Warning: Cheese ahead. And its rated PG--the fic, not the cheese.
A peaceful day at the junkyard . . .
No Pollicles wandered near (because they had learned that there was nothing scarier than a bunch of hippified felines trying to be nice to them) and the only evidence of life was a solitary cat perched up on the old car.
He yawned. He looked around. He yawned again. When he had finally stopped just before dislocating his jaw, he saw a newcomer enter the junkyard. That was amazing. No one else had dropped by ever since they had announced that the Saturday Night Sing-a-longs were open to all. Intending to invite this new cat to their peaceful community, Alonzo hoped off the car to meet him.
"Alonzo!" the cat exclaimed and set down its suitcases (regardless of the fact that cats don't have any fingers to hold suitcases in the first place).
The tom was familiar. "Misto?"
"Hi Lonz!" the black and white former magician said to the black and white former street-stray-and-fighter. "I'm back!"
"I thought you had a band? And you were so famous you forgot all about us?"
"Garage bands went out of fashion last Tuesday--so we disbanded with a lot of fuss--complete with a press conference--and I came back for a visit! Where's everybody?" he asked.
"Wha? It's only ten in the morning, Misto! I got stuck with watch duty today."
"Whoops, sorry, I forgot." Misto said. He had forgotten that the Jellicles normally did not show their faces until noon.
"Come on inside," Alonzo invited and he led the way to the large cavern the Jellicles had dug out of the junk piles. It smelled like catnip, incense--and for some reason--cheese.
"Oh *that*. Mac brought back this really pongy cheese yesterday. Went down a treat if you just held your breath while chewin' . . ."
Misto nodded. One could not let anything get in the way of enjoying a good cheese. "Like what you did to the place, Lonz . . ."
After changing their lifestyles radically, the Jellicles had decided that it was not in accordance to their new doctrine for cats to sleep scattered all over the place. A common place, they reasoned, would be warm, safe and no cat would ever be left out in the rain--also it was a rainproof party area. They had lovingly painted it in bright, eye-watering colours (like neon-green, shocking-pink, sunshine-yellow and Purple Haze) and hung up Christmas lights. There were clotheslines all over the place--some holding bunches of drying catnip, some with kitten-hummocks strung on and some with tie-dye bandannas.
The effect was like that of an underground, 60's disco after the party was over. A whole gamut of emotions had passed through the place, leaving nothing but the smell of sweat, a haze of catnip and the party-goers sprawled out on the floor like a giant fur rug.
"Eh, twas nothing--Mungo and 'Teazer nicked the paint for us and the lights were from last year's Christmas-street-light-up. We had a hell of a time getting to a power supply but Mac's good with electric stuff . . . Mind the kittens--whoops . . .You all right?"
"Yep, just grazed a knee (even though cats didn't have much in the way of knees) after tripping over those kittens sleeping out in the middle of the passageway."
The kittens looked up reproachfully with large, liquid, limpid kitten eyes. "Mew!" they said with milk-curdling cuteness that would have SPCA volunteers swooning in an instant and grabbing at their cameras.
"Sorry 'bout that--er, who's kits are these?"
"Tugger and Bomba's," Alonzo told him and looked at a label tied around a kitten's neck. "Litter number six--or was that number nine?"
"Should've known--they make rabbits look like careful family planners . . ."
Alonzo reached into the giant fur rug and pulled out something grey and black. "Oy, Munku! Munku--wakey wakey! Guess who came back?"
The Jellicle Leader sat up and blinked. "Bzzssthhh . . . summone get me the number of tha' train . . . Wha?"
"We got a guest!"
"Wha? 'Zo? It ain't noon yet . . ."
"Yeah, but Misto came back--thought you'd like to know . . . "
"Oh. Hi Misto," Munkustrap said and flopped backwards again.
"Ah well, we'll just have to wait until they wake up . . ."
Much later, when most of the Jellicles could stand up and start thinking of solid food again, Misto got a belated welcome.
"What's up, dude?" Tugger said and high-fived him (even though cats can't do high-fives for obvious reasons).
"Nothing more than my bank account, dude--congrats on the new litter by the way."
"Hi Misto," Electra said flirtatiously. "You sang out all that angst yet?"
"A long time ago," Misto said with a grin. "You can only have so much angst before life gets dull."
"Hey Misto, loved those LPs you sent back," said the tall ginger tom.
"Jimi Hendrix always seemed right up your alley, Mac--glad you liked them."
(They had also got a record player--courtesy of Mungo and 'Teazer--because when you're tapping into someone else's electricity supply for the lighting, you might as well go all the way. So they had a telly and a refrigerator too. Munkustrap drew the line at the computer with Internet access because they didn't need Net-addiction to cap everything off.)
"Hey, where's Gus?" Misto asked. "I got to thank him for those breathing exercises--they worked a treat while I was on stage."
"Gus? Well, he was down at the Wellington Arms last night--"
"No--I swore he said he was going to the Bricklayer's Arms," Macavity injected.
"Or was it the Stonemason's Arms?"
"The Plumber's Wrench?"
"Nah! That's where Vicky goes on Wednesdays!" Electra said.
"The Green-grocer's Basket?" Alonzo offered.
"The Blue Weasel Club on Fourth and Main?"
In the silence that followed, everyone looked at Pouncival. "Er, you know that place on the corner of Fourth and Main . . ." he muttered.
"Isn't that where they feature some guy juggling dead weas--"
"I only walked past it once!" Pouncival muttered under his breath. "Never went in there . . ."
"Nevermind," Munkustrap said. "They'll tow Gus back here--he's an old customer--"
"Or just throw him out at three in the morning," Macavity said. "He's always trying to do Growltiger's Last Stand on top of the bar . . ."
Munkustrap glared at the ginger tom. "Since you're so smart, why don't you go and fetch him back then?"
Macavity snorted. "Who got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, er afternoon?"
"You challenging my leadership now?"
"Heck no--you can keep your precious leadership . . ." And the two toms left huffily in opposite directions.
The Jellicles watched them go. "Is it my imagination or is our fearless leader and the ginger dude having some kind of friction?" Misto wondered.
"Haha, we wis--" Alonzo said before Cassandra smacked him for saying that when there were kittens present. (Which was all the time now because Tugger and Bomba seemed to have attempted to single-pawedly repopulate London with their brood.)
"Well, it's because of Demi," Bomba spoke up. "She can't decide--and things get messy with Munku and Maccy."
"Something's got to be done about them . . ."
"Yeah, they're givin' off bad vibes . . ."
The next day, Misto, Alonzo, Cassi, Bomba, Admetus and Electra went out to find the mystical twins--aka Tantomile and Coricopat.
Only that they weren't the mystical twins of old. For one, they weren't within two feet of the other.
"They decided it had to change," Alonzo told Misto was they strolled along, a big bunch of cats walking down a London Street in broad-daylight.
"Things change, people change . . ." Admetus said, trying to get noticed for once.
"Speaking of change, did you say Vicky was back?"
"You got it," Cassi said. "Your ex-girlfriend came back from Paris with an accent and a new motto that goes 'I Hate Toms'."
"Hmm, wonder how did that happened . . ."
"Dunno really . . . Around the time you made it big, I guess. She hangs out at the Plumber's Wrench on Wednesdays with the London Independent Queens' Society aka LIQS."
"How, er, intense . . ."
"Yeah, but she's history, right?" Electra asked hopefully.
"Not like she'll get off that soapbox anytime soon . . . Ah, yes, here we are . . ."
"Neo-Neon New-Age Supplies (And Aromatherapy!)," Misto read from the sign.
"Come on, Cori's got a cat-flap at the backdoor."
They found Cori sitting outside in the sun, doing what cats did best--stare and look bored with everything around them. (Of course, Cori called it meditation.)
"Hi Cori--look who's back . . ."
"Misto--you look like life's been treating you well!"
"Saw that in my aura, did you?"
"Har har--funny." Cori let them into the backroom of the shop and they sat down for some herbal tea (even though cats can't hold tea cups because they don't have pinkie finger and they don't actually like tea). "Tanta's the one who does that--she sold out, gave up the ideals of magic for a career . . ."
"Rather like me . . . and made more money than you?" Misto asked.
Cori frowned. "Er, I suppose so . . .What can I do for you this morning? Candles? Crystals? Lava Lamps?"
"The human's got weird ideas lately--which is why we got an aromatherapy corner now and some of those candles don't half stink . . ."
"Well, we got problems," Cassi said.
"In the junkyard. With Mac, Munku and Demi," Admetus injected.
"Oh,them. So how's the bizarre love triangle doing these days? Last time I saw them, they looked okay . . ."
"They ain't doing so good--they're making life edgy for the rest of us . . ."
"They never really patched up," Electra pointed out. "They're always vying for Demi and she lets them."
"So can it be fixed with a little hocus-pocus?"
"Love potions? Where do you live, man? Last century?" Cori looked at them in disbelief. "We used to find lost kittens, not cook up love spells! Sounds like they need a counsellor or a therapist instead . . ."
"Therapists are expensive."
"Ah, so you're looking for the cheap option? Well, forget about Tanta--she charges by the minute."
"Pooty, well thanks for the tea, Cori. See you . . ."
"Uhm . . . For romance and stuff like that I got ambrosia candles and some stuff that smells almost like catnip. . . at discount price?" Cori offered as they left.
"Thanks, Cori. Bye Cori."
"What now?" Bomba asked. "We ain't got all day, you know--I got a family to feed." (Tugger had been left at home to baby sit the latest litter of kittens. Bomba believed in equality very strongly--very strongly indeed.)
"Er, to the market," Alonzo said, consulting a piece of paper.
"For what? To buy a fat pig?"
"Nope. Cauliflower--Cassi wants to have cauliflower-with-cheese-bake tonight . . . hey isn't that Bustopher? Hey Bustopher! Misto's back!"
The cat-about-town was coming out of some haute cuisine restaurant. The moment he saw Alonzo and the others, he fled in the opposite direction.
"Oh dear--he's been like that for a long time now . . ."
"Definitely enjoys his grub though," Misto said, looking at the portly figure that was retreating into the distance as fast as his posh white spats could carry him.
"Yes," Bomba said. "He's also into writing now--about food."
"Really? Wow . . . Bustopher, a food critic?"
"No," Admetus corrected. "He started off with "Cabbage, Rice Pudding and Mutton--An In-depth Study" and went off the melodramatic end with stuff like "Ode to Steak and Kidney Pie" and "Like Pate for Some Nice Crisp Soda Crackers"--pretty extreme if you ask me . . ." (Which nobody did, but that didn't figure very much in this plot.)
"His last epic--Croutons and Butter-fried Prawns--was pretty popular with the older crowd," Electra added. "It makes them hungry."
"Ah, I see," Misto said even though he didn't see at all. "Shall we go back now? I think I got the inklings of a clever plan . . ."
"Sure. You free tonight, Misto?" Electra asked.
"Yes--say, aren't you still with the anti-fur group?"
"Yeah, but we don't meet until Monday night, Misto. I'm okay for dinner and a movie the rest of the nights . . ."
Munkustrap was on guard duty for the catnip patch in the 'yard--people tended to dive right in sometimes--Munku blamed it on lack of self-control. (Except for Tugger and Bomba because it made them sleepy.)
When suddenly--the plot actually got underway.
Pouncival came running in. "Munku! Munku! You got to come!" the tom said, panting. " Trouble . . . Jemima . . . er, Jemima fell into a cellar and she's stuck."
"Stuck? How's she stuck?"
"Erm . . . She's just stuck, okay? Don't ask so many questions and come help, Munku!"
And the Jellicle Leader followed Pouncival to a nearby cellar (even though how they got a cellar in the junkyard is still a mystery).
Demeter was washing. She did that a lot these days. Sometimes, she wash so much Bomba said her skin might get licked off--
Demeter looked around for the source of the sound and saw no one. She shrugged and went back to washing.
"Is there some one there?"
"Yep. Down here!" said the voice from somewhere in the junk piles.
"Are you a voice? If you are then I'm not listening to you! You're only a figment of my imagination--or so the doctor said." And she shut her eyes and counted to ten.
"We're not a voice."
"You aren't? Well that's all right then . . ."
"We're trying to help you see certain things, Demi."
"Follow the yellow-pawprint road, Demi."
And Demi looked down to see a path made of large yellow cardboard pawprints. She shrugged and followed.
Bombalurina approached Macavity. "Hey, Maccy . . ."
"Hey, Bomby . . ." said the former Napoleon of Crime. "How's Tugger and the kids?"
"They're fine . . . I came to talk about you and Demi . . ."
"Eh, Demi? She's with that wimpy half-brother of mine, isn't she?"
"No--she's waiting to speak to you about that . . ."
"Really?" Macavity did not need anymore persuasion--which showed that even the Hidden Paw could be dumb when love stepped in. "Where?"
"Follow me . . ."
Bomba took Mac to the basement and pointed. "She's in there."
"What? In there?"
"Yeah, so why don't you go in?"
"What would she be doing in there?" Mac asked suspiciously--because he was still smarter than the average cat and not so easily suckered.
Bomba sighed and whistled loudly. Tugger and Misto popped up behind Macavity and shoved him in.
"Oooopphhff!" Macavity landed on something like a soft cushion and the cellar hatch slammed shut. "Hey, what's the big idea--"
"The big idea is that you're sitting on my head!" said a muffled voice from under the ginger tom.
Macavity looked down to find that his cushion was grey, black and fluffy. "Munku? What are you doing here?"
"I could ask the same of you," Munkustrap said as he pulled himself off the floor. "And--Demi? Is that you?"
"I followed the yellow-pawprint road," Demi said. "It ended in here . . ."
The two toms looked at her. "You haven't been at the catnip already, have you?"
"No . . ."
"I think the others are having a big laugh at our expense," Macavity said because he had figured it out the fastest while the other two were still floundering around in no-clue-land. "Hey, guys! This isn't funny! Let us out!"
No one answered.
"They didn't leave us here did they?" Demi asked worriedly.
"Hmmm, they seem to have left something down here with us . . ."
Munkustrap pounced on the things first. "Ah, it seem . . . it seems like they left us two pounds of catnip, a large block of cheese and a note. The note says 'Sort your problems out for goodness' sake! It's Bad for Morale and you guys get on our nerves. Love, Everyone else' . . ."
"I get it . . . they want us to settle things in here. Well it's not working. Let us out, guys! I'm not going to be locked up in here with him!"
"Speak for yourself! As Leader, I order someone to unlock this door now!"
"Pulling rank now, eh?"
From outside, the Jellicles looked over their little set-up.
"Think it'll work?"
"Worth a try . . . I read about this sort of therapy somewhere in a book."
"Say, our catnip patch in the 'yard's really small--where did we get the spare pounds of 'nip from?" Alonzo asked.
"Admetus got it for us," Misto said. "So where'd you get two pounds of catnip from on such short notice?"
Admetus looked shifty. "It wouldn't be nice to say--let's just say I got a few friends who let me have it for free . . ."
"You should introduce them to us--they sound like the kind of friends we'd like a lot . . ."
Meanwhile, in the cellar, the toms were still arguing . . .
"You're the Napoleon of Crime! You should be good at getting out of locked cellars!"
"You're mixing me up with David Copperfield, Munku! And if *someone* bothered to look properly, the lock ain't on this side of the door for me to pick!"
Demi, who was bored by it all, went for the catnip. An hour passed . . .
"Well you aren't even good at sniffin' a good cheese--speaking of cheese, is it dinner time yet?"
"Hmmm, could be . . . Hey, she opened the catnip already . . . Pass some of that over--"
"Shan't!" Demi said. "You're both meanies!"
"Oh heck, she's all 'nipped up now . . ."
"Demi, be nice and give your favourite Munky-poos the 'nip--"
"Ha! Demi, you did say you liked me better, right?"
"My 'nip!" Demi said stubbornly.
An hour later, they managed to get Demeter to part with the catnip--after alternately pleading, whining and squabbling over who was Demi's favourite tom.
"Pass the 'nip . . ."
Another hour passed . . .
"Hmmm . . . more 'nip please . . ."
Another hour and they were past the stage when everyone saw pink elephants and moved onto purple elephants.
"Oooh, but this is good catnip . . ."
"Pass the cheese . . . Wha? No more cheese?"
"That's a catastrophe . . ."
"Mac, get more cheese . . ."
"Oh it's always Mac do this, Mac--could you fix the lights, Mac--come tune the telly, Mac--"
"Shut up Mac--I'm Jellicle Leader and I still don't get no respect!"
"Oh shut it, the both of you!" Demi yelled. "You're giving me a headache!"
The two toms looked over at Demi. "You all right, dear?"
"No! And don't you dare patronise me! I'm sick of everyone saying 'Oh Demi's nerves are delicate' and 'Oh Demi you shouldn't have so much 'nip' and 'You all right, Dem?' . . ."
"We didn't know you felt that way Dem . . ."
Demeter stood up suddenly.
"I'm going to find myself!"
"Huh?" The two toms looked at her.
"I'm going to get a life! Away from you two chauvinistic idiots! I see everything much clearly now, thank you very much!" And she kicked the door--knocked it clean off its hinges and strode out.
Macavity and Munkustrap looked bemusedly at her exit. And looked into the catnip bag.
"Hmmm, that was the last of the nip . . . Want to go for a drink?"
"All right . . . looks like we might need one or two or three--we did lose a girlfriend today, didn't we? You're normally supposed to be feeling depressed after that . . ."
"Well, I've had too much 'nip and I can't even feel my tail right now . . . we can be depressed after the 'nip wears off."
And the two of them went to the Fireman's Boots for a drink.
After that, life went on as usual. The Jellicles of junkyard still had a sing-a-long every Saturday--with a new kareoke machine. Tugger and Bomba had another litter of kittens.
Macavity and Munkustrap discovered they had far more in common than they thought--other than losing the same girlfriend--they were both closet-soccer-fanatics and Manchester United fans. Now they spent many a day down at the soccer pitch or watching matches on the telly. (The sound of someone yelling "Come on you Reds!" was often heard on a Sunday afternoon in the junkyard.)
Misto became the resident stud tom of the junkyard with Electra, Jemima, Etcetera and the older half of Bomba's kittens chasing after him. (Tugger was too busy changing nappies to be dancing the sexy dance.)
After a pound of catnip had made her see things in a different light, Demeter hiked to Tibet and spent two years meditating. She stopped being neurotic and needy. Then she travelled the world and gained all sorts of useful skills and became a role model for queens everywhere.
Victoria still hated toms and started the Queens Against Un-neutered Toms Association. A total of five queens around London joined.
Tantomile still was in the aura-reading business. Cori gave up on his New-Agey human and joined a bunch of cats who called themselves "The Queens of the Desert".
Bustopher Jones still avoided the junkyard like the plague and recently published a new book of verses entitled "Ode to Cheese and Other Appetisers I Have Known".
End of Story
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