10

Clarice Kitten and the Dangerous Noms

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Tom and Kate lived in a nice section of the forest with a group of other cats. There were humans close by, but otherwise the location was perfect. Lots of food and a clear stream. One day, they had a litter of kittens.

They were typical kittens, playful and curious. One kitten in particular, Clarice, was into everything. One day, she ran home, all excited.

Clarice: Guess what! I discovered a different kind of food!

Kate: Really dear? And what is that?

Clarice: I’m not sure. But it’s really yummy!

Kate: Why don’t you show me this food. Maybe I’ll know what it is.

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Clarice led Kate to where she had found the food. It was at the edge of the woods near a house. She pointed to an old log.

Clarice: It came from under there.

Kate: What did it look like?

Clarice: It was small and furry. It had a long tail and sharp teeth.

Since that described the majority of the food Kate had been teaching Clarice to catch, the description wasn’t very helpful.

Kate: I guess I’ll have to see one to let you know. But you need to find one closer to home. This is too close to the humans. They might see you.

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Clarice: What’s wrong with that? Will they hurt me?

Kate: You’re such a beautiful kitten, they might want you to live with them instead of here with us.

Clarice didn’t understand why her mother would care about that. Of course Clarice would never leave her family. Then she heard a strange sound. Her mother became fully alert.

Human: Oh look. The pretty kitty came back! And she brought a friend! Wait right there and I’ll bring you a treat.

Kate was horrified. She had been right. Clarice had gone too close to the humans, and now the woman had seen both of them. Before she could tell Clarice to run, the woman was back.

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Woman: Here kitty, kitty. You must be hungry. Look at the tasty noms I brought you.

Kate was offended. How dare that woman imply that she let her kittens go hungry. But Clarice was fascinated.

Clarice: Mama, what’s a nom? Maybe it’s one of the animals I caught earlier. Let’s go see.

Kate: Clarice! Run!

Kate raced back into the woods. Clarice was confused, but ran after her. When they reached home, Kate finally stopped to explain.

Kate: Clarice, you can’t ever go back there. Noms are what humans call the food they use to try to catch cats.

Clarice: Why would they want to catch cats?

Kate: I’m not sure, but we’ve lost a few neighbors that way. And they particularly like kittens.

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Clarice went to bed soon after the conversation. She had nightmares about humans chasing her. In the morning, she vowed to never go near the humans again.

But soon her curiosity got the better of her and she went to the edge of the forest. After a couple of days, the woman saw her again. The next day, there was a bowl of food just out of the forest. Clarice tried it. It was delicious. She ran home.

Clarice: Mama! Mama! I knew you were wrong!

Kate: Clarice! What are you talking about?

Clarice: The human! She left food out and it was delicious. And she didn’t come near me.

Kate: I told you not to go near the humans.

Clarice: It’s OK. She won’t hurt me.

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A few days later, Kate heard a terrible yowling and crying. She ran to the edge of the woods in time to see the human pick up a cage with Clarice in it. She watched in horror as Clarice was carried into the house. All night, the cats could hear Clarice crying.

In the morning, Kate watched as the human carried Clarice’s cage and put it in some kind of machine. The human got in too, and they disappeared. Kate sat there for hours wondering where they had taken her kitten.

Finally, the machine returned. Kate was relieved to find out that the woman had brought Clarice back. Clarice was still crying, but she sounded tired. Kate ran back to the other cats, determined to find a way to rescue her kitten.

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Kate: They still have Clarice. We have to save her.

Tom: How are we supposed to do that?

Kate: I don’t know. But we have to do something. Let’s ask Frank. He knows a lot about humans. He can help us.

Kate and Tom found Tom, and Kate explained what has happened to Clarice. Frank listened with a worried expression.

Frank: That’s terrible. You know, the humans think they know more than we do about what is best for our kittens. Let’s go see what we can do.

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To be continued…

(Ed. note – Cat Forum with Alberto from Feline Opines was supposed to run next week. However, Clarice’s story turned out to be longer than we expected. Not to worry. Alberto will get his full say in two weeks – August 19)

all pictures courtesy of Google Images

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15

Moths are More than Just Good Eating

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As you know, we at Cheeseland pride ourselves as being pan-species. We recently received an email questioning that inclusivity. It read as follows:

“We are tired of being the subject of cat jokes about how much fun we are to chase and how good we tastes. Moths have feelings too. We have never seen anything in this space about insects of any type, spiders, worms, or anything of that nature. We would like you to rectify that situation.”

The email caught us by surprise. He was right; we had never written about that type of thing. Being a mammalian type of place, Cheeseland had never considered our six-legged neighbors. So we decided to set up an interview.

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We ran into a problem right away. The author of the email lived across the country. Apparently moths (and most insects) are unable to get Skype or other video communication tools. Something about a ban against “bugs” that gets lost in translation. They’ve had trouble convincing the companies that they are actual bugs, not software glitches. The short lifespan has its issues as well.

It seemed silly to travel that far to interview one moth when there are lots of them here. One night, we sent a couple of staffers to the park to find a moth or two to speak with. Unfortunately we had not thought the issue through, and our subjects were eaten before we had the interview.

Image result for moths being eaten

The next night, we invited a couple of moths to our office and put them in a cage to keep them safe. Apparently moths have short attention spans. They kept heading for the lights in the midst of answering questions. It wasn’t much of an interview, but here’s what we got.

Cheeseland: So, tell us about yourselves.

Moth: (silence)

Cheeseland: Don’t be shy.

We look more closely. These moths don’t have mouths! How are we supposed to interview them?

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Cheeseland: Can you move a wing if the answer is ‘yes’?

Moth dips one wing.

Cheeseland: Do you only come out at night?

Moth dips his wing.

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Cheeseland: It says here that moths live about five weeks, is that true?

No answer.

Cheeseland: Don’t know what a week is?

Moth dips his wing.

Cheeseland: So you pretty much fly around all night and that’s your life?

Moth dips his wing.

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Cheeseland: Are there a lot of you?

Moth dips his wing.

Cheeseland: Do they all look like you?

No answer.

Cheeseland: So there are lots of different types of moths?

Moth dips his wing.

Cheeseland: Do you have a girlfriend?

Moth dips his wing.

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Cheeseland: Any children?

Moth dips his wing.

Cheeseland: Congratulations. That’s wonderful.

We look at each other, unable to think of any more questions that might be answered with yes or no.

Cheeseland: It has been very nice speaking, or whatever, with you moths. We wish you well.

Moth dips his wing. We let them out of the cage. Before they got more than a few feet, there was a “pounce” sound. Then crunching. It didn’t end well for our guests.

After the interview, we had a group video-conference and came to a decision. Cheeseland is not the place for insects. They are just too tasty.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

4

Breaking News; Film at 11

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It’s been a pretty exciting day in Cheeseland, and we’re here to bring you the latest on the following stories:

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Cat Burglars Break into Another Animal Mart 

The stealthy felines are at it again. Early this morning, security cameras captured two cats running away from the store with what appeared to be a trout apiece. Unfortunately the video is rather fuzzy, so it’s unclear what they actually look like. A passerby said that one was a tabby and the other a calico. Police are requesting the public’s assistance. If you have any information, you can call 555-HELP.

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Iguanas in Need of New Home

Two young iguanas have left their humans after an extended dispute over the reptiles’ diet. It appears that the humans insisted on sharing their own tastes for arugula and bean sprouts, while the iguanas wanted collard, mustard, turnip, and dandelion greens.  They all agreed on kale and beans, but the iguanas were feeling more lethargic than normal for their species. Animal Aid is hoping to find a reptile family that can foster them. Please note that the two have not reached their full size and could potentially grow another foot in length.

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Dry Weather Affecting Berry Crops

The unusually dry spring and early summer has resulted in a markedly smaller berry crop this year, particularly strawberries and raspberries. As a result, animals that rely on these fruits as a staple in their diets are having a hard time finding them. The berries that are available are extremely expensive. Some bears have been seen foraging in human orchards. We recommend that you go to our website to find the best prices and alternative food sources.

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Protection Against Fleas and Ticks

As you are probably aware, July 21 – 28 is Flea and Tick Awareness Week this year. Unfortunately, the more appropriate dates in May were taken over by the Cicada Welcome Celebration. You can get a free exam at the Health Center all week, as well as information on non-chemical treatment and prevention options.

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Rabies Hospice Center Needs Your Help

Since there still is no cure for rabies, the best that we can do is try to help these animals in their suffering. Since each patient must be kept in isolation, it can be an expensive undertaking. Any financial donation is welcome. The Hospice says that they are well-stocked in poison for those who wish to end their own suffering. Please visit our website for more information on how you can help.

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Preparation for Winter

If you are an animal who hibernates or goes into torpor, it’s not to early to start thinking about your needs for this winter. The Center for Seasonal Studies at the College of Animal Wellness is offering a free seminar on the necessities for survival.It is open to anyone interested in the subject, The seminar is free, but space is limited. Registration is required. Contact the Center for further information.

These are just the highlights of the stories. Join Biff and Buffy tonight at 11 for these stories and more, plus the weather and sports.

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(all pictures courtesy of Google Images)

7

Cat Forum: Interview with Charlie, Lily, Ting, and Tooty

Snoops and Kommando Kitty here.Today we are interviewing the ladies from samanthamurdochblog. It’s supposed to be about crystals (they look like rocks), but we think it would be a lot more interesting if it were about the cats. As you will see below, the cats are much more entertaining than rocks.

Here is the human’s introduction of the sisters: Charlie (tabby) is the oldest, at 7, Lily (smaller black cat) is younger by a couple of months and Ting (Siamese) and Tooty (larger black cat) are litter mates and sisters, four years old. Charlie doesn’t have an awful lot of time for the others, she is, after all, “Madame La Princesse”, Lily is the hunter of the family, while Ting and Tooty love each other and even now will still sleep curled up together.
Would each of you please introduce one of your sisters and tell us one good thing about her?
“I’m Charlie – well, actually Princess Charlotte Oddpaw – and I’m Number One Girl… Mummy really wanted me…what? Something nice? I’m beautiful, obviously… oh about one of the others. Oh. That’s Lily. She has green eyes.”
Lily (yawning) : “Madame’s already introduced herself… so this is me. Fierce huntress…night goddess…those two grinning idiots over there are Ting and Tooty.”
Ting;: ” Yes, I’m Ting, she’s Tooty and we’re – “
(Ting and Tooty sing like the Beverley Sisters): “Sisters! Sisters! Never were there such devoted sisters!”
Ting: “Tooty is really cuddly and soft and she has lovely golden eyes and I like to sit and cuddle with her!”
Tooty:”My little sister Ting. Isn’t she beautiful?”

Are you all buddies or are there times you wish you were an only cat?
Ting: “Oh no, we’re all really good friends!”
Tooty : “Sometimes, I’m actually a bit scared of the older girls..”
Lily:”Only cat.”
Charlie: ” I was here first, so yes, only cat.”

 It looks very pretty where you live. Do you get to enjoy the wildlife?
Charlie (bossily) : “Well, we’re quite lucky actually, we do have a large garden that’s right next to a park, so we do have plenty of room to explore and maintain our own territories – a princess needs her kingdom. And yes, sometimes there are other…creatures that dare to enter without permission…a smelly old fox came in once and I soon saw him off!”
Lily: “Hehehe…oh yes, I just LOVE to get up close and personal with our native wildlife… mice…frogs…sparrows… I’m always willing to further my acquaintance with nature…
Ting (looking worried):” What’s wildlife? You mean like …tigers..and bears..?”
Tooty whispers in her ear…
Ting: “OH!” I see… well, there’s George, Bert and Harry, down by the pond, they’re always good for a laugh, Sharon, Tracey and Henrietta, the sparrows…Hey! Lily! Do you remember when you caught Barry the Newt? Wild? He was furious!!”

 

Does your human ever let you get near her special healing stones?

Charlie: ” Oh yes, Mummy says it’s good for us to be around crystals, they encourage positivity and help a happy atmosphere…”

(The others look vaguely sceptical and the word “catnip” is muttered…)
What’s your favorite thing to do with your human?
Charlie: “Mummy does a lot of scribbling in her little books, I like to sit by her and provide inspiration with my beauty.”
Ting:”I like to be outside with her, we play and we look at things like beetles and flowers and she tells me things about them.”
Lily:”I always like to be there for her when she’s sleeping… I sit on the windowsill and keep watch.”
Tooty:” I’m generally always around, making sure that things run smoothly.”
Charlie:” It’s nicest when we’re all outside together… or all sleeping on the bed around her, as she reads, or writes, or drinks tea…”
Do you think your human spends enough time with you?
Charlie:” Oh yes. Even when she has to go out, Daddy is usually in, so we’re very rarely alone…I happen to know that Mummy draws a lot of inspiration for her blog from us – I even have my own hashtag on Instagram, #madamelaprincesse – we’re generally always together.”
(others actually nod in agreement.)
What’s your favorite way to spend time?
Charlie:”With Mummy, of course!”
Lily:” Hunting…”
Ting: “Playing. We could play now?”
Tooty :”Sleeping…eating…”
Ting:” Well that’s totally boring!”
Have you ever met a hedgehog? (Horatio Hedgehog asks this question every time we interview someone from across the Pond)
Ting: “Is that what you are? I thought you looked like Ernie…”
Lily:” Are they edible…?”
Tooty: ” Ah yes, we had one in the pond once…”
Charlie:” I must apologise for my family’s rudeness… yes, we do, in fact , have a large – and rather grumpy – hedgehog that lives at the bottom of the garden.”

 How do you feel about dogs?
Lily: ” My birth mother lived in a house with three dogs, and Mummy had a little dog when we came to live with her. She’s crossed over Rainbow Bridge now…”
Charlie: ” She was a good dog – not so sure about some of the ones we see on the park. They’re a bit rude!”
Tooty: ” we owe our lives to a dog. We – “
Ting: ” – were only little, and lost, and a kind lady’s dog found us in the hedge, then Mummy took us home!”

 

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Charlie: ” It can be tough, living in a multi-cat household, but it’s the 21st century. We all have to adapt and get along…just leave my mousies alone… I’m looking at you, Ting…”

 

(ed note: We tried and tried to get the spacing right on this interview, but for some reason WordPress won’t let us. It looks really cramped to us. It may have too much white space by the time it gets to you. Our apologies.)

10

Road Trip! The Gators’ Summer Vacation – Part 3

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The gators made it to Tennessee, but ran into some bad luck there. They were tuned away from the motel because they were alligators. Then the place they chose to sleep turned out to be a cold river, and they were on the edge of torpor. When we left them, they had just been discovered by a couple of bears. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Bear (looking closely): It’s those two alligators from work. What’re they doing here?

Cub: Alligators! Our teacher told us about alligators, but I never thought I’d really see one! They live where it’s hot!

Bear: I know, Billy. These two came up to visit, but weren’t allowed to stay at the motel because the owner was afraid of losing business. They must have decided to sleep here.

Billy: But, daddy, it’s much too cold for them here. They probably can’t even move they’re so cold. We have to help them.

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Bear: What do you think we should do, Billy? Won’t they get better in the morning?

Billy: The teacher said that it takes a long time in the sun for them to wake up. What if it’s not sunny tomorrow? We need to get them out and warm them up.

Abby and Al listened to this, and relaxed a little. At least the bears weren’t talking about eating them. On the other hand, the cub was right. If it didn’t get warm enough to revive them fully, the gators would start going into torpor. They hoped the little bear had some kind of good idea.

Bear (looking at the river): Umm. Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Gator. I’m Will Bear. I think we met earlier today in town. My son tells me that you may be in trouble and we need to get you out of that river. You look kinda long for me to do it by myself, so I’m going to get someone to help. Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.

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Will and Billy walked into the woods. The gators waited, hoping for the best. The bears returned home and told the neighbors about the gators. Will’s wife Betty seems a little hesitant.

Betty: Are you sure they’re really alligators? Maybe you two were just looking at a couple of logs.

Will: Dear, we live in the woods. I know what a log looks like.

Billy: And they had eyes.

Betty: I don’t know. Couldn’t they eat us?

Will: They seemed nice enough when I saw them in town. No one would let them stay, so they came out here to sleep.

Billy: Besides, Mom, they can’t move.

Bob: There are more of us than there are of them. If there’s a problem, we can handle it.

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The bears went down to the river. They appeared to be puzzled.

Bob: There’s definitely a couple of reptiles in there. But they’re big and look like they’re stuck in the mud. How do we get them out?

George: I think we need three bears per gator. One at the head, one at the tail, and one in the middle. If we lift together, it should work.

Bob: OK. Then what do we do?

Will: We’ll take them back to my den. I’ll get my older boys to help us warm them up.

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The gators were a little concerned about this plan, but really didn’t have a choice. They hoped they didn’t end up in three pieces getting out of the river. The bears climbed in and put their paws under the gators. With a little effort, they got the gators out of the mud. The six bears managed to get the two gators to Will’s den and lay them down.

Betty: OK, Joe and Jim are here. Now what?

They all stood in silence, watching the gators.

Billy: I know! We’re all warm and furry. Let’s put them between us tonight. Maybe it will be enough to get their blood flowing.

Abby was terrified. But before she knew it, she was between two large sleeping bears. She tried to relax. Before she knew it, the bears were moving again.

Betty: Good morning, everyone. How are our guests doing?

Billy: Let me see!

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The larger bears got up and looked at the gators. The larger one tried to say something.

Will: What’s he saying?

Billy (leaning down): I think it’s “Thank you.”

Will: It’s quite all right, Mr. Gator. Are you OK?

Al closed his eyes again. Will nudged him with a paw to see if he was still alive.

Al: Need more sleep.

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Will: I have to get to work. The rest of you lay down again. Don’t get up until they can stand.

The bears surrounded the gators again and relaxed. By the time Will got home, everyone was up and talking.

Abby: Here he is. Our hero!

Will (embarrassed): It wasn’t me. If Billy hadn’t noticed you, none of the rest would have happened.

Abby: We were all laughing about how we were afraid we would be eaten by the other.

Betty: It’s such a shame that they couldn’t stay in town. They are such nice creatures.

Will: You know how they are in there. If you’re not a small mammal, they’re sure you out to make them dinner.

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Al: But you work there.

Will: As security. That’s the only job a bear can get. Just in case something bad comes walking through the door.

Billy: Well I’m glad they wouldn’t let the gators stay. I never would have met them otherwise. And now they’re staying!

Betty: I’ve convinced them to stay a couple of days with us. I’m going to show them a couple of nice sunny spots for daytime, and they can sleep here.

Will: That’s great! Welcome!

The gators ended up having a great vacation. They spent the days in the sun, and the bears caught fish for dinner. They knew the other gators would never believe them, so they took lots of pictures and promised to keep in touch.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

11

Road Trip! The Gators’ Summer Vacation – Part 2

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Al and Abby Gator have left their swamp in southern Florida for a visit to more temperate Tennessee. You can read Part 1 here.

Soon enough Abby and Al had a good idea of what the human’s desire to “go viral” was going to mean for them. It seemed like every time they started making progress on the drive, they would pull over. It was usually at a gas station or restaurant. The guy would get out and invite people over to see “his” alligators. Invariably he would draw a crowd of people to look at his “tame” alligators. It was totally humiliating, and the Gators hoped no one they knew would see it.

Abby and Al tried to endure it with dignity. It was terrible having a bunch of humans trying to put dirty hands on their bodies. It wasn’t even the children who wanted to pet them; it was the adults. Finally Al had enough. When one particularly obnoxious man said he wanted to “pet the suitcase-to-be”, Al snapped at him.

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The driver loved it. At the next stop, he showed the video of the “vicious” alligator he was courageously transporting. Luckily they arrived at Orlando before Al tried to discover how courageous he really was. They were dropped at the station for the Raccoon Brothers Regional Rail Lines.

Abby: Thank goodness! I thought we’d never get here.

Al (growling): It’s a good thing. The world was almost minus a couple of humans. Not that anyone would have noticed those two were gone.

Abby: Forget about them. I’m so excited! We’re finally on our way!

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Conductor: Welcome aboard. We don’t see many alligators.  May I see your tickets, please?

(Abby hands them to him.)

Conductor (looking at the tickets): Don’t think I’ve ever seen a gator go that far north. You sure this is really where you want to go?

Abby: Oh yes! I’ve done a lot of research. We can’t wait!

Conductor: Well then, have a wonderful time.

Abby: See how nice he was? He wasn’t even afraid of us.

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Al: I guess you’re right. This will be a good trip. I’m worn out from that horrible truck ride. Wake me when we get there.

(Al fell asleep almost immediately. Abby cuddled up next to him and was soon asleep too. A while later, the conductor noticed that their breathing had slowed considerably. Afraid of what would happen if they got too cold, he found a large blanket and covered them.)

Abby: Al! Wake up! Look out the window!

Al (mumbling): mmm…why?

Abby: We’re almost there. It’s very pretty.

Al (looking out): Where are we?

Abby: Tennessee, silly. Don’t you remember?

Al: What happened to the ground? It’s not flat.

Abby: I know! The conductor says that the little ones are called hills and the big ones are mountains.

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Al: And the trees look funny. Where are the palms and the cypress trees?

Abby: They don’t have those here.

Al: We better take pictures of it. The other gators will never believe this.

(The train stops and they get off. The sun is hot, and Al relaxes a little. )

Al: So where’s the swamp? I want to bask and warm up a little.

Abby: This is Tennessee. They don’t have swamps. They have rivers.

Al: You didn’t tell me they don’t have swamps.

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Abby (nervously): I didn’t know they didn’t have swamps. I thought there were swamps everywhere, so I didn’t ask.

Al: What’s wrong, Abby?

Abby: Everyone’s staring at us. And I don’t see a single reptile anywhere.

Al: I’m sure they’re staring because you’re so beautiful. Where are we staying?

Abby (pointing): Over there. The Critter Comfort Inn.

(They enter the lobby. The lobby empties and the little opossum behind the desk faints. The gators look around, confused. The manager, a rather large raccoon, comes out. He is accompanied by two large bears.)

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Manager: May I help you?

Abby: Yes, please. We have a reservation. It’s under Al and Abby Gator.

Manager (looking at his computer): Did you register online?

Abby: Yes.

Manager: What did you put down as species?

Abby: Alligator, of course.

Manager (embarrassed): There seems to be a problem with your reservation. It shows the species as “unknown”. The system doesn’t recognize “alligator.” We’ve never had one stay here.

Al (irritated): Is that a problem?

Manager: Unfortunately, it is. We cater to small mammals.

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Al: And you can’t make an exception?

Manager: I’d like to. You seem like nice folks. But like I said, we cater to small mammals. If word got out that we had alligators here, it would ruin our business.

Abby: Why?

Al (sarcastically): Because they think we’re going to eat them.

Manager: I’m sorry. But alligators do have that reputation.

Al: Fine. We’ll take our business elsewhere.

(The gators stalked out without eating anyone. As a gesture of goodwill they left a bag of their favorite treats, Boa Bites. They thought the mammals probably didn’t like snakes either.)

Abby (sobbing): I’m so sorry Al. I had no idea they’d be so specie-ist. They looked so nice in the pictures.

Al: Don’t worry, honey. We’ll hydrate ourselves in one of their rivers and take the next train home.

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Abby: OK. But let’s go out of town. I don’t like it here.

(They found a nice spot with a soft sandy bottom. Neither of them realized that the night air would get as chilly as it did. They were unable to move when they heard a noise.)

Cub: Daddy, what are those?

(The gators looked up to see one of the large bears they had seen earlier at the Comfort Inn.)

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Next time: Dinner Guest or Dinner? The Conclusion

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images.

 

9

Road Trip! The Gators’ Summer Vacation

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It had been abnormally hot and steamy in the southern Florida swamp. While most of the gators loved it, Abigail had had enough. She was a Carolina gator who had met Al on a spring trip to Panama City. It was love at first sight, and they spent their time curled up in a hot tub some human had forgotten to drain.

When it was time to go home, Al invited Abby to come with him. She didn’t hesitate and had been living south of Miami ever since. It had been an adjustment. She thought it smelled weird, and all the gators did was lie around. She loved Al and she soon adapted. But this summer was too much.

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Abby: Al, the heat is starting to make me cranky.

Al: Sweetheart, you’re an alligator. Being cranky is part of our charm.

Abby: I want to go somewhere for vacation.

Al: OK, we can go to somewhere on the coast. You pick the spot.

Abby: I was thinking a little more north.

Al: Back to Panama City? That would be nice.

Abby: Um. A little further north.

Al: How much further north?

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Abby: Tennessee.

Al: Where is Tennessee? I’ve never heard of it.

Abby: It’s north of Georgia.

Al: That doesn’t sound very tropical. Exactly how far is it?

Abby (hesitating): Well, I couldn’t get the exact mileage, but it’s about 850 miles.

Al: 850 miles! Abby, we’re alligators. It would take us years. There’s no way we can take that kind of trip. Find someplace closer or we’re not going.

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Abby (starting to cry): Just look at the pictures. See, the humans are wearing shorts. That means it’s warm. And the place I found has a hot tub. It’ll be romantic, just like when we first met. We can leave the kids with your sister.

Al: What’s that big, furry thing standing in this picture?

Abby: It says it’s a bear. I’m not sure what that is, but I’m sure it’s well-mannered since it’s at a resort.

Al: I don’t see any alligators in these pictures. All the animals are furry.

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Abby: I’m sure it’s just because of where they took the pictures.

Al realizes that Abby really has her heart set on going to this place.

Al: OK. How do we get there?

Abby: I thought that we could take an airplane, but we gators don’t have our own airline. Apparently, not enough of us fly. We used to be able to take All Animals, but they went out of business. The last one available is Creature Air Comfort, but they’ve banned gators.

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Al: Isn’t that discriminatory?

Abby: Apparently not. In the past few years, there have been five instances of gators eating other passengers.

Al: Trust some hooligans to ruin it for everyone.

Abby: So the next fastest way to get there is by train. The only problem is that the trains from Miami charge gators double because of the eating other passengers thing. We’d need to go to Orlando to get a decent rate. Apparently there are lots of humans in the area who spoil the alligators, so they don’t bother the other animals.

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Al: Well, there’s one positive to the human invasion down here. So how do we get to Orlando?

Abby: Well your sister Jean told me about something the humans have, called ride-sharing. Some people do it because they’re friends, but other people do it for anyone to make money.

Al: Well, that’s great, but we don’t know any humans.

Abby: Jean does. Some guy who was out here taking pictures. He said that driving alligators to Orlando would make him “viral.” We don’t know what that means, but she made sure that he would deliver us to the train station alive and in good shape.

Al (defeated): So when does he pick us up?

Early Saturday morning, the driver arrives in an old pickup truck. He has filled the bed with water after laying down blankets for their comfort. He has a friend who is recording everything while talking the whole time. Abby and Al climb in, ready to start their adventure.

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Next time: Tennessee is definitely not the tropics.

(Pictures courtesy of Google Images)