. As was my custom as a confirmed indoor/outdoor cat, I let Team Charley-and-Natalie know that I wanted to be about my cat business. In the great out-of-doors, of course. They let me out that fabulously fine August morning, and I happily went off on my rounds of the neighborhood. I knew every plant and animal in my domain, and I thought absolutely nothin’ could go wrong. Absolutely nothin’.”
JG paused for dramatic effect.
I was gasping for more details and said as much.
“Soon, Little One,” JG purred. “But before I get to that unpleasant moment in my all-too-brief feline existence, let’s take a moment to enjoy the moon in the trees. It’s not every night you see the moon caught in the trees. So, behold!”
And behold the moon caught in the trees we boldly did.
But during our deep meditation on the moon, I couldn’t help saying: “There are no mice up there, right?”
“All will be revealed, Little One. Now just gaze at the moon and focus on your breathing.”
I gazed at the moon, focused on my breathing, and became one with the lunar landscape.

(to be continued)

One bad day for Jacqui Jackson.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Fourteen: Ein schlechter Tag

I was one with the lunar landscape until dawn when JG announced: “Now hear this, Little One! My one bad day. Are you ready?”
“I’m all cat ears.”
“Of course you are, Little One. So settle on your branch and attend to my every word.”
“Copy that, JG.”
“Good. So, I set out that fine morning of August 12, 2018 believing that the world was my oyster. No creature, great or small, was going to wrap its teeth around my sleek cat body. No, I would do the eating, thank you very much. Hey, that’s what I had been doing since I arrived at the home of Team Charley-and-Natalie way back when. That’s when I was two and was fresh off a farm in northern Indiana where I had been given free range, and had pretty much been protected from cat-eating critters like coyotes by big, drooling farm dogs.
“Likewise, I never had a problem with critters that wanted to eat me during my six-plus years with Team Charley-and-Natalie. Or so I thought as I sauntered up Dune Road and continued on along the sand ridge to the path to the valley below. Mice abounded in the bottomland, so I was thinking about what kind of mouse burger I was going to have for Sunday brunch.
“And then—WHAM!!!! I was sucker-punched from behind. I immediately took my assailant to be a coyote. I had been repeatedly warned, after all. Team Charley-and-Natalie had talked themselves hoarse putting the fear of coyotes in me. So my attacker had to be a coyote, right?
“No. Guess again. That’s right, I was hit from above by the uncommon but widespread Bubo Virginianus. Otherwise known as the Great Horned Owl, this winged avenger with the broad ear tufts had me in her sights.
“I know, I know—Great Horned Owls are nocturnal, meaning they hunt at night. But this flying bag of feathers had been awakened from her sleep by a clutch of cawing crows, telling her to get the cat. How do I know this? Trust me, I know this, now that I am Great Jacqui’s Ghost. It’s one of the perks of being dead, all right? Right, so that Great Horned Owl did just as the crows suggested, and got me. Great Horned Owls, after all, feed on medium-sized mammals such as rabbits and skunks, and, well, as a black-and-white cat, I looked for all the world like a skunk. Except I was just Jacqui Jackson out for a Sunday morning mouse round-up. But I was the one being rounded up. The gig was up. I was done for. But, you know, I didn’t feel a thing, really. My life was over before it could flash before my cat eyes. I didn’t have time to feel pain, or regret, or plan my next cat nap. It was, as the Germans would say: ein schlechter Tag. It was my one bad day, and I was done in a twinkling.
“And now I’m back, in ghostly form, to tell you, Little One, a thing or two about life on the other side of the front door. Are you ready for a sermon by the seaside?”
All I could say was: “I am Flyboy! I am ready!

(to be continued)

JG preaches by the seaside.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Fifteen: Sermon by the Seaside

“Little One?”
“Yes.”
“Do you see the other side?”
I gazed at the great lake that was really a sweetwater sea, and said: “No, JG. Even with my great cat vision, I cannot see the other side.”
“Good,” JG said. “Then you will never be tempted to swim across to Chicago. And, if you hitched a ride on a boat, such as the one we are sitting upon, you would be promptly run over by speeding cars on Lake Shore Drive or devoured by one of those rats of urban legend, said to be as big and vicious as grizzly bears.”
“So, what’s the message, JG?”
“Love the side you’re on. Accept boundaries, especially watery ones. Know your limits. Know that you are a cat, not a fish.”
“Copy that, ghost cat. So what’s next?”
JG pointed her filmy paw at a common gull dancing uncommonly along the beach. That widely seen gull didn’t seem to have a care in the world, not even with winter in the wind. “Behold the creature that knows its place in creation and rejoices lightly in it.”
“But that’s just some dumb sea-going bird. That’s just—“
“Some sea-going bird, my cat eyes!!! That, Little One, is a noble Ring-billed Gull, a Taurus delawarenis. Common yes, but uncommonly wise.”
“Wise?”
“Wise enough to know how to fly you across this great lake to the other side to a holy place where your Charley human goes regularly in search of enlightenment.”
“Yes, I have heard him speak of it, many times.”
“As did I, in my day,” JG said. “So we both know he finds spiritual treasures at that monastery on 31st Street, the one they call the Monastery of the Holy Cross.”
“All right. But what about the speeding cars on Lake Shore Drive and the giant urban rats?”
“Not a problem for you, Little One, because you will have a fighter escort.”
I looked at the gull that was found on all bodies of water from lakes and rivers to oceans. “You mean that goofy gull?”
“No, I mean Dan D. the Dancing Gull.”
“What?!?”
“Do you seek enlightenment?”
“Yes.”
“Then trust yourself to Dan D. the Dancing Gull, and all will be well.”

(to be continued)

Dan D. the Dancing Gull.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Sixteen: Dancing with Dan D. the Dancing Gull

“Go on, Little One,” JG said. “Ask Dan D. the Dancing Gull, and you shall find.”
“Ask him what, exactly?”
“The question that most concerns you, Little One.”
I didn’t have to think for long. “All right,” I said. “I’ll ask the dancing gull.”
And so I sauntered right over to Dan D. the Dancing Gull and asked, “Can you show me the way home?”
Dan D. stopped dancing and said: “Home? As in: home is where the heart is? That the kind of home you’re talking about, my furry, little friend?”
“Yes. Exactly.”
“ All right,” Dan D. said. “Let’ get to it: where is your heart, my feline friend?”
“With Team Charley-and-Natalie. In their little house in the dunes.”
“Very well. Then allow me to lead you there, Flyboy.”
“Hey, how did you know my name?”
Dan D. and JG exchanged significant looks. “That’s for me to know and you to find out. So, with no further ado, I will fly you to the moon. To be precise, I will fly you across this pond, the original humans called Michi gami, to a place much revered by one of your humans—a monastery for men in black robes who chant, and ring bells, and fill their church with holy smoke, and grow things for humans to eat, and keep bees in the city, and, most importantly, rescue cats.”
“Did you say: rescue cats?”
“That I did, Flyboy. And please, call me Dan D.”
“Roger that, Dan D.”
“There you go, being flip. Have you been into the cat nip, Little One?”
“No, Dan D.”
“Good. So tell me: why is it exactly that you are here, seeking my help?”
“I ran away from home because this devil dog named Lulu was trying to kill me, and—“
“Fine. I already knew that, didn’t I, JG?”
JG purred and said: “Of course you did, Dan D. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll take a long cat nap while you two have your little adventure.”
JG fell sound asleep on the spot, leaving me to Dan D., who said: “And now for your first flight, Flyboy the Magnificent. Hang on tight, my fearsome little feline. It gets pretty rough out there in the middle of the lake. Especially this time of year, when the gales of November come slashin’.”
All I could do was hop on and hang onto Dan D. the Dancing Gull for dear cat life.

(to be continued)

Don’t mess with the lake they call Michi gami.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Seventeen: Taking Flight

Do you remember the first time you flew high above the earth?
No?
Well, I do.
And I do know that I left you last time with the image of me hanging on to Dan D. the Dancing Gull for dear life as we were taking flight over that great lake they used to call Michi gami.
Taking flight.
Hmm, that would be a great title for a chapter in my book, don’t you think?
You betcha it would. I know because my human, Charley, reads this book every morning called Taking Flight by Anthony De Mello. It’s a book of story meditations, and he seems happiest when he’s reading that book in his reclining chair. With his feet up, of course.
But I digress when I should get back to the question you’ve all been asking since the last chapter: how could a Ring-billed Gull, weighing all of 1.1 pounds soaking wet, carry an eight-pound kitty cat clear across Lake Michigan to Chicago. Right?
Well, you have to remember that JG, aka: Great Jacqui’s Ghost, introduced me to Dan D. the Dancing Gull in the first place. And by now you must realize that JG is not bound by the laws of time and space.
So JG worked her magic by casting a spell on Dan D. and—voilà—Dan D. was the size of a 757. So big was Dan D. that he had to get approval from air traffic control at O’Hare International Airport to land me in Chicago.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not about to grow a pair of wings anytime soon. And other than when I’m being chased by Lulu, I don’t naturally climb towering oak trees. Yes, I am afraid of heights. I’m a land-based mammal, but suddenly I was taking flight over that vast, bubbling bathtub once called—all together now—Michi gami.
At first, I was terrified right out of my feline fur coat. My cat eyes bulged to the size of bowling balls, and my heart beat faster than jazz drummer Gene Krupa on steroids. (Krupa, so you know, played for Benny Goodman, but that’s a story for another time.)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but let me pointedly say that I was scared catless as that over-sized Ring-billed Gull flapped his way toward Chicago.
But then Dan D. found his groove up there over that vast lake, and he cooed sweet nothings at me as he brought the great, shining city of Chicago into view.
So I settled back on his broad bird back and enjoyed the rest of the flight.
Dan D. said it best when we were more than halfway across Michi gami, some 20 miles out of 40: “Life is a journey, Little Friend, not a destination.”

(to be continued)

A soft landing in Palmisano Park.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Eighteen: A Walk in the Park

“Are you ready for a walk in the park, Little One?”
I looked over Dan D.’s head and saw that we were on final approach over Chicago’s landscaped lakefront.
“A walk in what park?” I asked.
“Palmisano Park, to be precise, my furry, little feline friend. It’s the only place I’m cleared to land, and it’s really not far at all from the Monastery of the Holy Cross.”
“You mean I have to walk? Do I look like a dog to you?”
“No, Little One, you do not look or smell like a dog,” Dan D. said. “But it’s not big deal, Little One. As I said: a walk in the park. And speaking of parks, allow me, as your humble tour guide, to tell you about this amazing 26.6-acre park with its fishing pond, wetlands, preserved quarry walls, trails, athletic fields, and a hill with a dramatic view of the Chicago skyline. Your Charley human knew it as Stearns Quarry when he was growing up on the South Side—excuse me da Sout’ Side. And he was delighted when the city turned it into a park in 2009. How cool was that, right? Right, so your Charley human has had many a walk in the park over the years as he has made his way from the CTA’s Orange Line Halsted Street station to the monastery at 31st and Aberdeen. He figured out early on that cutting across Palmisano Park shaved a good five minutes off his walk. Plus, on many a Sunday morning, he has had the delightful experience of encountering folks from the neighborhood out practicing the gentle art of Tai Chi. You would do well to practice a little Tai Chi, Little One.”
“Hey, I do my stretching, and I’ve got the world’s best scratching post.”
“Right. Anyway, my point is that if your human, with all his extra baggage, can walk the walk, so can you. Now, hold on, this landing might be a little rough.”
“What?!? Rough?!? Why?!?“
“Because, as you can see, I am rapidly reverting to my original size, in accord with JG’s spell. So, as you can plainly feel, you are an eight-pound cat riding on the back of a 1.1-pound gull.”
YIKES!!!!!!
“Yikes, indeed,” Dan D. said, swooping in over Palmisano Park. “Now would be as good time as ever to—“
JUMP is just what I did as Dan D. veered off to be with the other gulls darting around the fish pond that had once been Stearns Quarry.
Being a cat, of course, I landed on all four paws.
Right at the foot of the fishing pond.
And right at the feet of a man in a hooded, black robe who looked suspiciously like a monk of the Monastery of the Holy Cross.

(to be continued)

You never know who’ll turn up in Palmisano Park.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Nineteen: Brother Bede at Your Service

I rubbed right up against that black-robed monk and gave him my most hopeful cat look.
“Brother Bede, OSB, at your service,” the merry monk said. “The OSB, as you know, stands for Order of Saint Benedict.”
I knew that, of course, from all the quality cat time I have been spending on the humans’ desk as I write this book. I threw my tail straight up and rubbed up against Brother Bede again. He was big and jolly and just the kind of kindly human a cat instinctively rubs up against.
“Of course you knew that,” Brother Bede said. “And of course you want me to show you the way, don’t you?”
Ahh, I thought, if I could only speak human. Or if humans could only speak Catalingua.
CATALINGUA?!?
Hey, it’s the universal language of cats, big and small. We all parlay Catalingua. Granted, there are different dialects, but I could talk with a tiger, chat with a cheetah, or parlay with a panther—no problem.
Alas, Brother Bede and I didn’t speak one another’s languages, but we could read one another’s body language, plain enough. In no time flat, I was trotting side by side with the merry monk.
He led me up a steep path to the top of the hill made from leftover stones from the old quarry. “Top of the world,” Brother Bede said, pointing at the distant skyscrapers that didn’t seem quite so distant. “I come up here when I want to get closer to God.”
He waited for me to laugh at his lame attempt at humor, but I wasn’t buying it. Hey, you have to work really, really hard to get a cat to laugh, and I’m not about to tell you what it takes to make a cat laugh. As the lions like to say in their heavily accented Catalingua, we have our pride.
Get it: we have our—
Oh, you humans. You don’t get much, do you?
And we don’t get much out of your lame attempts at humor, and so I didn’t laugh at Brother Bede’s joke about getting closer to God.
So he shrugged and said, “That was supposed to be a joke. But then that’s why I became a monk instead of a comedian. I might not be funny, but I am good at rescuing cats, and you, my black-and-white friend, look like you’re in desperate need of rescuing. Aren’t you?”
I said YES!!!! in Catalingua.
And he replied, in his Chicago dialect of English: “So please follow me to our cat sanctuary on 31st Street. If you get tired, I’ll let you ride in my cowl. Well, you’d call it a hood, but we monks call it a cowl. Whatever. You ready for a walk in the neighborhood?”
I said I was Flyboy the Magnificent, and, after catching a fine, feathered flight across Lake Michigan, I was ready for anything.

(to be continued)

Not what Flyboy was expecting.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty: A Ride in the Hood

Just so you know, we were smack-dab in the middle of Bridgeport, Chicago’s most colorful and storied neighborhood.
Mayors Richard J. and Richard M. Daley come to mind?
The White Sox?
The aforementioned Stearns Quarry?
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. So, being in Bridgeport, nobody batted an eyelash at the sight of a merry monk in a black robe, or habit, walking south on the sidewalk with a spry black-and-white cat. That peppy little purr machine was Yours Truly, of course, and I had every intention of walking the distance with Brother Bede.
But then a dog a hundred times bigger and meaner than Lulu came lunging at me from the front porch of this house on a side street, which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent.
That monster would have gobbled me right up if there hadn’t been a stout, chain-link fence to stop him.
Still, that snarling beast put one serious fright into me.
I let Brother Bede know in the strongest Catalingua known to cats that I had had enough of walking the mean streets of his neighborhood.
So he took me up in his strong arms, gently placed me in his hood (or cowl, if you insist), and continued walking toward the monastery.
Just as an aside: monks invented the hoodie. All right? We clear on that?
Good, so Brother Bede said: “I should have warned you, little fella. And, yes, though it would appear we are in the very heart of Chicago, we have coyotes here. There are coyotes in downtown Chicago. And you do know all about coyotes, don’t you.”
“Yeah, Baby,” I said, in Catalingua.
“We have our share of coyotes, and, as you just experienced, mean dogs. People have them for home security, but all they seem to do is upset poor cats like you. So, on behalf of the good people of the Windy City of Chicago, please accept my formal and heartfelt apology. Won’t you please?”
I said “sure” in Catalingua, and on we went to the Monastery of the Holy Cross, which came into view as we turned west on 31st Street.
‘Destination straight ahead,” Brother Bede said, as cheery as ever.
I peered out from inside his cowl and saw that he was right. There was a destination just ahead, but it was not the monastery I was expecting.
Not by a long shot.

(to be continued)

A Buddhist presence in Chicago.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty-one: East Meets West

Not by a long shot, indeed.
Here I was expecting the Monastery of the Holy Cross at 3111 S. Aberdeen Street, and we were on the porch of a temple at 1035 W. 31st Street.
Oh, yes, I could see the back of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, as it was right next door. Well, all I could really see was some unfamiliar human writing. Now, in my short cat life, I have come to know and appreciate the English language that my humans speak and write. Not bad for a young cat, right?
Right.
But now, on the porch of that red-brick building that had once housed Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, I was looking at a sign over the door, in a language new and different to me.
“That’s Chinese,” Brother Bede said, sensing my confusion. “It translates as Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple. This, my furry feline friend, is the first Tantric Dharma Buddhist temple to be opened in Chicago. And, as you can see, it is quite the popular place.”
Indeed, it was, and many of the faithful were stopping on the porch to light incense sticks and place them a sand-filled bowl that looked all the world like a lantern.
Brother Bede anticipated my next question before I asked it. “They’re lighting what are called joss sticks for their departed ancestors.”
“Ancestors?” I asked in my cat language.
“Family members who have gone before us. Surely you are from a long line of distinguished cats. Why don’t we light a joss stick for all the generations of cats who made you possible.”
Sounded good to me, so I purred: “Sure. I mean, yes, please, Brother Bede.”
Brother Bede nodded and lighted a joss stick and placed it in the lantern with all the others. “The smoke is going up to heaven to please your ancestors,” he said, wafting the delicious fragrance our way. “You like?”
I purred.
“Good, now let us be on your way to our new spiritual home in Chicago. We don’t have far to go.”
I could see that, and when we got to the door of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, I could no longer see Brother Bede. Meaning, he was like gone, and I was like falling from where his hood had been.
I hit the sidewalk on all four paws, and let out my most convincing cat alarm call.
It worked, because the door presently opened.

(to be continued)

Through a door brightly.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty-two: Through a Door Brightly

The door, as I said last time, opened, and there stood—surprise, surprise—another man in a black robe. In this case, a man with a black beard and a black robe. Brother Bede, in case I forget to tell you, had a bushy red beard.
“I am Father Fabian,” the man in black said. “And, just as you are Flyboy the Magnificent, I am Fabulous Father Fabian. We are both more than just legends in our own minds, are we not, Little One?”
I rubbed right up against him to let him know he had scored, big time.
“We have been expecting you, Little One.”
Why did that not surprise me? Still, I was without purrs. Or, you might say, purr-less.
I looked up, and Fabulous Father Fabian ushered me inside, where the lingering scent of incense was in the air.
“Just like next door, right?” Fabulous Father Fabian said, reading my mind.
“Yes,” I said, in my best Catalingua.
“It’s no coincidence, I believe, that we share the same block with our Buddhist brothers and sisters. And the only thing standing between us, really, are the beehives we keep out there in the summer. But do listen to me prattle on, when I should be giving you the monk’s tour. First to the church itself, which, like you, is simply magnificent.”
Fabulous Father Fabian guided me into the largest room I had ever seen, and my keen cat eyes were immediately drawn to a pine tree with twinkling lights.
“We’re between what we call offices, or prayer services. We pray nine times a day, except on Sunday when we pray seven times a day. And, of course, we work. Ora et labora. Latin, of course, for prayer and work. That’s what we’re all about as Benedictines.
“And what we’re all about right now is giving you the spiritual direction you need to get home. So here is our humble church. And, as you can see, we already have the tree up in anticipation of Our Sweet Savior’s birth. Some of the brothers would have the tree up all year long. But Father Prior says moderation in all things. And now, if you will please follow me, I will show you what your heart came here to see. Well, your eyes will see, but you catch my meaning. Please, follow.”
I followed Fabulous Father Fabian through a huge door, and down some creaking stairs, and along a narrow corridor, and on into the monastery itself. It was a cozy house really, and it was where the dozen or so monks of the monastery lived and took their meals, in silence.
Except it wasn’t so silent because there in the corner of the refectory, or dining room, was a basket full of mewling newborn kittens and their tired but happy mother—my long-lost sister, Kitty.

(to be continued)

A Russian model plays the part of Kitty.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty-three: My Long-lost Sister, Kitty

I said: “My long-lost sister, Kitty!”
Kitty said: “My long-lost brother, Rhumba.”
“I AM FLYBOY!!!”
“Excuse me!!! Mister Fancy Feline Flyboy.”
And then we got down to it.
For starters, I asked Kitty how it was remotely possible that my seven-month-old sister could be the mother of five mewling kittens. “Isn’t that a bit, you know, early in your life cycle?”
Kitty regarded me with that knowing cat look of hers, and said: “Haven’t you realized by now, Little Brother, that you’re on a spiritual journey, and the laws of space and time do not apply?”
“Well, yeah, but—“
“But nothing, Little Brother. You think it’s November 2019 when it’s December 2020. You have slipped through that thin membrane that separates the present from the future. And what you are seeing is a homeless, single mother of five. Until I asked for help, I had no roof over my head.”
“But, Kitty,” I protested, “when those humans adopted you from the shelter, and took you away from me, they said they had a good home for you in Michigan.”
“Yes, and no, Little Brother. Yes, they had a fine home for me in Michigan, and that’s where they first took me. But that was their summer home. And when the full force of fall fell in Michigan, they took me back to their real home in Chicago. All brand-new, and within easy walking distance of the home of the White Sox. But it was so noisy. Trains and planes and cars and humans hollering, day and night. But worst of all, there was a terrible, mean dog next door. He got over the fence and into our little yard where I was out catching some rays. I squeezed under the fence and ran for my life. All the way to Palmisano Park, where I lived by my wits and was romanced by this shiftless tom cat. He said I had nothing to worry about, but he wasn’t the one who was going to have kittens over it. So I became a homeless, expectant mother; I didn’t know what to do until your friend with the bushy red beard, Brother Bede, appeared out of the blue. As he always does, right?”
“Yeah, I’m starting to think so,” I said.
“So, Little Brother, Brother Bede gave me a ride in his hood through the ‘hood and brought me here. And being in the family way, the good men in black robes adopted me and helped me bring my kittens into the world. In time for Christmas, of course.”
“But, Kitty, weren’t you, you know?”
“The humans promised they would have me fixed. Spayed, you know. But they never got around to it. So here I am: your struggling, single parent of a sister.”
“Kitty, I don’t know what to say.”
“So don’t say anything. But I’ll have plenty of timely advice for you next time.”

(to be continued)

No sign of Dan D. the Dancing Gull.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty-four: Kitty’s Timely Advice

“I’m all cat ears, Big Sister. Lay it on me.”
Kitty pushed a particularly problematic kitten off herself and said: “Look at me. This is what happens when you run away from home, Little Brother. Do you want to turn out like this?”
“I can’t. I’m male, and I—“
“Yes, but you can put females in this unfortunate situation.”
“No, Kitty. They fixed me before I left the Humane Society.”
“Well, that’s good. Okay. So to my timely advice. GO HOME!!!!”
“But my home’s clear across Lake Michigan. You know, Michi gami. I was living in a little blue house in the dunes. Cuter than a bug’s ear. With Team Charley-and-Natalie. And my Mondo Deluxe®. And all that cat food and cat treats and cat toys they keep buying for me.”
“In other words: cat heaven. So go there by the quickest route possible, Little Brother. And stop running away.”
“Yeah, but you haven’t met Lulu.”
“Lulu?”
I told Kitty all about Lulu and Opera Night.
She chewed on that for an eternal second or two, and said: “So get over Lulu, already. Find a love interest for that yapping yellow dog. Go home! Now!!”
“Why don’t you go home?”
“This is my home,” Kitty said. “The men in black said they’ll find good homes for all my kittens. I can stay here with them and be their house cat. And, yes, they’re going to have me fixed, so I don’t end up like this again. Trust me, Little Brother, having kittens is no picnic in the park. But back to you, my little litter-mate: I feel your pain. But I know where you belong, and it’s not in Chicago. There’s only room for one cat here, and I’m the one. So go.”
“But how?”
Kitty let out a big, cat cry and Fabulous Father Fabian got the message.
“I’ll summon Brother Bede,” he said. “He’ll start you on your journey home.”
And, in no time flat, I was back in Brother Bede’s hood walking through the ‘hood that was starting to look a lot like Christmas, including falling snow and freezing temperatures. We retraced our steps to Palmisano Park and went straight to the fishing pond, expecting to see Dan D. the Dancing Gull about a free flight back to Michigan.
But the pond was frozen solid, and there was nary a gull to be glanced.

(to be continued in Volume Three: Flyboy’s Fantastic Voyage of Discovery)

VOLUME THREE: FLYBOY’S FANTASTIC VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY

Inbound Orange Line train now arriving.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty-five: The End of My Rope

Brother Bede took one look at the frozen fishing pond, threw up his hands, and exclaimed: “I’m at the end of my rope!!!”
I peeked around his hairy head and said: “What?!?” In Catalingua, of course. But he knew what I was saying.
“As the monastery’s sole gyrovague, or wandering monk, I do have my limits. My rope, as it were. I am tethered to the monastery, and my virtual rope only extends to this playfully purposeful park. So I am literally at the end of my rope, my fine, feline friend.”
“Well, where does that leave me?”
“I’d say up a creek without a paddle, but that joke’s so old the first time I heard it the Red Sea was still pink.” Brother Bede paused and then proceeded: “You don’t get it, do you? When the Red Sea was still pink. Oh, what’s the use? I’m no comedian, and I’m not much of a monk either. Am I? Here I’m trying to help you get home, and I’m at the end of my rope.”
“There, there, Brother Bede,” I said. “Someone will turn up. Someone usually does.”
And, indeed, someone did turn up at that precise moiment: a monk in a burnt-orange robe and wool cap with earflaps. He was from Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, and he was on his way to the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA’s) Orange Line station on Archer Avenue at Halsted Street.
Brother Bede recognized him at once as the Zen Patriarch Hui-neng (pronounced: Whey-Neng) and said: “Am I ever glad to see you, Brother Hui-neng. I am at the end of my rope, and unable to go any farther with our furry, feline friend, Flyboy. He has missed his flight back to Michigan on Dan D. Airlines and is seeking alternate ground transportation. So, I don’t suppose you could possibly—“
“I could and would if I were sought,” Brother Hui-neng said. “And since you are seeking, I am suggesting you join me, divine cat, as I continue to the Christkindlmarket, Chicagoland’s favorite holiday tradition since 1996. And, in true Zen form, I, who am wearing an orange robe, will be riding the Orange Line. As you can see I am bearing a bag full of these handmade woolen caps with earflaps to be sold by a merchant there. They can’t keep them in stock, so I must be on my way with this fresh supply. And, yes, they give part of their proceeds to our humble temple for use helping feed the hungry.
“So,” Brother Hui-neng added, “please do hop in my bag with these warm and cozy wool caps, and I shall see you safely there, divine cat.”
“Go for it,” Brother Bede said.
I did, and off we went on the second leg of my fantastic voyage of discovery.

(to be continued)

Flying high on the CTA.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty-six: A Mighty Fine Line

“Oh,” sang Brother Hui-neng, “the Orange Line is a mighty fine line.”
“That’s a snappy tune,” I said, as our inbound train left the Halsted Street station for the world-famous Chicago Loop. Destination, 15 minutes ahead.
“It’s an old one—about the late, great Rock Island Line. But that’s neither here nor there, my divine little friend. And in the 15 minutes promised to us by the CTA, I want to impart some wisdom from my friend, Father Anthony de Mello. I just happen to have his classic, TAKING FLIGHT, a Book of Story Meditations (Image Books, 1988), in my bag. Along with you and the warm, woolen hats, of course.”
In no time flat Brother Hui-neng had the very book opened to pages 142-143. Allow me, if you will to share this story that Anthony de Mello had the wisdom to share in his most wonderful book of story meditations:

A man came to Buddha with an offering of flowers in his hands. Buddha looked up at him and said, “Drop it.”
He couldn’t believe he was being asked to drop the flowers. But then it occurred to him that he was probably being invited to drop the flowers he had in his left hand, since to offer something with one’s left hand was considered inauspicious and impolite. So he dropped the flowers that his left hand held.
Still Buddha said, “Drop it!”
This time he dropped all the flowers and stood empty-handed before Buddha who once again said with a smile, “Drop it!”
Perplexed, the man asked, “What is it I am supposed to drop?”
“Not the flowers, son, but the one who brought them” was Buddha’s reply.

Brother Hui-neng closed the book on Anthony de Mello and awaited my reaction.
I paused.
I licked my paws.
And then I proceeded with the following: “I get it. Totally.”
Brother Hui-neng, being the totally enlightened monk that he is, totally understood my Catalingua. So he said: “Ah, you are Wisdom Incarnate, my divine feline friend.”
“As I have heard my humans say many a time, if the shoe fits, wear it.”
“So wear the wisdom of Brother Anthony’s story. Especially when we get to the Christkindlmarket, Chicagoland’s favorite holiday tradition since 1996.”

(to be continued)

Nepali is spoken here.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty-seven: The Best and Wurst of Times

To paraphrase Charles Dickens’ opening line in A TALE OF TWO CITIES, it was the best of times, and it was the wurst of times.
And by wurst I refer to the German word for sausage, and it was just such a wurst, or wursts actually, that sustained me that mercilessly cold Chicago day at Daley Plaza, home of the German-inspired Christkindlmarket, or Christ Child Market. Such markets are big in Germany at Christmas time, and, as you already know, the Christkindlmarket is—all together now—Chicagoland’s favorite holiday tradition since 1996.
Please allow me to explain:
When we arrived at the brightly colored and chock-a-block-full-of-humans Christkindlmarket, Brother Hui-neng said: “You must be starving, divine cat.”
I allowed as how I could eat a herd of Texas longhorns, minus the steak sauce, and Brother Hui-neng parked me at the warm and cozy booth operated by his Buddhist buddies. He promised to return in no time flat with some “genuine German fare, worthy of a divine cat at the outset of his fantastic voyage of discovery.”
While he disappeared into that sea of swelling humanity, I hung out with his sister and brother Buddhists in the booth, which was festooned with Italian lights and hand-made woolen hats and scarfs and mittens. They said they were from a storied land high in the Himalayas called the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. They gladly taught me some of their dulcet-toned Nepali language.
“You and your humans must come for a visit,” they said. “We will gladly take you to see Mount Everest, which is the highest peak on earth. After, of course, you have completed your fantastic voyage of discovery.”
And, in no time flat, there stood a beaming Brother Hui-neng bearing a mug of hot cider and a plate loaded with four steaming bratwursts. “I told them to hold the mustard and the buns as you are an obligate carnivore of simple, yet, exquisite taste.”
He set the plate before me and bid me eat.
I ate.
And I ate.
And I ate.
I ate every last little morsel, and I licked the plate.
So, yes, it was the best of times, and was the wurst of times.
Then, when I was finished licking my paws and whiskers, Brother Hui-neng and his Buddhist buddies from Nepal bid me peace and sent me on the next leg of my fantastic voyage of discovery.

(to be continued)

Uncle Charley doesn’t need Kuckuckuhren for Christmas.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty-eight: The Call of the Kuckuckuhren

Just as Brother Hui-neng and his Buddhist buddies were sending me on my way, there came the repeated cry of a bird my Team Charley-and-Natalie would call a Black-billed Cuckoo.
Actually, it sounded quite mechanical, thank you very much, and I supposed it really was.
Why?
Because a wooden cuckoo bird was springing out of one of those Kuckuckuhren, or Cuckoo Clocks, and uttering its hollowed whistled po po, po po. I have listened to enough music to know that is in four-four time, meaning four beats to the measure, with the quarter note getting the beat. And that wooden Kuckuck Vogel from Germany was letting us all have it with its four-beat call.
Whatever. All I knew is that little wooden bird was trying to tell me something mighty important as I set out on the next leg of my fantastic voyage of discovery.
You know that cats have keen ears, and I aimed my keen, kitty ears at that Kuckuck Vogel and listened. And listened. And then I heard the message: Reg di net auf. Over and over and over: Reg di net auf.
By now you’ve figured out that I am a fast study in human languages. So I knew immediately that fake birdie was telling me in quaint Bavarian dialect of German that I should, as you say: Cool my jets.
Take a giant chill pill and just drop myself, as Brother Hui-neng suggested in that story he read me on the Orange Line.
Hey, I was lost in a surging sea of humanity; I was in very real danger of being stepped on by a distracted holiday shopper in search of, as they say in Berlin: authentische Deutsche Kultur. (“Authentic German culture” if you don’t have time to Google it.)
Po po, po po. Reg di net auf. Po po, po po. Reg di net auf.
That mechanical bird was telling me to cool my jets. And where do you find jets? In the sky, of course.
And what else do you find flying in the sky? Birds, of course.
But not just any bird. And certainly not one of those flying rats, or pigeons that were popping in and picking off any and all food particles dropped by the milling crowd.
No.
Only one bird was worthy of being my guide. And it absolutely had to be a black-and-white bird, in order to guide me, a black-and-white cat. A tuxedo bird for a tuxedo cat who stood at the turning point.
I, the student, was ready.
And so the teacher appeared at that precise moment in the black-and-white form of a Branta leucopsis.

(to be continued)

I’m Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Twenty-nine: Barnacle Bill the Sailor

“I’m Barnacle Bill the Sailor,” he sang, by way of introduction. “At your service, Flyboy the Magnificent.”
“You know my name?”
“I have my sources, and I know how many whiskers you have on your snout. No doubt. I am a poet, and I know it. And I am a most unfortunate Branta leucopsis, or Barnacle Goose. My ancestry is of Greenland and Europe, but I was born and bred here in North America and sold to the highest bidder to live out my days on a pond on a great estate in the countryside. I was merely a passing amusement in black-and-white. And to ensure that I could not fly away and entertain someone else’s fancy, my master had my wings clipped.”
I gasped.
Barnacle Bill nodded knowingly and continued: “Imagine, my furry, feline friend, if you had had your claws pulled out of your paws when you were but a kitten. The effect was the same for me, painful, debilitating, and humiliating. So there I was, reduced to swimming with the wild geese on this chemically treated pond. But then one day the high and mighty lord of the manor became bored with me and had his man servant take me to the zoo in Lincoln Park, under the cover of darkness. And there he deposited me, without ceremony, in the duck pond.”
Continuing, Barnacle Bill said: “Well, the resident ducks and geese were none too happy to have me. Why don’t you go back to Greenland, where you belong? they cackled and quacked. But, I said, I was born and bred here, in North America. Just like you. But that wouldn’t do.
“And so they took a vote, and it was unanimous. Expel the undocumented alien from Greenland.
I was crushed. They were pleased, and that was the end of it. Unable to fly, I was forced to waddle my way about this vast city, eating scraps off the sidewalks when the pigeons and squirrels didn’t get to them first.
“Frightful dogs dragged their humans after me, and the whole world was out to get me. So I decided the only thing to do was to go to the land of my ancestors: Greenland. I asked the Great Goose in the sky for directions, and He/She led me here and said a cat named Flyboy the Magnificent would show me the way.
“So, Mr. Flyboy the Magnificent, I don’t suppose you know the way to Greenland, do you?”
“No,” I said, “but I am trying to find the way home to Michigan.”
“Michigan?!? That sounds like a magical place, and just the place for Barnacle Bill the Sailor, the homeless Barnacle Goose. Or, if you prefer, a Branta leucopsis with no pond to call his own. So, may I join you on your fantastic voyage of discovery to the magical kingdom of Michigan?”
What could I say but, “Absolutely!”

(to be continued)

No place for a cat and a goose on the loose.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Thirty: Salty City Sidewalks

I told Barnacle Bill all about the story Brother Hui-neng read to me on the Orange Line. While wearing his orange robe, of course. You remember: it was the one about the Buddha telling a disciple to drop it.
“That means,” I said to Barnacle Bill, “that we should just drop any and all fear and just go with the flow on these salty city sidewalks.”
“Right. Now, for the love of loons, please slow down, Flying Boy.”
“It’s Flyboy, not Flying Boy. I’m not about to sprout wings, in case you haven’t noticed.”
“Sorry, Fly the Boy. My bad.”
I sighed and realized Barnacle Bill was just being Barnacle Bill.
But, without realizing it, I picked up the pace.
And that sparked a cackling outcry from my black-and-white feathered friend. “Slow down, already. Do I look like a greyhound here?”
“Sorry, Barnacle Bill.” I slowed to his pace. “That better?”
“Yes, Fly the Man. You the man!!!! Yo. Power to the pussy cat. Now cat up and get me safely to this mythical kingdom of Michigan of yours.”
“It’s not mythical. Well, there are myths about Michigan. I’ve heard the one about the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe. But it’s a real place. Really. At least what I’ve seen so far. And I think you’ll like it. If we ever get there. And I’ll do my best to get us there. And we would do best to just drop from sight and disappear into this surging sea of shivering humans. We are black-and-white, and it is snowing on their dark clothing. So nobody seems to notice us. They don’t look down because they’re all looking at their smartphones. A bunch of smartphonies, if you ask me. Anyway, let’s keep going with the flow and try to figure out how to get to—“
FOLLOW THE ELECTRIC TRAIN. FOLLOW, FOLLOW, FOLLOW THE ELECTRIC TRAIN!!!!”
We were startled out of our fur and feathers.
We looked this way and that way, and then again, clearly from above:
“FOLLOW THE ELECTRIC TRAIN. FOLLOW, FOLLOW, FOLLOW THE ELECTRIC TRAIN!!!!”
We finally thought to look up, expecting God Almighty Himself to be addressing us in such a clear, commanding, and coldly comforting voice. But what we saw was that the speaker was none other than a lion of stone with a wreath around his neck. He smiled and said: “Come, children, gather at my frozen feet, and all will be revealed.”

(to be continued)

“I AM THE LION OF JABLON.”

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Thirty-one: The Lion of Jablon

Barnacle Bill and I gathered at the feet of the great, stone lion and awaited his words of wisdom.
The great cat watched the steady stream of humans pass in the stinging snow. He sighed, and then he said: “You will both find your rightful homes. And your journey will begin together. On an electric train. And then you will go your separate ways. But fear not. The spirits of your ancestors are with you. They will guide you. And, for now, you have each other. I have spoken, and I AM THE LION OF JABLON!!!
Barnacle Bill and I looked at one another and shrugged.
Sounded good to us.
But we were curious about that other stone lion, the exact twin of the Lion of Jablon, that was guarding the other side of the stairway to the great and expensive art museum.
“We’re curious, Mr. Lion of Jablon,” we said. “About your twin over there.”
The Lion of Jablon scoffed. “We haven’t spoken in years. And I doubt if you would get ten words out of him. He is, as you can see, a stone lion with a heart of stone. He is, if you will, the Lion of Stone.”
Barnacle Bill wouldn’t stand for that and said so. “Why don’t you, you know, kiss and make up?”
“No,” said the Lion of Jablon. “He is on the North Side, and thus is a fan of that team that plays there. I believe they call themselves the Cubs. Bear cubs, not lion cubs. But I, the great Lion of Jablon, am stationed on the South Side and thus am a loyal, true and devoted White Sox fan. The team that won the World Series in 2005. They didn’t have to wait until 2016 like my brother’s team. But I assure you, we don’t discuss it. We don’t discuss anything. We just stand in stony silence, each with his own thoughts of eternal baseball.
“There is no middle ground between us. We are eternally estranged. Tragic as that may seem, it is so. Many humans in this great city find themselves in the same predicament. Such is life. Such is baseball. But do listen to me go on. And I would catch a cold from all this talking if I wasn’t wearing this warm wreath around my neck. How thoughtful of the humans who run this place.
“But enough of your lame attempts at family counseling. You must, as I said, FOLLOW THE ELECTRIC TRAIN. And the 5:28 is now boarding and will depart in 20 minutes. You can make it if you waddle quickly. That is all.”
And with that, the great Lion of Jablon was once again all about stony silence.
Barnacle Bill and I looked at one another and realized that was all we were going to get out of the Lion of Jablon.
So we waddled and padded off to Millennium Station to catch the 5:28.

(to be continued)

Getting out of Dodge on the 5:28.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Thirty-two: Getting Out of Dodge

We made it to Millennium Station with five minutes to spare.
But we made it.
And for that we were most grateful.
Now all we had to do was pad/waddle with the flow of homebound commuters toward a line of double-decker cars bearing the name of a venerable railroad serving cities along the south shore of Lake Michigan. Excuse me, along the south shore of Michi gami.
Barnacle Bill was just wondering how we could possibly stow away without detection when a woman in a warm winter coat approached from the rear. She carried a large canvas bag full of found objects and whatnots and bid us to “hop aboard. You were looking to get out of Dodge, as they say, and I, Henrietta the Hoarder, am your first and only choice for leaving Dodge, well Chicago, in a timely manner.”
We were astounded by this development.
So much so that Barnacle Bill declared: “This is the work of the Great Goose in the sky.”
I begged to differ, noting: “No, I am quite certain this is the result of the direct intervention of Great Jacqui’s Ghost, or simply JG. JG’s paw prints are all over this. Of this, I am quite certain.”
Barnacle Bill disagreed, and the fur and feathers were about to fly when Henrietta the Hoarder hushed us both with a firm: “They don’t allow animals on the train. Well, service animals, certainly, but neither of you two could pass as such. So, unless you both want to remain in Dodge, excuse me, in Chicago, then you both need to pretend to be stuffed animals for the duration of the ride to Indiana.”
INDIANA!!!!” Barnacle Bill hissed at me. “I thought you were taking me to the magical kingdom of Michigan.”
“Well, Indiana is, so far as I know, right next door to where I live in Michigan. So I think this will work. And I get good vibes from this Henrietta the Hoarder human. How about you?”
“Yes, she does seem to know what she’s doing.”
Henrietta the Hoarder looked at the two of us in a most disapproving manner. “I am not going to board this train until you two quit all your cackling and purring. Do you hear me?!?”
We heard her and made like a stuffed goose and a plush pussycat.
We remained wordless and motionless all the way to the Indiana state line when the train made an unscheduled stop. My heart skipped a beat when uniformed police boarded the train with dogs looking just like Lulu. (You all remember Lulu, don’t you? She’s the one who got me into this mess in the first place.)
“I’m outta here,” I told Barnacle Bill.
And I was—bolting out the door and disappearing into the snowy darkness.

(to be continued)

One if by sea.

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Thirty-three: One if by sea

Dogs to the left of me.
Dogs to the right of me.
Dogs above me.
Dogs below me.
Dogs behind me, and dogs ahead of me.
I was dogged by snapping, snarling dogs coming and going. Or so I thought, because I was having a massive anxiety attack. Those dogs appearing out of the dark on that train just sent me over the edge. Totally, and to the point I was sensing dogs closing in on me on all sides. So I kept running as fast as my fit, young cat legs would allow.
I ran until I could run no more because they were raising a bridge over the Calumet River.
Why? To allow an enormous ship to pass.
I looked back into the blinding snow and just knew that a hundred million Lulus were bearing down on me. It was obvious, to me at least, that Lulu had put out an alert on the Bark Broadcast Channel, or BBC. So now, despite all I had learned on my fantastic voyage of discovery, I was running away from my perceived problem. I wasn’t dropping my fears or asking for help.
No.
My situation was dire. It was beyond dire, and I just knew it to be so.
But then a raised section of the ship passed right before where I stood.
I took a leap of faith toward what sailors liked Barnacle Bill would call the bridge. I later looked it up in Team Charley’s 19th edition of The Bluejackets’ Manual. That’s the book the U.S. Navy gave him when he was marching around the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, being of service to his country. So I know whereof I write.
And I’ll get right to the point: I made a perfect, four-paw landing on that frozen deck.
And not a human noticed.
Hey, I am as much a stealth cat as I am a magnificent cat.
The humans on that great ship were all focused on sailing out into the black heart of Michi gami in a blinding snowstorm to notice little, new me.
So I dusted myself off and explored my escape ship. There looked to be plenty of warm, dry places in which a fugitive cat could hide out until his deliverance came.
But I wanted to be sure that this mystery ship was heading for my home in Michigan. I knew from my flight across the lake with Dan D. the Dancing Gull that it was just across the lake.
But then I got to the end, or stern, and discovered two things that made my cat head spin:
A red-and-white flag with a big, red maple leaf on it.
A sign stating: Thunder Bay, Ont.
Flyboy, I said to myself, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

(to be continued)

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gravitt. Thanks, Elizabeth!

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Thirty-four: Right Full Rudder

Nor was I a hopelessly lost character in that 1939 film classic, THE WIZARD OF OZ™.
No, I was a stowaway on a ship bound for Thunder Bay, Ont. And I was a cat from Harbert, Mich.
What to do?
Where to turn?
I pondered in the snow and then went back to the bridge and saw someone operating the ship. Another human called him helmsman and commanded him thusly: “Right Full Rudder.”
Then: “Left Full Rudder.”
Then: “Steady as you go.”
And the great ship went as steady as it could go as it sliced in the sloshing guts of that great lake known as Michi gami.
I could see that the helmsman was making all this happen, so I made myself known to him, with some of the loudest Catalingua I have ever spoken.
Yes, I said some things that would make even Barnacle Bill the Sailor blush, but I was a cat in desperate need of rescue.
All right?
Right, so the helmsman presently stepped away from the spoked wheel, or helm, and opened the door.
Excuse me: the hatch. There are no doors on ships, only hatches.
And you would never say your feet hit the floor of a ship in the morning. No, you’d say your feet hit the deck. They call the stairs ladders, and the front end is the bow, and the butt end is the stern. And, facing the bow, left is port, and right is starboard.
But do listen to me go as though I were Barnacle Bill the Sailor himself.
I’m no sailor.
I’m Flyboy the Magnificent, having a fantastic voyage of discovery.
And now I need to go on and tell you what happened next.
It’s almost too amazing to believe, but believe it you must.
Why?
Because it is the story of how I ended my fantastic voyage of discovery and rightfully restored myself to my proper place on my very own Mondo Deluxe (see chapter ten: My Very Own Mondo Deluxe).
You remember: it is what PURRFECTPOST® calls “the ultimate scratching post,” complete with a leopard bed on top.

(to be continued)

Thar be a fearsome figurehead!

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Thirty-five: Thar be a Fearsome Figurehead

The helmsman, a salty old sea dog from British Columbia, took one look at me out in the cold and dark and said: “Come on in here and stop shivering your timbers.”
He opened the hatch and ushered me into the warm and inviting quarterdeck, or operating area of the ship. “Cats are always welcome on this ship. On any, ship, matey. Every salty sailor knows that cats bring a ship good luck and keep the rats at bay. Now then, my furry friend, you should know that we’re bound for Thunder Bay on the far shore of the lake they call Gitchi gumi. Lake Superior, if you will, and the name fits it just fine. Ask the crew of the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald who have rested on Superior’s bottom since the gales of November came slashin’ in 1975. But we’re happy to have you as part of our crew. You don’t mind becoming a cool Canadian cat, do you?”
I told the helmsman in my saltiest Catalingua that I would just love to join any country that had such a cool-looking flag, but that I had a happy home waiting for me in Harbert, Michigan.”
“Well,” the helmsman said, “we’re sailing straight up Lake Michigan, or Gitchi gami. We won’t make landfall until we make the locks at Sault Ste. Marie. We have to get through the locks before they close for winter. Then we have to steam across the big-sea waters of Superior at the worst possible time of year. Just ask those poor souls who went down with the Edmund Fitzgerald off Whitefish Point in ’75. Yes, my feline friend, we’ll be steaming up the coast of your beloved land of Michigan, but we can’t stop. We’re homebound for Thunder Bay with engines full ahead. But, like I said, we’ll make landfall at the Sault and we could put you ashore there. But that wouldn’t do you much good, would it, matey?”
I was about to say “no” when the forward watch cried out: “THAR BE A FEARSOME FIGUREHEAD!!!”
And the salty sailor on the bow wasn’t just whistlin’ Dixie, because a vessel with the figurehead of a cat with bared teeth and red, shining eyes was bearing down on the good ship bound for Thunder Bay.
The captain thundered the command: “Reverse all engines,” and the helmsman smartly responded.
Then: “Right rudder.” And then: “Left rudder.”
No matter—the vessels collided in the dark.
But there were no injuries or loss of life because the craft that had appeared out of the stormy waters of Gitchi gami was, in fact, merely an enormous, black-and-white rubber raft with a figurehead that looked just like Great Jacqui’s Ghost. In fact, the figurehead, or ornamental figure on the bow, WAS Great Jacqui’s Ghost. Or, simply JG.
And JG hailed me thusly: “You didn’t think I would abandon you, did you, Little One? Come aboard, and I shall get you home in a jiffy.”

(to be continued)

Shalom, y’all!

I AM FLYBOY
a cat’s life
by Flyboy the Magnificent

Chapter Thirty-six: A Hasidic Tale

JG beached the raft and popped the valve. As we watched it collapse into rubbery folds, she said: “I’ll take care of this later, Little One. We mustn’t litter the beach. But now we have to get you home.”
“But I don’t know the way, JG.”
“Your heart knows the way, Little One. Follow it.”
And so I did.
And, in no time flat, I found myself settling into my leopard bed as Team Charley-and-Natalie hovered smartly about. They wanted to know where I had been and what I had done, during what they perceived to have been just a few hours.
I wanted to tell them all about my fantastic voyage of discovery. And to give thanks and praise to JG, Dan D. the Dancing Gull, my sister Kitty with her five mewling kittens, Barnacle Bill the Sailor, and the Lion of Jablon. Oh, and all the humans who helped me discover what I needed to discover.
I wanted to tell them I had learned so, so much, but I was so, so tired and only wanted to take one long cat nap, by the fire. So I simply referred them to page 18 of Anthony de Mello’s aforementioned classic, Taking Flight, a Book of Story Meditations. I refer it to you, dear readers, as well. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to sleepy-cat land.

A Hasidic Tale:
The Jews of a small town in Russia were eagerly awaiting the arrival of a Rabbi. This was going to be a rare event, so they spent a lot of time preparing the questions they were going to put to the holy man.
When he finally arrived and they met with him in the town hall, he could sense the tension in the atmosphere as all prepared to listen to the answers he had for them.
He said nothing at first; he just gazed into their eyes, and hummed a haunting melody. Soon everyone began to hum. He started to sing and they sang along with him. He swayed and danced in solemn, measured steps. The congregation followed suit. Soon they became so involved in the dance, so absorbed in its movements that they were lost to everything else on earth; so every person in that crowd was made whole, was healed from the inner fragmentation that keeps us from the Truth.
It was nearly an hour before the dance slowed down and came to a halt. With the tension drained out of their inner being, everyone sat in the silent peace that pervaded the room. Then the Rabbi spoke the only words he pronounced that evening: “I trust that I have answered your questions.”

Shalom alechem.

(to be continued when I am older and wiser)