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by David Yehudah, Bellflower, CA, USA


Is anybody there? Helloooo! This is Traveller. Somebody come help, quick. The old man is trying to poison all of us!

It all started when he came in with a piece of tree root stuck in his mouth, and it was on fire. Mama, called variously Patty, Tanglefoot, Honey, and the old lady by the old man (look who's calling who 'old.) told him to throw that smelly old pipe away, and he informed her rather stiffly that was not a smelly old pipe, that was a smelly new pipe, and she could put that in her smoke and pipe it! Or something like that. She retorted, rather cleverly I thought, "Humph. When you smoke that thing it smells like a fire down at the dump." He told her not to get her nose out of joint, which sounded silly to me, because her nose is just as straight as it ever was.

Meanwhile, three of us cats and a dog, if you can count Maccabee, were watching intently. Whenever the old man sticks something in his mouth, you can bet it's something that tastes good. We watched closely as he sucked the juice or whatever out of that burning root and got this expression of idiotic bliss on his face, which showed us it was something that tasted good and which made Mama furious to see.

A few minutes ago he set it down on the computer desk and followed Mama into the bedroom to try and cheer her up or something. Immediately we three cats swarmed the desk and jeered at Mac because he was too short-legged to jump up there with us. He started barking, but Sasha persuaded him to hush. Didn't take long, neither.

Me and Willoughby tied for the object, which was still burning. I convinced him it would be in his best interest to let me go first. That didn't take long, neither, but he was right there waiting his turn when I got through.

I wrapped my lips around the small end the way I'd seen the old man do and took a deep breath.

Lord have mercy! I backed away from that thing like a balloon somebody had blowed up and turned loose of. I coughed and hacked so hard I like to have turned myself inside out. There ain't nothing uglier than an inside-out cat.

Old greedy-guts Willoughby took my place soon as I vacated it without paying any attention to me. He took one slurp, turned a commendable back flip, and started running in place, lying on his side, tears running back over the top of his head.

Sasha watched all this and thought we were having a pleasure reaction. She took her turn and started squirting from both ends, running from one end of the room to the other crying, "Mama!"

All three of us lay around like zombies for a while. I finally dragged myself over here to send an SOS. Willoughby and Sasha are both a bright shade of green, which is not becoming on a cat. My face FEELS green and kind of loose. Oops, I shouldn't have said 'loose.' 'Scuse me.

Just now when I came by Willoughby he was saying Kaddish. For himself, presumably. Sasha is telling her beads, and she's not even CATholic.

I'm back, what's left of me. My tongue tastes like a garbage taco. Come to think of it, somebody better come rescue the old man, too. He may be dying from what we have and not even know it.

Cheers, Traveller


Editor's note: :(


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