hey all. This is my 'novel,' Isoceles Love Triangle. i'm doing this as part of national novel writing month
11/1, Mungo tries to tell a story, Food Bitch might quit, Mungo's origin story, "The pigeons are cannibals", Millennium Falcon, Mungo tries to tell another story, Mungo tells another story about Merv, A Christmas Visit, Mungo's Siblings
11/2, Birthday, The Serving Bird, What Mungo is, Henrey, Polyhymnia, When Poly First moved in, The drooling thing, The union, Pay Scale, pong farr, Cat years. Like butter, Declawed., Mungo dreams, Food Bitch goes out, Hendrix Lee Lucat, Polydactyl, Mungo wants to be a massage therapist, Perry Green on TV, Mungo wanted to be an actor, romp, Hank's Bed
11/3, Poly is a journalist, Bird
watching, GO GO GO, Flying the Coup, Afghans, Church, The roof, The Hallway
11/4, Henrey breaks the narrative, Open Door, Poly breaks the narrative, A weighty subject, Bantam Dell, Lemon,
11/5 The Playas, Refrigerator repair man, Probation
11/6 There's a bat in my house, Hallway Pigeon, Conceptual Cat (15,009 words!)
11/7: Life, according to Pol, The Bookie is 'In"(16,000+--limping along. bad coupla days)
11/8: The Women I Love by Mungo Baguette, The Time Before Land, Paranormal, Revenge of the Flesh Bug (18,000+)
11/9: Bird Feeder, Polybios (18,666)
11/10: Same Book, Different Page. Merv's Teleportation Device
12/20: The art of letter writing; for whom the bell toes
2/2: Arch Anemones, Bowers of Bliss, Pork, that Magical Animal
2/26: Black Ass Wednesday, World Polyticks, The Wormhole, Just Like Heaven, Wife of Tub (part 1)
3/13: Vegas Deal A Meal (24,220 words)
4/09: Paw Reading, Cutlets (24,700 words)
7/11: Learning to Wake with Professor Henrey Lee Lucat (25,200)
email marie at snevil dot com
go snevil go!
Mungo tries to tell a story
Mungo addressed his audience."Gather 'round, kittens, and I'll tell you the story of the most amazing cat who ever lived, Merv Thing ..."
"Those ain't kittens," said Poly
"Don't listen to your mother."
"And I'm certainly not their mother! Those are Beanie Babies you dragged outta a milk crate! Look! That one has a horn! What sorta cat has a horn?"
"A magical cat ... Anyway, kittens ..."
"It's like some sort of mutant! For what would a kitten have a horn for?"
Henrey had strolled into the room during the antiphonic conversation between Mungo and Poly. He stretched back, stretched up, yawned. "In the future, when the apes take over, humans will live underground and worship the bomb. Those cats that chose to live with the underground humans, it'd be really good for them to have horns. Be good for tunneling and shit like that."
"That's crazy shizit. That's from some movie, only there were no sort of cats in that movie."
"Tha's because they didn't have the budget for the prostetics needed to put the horns on the cats."
"Really? That's fucked up. How much it cost to make a coupla horns? They could have paid Marky Mark a million dollars less and that woulda takened care of it, and the catering."
"I wasn't taking about that ape movie. I was talking about the historical ape movie."
"Wow. I have no idea what you talkin' on 'bout. You are so smart, Black Ass."
What we have here are three, ostensibly of the feline persuasion: Mungo, Henrey, and Polyhymnia. Mungo loves Poly, Poly loves Henrey, whom she calls Black Ass. Henrey loves drinking and horses. Poly calls Mungo jackass. Mungo stares at Poly while she sleeps, and eats. Poly chases Henrey down the hall.
Poly looked at Hank with admiration. "Henrey, I think you be tha Einstein of cats."
"It's true. He's very smart. He took an online IQ test. I, on the other paw, am the Leonardo of cats," said Mungo.
"Decaprio? Yeah, you got that double chin like he got. And sometimes you act retarded."
"No! Da Vinci! He only slept four hours a night!"
"You sleep a hell of a lot more than four hours a night, jackass."
"I know! But I sleep the kitty equivalent. Check it: average cat sleeps twenty out of twenty-four hours. I learned that from Bukowski ..."
"Who that? A friend of the food bitch?"
"No, a famous alcoholic and gambler."
"That sounds more like someone my little Black Ass would know."
"Well, yes. Bukowski wrote a book and Henrey was pretending to read it, so I borrowed it from him, and that was difficult, as he was always sleeping on it. Anyway, I sleep like 16-to-18 hours! That's a lot less than other cats!"
"I guess that explains why you seem to be around all the time ..." Poly bent her head down to one of her giant lynx-like paws and proceeded to lick between the many many toes. Mungo stared at her, then trotted off to the kitchen for a snack, leaving the pile of beanie babies on the floor.
Food Bitch might quit
Henrey addressed Poly one afternoon. "Yo, Poly, you should stop shitting in the bathtub. Food Bitch might quit."
"Why the Food Bitch quit because I shit in the tub, Hank?"
"She's the one who cleans it up."
"No, that the cleaning woman. Food Bitch make the food, Cleaning woman clean ups. That's the way of the world."
"No, they are one and the same."
"No! I know they look alike --they twins!"
"They're the same person, Poly."
"No! They smell different! Food Bitch smell like tuna! Cleaning woman smell like windex! They different!"
"You, my dear, are insane. And if the Food Bitch quits, who'll feed us?"
"The cleaning woman can fill in tils we hire someone. Economy bad right now. Peeps be lookin for work for real. Check it, we'll put up a sign. Help wanted: Food Bitch. How much we pay? I could make a sign in Word. I can put some clip art on it, make it fun."
"Cleaning woman and Food Bitch are the same! Ask Mungo!"
Mungo sauntered into the living room, his tail held in a high question mark. "Ask me what?"
"The Food Bitch and the cleaning woman--two people or one?," asked Poly.
"Are you talking about my mommy?"
"Hank say she gone quit if I don't stop shitting in the tub!"
"My mommy's going to quit? She can't! She's my mommy! Poly! You have to learn to use the litter box!"
"It get all in my paws ... I don't like it."
"You use it to pee. I've seen you," Henrey stated authoritatively.
Mungo stared at Poly sadly. Hank stared at Poly incredulously. Why was it different? It seemed the same to both of them. Whether you used the box for shitting or peeing, the litter appeared to be the same sandy substance. Poly looked back and forth between the two, then she heard a fly. She narrowed her eyes and tensed her body. Within seconds she was running, following the fly out of the room.
"Don't ask me why it's different!," she yelled back to them. "It just is! I don't know why! Come back here fly! I wanna be your friend!"
Mungo's origin story
"I wish we could have kittens, Poly ..."
"I'm glad we don't got no kittens in the house, Munge. They always mewin and eatin and runnin ... and they stink. Besides, I had the surgery, so nomo kittens for me. Why you not go have kittens with someone else?"
"I can't have kittens! I'm mustilidae!"
"I know you stink, but maybe you find a bitch got no sense of smell ..."
"No! I'm a weasel/wolverine hybrid! I can't have kittens!"
"Oh, now this make no kind of logical sense. If you a weasel and a wolverine, how come you look so much like a cat?"
"I'm not really sure, but that's what happened. One day, a smart young weasel was out for a walk in downtown Montreal, when he espied a lovely wolverine! He introduced himself. "Bonjour! Je suis Jean-Christophe!"' The wolverine giggled and answered, "Je suis Annabelle ..." They shook paws and the weasel said, may I take you out on a date? And Annabelle said "Oui," and they went for metz chinois and then they got married and first they had one litter, and then they had another, and I'm from the second litter. But I can't breed with cats."
"OK, so let me get this straight. Not only are your parents not cats, they speak some weird language too?"
"That's french, Poly."
"I know that, stupid! I been to Loosianna! French a weird language alls I sayin!"
Poly sat and stared for a bit. Then she bent down and licked her left paw. Then she scratched her left ear.
"So, all your siblings look like cats?"
"And your parents?"
"My dad looks like a weasel, and my mom looks like a wolverine."
Poly sat and stared some more.
"So, if you a weasel, why you not go get us some chicken?"
"The pigeons are cannibals"
Hank came running into the living room, breathless. "I heard from my nephew who was hanging down on 181 and he sad he saw some cannibal pigeons!"
"What? That's horrible!," exclaimed Mungo.
"He said they were eating Kennedy Fried Chicken!"
Poly's ears wiggled when the word chicken reached them. "Hey! That no fair! Why pigeons get to eat fried chicken and I don't?"
"We'll send you back out on the streets, Poly, and you can eat as much chicken as your little black heart desires."
Mungo was puzzled. "But wait, Henrey, pigeons aren't chickens. How is that cannibalism?"
"They're all the same. It's like this: Poly ain't orange and white, but she's still a cat, so if you ate her, that'd be cannibalism."
"Well, I'm not a cat, you know."
"Oh, cut the crap. Look, you look like a cat. Forget it, if I ate her, it'd still be cannibalism."
"Henrey, honey, if we strizanded on a mountain in the Andes and I die, I'd be honored if you ate me."
"Yeah, good, I'll keep that in mind ..."
Mungo got a little excited. "I wouldn't let you die, Poly! I'd shelter you from the cold with my massive orange furry form. I'd build you an igloo to keep your giant feet toasty. I'd train penguins to serve you!"
"Penguin butlers! How elegant! How many penguin butlers?"
"One to start, but he'll train others."
The Millennium Falcon
The birds were noisy that day, flapping and squawking like an old man returning cold soup at a diner. Mungo rushed to the window to see what the hub bub was all about. Seconds after he got there, a stupendous bird, almost Mungo-sized, gold of feather and eye, red in tooth and claw, alighted on the fire escape.
"Whoa! You're the prettiest pigeon I've ever seen!"
"Ha! I'm no pigeon," said the bird, in a voice not unlike that of James Earl Jones's voice, "I'm a peregrine falcon. I eat pigeons!"
"Well, Perry, pleased to meet you. I'm Mungo Baguette, weasel/wolverine hybrid."
They stared at each other for a bit. Then the bird bent his head down to prune a bug out of his chest.
"It's 2001! Are you the Millennium Falcon?," wondered Mungo, eyes widening at the thought of meeting a genuine celebrity.
"I believe you are referring to a character in a movie. However, from what I've been told, that falcon was a mcguffin," stated the falcon with an air of authority.
"Wow! I know the puffin, but I don't know the mcguffin. What sort of bird is that?"
"I am not sure, but it comes from Malta. Now, where are those free-range pigeons you breed? They're mighty tasty. Much better than the ones from 181. You know, those cannibal pigeons ..."
"The chicken-eating pigeons? But you're a pigeon-eating falcon! What's the difference?"
"Many things. Take preparation for one. I eat my pigeons freshly killed and raw. Pigeons, pigeons who eat chicken, eat chicken that's been raised in squalid conditions, killed in bacteria-ridden environs, frozen! And then breaded and fried! It's rancid by the time they eat it!"
"Oh. My. I kinda like fried chicken myself."
"You're a weasel. It's to be expected. I must go now. I grow hungry."
Mungo waved to the falcon as he swooped away. "Come back soon, Perry!"
Mungo tries to tell another story
"Gather 'round kittens! And listen to the story of ..."
"Oh bra-RITHER, here he goes again. Thems plush toys, Munge!"
"Don't listen to your mother. I mean now. You should normally listen to her ..."
"They cain't listen! They don't got no BRAINS! They got BEANS! And I ain't their mother. I had the operation."
"Pol, you should just humor him," said Hank as he strolled into the room. "He's got no boundaries and a very fragile ego ..."
"I don't have an eagle! I know a falcon, though."
Hank looked at Mungo, then sat down, leaned to the right, bent his head down and began to groom his organs. Poly heard the wind and ran to the window. Mungo began to tell his story.
"Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far way, a galaxy called Brooklyn, a magical creature was born. And he was called Merv, for no good reason at all, except that it was a good name and seemed to suit him. Merv had many many adventures, and this is one of them, the story of the Immovable Beast ... by Mungeaux Hemmingbird
It was always about food. Morning, noon and night (or 'morny noony na,' as Henrey used to say, in imitation of Charango, who was Ecuadorian and had less than impeccable skills in the dialect of the American language that we spoke up in The Heights): tuna, liver, chicken. Meow Mix. Science Diet and Science Diet Light. Purina Dental. 9Lives Shredded! And 9Lives tuna mit cheese. We all had our favorites, Merv's favorites being all and any of the above. If it once had but didn't currently have a pulse, he'd eat it. So, yes, that means the occasional dead cricket was ingested. Along with the human body we found in Fort Tryon Park, but I guess that's another story. Due in part to genetics, but mostly due to his insatiable appetite, Merv was huge. Humungous. Gigantic. Supersized. When he went to the vet, he had to be brought in a dog carrier and weighed on a dog scale (not a truck scale on the New Jersey Turnpike, as the rumor once had it). He was so big that the bed would shake when he climbed the ladder to the loft where Henrey and I spent our lazy fall afternoons. If he was human, he'd be Andre the Giant. And his posse. As a cat, his size was inconceivable, and as a beast he was utterly immovable by anything other than a meal.
I can't quite remember the circumstances that brought Merv and Charango to the Heights that autumn. Something about unpaid rent at the summer house, loud all-night parties, many many kittens being birthed by 'hood strays, all of them white with black spots, all unmistakably huge and Mervoid. All I knew for sure is they got kicked out of their summer place a few weeks prematurely, and their winter residence was in the midst of redecoration and not really safe for kitty living yet. I thought it'd be neat to have them over for a few weeks-kind of like a long protracted sleep-over party with pranks and catnip and running around and eating. Lots of eating. But I didn't clear it with Henrey first, and he was a bit peeved when the two showed up at the door one September afternoon. I always forget that Henrey doesn't like other cats.
The two huge cats strode in and snooped around the apartment. I showed them all the good spots: the bed, the windows, the table where you could sit and watch the finches feed all afternoon, the correct spot at which to stand for optimal hallway-bolting when the door gets opened... Henrey, poor little tiny Henrey, growled and sulked on his spot on the bed. You could tell it was his spot by the circle of black hair around the little hog wallow in the mattress. Henrey, at 10 pounds, is a good-sized cat, but at 10 pounds he's dwarfed by 15 pound me. And he appeared positively minute next to the 18 pound orange tabby called Charango. You couldn't even see him if he was behind the 24-pound monster called Merv.
Cats generally sleep 20 out of 24 hours. I learned that in a Bukowski book. I try to limit myself to 18 hours, but I'm like the Da Vinci of cats (this refers to of course the story that Da Vinci slept like four hours a night). Merv would try to get in at least 22 hours of sleep a day, plopping down in a spot on the couch and not moving for hours, only breathing. Occasionally there would be a big "hrrmph!" sound and a slight shift in position. Charango and I would try to taunt and tease Merv, doing all those cat things: tap and run, swat the tail... but nothing would wake the animal. Blue jays would get into squabbles right outside, their loud yells echoing through the apartment, only to be muted by Merv's snores. Merv would take to the couch (he used to call it his throne) right after breakfast and sleep right through til dinner at six. Mom would come home from work and I'd be dancing around her feet, telling her all about the day, and suddenly this huge hulking form would stumble out of the living room, blinking at the hallway light, lumber into the kitchen and stand patiently by his bowl. Charango and I would get all excited and try to get him to play with us, but he'd just sit on the linoleum, huge green eyes luminescent and misty with the thought of Sea Captain's Choice. And then he'd just plow right through his food. Even if Henrey came over and growled at him for being too close, or if Charango or I nosed our way into his bowl, he'd just eat and eat, unstoppable, like a hurricane or a riderless tractor.
Henrey hated the snorting and snuffling sounds Merv made while he ate, and the way his food flew all over the place. "He both looks and sounds like a cochon," Hank would say.
"Why don't we leash him and take him to the park to see if he could find some truffles?" I asked.
"Eey already tried that a few years ago," Charango chimed in. "We found mon cheries y ferrero rochers, pero no truffles. But more than a pig, Merv is a bull."
"Aww, cut the crap, ShaCha." Henrey often called Charango ShaCha, after the chinese entree. "How could that wombat be like a bull?"
"I know you have not seen eet yet, and you may never see eet, but every great once in a while Merv will get eet into his mind to run. And when he does, watch out!"
"You mean it's like when they run the bulls in Spain?"
"Exactly. Y just like there, sometimes people die..." Charango got a sort of wistful, far away look in his orange eyes. "There was one time, before I was born, that he went on a rampage on a Brooklyn street and accidentally killed three people. Witnesses say he was yelling, 'I have the power of Grey Skull!'"
My eyes were as big and round as Pamela Anderson's breasts. "Did he go to jail?"
"No, pero the judge thought he was too cute to put to sleep."
Early one morning I awoke to the sound of a deep rumbling, the feel of a shaking bed. I looked around for Henrey, but he was nowhere in sight. I looked down off the loft and saw two quick forms darting down the long hallway-one white and black and huge, followed by a smaller, lithe black and white form. I shook the sleep from my head. I thought I must be dreaming.
"Run, fat boy, run!," I heard Henrey yell.
"You can't catch me you skinny-assed spider monkey!," yowled back the deep-voiced Merv.
After watching for about 15 minutes, I went to hang out with Charango. "Thees could go on for hours," he told me. "You might as well nap now..." We took a three hour nap and just as I was waking up the romping began to slow down to a trot. Henrey was winded and panting, but Merv was... well, Merv was Merv. His big white face still had the beatific expression of a bodhisattva, his breathing no more labored than when he was eating. Henrey slid to a stop, did a quick groom. He stood up on his hind legs, as if he was about to begin pontificating. And he did. Pontificate, that is.
"As you all know," he began, addressing me and Charango, "I've been head cat here in the Heights for a few months now, since that fateful day that I beat Mungo in a fair fight..."
"That was not a fair fight! I let you win!," I yelled, poutily.
He waved me off. "And I, as head cat, have a duty to my fellow cats to declare when an important event has taken place. The large, bovine-like cat that we all thought of as an over-stuffed plush toy, a fuzzy door stop, a fur-covered ottoman, got up and raced me, who is, by the way, in magnificent health and top physical form, for four solid days." Henrey always had a skewed sense of time. "Today is a day I think we all need to etch in our cat memories, and pass down to our kittens in the form of stories... a day to be commemorated in songs, animated christmas specials and action figures. For today is the day that the immovable beast..." Here, Henrey paused dramatically. "moved!" Henrey went back to grooming. Merv went to the dry food bowl, ate 2 cups of Hill's Maintenance and vomited. Charango and I went back to sleep. And soon, so did the beast."
The kittens applauded. "Wow! What a fantastic story! We need to hear more about the beast!"
"Oh, you will, my little ones, but now we must go to bed." And one by one Mungo grabbed a plush toy in his mouth and trotted it back to the milk crate, where the plush toys slept.
"That animal wack. He wickedy wizack. Ya feel me?"
"Oh yeah, I feel ya," answered Henrey. He plotzed on the chair and in seconds he was asleep.
Mungo tells another story about Merv
"OK kittens, this is a story written in a long ago time called the go go 80s, when people were very rich and highly pretentious ..."
"Here we go again. Aren't we just delaying his eventual breakdown by playing along?"
"You been watching too much Oprah, Poly-girl. Besides, this is a funny story."
"How you know, Black Ass?"
"I know this one. He always prefaces it the same way. It's called Bright Lights, Big Kitty by Mungo J. McNugget. Go get yourself a wine cooler and listen."
You are not the kind of cat who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the territory is entirely unfamiliar, although the map is a little furry. Or that might be the hair in your eyes from the exotic asian chick grooming your head. She's little, about 1/8 your size; you figure her to be a Turkish van.
The locale is either Animal Crackers or Little Creatures. At least it's not PetCo. You hope. It might all become clear once you got yourself over to the treat aisle for a little Bob Hope. Then again, it might not. A small voice inside you insists that there is more of a possibility of a second breakfast than there is the chance that you could get some thumby to open up a vat of peaches and herb. You shake the turk off your head, stretch up in imitation of a 2-D halloween window decoration. You amble over to aisle 2, pronounce the situation hopeless, and decide that the fishy smell coming from the back of the store might actually be something better than some thumb's dirty laundry. The van scrambles after you, mewling rambunctious warnings.
If this were a movie, there would be some bad wacka-wacka disco guitars entering the soundtrack at this point, the screen stuffed with an even bigger version of you than the real-life XL you, camera shooting you from below, giving you a slightly menacing demeanor. The camera would show the complete lack of concern you have for the caterwauling bitch trotting behind you. Your tail, upturned and flicking, would be visible from behind your head. Your nails could be heard clicking heavily on the floor. Your expression would be impenetrable. No one would see anything behind those wasabi-colored eyes.
The aroma of fish gets stronger as you approach, but this is fish of a kind that you've not had before. An exotic treat, jewel-like, shiny baubbles undulating in clear cool liquid. Someone, maybe it was your mother, told you about this a long time ago: that fish were like you at some point--alive, with heads. Somewhere, a file dated sometime 1986, this data resides in your hard drive. It makes you misty and almost melancholy, thinking about all the things that your mother told you that you were sure were lies: that the cops could confiscate your skateboard if they found nip seeds imbedded in the wheels, that your half-brother Mungo was half-weasel/half wolverine... now, you see fish, alive, swimming, with little heads. Maybe all those things were true.
Yes, you miss your mommy. Mommy had thumbs, as did so many other women who came after her, the humans you referred to as 'your wives.' The women who would gladly share their chicken vindaloo, or even order you your own mugli paratha--the king of breads for the king of cats. Now, at the end of the evening, morning about to rudely bump into permanent midnight, your only chance for bread is the Tom Cat bakery truck loitering outside Coffee Shop. You amble outside, up to the big silver truck with the familiar blanco y negro cat painted on the side. The smell of hot fresh bakery items makes your eyes water behind your very cool oakleys. At least you hope they're still your very cool oakleys and not those terrible ray bans you carry for emergencies. Your huge empty stomach, collapsed like an uninflated silicon implant, speaks its strange language.
"Hey! Hey you!," yells the driver, his manhattan roots showing through his heavy accent, "Don't eat the damn tire, Jabba!" The driver laughs at his tiny attempt at wit. You look up angrily. Although he still can't see yours, you lock eyes with the driver. He looks very much like the tom cat on the truck. He throws you a baguette. "Here. My brother wants you to have this." You lick the toasty, buttery crust. You're enveloped by warm dough. You will have to go slowly. You'll have to learn everything all over again. Except the litter box part. That you remember.
"Wow! Thas a complizicated story. What does it mean? What's wasabi? What's mugli paratha? What's an oakley?" Poly slurped at her purple Calvin Cooler.
"I'll make up a vocabulary list for you. Let me get a swig offa that, would ya?." Minutes later, Hank was asleep.
A Christmas Visit
"Sometimes Poly reminds me of my first love, Georgette.," said Mungo to Henrey one chilly rainy morning.
"Oh, yeah, the cat with the golden bow ... She was pretty ... pretty nasty! Remember I had to come out and yell at her one day?"
"Yeah! What did you say to her? I didn't understand it ..."
"I told her I was going to report her to immigration if she wasn't nicer to you."
"Yeah. She was under the impression that Pennsylvania was a different country and she was in New York illegally."
"Bizarre! She did have that accent though ..."
"She claimed she was Alsatian! That's a dog! A French dog! Or something like that."
"Oh! I thought that meant she was hungry all the time."
"Kittens, stay awake while I tell you the story about the time I saw my brother's picture in the newspaper."
""He talking about you, Hank? You get arrested for something?"
"No, this is a story about something that happened before I lived here. There's a photo online somewhere. It really does look like Mungo. It's weird."
"Ok kittens, don't let them bother you. I'll start the story ..."
"Mungo! Quick! Come see!," my mom yelled excitedly one day from the living room. I was in the kitchen, eating most likely. I trotted over. She was reading the Daily News! It must have been purchased by my at-the-time-dad, because, even tho she loves Mutts, she'd never spend the 60 cents on the News... Anyway, she was pointing at a picture of a woman holding a cat. "Look! It looks like you!" I squinted for a little while at the blurry grey newsprint. It was a cat that looked just like me! I then recognized it as my now all- grown-up littermate, Lewis. "What does it say?"
"It says his name is Elliot and his mother is a filmmaker. She had to call in the kitty psychiatrist!" This amused my mother to no end.
"But his name is Lewis!"
"Mungo," my mom explained gently, "cats get new names when the get adopted. Like, your name wasn't Mungo..."
"Yes it was!"
"No, I named you Mungo."
"No, you named me Po. And then you named me Wrigley."
"And then I named you Mungo!"
"No! Then I told you my name was Mungo and you finally listened!"
"Oh, c'mon, that's insane. Who named you Mungo before I did?"
"My cat mom! You see, we were her second litter, so she already knew that we would be gone inside of 6-8 weeks, off exploring the world. So she named us after great explorers... Lewis, Clark, Mungo and Park. Mungo Park being only one, but she ran out of names she liked..."
"Didn't you have any sisters? I thought you had sisters..."
"She named my three sisters Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria--Maria for short..."
"Oh, I see." I think at this point my mother was humoring me. "So, this is Lewis?"
"Yeah! We should have him up! For a visit!"
"That'd be fun," my mom agreed, "but I bet his mother has an unlisted phone number."
I pawed at the picture of Lewis/Elliot. "True...He's a little tubby, isn't he?"
"Lewis is a big boy, my little Mungo."
Then a dove came to sit in the feeder and I got distracted.
"I dunno. I'm under the distinct impression that 1. He makes these up and 2. He's crizazy. He still calling those Beanie Babies kittens, when some of them are clearly not at all close to feziline."
"So, if he only spoke with the catlike ones you could accept this bizarre behavior?"
"Good point," agreed Poly
"Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, it's a great day for your birthday ... bock bock BOCK!" A dancing green chicken danced on the television screen.
"Oh! It's our favorite commercial! Hank! Come here!"
"Oh man, Mungo, look at that. A giant chicken! That's a great birthday present."
"I like the cake made out of flowers ..."
"What would you do with that?"
"Well, what would you do with a giant chicken?"
"Eat it, of course. It's giant! We could feast for days! It'd be like that email about the dogs in the elk --we'd turn feral and we'd have chicken blood all over our muzzles! We'd sleep in the carcus!"
"Oh, that's horrible. Besides, how would you kill it?"
"Chickens are particularly stupid. Everyone knows that. It'd be easy to outsmart him."
"Poly, c'mere! Check out tv for
Poly sauntered into the living room. "I don't know why you two watch that thing. Rot your brain it will."
Mungo pressed the TiVo remote and rewound the commercial to the beginning. The three sat and stared at the set while the giant chicken sang the birthday song.
"Now which would you rather have?"
"What, the big house or the teddy bear with chocolates?"
"No! The giant chicken or the cake made of flowers!"
"That ain't no giant chicken. Ain't no such thing. Thas a man in a chicken suit and I don't need a man, so I take the flower cake."
"That's a giant chicken," said Hank, salivating at the thought.
"Black Ass, you know I loves ya, but that a man in a suit. I seen chickens in their natural state--frozen--and they ain't never that big."
"Maybe it's a mystery animal! Like the alien big cats in the United Kingdom ...," mused Mungo. "I love that show, Mutual of Omaha's United Kingdom ..."
"No, that a man in a suit. Sometimes instead of a man in a chicken suit, they send a man in a gorilla suit instead."
"Well, that's rather disappointing." Henrey hung his head slightly, and then decided to groom a bit of schmutz off his left front paw.
"I'm sorry, Black Ass. If it's any consolation, I got a coupon for a 12 piece bucket with biscuits for the place down 181."
Hank ran to the phone. "Speed dial 2 ... I love speed dial ..."
The Serving Bird
"I was reading in this book that pigeons used to be serving birds!" Mungo held out the slim volume to show Poly. It was called Feral Pigeons.
"Servin birds! Didn't someone do a song about that? Oh everybody heard about the word, bird bird bird, bird is the word ... I learned that song when I was a kid."
"Serving Bird? I didn't know that was the name. Anyway ... pigeons were brought over here from Europe as serving birds!"
"Damn! Europeans been enslaving everyone. What's up with that?"
"Well, I was thinking ... maybe we could train one of the pigeons outside to be a serving bird!"
"Ooh, ya think?"
"Possibly. They seem pretty smart. Let's go ask ..." Mungo trotted over to the window where the fire escape was, a well-known pigeon hang-out.
"Hey, any of you want to come inside and train to be a serving bird?"
"Coo? Coo COO? Coo!"
The birds looked at each other, baffled. Why is this giant cat inviting us inside? Must be a trap. They went back to their gutteral cooing.
Henrey trotted over for his afternoon shakedown. "What's up here, kitties?"
"We're trying to convince one of the pigeons to be our servant, but they won't come in."
Henrey walked over to the window. "Ok guys, it's like this. One of you comes in, or we kill you all."
The pigeons conferred for a bit. Finally, one stepped forward and slipped through the security gate. "Crooo?"
Mungo spent days training the bird, and fitting it with special devices to make its job easier. "Look! I made it a little head piece so it can carry a tray, and I put a string on the fridge door so he can open it ... it's cool!"
"So, give us a demo!," said Hank.
"Yeah! Get me some sardines!," said Poly.
"And a beer!"
Okey doke, c'mere little bird ...," the bird tottled after Mungo, following the big orange cat into the kitchen. After a few minutes, Mungo came back carrying the tray, with the pigeon following. "He doesn't quite get it yet. He's still training," said Mungo, serving Poly her plate of fish and Hank his cold beer.
"Yo, get me some dental diet too yo. I like to keep me teeth sharp.."
Mungo trotted back to the kitchen, the bird scurrying behind. Minutes later, Mungo returned with a bowl of dry cat food and handed it to Henrey. The bird jumped on the couch and began sharing Henrey's snack.
"Yo Munge, da bird is famished! Go get it some seed n shizit," demanded Poly.
"yes ma'am!" Mungo ran into the kitchen.
Hank patted the pigeon on the head. "We got ourselves a good little serving bird, huh Poly?"
"Poly's tiny mouth was full of sardines. You said it, Hank," she answered, mumbling like Marlon Brando.
What Mungo is
A big yellow happy face. Or maybe a twinkie, or an angel food cake. Something bright and fluffy and happy, bouncy and sweet. If he had a theme song it would have a buoyant, fun bass, like the theme from "What's Happenin'." If he was a video game, he'd be Dig Dug without the death.
Mungo is not a small boy. Mungo is like a six year old on christmas morning.
Henrey reminds many people of Sammy David Jr he's lithe and debonair, and has a sense of sophistication about him. This is perhaps why he's allowed entrˇe into the exclusive strip clubs and gambling dens of Manhattan, despite the fact that he owes a lot of people money.
When you look at Polyhymnia Mundactyl, you might at first think she's sweet. She has tiny ears and large round eyes and giant paws to trek across the snowy terrain of northern manhattan. However, once you've been around her for a bit you'll probably be reminded of Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
When Poly First moved in
When Poly first moved in, Hank gave her a tour of his office. "This, this is the floor. No one sleeps there. Well, Mungo does sometimes, by the watering hole, but I don't know why. Let me explain what goes on. I have a sleeping system, made up of a variety of locales and blankets and pillows, which are referred to as 'tiers'. The floor is tier one, and we already covered that. This over here," he said, pointing to a footlocker with a navajo style blanket over it, "this is tier 2A. The blanket is acrylic, and the air conditioner is there. Tier 2A is my summer afternoon tier. This," he said, motioning to the dresser in front of the window, "is tier 2. This is my main area during daylight hours. You might say it's my office. See the chair next to it? That's where my visitors sit."
"Cool!," said Poly. "So I can visit you in the office?"
"Yes. If you have an appointment. You'll notice on tier 2 there's a blanket covered pillow. The blanket is a flannel blanket from Land's End ..."
"You mean Inwood?"
"No, you ill-mannered hooligan. Land's End is a mail order facility that has excellent blankets. You'll notice that the blanket looks unnaturally thick. That's because it's wrapped around an ergonomic pillow that has been molded to my form over the many years I've utilized it."
"Wow!," said Poly with an air of amazement.
"Now, this," Henrey said pointing to the ladder," Is the way to tier 3."
"Yes. Tier 3 is where I spend my nights. I have an ongoing art project, a black hair circle, that I work on up there. It's my private studio, and you can only come up if invited personally by me."
Ploy stared for a bit, then looked down at the floor, then shook her head vigorously to disloge something in her ear.
She looked at Henrey enticingly.
"So, you inviting me up? To see your circle?"
The drooling thing
"Mungo, you drool like a dog," noted Poly as she strolled past on her way to the window. "You drooling over me honey?"
"Many anipals drool ...," mused Mungo. "The dog, the walrus, perhaps the wombat... I don't know about that one ..."
"You ain't none a those, jackass! You a cat! Cats don't drool by definition! You look it up in a big book, baby. It say, "Cats-- a non-drooling animal ... what's an anipal?"
"An animal friend, silly! I'm not a cat anyway. I've already explained that to you ...," stated Mungo hautily.
"Oh boy, here he goes again," said Hank as he lifted his head briefly during a rare waking moment,
"Wolverines drool, weasels too. I saw that in a cartoon."
"Which? The one with the pantless baboon?"
"No, an historical cartoon, with a giant rooster."
"Giant rooster!," chimed in Hank. "Yo, Pol-gal, I thought you said there was no such thing as a giant rooster."
"I said, and I remember because I have a phonographical memory, there is no such thing as a giant CHICKEN. I never made any definitive statements regarding giant ROOSTERS."
"Oh!." Hank stared for a few minutes. The afternoon sun made his pupils narrow to snake slits and he looked quite devious. "Maybe we can call for a giant rooster!"
"Yo, Poly-gal, how much you get paid?," asked Henrey during dinner one afternoon. "If you don't mind me asking ..."
"Paid? Paid for what?"
"For working, silly. You got a job here, right? Although I haven't quite figured out what it is yet."
"A job? What I need to work for? I got a home and food!"
"Don't you want money?"
"What I need money for? Can't I steal from the food bitch if I need something?"
Henrey thought about this for a bit while he chewed. "Why, yes. Yes, I suppose you could. However, oftentimes, the food bitch does not have enough cash on hand to make stealing worthwhile. That's where you salary comes in."
"Wow. What you get paid?"
"Well, Poly, I have a pretty sweet deal. I'm in the union, and I work on Sunday afternoons only. So I get triple overtime."
"Gre-zate! So, what your job?"
"I just do cat things. Walk around, sit on a lap, chase a fly, purr ..."
"I can do all that except the purr thing. Where do I apply?"
"Talk to Mungo. He's management."
"I don't think he like me. He not hire me."
"You crazy? He adores you! He stares at you while you sleep!"
"I thought he was plotting to kill me ..."
Poly finished her dinner, and Mungo's, and went to speak with Mungo who was reclining on the living room couch, chewing on his left paw. She stared at him for a bit. He continued to chew.
"Uh, Mister Mungo?"
Mungo looked shocked to be addressed as Mister. "Yes, my sweet?"
"I would like to apply for a job."
"Oh! Would you like to be my assistant? You can train on the job!" Mungo's mind was filled with visions of sun-drenched afternoons of the two anipals chasing flies through the apartment.
"I don't know if I want to work that closely with you. You got any other positions available?"
"Well, Hank's been asking for a secretary. You think you can do that?"
"What's the pay?"
"We have to ask Henrey. I'm not sure. It's a union job."
"Ex-zil-cellent!" Poly stared for a minute. "Can I ax you something?"
"What's a job?"
"So," said Poly one morning during breakfast, "I hear you don't get paid what Hank get paid."
"Well," started Mungo, looking up from his bowl, tuna with cheese collecting on the corners of his lips. "That's not quite true. Hank gets a better hourly wage than I, but because I work many more hours I get more money."
"Why that be?"
"Well, I love my job ..."
"No! For REAL."
"He's in the union. Like you."
"So, why you not?"
"I'm management. No union for management."
"That a sad story, Mungy." Poly chomped on her food a bit. "Look, you ever need money, I give you a good rate on a loan, ok?"
"T'pring! T'pring!," sang Mungo.
"You better watch it, Poly. Mungo got that look in his eyes. His hormones are back."
"What that mean?"
"Mungo experiences the urge to mate every 7 days. It's called pong furr or something."
"Ain't that from that tv show the food bitch watch sometimes? Star Track?"
"So it's fi-zake!"
"No! It's historical. Not everything on tv is fake."
"So what that mean, pong furr?"
"It means he has to mate with his chosen one. And that's you."
"That why he saying Ta-pring like he some retarded telephone?'
"T'pring is the name of his bethrothed."
"His robe? I never seen him in a robe. Why his robe have a name?"
"No, his mate. Only he just applies it to whomever he wants to make it with at the time."
"So, he callin' me Ta-pring."
"That a stupid name. It sound like a space alien or a bad 80s rock band."
"That was T'Pau."
"T'wow, Hank. You smart. I like you. You wanna pong furr wif me?"
"Check it out, Munge! Food bitch left the window open!," Hank called from the fire escape.
Mungo jumped up and joined him.
"I'm gonna go visit the old man next store," Hank told him
Hank was scratching on the window. "He's old, he's got his own food bitch, and maybe he'd leave me some money if I'm nice to him."
"Really. How old is he?"
"OLD! He's gotta be like, I dunno, 20."
"20! That's not old! Mommy is in her 30s."
"She's a wolverine."
"No! The mommy you call food bitch."
Henrey stopped scratching at the window and thought for a second. "In her 30s? Dag. That's unnatural."
"Humans live longer."
"They're like monsters! You think she'll die soon? Huh. I feel kinda bad I put her on probation."
"I think she's pretty healthy except for the sneezing."
Henrey walked back in the apartment . "Maybe I should just be nice to her instead. You think she has money?"
Poly answered from the couch. "Why she be working as food bitch if she have money? That stupid. I bet she poor."
Henrey climbed back out the window. "Yo, old man! Let me in! I wanna be your friend!"
"What that mean, 'butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.'," asked Poly.
"It means you're cool. Like your shit don't stink," answered Hank
Poly thought for a second, and bent her head back to lick her tail. "Strue my shit don't stink. But I sure know butter melt in my mouth. It good."
-So, Poly, How many brothers and sisters do you have?
-I only knows about my littermates, and there was 4 of us, but we had enough toes for five. It was crowded in there, all those toes.
-Really? How many toes?
-Eighty -eight! My mamma used to joke that we had enough toes to playa piana..
Mungo thought for a second, or three minutes, and he stared at the floor. Then he did the flop and drop, then he sat up and gnawed at his front right paw.
-Poly, can I ask you a personal question?
Poly looked taken aback. She thought
for a bit, and then said,
-OK, ax me, and I tell you whether it's ok.
-What happened to your claws?
Poly looked relieved.
-Oh, that! The mean people I used to live with, they was even worse that Foo B, they took my claws out, and then I got mad and would bite them and they got ridda me.
-Why did they take out your claws? That's horrible!
-They stupit, thas why. They like they furniture more than they like me.
-Really? Furniture doesn't have claws ...
-Or sharp little teef! They suck, those people. They pulled out my claws.
-Must have taken a long time, you have so many.
-I dunno. I was asleep at the time.
-Wow. That's surely a testament to your sleeping.
-I sleep good. Not as good as Hank, but good.
Mungo looked at Poly, then wen to the window and watched the moon rise.
-We should stay with the Foo B., said Poly thoughtfully, -I bet she never take my claws out ...
-No! She wouldn't! Henrey would have her murdered!
Poly strolled over to Mungo and whispered,
-Really? He know people do that?
-Yeah, that's what he says ...
-Wow! Maybe I have him take care of my old people!
-I bet he might even get you a discount!
-I gotta save my money! Maybe Foo B loan me something.
-Wow! I had the most amazing dream! Poly, you and I had kittens, and I got to sit on the eggs, and they were ready to come out and Mommy cracked them open for us and they came oozing out all wet and furry and they mostly looked like Henrey, but there was one orange and white stripey-spotty like me, and one beautiful little brown tiger girl with many many toes!
-The ones look like Henrey, they dogs or cats?
-Dogs ... I mean cats. Tuxedo cats.
-Sometimes Henrey reminds me of a dog.
-Yes, a very sleepy, tiny dog.
Food Bitch goes out
-Hey, when the Food Bitch goes out, where she go?
-I'm not quite sure, but she comes back tasting like cigarette smoke. I can chew her hair for hours ... It's so good ...
Hank went into a little reverie thinking about smoky hair.
-One time she was watching TV and laughing because she knew some of the people ..., mentioned Mungo
-What was happening?, asked Poly
-It was dark and smoky with occasional flashes of light, and lots and lots of boots. Later, they put fangs on people.
-We have fangs! We have boots! All we need are flashing lights and cigarettes! Maybe we can get her to stay here and she can feed us a midnight snack. Henrey slipped into another reverie over snacks.
-They used to do that at discos ... my last people were talking about that once, how at like 4 am at the disco there'd be snacks ...
-4 am is breakfast.
-Well, they had another breakfas later, only they called it brunch ...
-Would your people feed you a midnight snack, Poly?
-Hell no. They pulled my nails out! You think they give me nice things like snacks? They suck.
-I get snacks ....
-I know! You got it good, Munge! Sometimes I get snacks here too! It's weird! I don't get it! I growl and bite and she gives me a snack! Who she working for? Are we part of some bizarre government experiment? Where are the aliens? When will they attach the electrodes to our brains? She gonna mutilate us like cattle!, Poly cried in horror.
-I wouldn't worry about it, Poly. We'll probably be dead by the time that happens.
-Dag, all I wanted was a midnight snack and now I'm going to be a feline guinea pig. And a dead one at that! Times like this I truly believe there is no dog.
-Dog across the hall. You want me to get him?, asked Mungo
-Really, I'd prefer you didn't. He's a bit enthusiastic for me, answered Hank.
Hendrix Lee Lucat
One day Henrey made an annoucement.
-From now on, I want to be known as Hendrix.
-Hendrix! coughed Poly.
-Sure. Me and Jumi have a lot in common. We're both talented, fashionable, low-key, intelligent, good looking ...
-Ok, That all true, but Hendrix! That a weird, complicated name. I can barely remember Hank. Hendrix, so, I dunno, googolplexian.
-You know, Poly, in the future we'll all have as many fingers as you.
-What you talking about, Twinks?
-As we evolve, we'll get more fingers.
-Wait. So you saying I gone get more fingers.
Poly looked down and her front paws.
-Where they gone go?, she asked, worried.
-No. Your offspring many generations away will get more fingers.
-I TOLD ya, I had the surgery!
-You know what I mean.
-NO, I DON'T.
-Cats in the future will have more fingers. So you're like a future cat.
-I don't have no time machine! What, you think this is, The Jetstones Meet the Flintsons? That's crazazy. From now on I call you Fred.
Mungo wants to be a massage therapist
-So, you have any dreams, Mungo?
-Yeah, I had the dream about our kittens the other day.
-No! I mean you have any goals, anything you wanna do in the future.
-Oh! Well, I want to get my message therapy license.
-What? What that?
-You know, you take a test and some classes, only you do it the other way around. And then you can give people massages and they pay you.
-Really! That a union job?
-No, but it can still be rewarding. Like, sometimes now I adjust my mom's chi. I've been doing it for many years, but it's finally starting to work.
-You not think it's the drugs she been taking?
Perry Green on TV
-Oh look! C'mere everyone! Perry's on tv!
The three cats watched the majestic falcon glide and ride the thermals over Central Park.
-Wow! You said he was a movie star. I guess he really is! Look at him fly! He look good!
-That looks like fun. You think he can take us if we pay him?
-I haven't seen Perry in a few weeks. I thought maybe he left.
-Well, that's Central Park, so he ain't too far away. Oh! Oh!
-Oh SHIT! Look at that!
-Man o manischewitz! That pigeon never knew what hit him! Mungo! You see that?
Mungo looked a bit queasy and disturbed. -That was special effects, right? Perry wouldn't do that ...
-Uh, yeah, Munge. Special effects.
Henrey whispered to Poly, -I gotta ask him how he did that. That was specTAC!
Mungo wanted to be an actor
-When I first moved to New York, I wanted to be an actor. That's why I moved to the upper west side.
-Why? Is it like Universal Studios or something?
-No, but that's where Tom's Diner was, and I wanted to be on Seinfeld.
-Tom Steiner? Who that? Some agent?
-NO! Tom's DINER, like a place where they serve food?
-They got good food places all over town, Mungo. You shouldna felt constricted to the Upper west side.
-No, they used Tom's Diner as a location on Seinfeld.
-What Munge didn't know, said Hank, strolling into the room, -is that they used that as a identification shot only. They filmed in California.
-So Mungo in the wrong place, noted Poly
-Yes, said Hank
-It could have happened to anyone, said Mungo
-So, where you live when you there? You have a home?
-Well, sort of. I had an alley.
-All to yourself?
-Not exactly. I shared it with other cats. And a few rodents.
-Rodentia! Ugh! I don't like them at all. They sneaky and they steal your food. They carry the plague and they sleep on top of each other for warmth and their tails get all tangled and they have to walk around in a big group like they some sot of rodent hippy commune. They almost as bad as roaches, and a lot bigger and they eat more. No sir, I don' like 'em.
-For the most part they were very nice. We all shared, and go along well, All except for one--Joe Karpinsky.
-That name sound familiar.
-He worked on Felicity for a while. As a PA.
-I watched that story! I stopped when she cut her hair. She look all stupit then.
-Anyway, Joe tried to get the rats all on his side. He didn't like cats at all, and he especially hated me.
-Can't imagine why that would be, said Poly facetiously.
-One day we got into a huge fight. There was hissing and screaming and biting. I got bit really bad and had to go to the doctor! I had to take antibiotics to get rid of the biotics I got from the fight! He bit me hard.
-So, you saying Joe won.
-No! He didn't! I trapped him in a half filled cup of coffee and closed the lid! It took him hours to chew his way out! And after that he couldn't sleep for days! I'd say he got what he deserved, but really, working as a PA on Felicity? I thought something that bad would only be reserved for three time felons ...
Smooth cool speed slips under velvet paws racing down lengthy wood hallways leading to doors, up up up the door and flip with a twist and land with a thud, and race and slide along speedy slips of wood, right turn and leap over the box, straighten out and ready ready ready, jump to window up! And twist and flip and wood slips under velvet paws speeding down.
Chilly breeze with smells of birds, bugs, cats, dogs. Squirrels. Rats. Sniff the blackness lit by the full white moon. Pillow pliant beneath sharp claws that dig down down down and comfort tired paw pads. Caress drowsy legs. Scent of me from centuries past, old hair, old friends, remnants of the fly I killed, bits of paint and pollen. Bed bed bed and sleep sleep sleep.
Poly is a journalist
-I have it on very good authority that your stories are fiction, remarked Poly to Mungo one afternoon
-Oh! No. They're all true! Which stories?
-Well, for example, this Charango of whom you speak of ... you refer to him as Andorian, but he from the Bronx.
-Andorian! I said he was an alien? No way!
-Something like that. And Merv, you told the kittens no one knew how he got his name, but he got his name from TV.
-I told that to the kittens, yes.
-You lied to the kittens! That not nice! I know they fake, but that still bad!
-I didn't know! So, who told you the tv gave Merv his name?
-No! The name came from the TV! The TV not name him! Don't be stupit.
-You are confusing me, my many-toed darling. But I'm enjoying this. Tell me more. Who told you this?
-I cannot indulge my source. I 'm a journalist.
-What about Merv 's tv name? Let 's get back to that.
-There was a show! Called something TV! And a character named Merv! Who had a talk show! Essy TV or something.
-Mad TV? TV Funhouse? The Patty Duke Show?
-Something. I not pay complete attention, but my source is peachy.
-I love peaches!, remarked Mungo. -You ever see my peach crate? When I get in it, I 'm impeached! Get it?
A large juicy fly buzzed by, its wings buzzing and cutting through the air.. Poly's head followed it as it flew overhead.
-Don't get distracted, dear, said Mungo
-There a FLY!
-Please, go on with your story.
Poly jumped up and ran out after the fly. -The story be there later! I not know how long the fly here for! Come back here, fly! Let 's play a pop-o-matic game!
Mungo and Poly were sitting side by side at the window, watching the birds conversing and eating on the fire escape on warm November afternoon.
-What that one?
-Rock dove, my dear.
-Funny, Look a lot like a pigeon. And the little brown one?
-They pretty. They sing nice too. I bet they taste grezate, huh? Look like a nice snack. Big noisy gray one?
-Mockingbird. He can sing other birds ' songs.
-I bet he get booked at a lotta clubs, huh? What about the big brown one with the sad eye?
-That, my sweet, is the mourning dove, Florence.
-You know her name?
-Poly, Florence was my first love.
-Munge, that stupit! I know you think you not a cat, but you can 't possibly think you a bird!
-Sometimes these things don 't matter, said Mungo, wistfully, -A few summers ago, Florence began frequenting the feeder. At that point we had a feeder and a bowl. She used to sit in the bowl all day.
-Wait. She sit in a bowl of food? That 's like if I sat in a bowl of friskies!
-I know it seems illogical, but it was so charming! She 'd sit in the bowl all day and coo her mourning coo. I 'd visit her and we 'd stare at each other. One day the window was open, with the gate closed. She and I sat with each other, close enough to touch, for hours. She said until after it got dark. She slept beside me on the windowsill. It was bliss.
-That a sad story, Munge. You have a habit of falling for unobtainable women, don't you?
- 'Strue. Alas, our love was not to be. Come mating season, we realized that we could not produce a litter of birds. She went off with the dove her parents had promised her to.
-Florence had an arranged marriage?
-It 's pretty common among the mourning doves.
-Maybe that why they so sad!
GO GO GO
-Hey Munge, you related to Charango, right?, asked Poly, making polite dinner conversation
-No, actually not.
Poly stopped slurping her grilled chicken slices in gravy. -What? How you not be related?
-We 're just not is all.
-But but but, stuttered Poly, -you got the almost same fur, orange stripey, and orangey eyes, and you both have the same last name!
Mungo knitted his orange brow. -Same last name? My last name is Baguette. His last name is Mundaca, almost like yours.
-NO! You both got the last name GO! MunGO, CharanGO. It 's the same! Why you hiding your identity? You on the lam?
-I like lambs, but no, I 'm not on one.
-NO! I mean you hiding from something?
-Uh, let me think.
Mungo sat and thought for a few moments.
-No. I 'm definitely not hiding from anything. Maybe you 're related to Charango. You have similar last names.
-We don 't even look alike!
-You 're both stripey.
-IT 'S DIFFERENT! I 'm brown stripey!
Poly paused for a second.
-Thas funny, we all stripey. All except Hank.
Hank yelled from the bedroom.-I got stripes! They 're in my footlocker with the rest of my army paraphrenalia!
Flying the Coup
-Hey Mungo! Word on the fire escape is that the pigeons are planning a coup!, Henrey whispered excitedly to Mungo as he slept on the couch on afternoon.
-Huh? They need to plan to coo? Don 't they just do that as a matter of course?
-Uh ... I don 't think so. It seemed pretty peaceful out there up until now. But they 're getting sort of pissed off at the crows.
-The crows are loud. And big. The pigeons probably feel as if they can 't compete. And now that there are so many, the pigeons can 't win by sheer numbers alone ... Maybe if I get them a megaphone, they 'd be louder ...
-You think the crows can be beat by mere loudness? The pigeons were organizing military strikes for the coup.
Mungo thought for a second. -I 'm really wildly confused. Are we talking about the same thing?
-Possibly not, answered Henrey. -I 'm talking about a coup. C-O-U-P.
-OH! A COOP! They 're building a coop! That 's neat! It 'd be nice for them to have a shelter! I hope they build it on our roof so I can go visit.
-One of these days, Mungo, I 'm going to buy you a dictionary.
-All this talk about afghans is making me want a new blanket, said Henrey
-Why? A hairy dog makes you think of blankets?, asked Mungo
-Many of our conversations take the same road, you ever notice that?
-The road out front is a good one--not too much traffic. Maybe we should take that one.
-Sometimes I wish you had a universal translator.
-I have an address book. Will that help?
-Hey Poly, said Mungo one morning, -You ever go to church?
-I like Kennedy.
-Kennedy church? I never heard of that. Or is it a cathedral?
-No, Kennedy fried chicken, that the one down the street. It 's good. They a renegade Kennedy, they have Spanish food too.
-I meant church. You know, incense, candles ...
- Incense and candies! I told you! I like Kennedy! Popeye 's good too. I don 't like Churches. I went to one once on a date.
-Someone took you to church on a date? That 's sweet!
-No. He tried to get wif me after and I 'd just had a litter like 6 weeks before! I wasn 't read for another round. I had to fight him off with a drumstick.
-Wow. Males are sleazy sometimes.
Poly held her paw up in the air. -You tellin it to the choir, hon.
-Why you always trying to run to the roof, Hank?
-Well, Pol-gal, from the roof you can jump to the moon, and the dark side of the moon is where the cats play.
-Cats play here too, and down on the street.
-Yes, but cats don 't play freely. We 're bogged down by humans, and gravity.
-OK, so we go up those steps out the window and up to the roof. Then what?
-Then we have to look for the magic portal that transports us to the dark side of the moon.
-Is there a sign?
-No, that 's why I 'm still here. The food bitch chases me and grabs me and brings me back every time. Evil human! Thwarting my efforts!
-So maybe it 's a lie.
-No. I read it in an ancient tome.
-Archy and Mehitabel? Mungo like that one.
-No, another one. I can 't remember the name.
-You remember, let me know, I wanna read for myself.
-Maybe next time if we both go the food bitch won 't be able to get us.
-I dunno, sounds like azilot of trouble for play. Especially when we can play prezitty OK here. And who feed the cats on the moon?
-I 'm not clear on that part. I know the moon is made of cheese, but I don 't know where the tuna comes from.
-Look, you get back to me with that, and I 'll consider it. Until then, no deal, Black Ass. I needs ta eat!
-Look Mungo! Food Bitch left the front door open!
-Yay! Let 's go out and explore. Ohh, that 's the dog 's place. I can still smell the pigeon over here. The old man 's doing OK ... What you get Hank?
-No one here eats cat food but us. The big dog is lonely. Wait ... He 's the one been shitting on the fourth floor ...
-Weird! Hey, where 's Poly?
-I dunno. We don 't need that bitch. She's nasty.
-Hey Poly, Munge wants you out here!
-Let 's go in.
-Yeah, it 's no fun out here.
Henrey breaks the narrative
-It has been brought to my attention that there is no narrative arc in this story, no tension, no action, no "red shirts," if you will. I suggest we make Mungo the red shirt.
-Wait, Henrey, I can 't be a red shirt! People have gotten very involved in my story! We 're like 1/5th through the book at this point!
-Think of the drama, Mungo! People would really be surprised. It 'd be kind of like Tromeo and Juliet.
-Yeah, if Juliet died during the opening credits! I 'm not going for this. At all.
Poly lifted up her pretty round head. She'd been sleeping on a Compaq monitor box that she'd taken to.
-What a red shirt? That some communist thing?, asked Poly
-No, it's historical. From Star Trek.
-Oh, Star Track! That show with the Ping Pong and people have cat ears! That cool! What it mean?
-The red shirt was the guy who you were pretty sure was going to die in the story. He was a lower life form and this had to wear an ugly red shirt.
-I like red, said Mungo.
-That's why you should be the red shirt, answered Henrey
-Why we not get a pigeon as a red shirt? This way we kill it and eat it. That a grizate plan! Ya feel me?
-Hmm. Poly, that's not a bad idea.
Henrey trotted over to the window.
-Any birds here wanna be in our book? It 's very exciting ...
Open Door Policy
-Here comes the food bitch! I hear her keys! C 'mon! Crowd the door!
The door squeaks open.
-Ah, sweet freedom.
-Oh, it 's chilly out here today. Wait, I hear something.
Click click click click click click click click.
-Poly! With her clickers out! We better wtach out, Munge.
-She doesn 't have clickers!
-She has the back ones, remember, Hank? And one on each foot is a wacky claw.
-Oh yeah! Forgot about that.
-Yo boy-izos, what up? Hmm, chill out here today.
The boys stare at Poly as she saunters down the hall, tail high.
Suddenly, a noise!
-What that ...
Poly runs inside and stands at the doorway.
-You gonna go in, Hank?
Whispers back -I 'm afraid to go past her. We better wait until she moves further in.
-We might be here for a long time ...
Poly breaks the narrative.
-It 's been brought to my attention that there are not enough perverted sex acts in this book ...
-Sex? No, we don't do that Poly, we're neutered.
-What about the ping pong?
-Every seven days. It's hardly been a day since then.
-Well, we can talk about our past experiences. We've all had kittens, ya know.
-Yes, but I was seeing this more as a children's book, and an educational one. That's why I threw in all that historical stuff. Edutainment, they call it.
-Well, let's make it a sex edutainment book! C'mere black ass! Cuddle up with little ol' Poly ...
A weighty subject
-You know, Munge, sometimes I think maybe you not be lyin about the wolverine thing. I mean, you is gigazintic.
-I was skinny when I first got here. I think I was like 12 pounds!
-I 'm 12 pounds and I ain 't skinny! I look good!
-Oh, yes, my snow-footed darling, but you 're much more petite than I. Twelve is an excellent weight for you. But I'm quite tall. I looked very skinny at 12 pounds.
-What you got on you now, big boy?
-I'm fifteen pounds now.
-What about Black Ass?
-Henrey? He 's lithe and wiry. I figure him to be about ten pounds.
-Ten pounds! Oh my! He smaller than I!
-You 've never noticed that? He 's a bantam weight.
-Bantam weight? You mean like witty bantam?
-Who's that, my little yummy-toes, a cartoon character?
-No!! Witty bantam! What two people engaged in when they conversating and it's funny!
-Uh, no. A bantam is a rooster.
-Henrey the size of a rooster? What kind a rooster? A normal one or a historical one like Foghorn Leghorn?
-A ten pound one. I'd guess that to be the normal one.
-Yeah, cuz the historical one like the size a the food bitch!
-Oh wow! Hank! C'mere and smell mommy! She saw a rooster!
-Hmm, on 187. Does one normally see roosters on 187?
-It was gigantic! You smell it? You see the pictures?
-And quite ornately feathered. I believe I lost money on that rooster once.
-You lost money on the rooster? Why did you put any money on a rooster in the first place?
-It was a friendly wager. I was up on 207 when I wandered into a smoky social club. I was hoping to have a choice tiparillo and quench my thirst with some excellent red vino, but I ended up spending my money on a cock fight.
-In this country, yes, but not in this social club on 207, which seems to be under some sort of international jurisdiction. Anyway, I was up about $200 samolians when this fine feathered rooster strolls in. I believe his name was Ortega. He was about twice my size, with half my IQ. The rooster he was set to fight was scrawny and cut up. I thought there was no way big boy could be beat. So I placed all my dough on the fancy boy.
-And he lost.
-Not only did he lose, but he lost in seconds. The fight got so vicious his trainer removed him from the ring lest his stupendous plumage sustain any further damage. I was pissed off, to say the least.
-You, Hank, of all cats, should have known better. You sometimes beat me in fights!
-True. But this rooster looked better than you.
Mungo and Poly were sharing the couch one sunny late winter afternoon.
-Munge, sometimes I wonder if I ever fit in here.
-Don 't worry, Poly, I was much crazier than you when I came here.
-You? I doubt that. You more stable than the rocket gibraltar.
- 'strue. I was totally insane. Mommy brought me here from another place, a really nice place where I was to train with a massage therapist, only I was too out of control. I knocked her dead cat's' urn off the fireplace mantle.
-Wow! That 's pretty bad!
-I made her cry. I felt bad but I couldn't help it. I had very discordian tendencies at the time. So I got sent here. I thought it was like detention or reform school, only it turned out to be nice. But I'd run up and down the halls all day yelling and jumping off things. I bit everyone. She used to call me 'Bitey.'
-ha! "I call the big one Bitey." I know that story with Homer and the possum and the monorail!
-Exactly. I had a part time daddy at the time too, and he used to say I was a lemon. He 'd say, "Marie, you got a lemon." But I didn 't take it too personally. He used to call her 'mooga bush woman.'
-I not know what that mean.
-Me either. But really, I was crazy. I had to get like time out at least once a week, and I wasn 't even attacking other cats! No other cats lived here then!
-Wow! So what happened?
-I'm not sure. I know it took a long time, but eventually I became a productive member of society. And look at me now! Head cat, a manager!! I've come a long way.
-Yes, Munge, you a testicle to hard work.
Mungo J. Baguette-Weisel
Nicknames: Mangrove, mangoat, Munge, Mungus
Species: wolverine/weasel hybrid
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Profession: manager, conceptual artist
Hair: orange stripey in spots with white (much like a melty creamsicle)
Eyes: orange like chuckles
Nose and paw leather: dusty rose with freckles
Size: extra large
Likes: coffee, crunchy snacks, nature specials, Henrey and Poly
Dislikes: war, disease, mean people
Outstanding features: nicely rounded head, sweet expression, melodious chortle
Oddities: likes Chupa Chups, sweet potatoes, beets, challah bread.
Wakey wakey: bites on exposed flesh, knocking things onto the floor.
Outdoors: likes to sit and look and smell the air
Theme song: The Baby Elephant Walk, or the Theme from What's Happenin '!
Hi! You 're the best Thanks for reading my book! You rock! I hope you find my book entertaining. I hope there 's not too much cursing for you, but that's how Hank and Poly talk. This is my real life, and I know sometimes it's not pretty, but we wanted to show it like it is. Well, actually, most of the time it's very pretty. It's like a beautiful fluffy dandelion flower gone to seed, and you blow on it and make wishes and your wishes go all over the world! My wishes include that all cats be safe and loved and nicely fed, and that Henrey does not fire my mommy.
As you may know, I'm a weasel/wolverine hybrid. No humans knew until one day a friend of my mommy 's had a dream about me and my secret was discovered. This person, Annette, was the mother of my first love, Georgette. Oh, she was a lovely cat of alsatian decent from the woods of Pennsylvania. She pretended not to like me too much and would call me a big fat lying pizza boy. That 's because I made pizza. You know how you kneed on someone? In reality you 're adjusting their chi, but it is sometimes referred to as making biscuits or pizza. I make pizza. Georgette made biscuits. We could have opened a nice little shop. When I first met her she was wearing a golden bow because her mommy was wrapping presents and she was being a cat and so she got a ribbon around her neck for being annoying. She looked so pretty in it! She rather liked it too. She kept saying, "I'm special, I got a gold necklace." She was special. And she was fearsome! One time she wrestled a bat and won! I met a bat once but I 'll talk about that later.
I hope you like my stories. Some people compare my writing to Tom Wolfe.
Henrey Lee Lucat
Nicknames: Hendrix, Hank, Hal, Harry, Black Ass
Birthplace: New York Fuckin City
Hair: classic tuxedo with one torn sleeve
Eyes: yellow like the sun
Nose and paw leather: pink and black
Likes: sleep, cat food, beer, yankee baseball, gambling
Dislikes: losing, not having enough food
Outstanding features: black lips, cranky expression, and he has lovely red highlights in the sun.
Oddities: honestly, will only eat cat food
Wakey wakey: quacking, biting and chewing hair.
Outdoors: tries to run up the fire escape to the roof.
Theme song: Theme from Shaft
Statement: To set the record straight, this whole thing has been a terrible mistake.
When I went up to that woman those two chilly September mornings, it wasn 't because I wanted a place to live. I was hungry! A hungry cat will do anything for food, even walk on his hind legs like a little Rory Calhoun! I 'd lived on the streets for a while and I had intended to continue to do so for some time. At least until I 'd fathered some more kittens. It 's completely untrue that I was licking motor oil off the street for moisture. And I was definitely not about to climb up into a car engine for warmth. What to you take me for? Some sort of gutter cat? I knew how to live by my wits.
One night I saw the woman approach with another human. I did my cute act in order to obtain sustenance. The evil ones enticed me with a can of Alpo, leaving me warm and sleepy and unaware. Suddenly I got grabbed by two large human hands! I tried to fight them off, but they were bigger than I was! I struggled and squirmed like a big-mouth bass. I was transported by a strange mechanical device to a remote locale. When they finally got me inside I saw that there was another cat! And he was humungous! Fortunately, he was neutered, so I knew I 'd rule. I immediately ran for a window and screamed to my cat friends, "Help! I 've been dragged into an apartment!" But the males hrrmphed and the females all said I was lucky.
For days I sat at the window and sang sad songs to all my paramours. Then I got put in a box and brought someplace that smelled weird. An alien female proclaimed me to be a 'big boy. ' I was paralyzed by some advanced technology and when I woke up I was groggy and sore. Mungo came over to me all concerned when I got home. "Are you ok, Henrey?," he said as he sniffed my butt.
"I 'm tired. Leave me alone." I curled up on the couch and slept.
I eventually got used to apartment living. I even got used to Mungo. I like the stability of regular meals. I love the cold running water. And I really love my bed. But what I like most of all are tv, beer and catnip.
Nicknames: He-girl, Lizzie Grubman, Macy Grey, girlfiend, Rolie Poly
Birthplace: The South
Hair: brown and grey striped tuxedo
Nose and paw leather: lavender
Likes: catnip, cardboard boxes, Henrey, chinese take-out
Dislikes: Mungo, flesh-bugs, using the litter box
Outstanding features: extreme fluffiness, beautiful round eyes, extra toes on all paws, orange fur accents
Oddities: uses the bathtub as her preferred locale for defecation.
Wakey wakey: lets other people do that.
Outdoors: walks around gingerly
Theme song: Your Feets Too Big
Statement: I used to live with some evil-assed people who pulled out my claws and then dumped me in an alley way! You take one look at me and you know I 'm the kind of cat should be reclining on silky pillows and eating albatross outta waterford crystal. Wait, Black Ass just informed me it albacore. Albatross be some joke by a python like spam. I have no idea what he talking about but he smart so I 'sume he right. Anyhow, I got right nasty after the peeps took out my clicker and that 's why they threw me out the house. So I went to live for a bit in the magical cat alleyway which is where my Black Ass is from too! I heard stories about him, how handsome he was an what a big boy he was, and decided I had to meet this enticing creature! I found his address and pretended I was delivering a candy gram to gain access. Now I 'm living with him in almost domesticated bliss. One problem--he sleep all day and this giant wolf-rine, Mungo, always be up my tail. That part suck! I spend most the day fightin off the advances of a giant orange gila monster while my sweet Hendrix doze. But Hank need his sleep. He works hard to support me and even bought me a $250 necklace! It has engraving on it, but I dunno what it say. It nice though--it blue to go with my lovely and delicate lavender nose leather.
I have other lovers too, but they human, so it different. The colonel is one of my favorites. He bring me pork from Great Wall chinese takeout. I need my pork! It keeps my fur all nice.
I have one nemesis, beside Munge, and that the flesh bug. The flesh bug is a horrible insect-like creature that look initially like a hand, but then becomes a horrible stalking bug! And it very very big--the size of an actual human hand. I not like it. Down South where I grew up, we not have such things. We have cockaroaches and flies, but no flesh bugs. It not nice, and I gotta talk to the Food Bitch about getting a disintegrator in here.
I am currently learning to improve my vocabulary and have taken up the art of letter writing at the suggestion of my love, Hank. He said with so many toes writing should come natural to one such as I. I don 't know what he mean, but I 'm tryin.
PS: My name is pronounced POLY like polyester or polystyrene, not poly like roly poly. Keep that fixed in yo mind. It 's very important to me. And Polyhymnia is the muse of hymns and sacred songs, and that cool. Do I amuse you?
Refrigerator repair man
-Hey, Henrey, remember when you first came here and we used to play 'refrigerator repairman?'
-You used to play 'refrigerator repairman.' I was attempting to hide from you and get a moment 's peace.
-You were my little kitten! I was very excited when you came to live with us! I 'd been asking for a kitten and I didn't think I'd get one, and then I did and it was you and you were the best kitten, except you were already a teenager, but that was cool. You already had a driver's license
-You stared at me all the time. You 'd root me out wherever I was !
-And I'd chase you, and you go behind the fridge! And I 'd yell, "Mommy! I put my kitten behind the refrigerator!," and she 'd have to move the fridge and you'd be all dusty. She was afraid you'd get electrocuted.
-She had to buy those casters for the fridge, she was moving it so much. That was pretty funny. That was a good spot though. She had to do a lot of work to get me out.
-I'd stand on the kitchen counter and stare at you while you were back there.
-I found some shit back there too. Some dry cat food and a couple of spoons. Tried to sell them on ebay but no one was buying.
-I put the Food Bitch on probation
-I know! Munge tell me! What happen, Henrey?
-Well, I felt she wasn't doing a very good job. One day she was late for breakfast, and she didn't clean the litter boxes while we were eating. I like a clean box after I eat.
-We all knows that about you, Black Ass. She stupid. That why she not know that. So what happen?
-I called her into my office, and she was very apologetic, but I reminded her that this is an economically unstable period and we could probably get an illegal immigrant to work for less than she currently gets.
- 'Strue. Munge say he upset. He like the food bitch a lot. He said he wished there was something he could do. How much she get paid anyway? Maybe I do it.
-That's slave work, Pol. I don't want you doing work like that. That's what humans have thumbs for.
There's a bat in my house
As told by Mungo Baugette to the kittens
Once upon a time it was early June, a time of a great many interesting bugs and birds and smells from outside. The moon was full and bright, or maybe not, and the tiny stars twinkled in the late spring sky like your mother's toes. This happened in a time long ago before Ms. Poly lived here, and we shared our home with two lovely gigantic mystery cats named Merv and Charango. Anyway, it was early June, and it was a school night and it was night and there was school the next day and my mommy was in bed reading and I was sitting beside her reading over her shoulder and Henrey was sitting at the foot of the bed, asleep. Well, I guess if he was asleep he wasn't sitting, but curled like a ringworm in his hair circle. We were all warm and happy and drowsy.
Suddenly, there was what is known as a ruckus in the next room. A voice, mostly likely that of our friend Peter, said "Oh shit." And then, "Marie? Marie?" and then, "There 's a bat in here!" Mommy said, "Oh my god! Get the cats in the bedroom!" Mommy was afraid because we slept up high and bats fly, and also bats carry diseases in little wicker baskets like sandwiches. Charango came into the room because he wanted to help me protect my mommy, but Merv! Merv insisted in staying out. The Yankees were on, and there was a bat in the apartment. "Look at the big leather bird! It 's a fucking big leather bird! It smells delicious!" Merv was looking up at it with wonder and hunger. Peter and Marie struggled with what to do and how to get it to leave the small apartment. The giant, well, average sized, bat, swooped and glid like lava in a lamp down the hallway. Peter turned off and on lights systematically and got a broom to deflect the sonar. Both humans were afraid of the bat getting stuck in their hair, but they didn't want to harm the beautiful flying mammal. Merv, on the other paw, had no qualms about harming the rodent, nor was he concerned about diseases.
After many hours of struggle the bat was escorted out of the apartment and into the bright hallway, where we assume it found it's way out the window and into the dark lit night. Merv sighed and went back to bed. And so did we.
-flap flap flap flap!
-oh my god!
-mommy, I 'm escared.
-Ha! Check it out! A pigeon!
Henrey ran to the front door.
-Holy shit, Munge! There 's a piegon in the hallway!
-No way! Let me smell! Yep, that 's a pigeon. I wonder if we can get out to see it! You think it came to visit us?
-No. Pigeons don 't visit cats. It must have gotten lost.
Suddenly Henrey heard keys jingling in the doorway. He got scared and ran to the kitchen. Mungo stayed at the door.
-Hi kids! Stay in! There 's a monster in the hallway! I gotta go help it!
Then the door closed. Mungo and Henrey went back to listen at the door.
-C 'mere little pigeon! C 'mere!
-It sounds like she 's going to capture the pigeon!
-Maybe she 'll bring it to us!
After several hours or minutes of arguing, Henrey shook some bugs off his head. Mungo put his paw in his ear. Then they slept. Hours later the food bitch came home smelling of pigeon, but without any bird.
Life can be cruel.
Boxing Ring: Mungo Baguette 's Box Project
Summary: The history of art by cats is a recent one, in the view of humans. Books like Why Cats Paint and Dancing with Cats have brought feline art to the masses. But cats have been creating art as long as they 've been domesticated. And, while, like human art, most cat art is representational, there are several artists working abstractly and conceptually. I have traditionally used cardboard boxes as my medium for my expressionist work, however, with this project, I plan to bring this into the conceptual arena by allowing the viewer to enter my studio space and interact with me, the artist, and even interact with the art if they desire. This serves to break the imaginary wall between observer and artist, and, in fact, proves to the observer that he is also the artist. The project aims to bring non-traditional cat art to traditional art audience. It also aims to bring non-cat lovers to cats, non-art lovers to art, and non-audiences to a viewing arena. And finally, it aims to bring snacks to Mungo.
Statement: The point of this piece is to foster creativity and partnership between humans and cats, a collaboration that has been previously ignored.
Description: I, Mungo, the artist, will be installed in a living room or den-like room with boxes of various sizes and strengths. Also available will be tradition arts and crafts materials such as construction paper, paste, safety scissors, and markers. The viewer will be able to come into the room and use the available materials to produce art with me. There wil also be a television with a choice to several nature shows for viewing, and snacks for me and the viewer/collaborator. NOTE: I consider it part of the collaborative process for the visitor to feed me snacks.
Budget: 2 months work (assistant, rent, food): $4,000; taxis: $100; boxes: $30; art supplies: $40; TV w/ VCR: $150; couch: $50; snacks: $250; opening party: $300. Total: $4,920
Staff: Artist: Mungo J. Baguette. Has been an artist for six years, working mostly with paper products. Career Highlights: Kleenex all over the room, 1997 (installation of Kleenex puffs in living room); Marcal Wonderland, 1997 (installation of Marcal tissues strewn over bed); the tunnel, 1998 (environment: Duro Shelf box, dust, tennis ball, catnip mouse); Off the Wall (video), 1999; To The Window 1999, (video); Bird brain, 2000 (installation: 20 pounds of bird seed in living room); Hoerk, 2000 (hairball on wood); Compaq, 2001 (altered computer box); Snack Test, 2001 (video).
Assistant: Polyhymnia Mundactyl. Has been assisting Mungo Baguette since April 2001
Assistant: Hendrix Lee Lucat. Highlights: Hair Circle (aka Hair Piece/Bed Piece)1998-2001 (ongoing project, hair on bedsheets); To The Window, 1999 (video), Crap Circles, 2000 (feces in litter box.); Blankets, 2001 (installation: blankets in room)
Administrator; Marie Mundaca. Has worked with Mr. Baguette since 1997. Knows what snacks to buy.
Life, according to Poly
Life is short, and full of stuff. This is my philosophy. You must live your life to the fullest, and that includes chinese food and sleeping and yelling at boys. I 'm a pretty cat and I have to yell at boys a lot because they want to get with me and I 'm not interested. I had my kittens when I was young and then I had the surgery and that was the end of that. However, if a boy would like to buy me pork friend rice or nice shiny jewelry maybe I not yell at him so much. Look at that, I wrote pork friend rice. ' That because pork is my pal! When you out on the streets you sample lots of food you wouldn 't otherwise eat under more normal circumstances. I had chicken kurma, yucca empanadas ... many many different foods. But my favorite is any pork from chinese takeout. You wanna know the way to my big voluptuous heart? Buy me pork and maybe I tell you.
I know you thinking, "How this lovely creature end up homeless?" Let me tell you, it can happen to any one at any time. One day you dressing up in Holly Hobby 's finery, the next you picking goya canned meat from a trash can. I was born indoors to a nice well-ta-do momma with 3 other kittens and after a coupla weeks we all go off to new homes. My new home look real nice--fancy sofas, a dining room with a china closet, some religious statuary.. it swank. Here lived a little girl and a baby and some big people. Little girl were fun. We play dolls and shit like that. The baby dull. It just lie there. I don 't know why humans like babies so much! Kittens be one hundred percent more fun. They had osme stupid name for me, Perdita or something. Anyway, one day the little girl accidentally scratched the baby on the face, and guess who took the fall? Big toed me. So I get drug off and my clickers get pulled out like some torture thing, only I asleep at the time. When I wake up my big pretty paws all covered in white cotton like they hand puppets of kids playing ghost on halloween. I cried. I loved my clickers. They made noises when I walked like I was wearing chill silver cha-cha heels. And, as you know, I have extra toes. I hope they get charged extra for me.
Things went down hill from there. I mad at the girl because she the reason I got declawpitated, so we not play anymore. I get all bitey too, and I hiss all the time and generally I be mean. It happen. You get mean too someone rip your claws out while you sleep! So they throw me out on the street. I hooked up with some other felines and heard about the magical cat alley, a place where cats can go from garbage can to garbage can without getting runned over by a human with vehicular felocide on his mind. I live there for a few days, and I look so nice people start leaving me cans a food. I don 't share with the other cats, though, and they get mad and no one talk to me. The chihuahuas next door bark at me all the time and they look tough and scrapy. I was sad and I 'd been hearing about this black and white what used to live in the alley what got a home and how he was a big boy in need of a fine female. I finded out wheres he live and I go to the woman who feed him, she have the key to his place, and say, "Take me to see Mr. Lucat, please, I must speak with him in an urgent manner!" Bitch escort me upstairs and the rest be natural history.
No, things ain 't all guns and roses up here. You knows I gots to deal with the weaselrine, an he a pawful. I gotta keep one good eye open alla the time, so I sleepy. Food good though, and there a big tub for me to shit in, which is what those stupid-ass people taught me to do. The bitch live here not like it too much, but she deal. She pretty patient. I only ever hear her yelling at boys, like I do. So we share that in common. Sometime the weaselrine break things and she not get mad, she just laugh and clean it up. Sometimes if she home we sit and watch daytime TV together. She put on Ricki or Montel for me, and I sleep next to her on the couch. I keep a big paw on her so she not move while I sleep. All in all, it 's honey. And Hank! Wotta man. A cute little sleepy guy, takes me to casinos and cock fights, buys me cocktails and fine jewelry-- I couldn 't have asked for a better un than that.
The Bookie is In
-OK Mungus, what you interested in today?
-What do you have that 's weird, Henrey?
-Lessee, I got a fist fight at Fenway, that 's 2-to-1 because it 's Yankees Red Sox, I got 30-to-1 that a diamondback will bite a player in Arizona ...
-There are snakes playing?
-Seems that way. Why not? Don 't want to be specie-ist. How about this one...3 to 1 the food bitch feed us late.
-What day is it?
-I 'll take that one. Subways are bad on Wednesday. I 'm in for $10.
- How 'bout this one...50 to one that Poly uses the litter box.
-No way! That 'll never happen!
-Snack action? You wanna wager on which snack you get first tonite?
-Hmm. Ok. Let me have a snack trifecta, 10 bucks, Fiber Formula first, Temptations second, Devil Delites to show.
-You wanna double down on that?
-We 're playing blackjack? Stop confusing me!
The Women I Love
By Mungo Baguette
First, there is Georgette. She now wants to be known as Jorgetta, but I like to call her chinchilla. Georgette is a beautiful petite brown tabby. She looks feral! She 's so cute!!! I met her when she came to visit for a few days when her mom Annette went away. I followed her around with moonsick eyes the whole time she was here. I kept tapping her on the butt and saying "Georgette! I want to get with you!" but she didn 't want me! I thought we should go on Jenny Jones. Here 's what would happen:
Jenny: So, Georgette! You and Mungo? Do you think there 's a chance?
Jorgetta: That 's craziness! I 'm old enough to be his mother!
Mungo: That 's not true! My mom 's 30!
Jorgetta: Talk to the paw, boy.
Jenny: But Georgette, Mungo 's very cute!
Mungo: And I have a good job making pizza!
Jorgetta: Pizza! I need intellectual stimulation! Call me when you finish college!
Mungo: But I didn 't plan on going!
Random Audience Female: Georgette, if you don 't want him, I sure do!
Audience: oooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh! Mungo! Mungo! Mungo!
and so on. but I love her, that 's for sure.
I also love another cat who lives in my building. She lives on the 5th floor and I can see her from my bathroom window. She 's a stunning cream tabby with a small Siamese-style head. I call her Mungalina. one day she came to visit me! Me and mom heard a little cute "mew" in the hallway one nite. Mom opened the door and there she was! She was the prettiest thing on four paws I 'd seen all year. Mom wouldn 't let me get with her, but she obviously came to visit me. Mom brought her downstairs and she was ushered back into her apartment. We think she was called Rachel! A nice name for her. Mom said her tail was very fluffy and she was very friendly. Henrey, as usual, was uninterested.
Of course, there is the magnificent Polyhymnia. She 's the first polydactyl I 've ever met, and is quite delicious. She too is a brown tabby like my first love Georgette, only she 's a bit bigger (well, like twice the size--Georgette was like 4 pounds. She was a mini-cat), and has orange highlights to her fur. I asked her if she got them 'done,' and she was insulted. Mom brought Poly home for me to take care of, and I tried but she won 't let me. She 's very self-sufficient. She smells very nice, even when she 's angry. Sometimes when she sleeps I stare at her, and sometimes I fall asleep beside her and we touch paws. If she knew, she 'd definitely have me taken out. I like to play nice soothing music when she 's around, like Brahms or Beethoven, but she takes it off and puts on the urban dance station or MTV. I 'm hoping to have a subtle influence on her musical taste. I don 't want to change her! I just want to broaden her horizons a little. I 've also given her some books to read. She looks at the covers and hands them back and says, "OK, I read it." But she really enjoyed "The Life and Times of Archy and Mehitabel," and William S. Burroughs, "The Cat Inside." She 's studying calligraphy and the art of letter writing, and I believe that one day she may be one of the great epistlarians. Poly has a beautiful round head and very huge eyes even huge for a cat, whose eyes are normally 8 times the size of human eyes, proportionally. She is very quiet, except when she 's angry, and then she 's very loud. I know she had a rough life earlier and I think someday soon she 'll come around and begin to love me. It 's too bad we can 't have any kittens together, but maybe we can adopt. There are many homeless kittens. If we can 't get kittens, maybe we can get a couple of weasels. I love Poly. I share my food with her, and my catnip, my toys, my couch, my window, and even my computer time. Did I say that I love her? I do. I do. Someday we 'll have a wedding at the church on the corner in the garden and she 'll wear a beautiful white dress that will make her look like a confection, and I 'll wear a tuxedo and so will my best man, Henrey. Then we 'll have a party and the cake will be vanilla and pumpkin with a little cat bride and groom up top and topini decorations and I 'll feed her a slice of cake and we 'll honeymoon in Jamaica and lie in the sun all day on the beach and have fresh fish for dinner. When we come back we 'll move into our own apartment next door and decorate it in a retro 60s way with lava lamps and shag carpeting and beds in the doorways. We'll call it the love grotto and we 'll have an altar to Bast and nice food. I 'll get a job at Barney Greengrass the Sturgeon King, I 'll be Sturgeon Prince, and she 'll stay at home and run the household. Maybe after a few months we 'll get a couple of humans too. She 'll write a best-selling book called "The Tao of Toes," and go on author tours and send me postcards and call me form the hotel. I 'll take a Friday off and join her in New Orleans and we 'll have a nice dinner. I 'll order in french and impress her. We 'll wander through the French Quarter and drink hurricanes and give money to homeless cats. People will recognize her and ask for her autograph and she 'll sign them, "It was delightful to meet you! Love, Polyhymnia Mundactyl." And people will all say how gracious and elegant she was. If you don 't believe me, ask Miss Cleo, becauses he 's the one who told me all of this.
The time before land
-You like my winter coat, Munjo? It commin in all nice. It luxziluriant.
-Yes, it 's quite lovely. It seems a little more silvery than your summer fur.
-Yep, that 's for camouflage in the snow. I get it special.
-How 'd you do that? My fur is just thicker in the winter.
-I get it special! I tol ' ya! I ax for it before I come here.
-You mean when you were in the alley way? Whom did you ask?
-No, before I borned. I ax for it then. You get lots a things if you know what to ax for.
-Really? I didn 't know about this!
-You young, that why. You prolly in you third life or sumpin. Me, I been here lots. You learn things. I find out who to ax and I ax.
-What did you ask for?
-The pretty coat for the snow, my extra toes, grace ...
-You are unnaturally graceful ...
-I knows it! I ax for my pretty eyes, and good hunting skills.
-Wow! That 's so neat! So how does this work?
-You fill out an application and they look over it and they give you almost everythin if it treasonable. But if you get too much there a trade-off.
-What do you mean?
-Well, you don 't know what it gone be. In my case, I think it were losing my clickers.
-That does really suck. What happens if you don 't ask for anything, like me?
-Then they just give you stuff. Like, you big, that special.
-That 's true! And I have freckles on my nose leather!
-I think that just decoration. But you pretty. Not all cats pretty, you know.
-Yes they are! I 've never seen an ugly cat!
-I did once 'd, but I think it was a raccoon.
-what do you think Henrey got?
-Henrey got smarts, and luck ...
-He loses all the time!
-He got me! That real luck!
- Strue. I guess the trade off is that he;s unnaturally stinky.
-He tell me that a revolutional adoption or sumpin.
-So you remember before you were born?
-Sho. It were warm and sunny and sleepy, only you don 't really see anythin.
-How do you know it 's sunny?
-You feels it on you fur! It 's like you dreamin. You know how when you dreamin maybe you not see someone but you know they there? Or you have a sister who ain 't yo 's in real life, but in the dream she is, only she never says yo I 'm yo sista yo. ' You just know.
-How do you fill out the application if you can 't see?
-I not amember that part. Maybe it on a computer.
-Wow! Computers and sun! Sounds nice!
-It is nice! Then they send you back and when you come back you all wet and slimy and cold. Then you momma lick you up and clean you and feed you and you happy. They ain 't no food up there.
-You must starve!
-No, you not know you hungry, so you don 't feel bad. But food is a nice thing 'bout here. That 's why I keep coming back. I come back fo the pork.
-You ever see a ghost, Hank?
-I saw a bat once. It was in my house. There was a bat in my house. It was large and the wings made a beautiful leathery sound as it flapped. It was quite spectacular.
-I think I saw that too. I thought it was a bird.
-No, it was a bat. A fleeting mouse. A flying mammal.
-A flying mammal! That 's weird. Imagine if we had wings!
-Cats used to have wings, and every so often a cat is born who is genetically anomalous, a throw-back to the prehistoric days.
-A throw bat? Is that like a boomerang? If I had thumbs that 's one of the first things I 'd learn how to do is thrown a boomerang.
-No. Listen and learn, Mungo. I get my information from the true font of information, the Fortean Times, the publication of record. You should read it sometime. They have photographs. Anyway, there used to be a cat with wings who used to go on tv shows. He could flap his wings but not fly.
-I read a book about cats with wings, written by a famous science fiction writer. It was very exciting.
-That was fiction. I 'm talking facts. Haven 't you ever felt those muscles around your shoulders and thought, if I had wings, these are the muscles that would flap them.
-No! Uh, maybe.
-We still have the muscles. In the future some great geneticist cat will figure out how to grow wings in petri dishes from discarded claw sheaths and we 'll be able to get wing implants. Think of what we can do! We 'll terrorize small children! And old people! We won 't need car services! There are no lanes in the sky. We can fly with impunity! We 'll rule the world!
-If I had wings, I go to 181 and buy challah bread and chicken.
Revenge of the Flesh Bug
-Mornin, Black Ass! Gimme some suga.
Poly and Heney touch noses.
-Mmmm! Thanks honey. You smell like fine fancy albatross. I mean albacore.
-You make that mistake a lot.
-I knows it! Acause they both sound very tizasty!
Poly saunters down the bright sunlight hallway.
-Mornin Mista Munge. How you today?
Mongo looks shocked and happy
-Very well! Thanks, Miss Polyhymnia. How kind of you to ask! And how are you this fine fall morning?
-I excelizent, thanks.
-Yo! Foo B! Cmere and give me some
-Oh, Princess! Look at you, lying on your back in the sun! You look so beautiful!
The human bends down and strokes Poly's belly.
-You're my one and only princess! Aww, what a sweetheart you are.
-Oh shit! You ain't Foo B! You Flesh Bug! Grrr! I kill you! I grab you wif my giant panther paws!
-Oww!, said the human. You have sharp teeth!
-You believe it! I kill you!
-Poly! What are you doing to my mommy!
-Munge, this ain't yo mammy, this the Food Bitch. And this ain't the food bitch, but a Flesh Bug! The most dreaded insect a all! I gots ta kill it!
-That's mommy's hand! If you take it off she'll only have one! And I like that hand you have!
-No! I tell you! She possessed like a pod person and transmogrify into tha flesh bug! I sorry it so horrible, but I must kill her!
The human removes her hand and walks away, muttering.
-Thank god I kill it! Otherwise it infect us all and we all become flesh bug!
-Would we look like it, Pol?
-I not know. Maybe, wif fur.
-That'd be all right. They can open cans.
-Hmm, you pointy there, Munge.
-Yo, Munjo, you read this is the paper? About the old bitch in Pittsburgh who had like 257 bird feeders and wombats were coming to her house?
-Really, Hen? I didn't hear about that!
-Well, I'm slightly exaggerating. But she was feeding the birds so much her neighbors got mad. Squirrels and raccoons and rodents were stopping buy to feast. One guy said, and I quote "You know how birds pay you back. On your car, on your windows ..." That's pretty funny!
-Wow. I bet she's a really nice lady.
-It said she was buying 20 pound bags of bird seed. 10 at a time!
-That's so nice! I wonder if I can convince mommy to do that?
-Doesn't she already put out birdseed?
-Yes, but only 20 pounds a week or so. Maybe our birds need more! We want them to grow up big and strong.
-Then take them to the free lunch program. If the food bitch spend more money on food, I want it to be on food for me, not some dumb ass bird.
-That's very selfish, Henrey. We have plenty of food.
-Shellfish? She buys shellfish for the birds? I didn't know that! Maybe next time I'll take a nip out of that feeder when I'm outside!
-What sort of fish is that?
-A mean, dumb one, apparently.
Polybios, or The Many Lives of Polyhymnia M.
-So you had other lives before this one, my megapawed felis?
-Yeah, some. You not?
-I don't remember any. I remember living on west 107 street, but that was this life.
-I remember I was queen cat of the Nile. CleOPitra they call me.
-It's cleoPAtra, and you got that from Archy and Mehitabel.
-You read that book too?
-Poly, I gave it to you!
-Oh. Well, one life I burmese. I a pretty brown girl. I was very tiny and I had nice people and I sleep in the sun.
-That's nice. What else?
-One life I an alley cat my whole life. I ate fish bones from a garbage can and my name Benny.
-That's from a cartoon! That's from Top Cat!
-Damn! You know that one too? OK. I tell you. Once I be a human.
-Yes, fer real. I a human girl like the food bitch, only I really really nice. I put out food for birdies and take in strays. I deliver meals to old peeps, shit like that. I not amember everything. My life OK, only my head hurt all the time and sometimes I couldn't walk. It not 100 percent fun, ya feel me? I always say, if I come back, I wanna come back as a pampered house cat.
-And you did!
-No! I didn't! I came back as one of three! I wanted to be someone's love of they life. I not get that last time. And I still not get it!
-You're the love of my life, Poly.
-That sweet a you to say, but in realty you loves yo mommy more.
-Oh, that's different love.
-I dunno. I all confused. Maybe I make the whole thing up.
-I said MAYBE.
Same Book, Different Page
Hank lifted his sleepy head up and looked over the side of the bed. He saw a blurred orange and white quadruped galloping west from the window, out of the room, and down the hall. The he heard a loud thump, a shaking door, and the galloping feet ran southeast into the living room.
-There goes Mungo, performing his patented 'off the door' maneuver. He 's on a rampage today, huh, Poly?
Poly gazed up from her new spot on top of the laser printer, which had been covered by a pink Minnie Mouse bath towel she particularly liked.
-What page he on, sweet-cheeks?
-I not even know he readin. He look like he runnin.. how he read while he run? Maybe he listening to a book on tape?
-Rampage, my dear dumb Poly, a noun meaning a course of riotous or violent action or behavior.
-What? What the entomology a that word, love?
-Etymology, and it 's unknown, thought to be from ...
A big rattling came from the living room, where Mungo was banging on the window screen.
- ...a contraction of ramp and rage. Running down the ramp in a rage.
-Whoa. He crizazy. But you smart. We should have kittens, you and me. They be smart and pretty and have big white feet and white bellies. Get you black ass down here and gimme some suga, honey bear.
-Is this breeding season for you, Miss Hymnia? Because I thought you were spayed. I, of course, am neutered and thus, happily, will no longer be producing any kittens. Enough of my income goes to support, as you know.
-Yo incoming go to Johnnie Walker!
Mungo ran into the bedroom, panting.
-There are going to be kittens! Oh Poly! Congratulations! Can I be the nannie?
-Munge, they ain 't no kittens cus Black Ass is kicking me outta bed, and I don 't take kindly to that. Munjo, honey, why you not show me that offa tha doo ' move you do?
-Yay! Play time! Follow me! First, you gotta get a good running start from the window ....
Hank put his big black head back on the bed, happy to be relieved of his animal husbandry duties.
Merv 's Teleportation Device
-Oh no, he 's got those beanie babies out agin. Look, he drool all over them! They soak to the skin like drownded kittens thrown in da riva!
-I wonder what story he 'll tell this time?
-Oh, Hank, it 's a marvelous story. Or should I say a Mervelous story--about Merv! The strangest and most wonderifical cat what ever lived! Poly, you would have loved Merv, he was a beast like no other, and super-smart ...when he was about 5 years old he started working on his teleportation device!
-Really? He a rich inventor?
-No, he never got rich, as he kept giving his money away. But let me start the story. One upon a time, in a tragical place called Jersey City New Jersey lived a maniacal cat named Merv. I mean magical cat. He would go all over town, and into Manhattan for all-ages punk rock shows, always riding his faithful skateboard, which he called the ergot-not, as it was not ergot. It was a skateboard.
-What ergot? That sumpin fake?
-No, dear dumb Polymat, it 's the base of LSD. It 's from moldy bread.
-So it like nip! Only with a stoopit name!
-May I go on? So, it was a skateboard, and it was called the ergot-not, and Merv didn 't take LSD anyway, but he did do the nip, which is a derritive of LSD, you know?
-You think he should be tellin this story to the chillin?
-Poly, they 're plush.
-I knows they pretty! But are they old enough?
-Anyway, Merv liked his nip, as did every cat I 've ever known, even Elwood P. Dowd Blues who had the misfortune of living with a republican and thus was forbidden to partake. He had to keep his nip use secret. But not Merv. He was all about nip. But remember, when Merv was a tyke on a bike, or a snake on a skateboard, it was the late 80s, Reaganomics, just say no, Sam Kinneson getting censored on Saturday Night Live ...
-I have exactly zero clues about to which he referring.
-Poly! Lemme tell the story!
-Be my guess, honey.
-OK, so Merv was a c-nip user, as are we all, but the nip was not tolerated in what was referred to as civil society. One day while Merv was crossing the hudson on the PATH train, he was stopped and searched by some narcs. On his person they found nothing, but on his board the found minute traces of nip leaves and oil. For this, they confiscated his board under the RICO laws.
-That totally sucks.
Merv was heart-broken. They sold his beloved board at auction, where it fetched a cool five dollars. And he was left without transportation. Poor kitty! What to do, what to do, he thought. He was a smart kitty, so he decided to create a way of getting across the Hudson that did not involve actually being seen. He figured,if they can 't see me, they can 't search me.
-So he became invisible? That crazazy!
-No, that 's not what happened, my lovely little twinkle toes. He began to work on his teleportation device. He;d spend his days at the Jersey City Library, which was so old they not only had original HP Lovecraft books, they had original HP Lovecraft monsters. It was sort of scary, but he, over a period of time, became close friends with Cthuhlu anf Yog Sogoth. He said they weren 't all that evil, just misunderstood. Anyway, I digest ... excuse me! So from the library and through the help of his new friends, the old ones, he began to draw up the plans for his device.
He needed a case about the size of a freezer case,so he visited his friends on the corner of Kennedy Boulevard, the owners of the Hudson Newsstand. At this time, in thelate 80s, Snapple wasn 't as popular as it is now, so the case hardly ever got opened. Merv asked his friends if he could build his device into the Snapple fridge case. They, and some of their friends at the Penn Station Hudson News, agreed.
to be continued
The Art of Letter Writing
-Oh my! Don't you look pretty with your big book and your reading glasses! But why are you watching All My Children with the closed captioning?
-I learning the art of conversating. From there, I move to the art of cartography.
-You're going to make maps?
-No, stupid fur-ass! I gone write letters! My Hendrix say that the reason why as cats don't write is on account of only having five frontal digitals. I got extra, so he say I be a natural for writing.
-I thought cats don't write because they're lazy. So, how does this work, exactly?
-Well, first off, I gotta get into the natural flow of proper english. You know, we speak different where I raised up from.
-Yes, I noticed that, my lovely striped one.
-So I watch a soap opera with the captions. I tried watching Jerry Springer, but for the most part they all talk worser than I do already!
-But why do you need the closed captioning?
-Acause sometimes I not be understanding what they saying. I mean, at all. So, they I pause it on the tivo and look it up in the big book. I can turn the pages fast with my many toes.
-Wow. This is very impressive and ambitious, Poly.
-I not ambush anyone!
-So, what are you going to do with this knowledge?
-Well, first I start off writing letters and s'it for my Hendrix, then maybe I branch out and do some writing for other cats. Like, what if a cat be axed to give a speech? I could write that.
-He'd have to know how to read.
-You think I stupit? I knows that. What cat be axed to give a speech what can't read? You stupit.
-You could also write for a newspaper.
-I knows it! I be thinking on that too. I could be like the spokescat. The catvocat. Or sumthing. I could write about the plight of homeless cats and stray kittens and little girls what get knocked up by big mean toms. I could tell the people, let everybody know.
-Wow! You could be like the Martin Luther King of cats!
-I hopes not. I not wanna get shot.
Poly and Ernest or For Whom the Bell Toes
-I changing my name to Polyhymnia Gene Marie Mundactyl.
-What 's up with that? You getting confirmed or something?
-I not confirm to nothing! I jes find out that mostly Ernest Hemmingway called his women Marie in his books, and I have an affliction with Hemmingway.
-You mean an affiliation?
-I know I a girl! But I not a horse, so don't call me filly. Call me Marie. Or Maria. That'd be good too
-What's your obsession with Ernest, anyway?
-You not like him Hank?
-He's all right, I guess. A bit terse, but a manly man. Very John K., if you know what I mean.
-And I don'! But he live alone on an island with keys.
-Why did he need keys if he lived alone on an island?
-I don know! But he live with keys, and all his cats have too many toes! Like me! So I an kindred to them and him!
-Maybe you can get invited to this island.
-You go with me?
-I dunno. Is there alcohol? Horse racing?
-Not enough room for horses. Room to play cards, tho. You play cards and drink tropical drinks, then you go shoot guns at fish and s'it.
-Really? That doesn't sound too bad. Is it unionized? What's the pay?
-Munge, you and the flesh bug are my anemones.
-Really?How sweet! Do you mean the flower or the fishy thing? Either would be most excellent!
-No, you not a flower or a fish.You my anemone.
-Awww. And you're my little petunia!
-Petunia? You saying I fat like a pig? I likes pigs, but I not wanna be one. Someone like me come along and eat me.
-No, I'm saying you're my little flower!
-Petunia be Porky's girlfren. I saw that in a historical cartoon. She got braids and hooves. I not have braids or hooves.
-No, it's a shrub with flowers!
-Who you calling shrub? I think I rather be pig than shrub.
-Poly, get out your big book. Get out volume two, petunia is in the second part of the alphabet.
-You not tell me what to do. You my anemone. Wait, I go look up petunia in the big book. I bet there be a picture of a pig wearin a dress. ooh. Here it be: Petunia - any female pig what wear a dress, braids, and date Porky in the historical Looney Tunes.
-Poly, you're making that up, let me see. Pet, pet... ooh, petcock, I'd like to have one of them. Theye were popular in the olden days. Pet peeve... what's a peeve? petulant--showing sudden irritation, esp. over some trifling annoyance, peevish. We're back to peeves. But that sounds more like you than a shrub. Maybe I'll call you my little petulant Petunia.
-I HATE YOU! YOU MY ANEMONE! STAY AWAY! I KILL YOU LIKE STING WIF MY MEGAPAWS!
-Aww, you're so petulant. And peevish!
Bowers of Bliss
-Whatchoo watchin, mungoat?
-It's a documentary on the bower bird. Look! They decorate their homes, the males do, to attract females. The females go from bower to bower and decide which they like best, and then they mate with the artist.
-Someone should decorate to attract me! I want a man what know how to decorate!
-I'll make you a bower! It would have grouping of snacks, mostly topini separated by color, and flower petals, all leading up to a beautiful computer box filled with pigeon feathers and soft pillows! It'd be very posh...
-That sound ok, but let me fly around and see what other sorts of bowers I be offered up. Hendrix! Yo Hendrix! Where that boy be...
Hank was dozing in a big chair. Poly approached.
-Hendrix! Black ass! Wakes up! I gots to ax ya a questions!
Poly jumped in the chair and smacked Hank on the head.
-What the what the hey? Oh shit. You need me to move, Poly?
-No! Keep yo fine black ass where it is. I needs to ax you a question.
-What kinda bower you build to make me get wif you?
-You hears me.
-Yes, that's true. I did "hears" you, as you so delightfully stated. But I have no idea what you're trying to ask me.
-Henrey, we were watching a documentary on the bower bird who makes art to attract females.
-Ah, yes, I've heard of such things. Well, Poly, if I wanted to attract a woman of such high standards and fine tastes as yourself, I'd rent a room down at Caesar's in Atlantic City. We'd spend the evening gambling and feasting on shrimp, and then we'd go back to the room and call room service.
-Sounds excellizent! Can we order pork?
-Certainment. For I shall make a fortune that evening playing War, or Go Fish.
-Fish good too. OK, you the winning bower bird. Let's go behind the green door, babycakes.
-Hendrix? HENDRIX! Dagnammit cat. Munge? You go call for the room servicer. I needs some porks.
Pork, that magical animal by Polyhymnia Gene Marie Mundactyl
Yo, I loves pork in the pork friend rice, but even I was surprised to find that this pork comes from the pig animal, which is the same animal what make bacon, some snausage, canadian bacon, yummy yummy ham, and ribs. Pork chops, pulled pork, I figured those out on my own, cus I pretty smart. But the other delicious foods have different names, so how I supposed to know? They makes it all confisipating for me. They should call it PORK-bacon, PORK-ham, etc. It sell better that way. At least I buy it more.
I went to the pork website and it all cotrastophated information for farmers. I had to do a lot of searching, both online and of my soul, to find the real pork website which is called theotherwhitemeatdotcom. Again, no mention of pork! That be stupid. Then, on the pork for kids website, they got cartoons a' pigs and they real cute and alls. Now why I wanna eat something what so cute? I think they make a mistake by this presentation of the cute cartoon pig. It floating in tha air like it some space pig that dispense mystical advice like spiderman dispense pez, ya feels me? It like the Great Gazoo a the pork site, and then I had to think twice about eating it. Both times I think, I think wow, that pig look scrumptious.
I heared that sometimes if you cook a human right they taste like pork. This is something thatĶs I need ta amember, as if in case the food bitch and the cleaning lady die the same day we may needs ta eat them. I can't really use the stove, so I put the colonel on speed dial and calls him up to do it.
Porks the reason I can't keep kosher. That, and the shrimps. I think the rabbis need to rethink this kosher business, cus it keep delicious food outta the moufs of many many peeps.
-Yo, itÕs Ass Wednesday. IÕve got to get out. And IÕll need fundage. Miss Poly? Can you do the honors of rifling through the food bitchÕs wallet with your magnificent fingers?
-What you need monet for on ash Wednesday? You never go to church, an if ya did, youÕd steal money from the poÕ box, not put it in. We alls knows it.
-Who goes to church on Ass Wednesday? I just need to get out and get myself some fine fine tail. And you, mamselle Polyhymnia, know better than most that tail costs, in one way or another. You wine and dine your intended, or you pay for it outright. Either way, the long green is a necessity.
-That true, Black Ash. I donÕt give away my tail unless I get tail in return. Lobster tail, that is. Woowee!
-Poly! You should never give away your tail, stated Mungo, a look of confusion and concern on his large, round orange and white face. ŠYour tail is so pretty! You should keep it.
-I say I not give it Ōway. I sells it, or barters.
-You shouldnÕt do that either. Cats use their tails for balance. How would you jump? How would you climb up the bed?
-Huh? I still use my tail after. ItÕs just like a rental.
-Dong Shiu Peng, said Mungo. HeÕs my favorite communist Chinese leader.
-Really? Mao. Mao Tse Dong for me. I always liked that Kliban cartoon of the cat dressed in the Mao suit and cap pointing at the mouse feces saying ŌMao Tse Dong.Ó
-You have quite a distinguished sense of humor, Hank. I like the invisible cat Kliban cartoon.
-Whatchoo talking bout, asked Poly as she sauntered into the kitchen, her fine striped tail swishing luxuriantly behind.
-Politics. Communist Chinese leaders. You have a favorite, Poly?
-Hmm, lemme think. Oh yes. I like General Tso. He make good chicken, and sometimes the shrimps too.
-Aw cheese, Poly. What about CapÕn Crunch?, snickered Henrey.
-I not know him. DonÕt he work at a health club?
-WhereÕs Poly?, asked Mungo, sniffing around the hallway for a whiff of the striped female feline.
-SheÕs in that box in the corner of the living room.
The two cats sauntered into the other room, tails held high in question marks.
-Oh! That one! ThatÕs cute! She barely fits!
-You cainÕt see me.
-You cainÕts sees me or hears me. IÕm in another di-mension.
-Heh, heh. A dimension of sight and sound?
-Fa me, but nots fa you. Which is why I kin sees you and youse cainÕt sees me. Or hears me. I jump into this wormhole right here and go someplace else, fars away.
-That woman is touched in the haid, as they say down the street. IÕm going to go sleep. Perhaps when I awake sheÕll be back to normal or as close to normal as sheÕll ever be. Or better, perhaps there will be dinner.
Henrey trotted off to his bed. Mungo watched HenreyÕs backside as it left the room, and turned back to the allegedly invisible Poly.
-Wormhole! Have you been reading mommyÕs Hyperspace book, Poly? IÕm very impressed!
-I not read no stupid hyper books left around by the food bitch. Or the cleaning woman. I read about this on a history TV show, Star Trek. The one wif the ping pong and the pointy-eared peeps who be smart, likes ourselves. Or at least like me and Black Ass.
-Wow. So whatÕs it like in the other place?
-Well, firsts ya gots to ask me what itÕs like getting to the other place.
-OK. WhatÕs it like getting to the other place?
-Well, first, you gots to jiggle yo ass right to gets the good approach to jump in the hole.
-Yes. I can see that would be the case, Poly, as the box is positioned at an angle.
-AinÕt no angle what get me here. I donÕt believes in them. Anything what got wings be a bug in my world, so I chase it and eat it. You ever eats a bug? First, the wings get all flappy in yo mouf, and then as you swallow they flaps all the way down. It nice! Anyways, once you jiggle and jump, you slide in nice like butter melting in my mouth after I lick it off a butter bagel, ya feels me? Then the crazy part begin.
-Yes. IÕm glad you ax, cus it scary and you needs to know. I not know first time I jump in here what happen and I panic like a goldfish what jump outta its goldfish bowl. But I a braveheart and I finish my trip without jumping back out into the real world. So you go in and you slide nice, but then you speed up. Things go past you but fast, and yo mouf and ears start to flap back like you in a video. You see things, like dolls, and cans a cat food, and you tries to grab em, but they not real. This goes on for like, say, 10 hours.
-Yes! After about five of those hours, you sleep. Three days later you wakes up in a strange place. It the same, but different. The food bitch there? She smell weird, like plastic. And the food is off. It all taste like 9lives. And the colonel, he never brings you the pork. In one horrible place, there is no pork. Sometimes, I be a princess what been captured and I gots jewels and shizit and peeps and others fightin over me. Sometimes weÕs gots to wear strange garments what get rended during fight scenes. Sometimes you be there and sometimes you be elsewhere.
-Eww! I wonder where I am when IÕm not there?
-I not know! I learnt not to question things like that. Once you start thinking too much yo head gets all constipated.
Poly licked between her right front toes. -There one thing that always the same tho.
-Black Ass. He always snoozing.
Just Like Heaven
-Hey, Poly, what do you think happens after we die?
-We goes to heaven.
-Really? Just like that?
-Yeah, whachoo mean? ŌJust like thatÕ?
-I mean, no judging by anyone or anything? I think I read that in some religions only humans go to heaven.
-Yes, well, I gots a splanation about that. I gets to it. First off, there is no judging. The judicial process is something made up by the stupid humans. So they go somewhere else, depending on their religiosity and what they do while they on the planet an shizit. I not need to get into that too deep, acause we not worry about that. We go to another heaven where the peeps what not believe in the punishment shit go. That the better heaven. That ghost heaven.
-You hears me, Munge! It be called ghost heaven! On account of when you die, you gives up the ghost. You gives it up an it float away up up up like a beautiful balloon. It travel for like 7 days, but it pleasant traveling, not like when you get in the cat carrier. Then you gets there and it real nice. ItÕs warm if you like warm, or itÕs cold if you like cold. You likes have a little bubble of weather that indivisible. Food all over, jumping out of rivers and lakes, or even better, food served up in Chinese restaurants that be all fancy and not have any bullet-proof glass.
-Are there any people there?
-You mean like the hoo-mans? Very very few, on account of most of them believe they good or bad and need to go to peopleÕs court afore they go to heaven. Then they go to soul heaven, which is different. Or maybe they go to soul hell. Whichever. We not need be concerned wif them.
-So humans have souls and cats have ghosts? What about the ghosts that haunt haunted places?
-They ghosts too, but they not go to ghost heaven on account of mostly being peeps what Judge Mental. So, they get punished for being stoopit and hafta haunt places. Only a very few select hoo-mans what get to go to ghost heaven, mostly hoo-mans what we as ghost nominate to enter. Like Sandy Dennis. She get to be there. Alotta crizazy cat peeps get there, and all nice animal helpers. It better than soul heaven, so they not have to do much advertising to get peep ghosts in. In fact, it kinda exclusive. Not all peeps get in what want to, because they vaccinated too much on the issues when they alive.
-Wow. Where did you learn all this, Poly?
-It in my head! When I borned! It not in your head?
-No! Not that I remember, anyway.
-Maybe your head too filled with other things, like snacks.
-Oh, no. If my head was filled with snacks theyÕd come out of my ears when I shook my head and we could snack all the time. ThatÕd be heavenly.
-That be ghost heavenly.
Wife of Tub
ŅYou said this,
too, that I was like a cat;
For if one care to singe a cat's furred skin,
Then would the cat remain the house within;
And if the cat's coat be all sleek and gay,
She will not keep in house a half a day,
But out she'll go, ere dawn of any day,
To show her skin and caterwaul and play.Ó
-Wife of BathÕs Prologue, chapter 29, The Canterbury Tales
-Yo Poly, why are you always by the tub?
-I loves the tub. It multi-purpose. Food Bitch use it for cleaning, I use it for my toilette, and I spend time next to it. I loves it. I the wife of tub.
I take the tub
as husband number six
The firs five stoopit and acts like dicks.
They just want to get with me
And kick it. They covered in fleas
And tar. They smell and generally treats me mean
Ya know what IÕm saying? I keeps mysef clean
And nice and they have no bidness with a girl
Such as I. But still they the best, they not churl
or curs or mongrels. You cainÕt gets too
Picky when you a helpless maiden, you
After I lose husband
And by lose I mean I not knows where he went
Peeps all say that I become a nun
On account of my maiden hood bein all spent
-Poly, your rhyme scheme is all over the placeÉ
-Shuts up black ass! Or I scheme yo face!
Now, as I was sayinÉ
Husband one, and
I say euphemistically
That he be a husband, mostly he actually
Just be some alley cat I hook up with, or
With which I hook up, for
Some animal husbandry. We calls him
Alvin Alley, supposedly that be after some
Famous dancer. Alvin could dance, aÕight.
He dance around the troof like it a street light
And he Gene Kelly singing in the rain.
I tells Alvin, yoÕ quit sayin
I am yo one and only when
We alls knows you schtoopin Jen
From down the street.
Then I slaps him wif my large feet.
-Oh! Just noticed this all rhymed! How nice that is!
Munge, I Ōppreciate the compliment, but I been carrying on for like 3 hours and you jest now notice?
But, Mungo, I
Next time I get married I wears a dress
I had a real wedding with cake
And flowers and photos by the lake
And a wedding conception.
That husband two, his name Ben
Like the rat, whom he looks a bit like
Especially around the pointy snout and the overbite.
And the skinny hairless tail
Which he said got fried on the third rail
One day when he cross tracks at 181.
Yuck, I thought, that not sound fun.
Real rats do it all the time
But cats usually stick to things that they can climb
Up, like trees and fences and ladders
I wonder which he really be. Ratter?
Or rat? It not matter. He nice to me and bring
me treats and shiny things like earrings
and necklaces. FerÕreal! Then one day
he not come home. I heared next month, in May,
That he got taken home by a little girl what named
him Stimpy. She already had a dog named Ren, who was famed
around the Ōhoody for being a weirdo
One day I look up and seed Ben at a window.
He waved to me and blew me a kiss.
Onced again, I be a miss.
-Aww, Poly! You have bad luck with men!
-I knows it! ItÕs on account of I being too too prezitty fa my own goodness, and on account of me not knowing how to say no to the mens what offer me niceness. I have a tough childhood and I all starved for the niceties.
-oh, yes. This is exactly the same story I hear from all my stripper friends, noted Henrey.
to be continued
Mungo was examining his mid section.
-Hank, you think IÕm getting a bit chubby?
-YouÕre big-boned, Mungo. YouÕd be a good body guard.
-Maybe physically, but emotionally I feel more like a figure skater. Maybe I should go on a diet. I like Richard Simmons a lot. Maybe I should do Deal-a-meal.
-Oh, cool! IÕll help. Wait here.
Henrey trotted off to the kitchen, tail held high in anticipation. After a few minutes and a few crashes, he trotted back with a deck of cards in his mouth.
-How many you want? Asked Hank, while shuffling.
-You know how to do this? Awesome!!! What are my options?
-Five or seven.
-Ooh, IÕll take seven. IÕm a big boy. If seven is good IÕll drop down to five later.
-OK. Nothing wild in this game, ok? I removed the jokers, said Hank while dealing. -Poly? You want me to deal you in?
-I needs my B.U.T. rest, peeps. Maybe later.
-Ooh, youÕre doing it with me, Henrey? This will be so good! IÕll have a Deal-a-buddy!
Henrey picked up his cards. ŠOK, ante up. Put some money in the kitty.
-Huh? YouÕre the kitty. And I donÕt have any money.
-OK. Wait here.
A few minutes and a few crashes later, Hank returned with a container of Double Delites. He opened them up and dumped them on the floor.
-OK. We each get half. So put your chip in the kitty. WeÕll start with one, ok?
Mungo snarfed up a snack.
-Mungo! YouÕre supposed to put that in between us, in the kitty! The pot!
-I thought you meant I was the kitty! Sorry!
Mungo pushed a Double Delite towards the area between the two cats.
-OK. How many you want.
-I can get more cards?
-You trade 'em in for the cards you have. Generally, the high cards are worth more, and the picture cards worth the most. DonÕt you know how to play this?
-No! I thought you did!
-But this isnÕt how it is on the infomercial.
-Munge, this is how it is in Vegas. Those are the only rules I know.
Poly woke up and lifted her pretty head. -We in Vegas? Can we go for a buffet later?
-CÕmere Munge, you wan yo paw reading?
-OOH! Yes! You can do that?
Mungo offered up his large paw, with itÕs lovely orangey-pink paw pads and white fur. Poly slapped it away.
-That not hows I do it! I put a big paw on you and I tells ya whats I see. OK?
-OK! Do I need to close my eyes? Cleanse my aura? Anything?
-No, you jes needs to stop speakin. Now sit still.
Poly placed one of her giant panther-like paws on MungoÕs massive cranium.
-Hmmm. Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh. Ok. OK, Munge, Ise gots yo fortune. You is stoopit.
-Wow, Poly! You could tell that from your paw?
-Ha! I could have told you that without the laying on of paws!, piped in Henrey, briefly lifting his sleepy black and white head.
-Shush yo boca lindo, ma petit coolo negro. Yo wants to be knowing yo future, Mangoat?
-Yes! Of course!
-ThatÕs gone be another five dolla, ok?
-Sure! Go aheadÉ
-Hmm. Ok. Ok. Ok. Uh huh. Well. You never go famishated. Wif god as my witless, you never be hungry again.
-Hurray! What else?
-You still be stoopit. You stoopit now, you still be stoopit in the futurama. That a ten spot.
A James Madison exchanged paws. ŠYou wan me to remove the curse? That a quarter-thousand.
-You knows, the one you gets ever month.
-The monthly blood curse! The sacrifice!
-Oh, shit. I apposed to ax the food bitch about that one. Fagets it! Lives long and propagate!
-I wish to obtain some of those pressa canarios. Good fightin' dogs. I know some of them are raised to be racist neo-nazis, but I think they can be swayed to come over to my side.
-Pressed canaries? WhatÕs that? Sounds tizasty. A nice brunch, maybe. They come braised? Is the sauce sweet, or savory?
-Pressa Canarios. Very large, powerful dogs. Usually over 110 pounds. A favorite of the white supremacists because they're easily trained and white supremacists are pretty stupid and have a difficult time training more difficult, smarter dogs.
-Pressed canaries are over 110 pound? That be brunch for like an entire winter. And what those supreme white-ists of which you speak up?
-TheyÕre a group of, uh, letÕs be polite, stupid people. They think theyÕre better than everyone else. They believe that whatever country theyÕre in belongs to them. For some reason they have particular affinities for the Bavarian countries and the United States.
-IÕm grey stripey. You black. We live in New York. Where that leave us?
-White supremacists would not like us, my dear. Nor would they like Mungo, because heÕs a little fem.
-HeÕs a little fem? I thought he be half weasel, half wolverine. What this fem?
-I mean he behaves in a way that is gender ambiguous.
-Wow, you use the big words, hunny. I bet you train those pressed canaries good. Maybe you train em to speak too. You teach em some Bavarian language, maybe we intubate the supreme white-ists clubhouse.
Henrey addressed the two other cats, Mungo and Poly.
-OK, today weÕre looking at advanced waking techniques. Advanced waking techniques may be necessary on numerous occasions. Can anyone tell me what some of those occasions may be?
-Ooh! Ooh! Pick me!
-Yeah! Ooh! Like when mommy had too much to drink the night before and she didnÕt get to bed until 5 am!
-Yes, Mr. Baguette. ThatÕs a good one. Any others?
-Ooh! Ooh! Pick me!
-Yeah! Ooh! Like when mommy was kept up all night by, uh, a weasel! And she just got to sleep an hour ago!
-Why, yes, Mr. Baguette. ThatÕs a good one. Ms. Mundactyl? Do you have any examples?
-Yeah, let me check my pockets.
-I mean, do you have any examples where advanced waking techniques may be necessary?
-How about this? One where I wake right outta this class?
-Sit in your seat, Ms. Dactyl.
-They ain't no seat, BA. They a floor.
-Then sit on the floor, Ms. Dactyl. And comport yourself like a lady.
-This is stupid. And I not compost nuttin.
-OK. LetÕs move on. This diagram IÕve postedÉ
-That ainÕt no diorama. That a piece of paper with clawed marks in it.
-Well, I lost my pen.
-Howm I apposed to trust a teacher what lose his pen?
-OK. This diagram is a flow chart of advanced waking techniques, going from easiest to most extreme, with possible outcomes. We begin with the cold nose on the skin.
-ThatÕs a nice one. ItÕs like kissing.
-My nose never cold.
-Cold nose on skin will occasionally result in a swat away, but can also result, with persistence, in waking. Next we try the brush. In this one, you take your claws.
-I ainÕt got no claws. This ainÕt my job anyway. I got another job. Why I gotta learn this?
-What job do you have, Ms. Dactyl?
-I a model.
-YouÕre a model?
-Yes. That an easy job. I jes gotta look pretty all day.
-ThatÕs easy for you, Poly! YouÕre so pretty all the time!
-Yep, it true.
-Be that as it may, Ms. Dactylis, what if Mungo and I leave for aÉ trade show in Vegas? And you want to eat?
-If want to eat, the bitch feed me.
-No, you have to tell her.
-No, you tell her!
-IÕm saying what if IÕm not here!
-You not here? You look like you here. Where you be? You a holygram?
-What if I go away?
-I go with you. You need a pretty girl on yo arm you go somewheres. Peeps give you much props you travel with a pretty girl.
-Oy! Next is sniffing around the genitaliaÉ
-Yes my doe-eyed darlink?
-You gotta a cigarette?
-I have a Spiderman candy stickÉ
-That good. Lemme have it.
-Yes, Ms. Dac?
-Can I go to the bathroom?
-I need a hall pass.
Poly's Psychic hotline, fat bloated idiot, The blankets, Henrey was in nam., Lucky dollars, Have you checked the chicken?, Visit from the dog, Poly 's dream house, The nova, Merv stories, 1800 incense, bondage wif the colonel