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.

 

4

Where’d Everyone Go?

(Kommando and Snoops woke up Monday morning starving as usual. Snoops went over and woke up Kommando.)

Snoops: Hey! Why isn’t there any food? Didn’t you wake up the humans? You know that’s your job. It’s already light outside.

Kommando: Bad news. Remember when they got in the car yesterday? They never came home. They aren’t anywhere in the house.

Snoops: Oh no!! I wonder if something happened to them? Who’s gonna feed us and take care of us? I am NOT going back to that shelter. They stuck me in a cage and all I could smell was dogs. And there is no Cat TV. And the food was awful!

Kommando: What about me? This was my only home. I was left at the side of the road.

Snoops: Don’t panic! It’s not a crisis yet. We still have dry food and water.

Kommando: I have a great idea!! We could use that computer thingy and order out.

Snoops: That is a great idea! And we can look for new humans too. When it gets cold again we’ll need someone to snuggle up against.

Kommando: OK, Snoops, you’re the one who spends all the time in here. What do we do first?

Snoops: Well, the first thing Dad does is push in that button. (points to “ON” switch).

Kommando: Oof (pushes with her whole body). Maybe it’s stuck. Mrrrrow! (Falls over as the computer turns on.)

(Hear somebody at the back door.)

Kommando: Run! That’s not our humans.

Male Voice: Here kitty, kitty. I’m here to feed you while your humans are out of town.

(Cats look at each other.)

Snoops: What do you think?

Kommando: Anyone could come in and say that. Maybe he wants to kidnap us and sell us to rogue Canadians to use as sled dog trainers.

(Snoops stares at Kommando.)

Kommando: What? It could be true.

(They hear a can of food being opened and sneak forward.)

Kommando: He doesn’t look too dangerous.

Snoops: Naw, I’ve seen him with the beta male. Just watch out for his feet.

Male: Oh there you two are! Here’s your food. I’ll change your water too.

Kommando: Should we trust him?

Snoops: I’m hungry! And he’s feeding us the right stuff. I’m eating.

(Runs over and starts to scarf down the food. Kommando sniffs her food and begins to eat.)

Kommando: Yumm! It’s our food. We won’t starve.

(They don’t notice the male leaving. The next day he appears about the same time. They greet him at the door, meowing.)

Male: Hi, cats! How’ve you been?

(Kommando rubs her head against his leg.)

Male: You’re so cute. No wonder your humans said they’d miss you while they were gone. They’ll be back in a couple of days.

(Snoops and Kommando look at each other. They wait until the male humans leaves.)

Snoops: They’re coming back! They’ll probably bring treats to make up for leaving us. I wonder where they went.

Kommando: Who cares? We should have a party to celebrate!

Snoops: Great idea! You send out the KittyChat, and I’ll check out what’s in the refrigerator and cupboards. Tell them to bring their own milk if they want it.

Snoops in Fridge 3

(Later)

Snoops: Kommando, how many people did you send that KittyChat to?

Kommando: Just our mailing list.

Snoops: Then why did so many cats come?

Kommando: Ummm – Well, I did tell them they could bring a friend if they wanted. I wanted to make sure they knew they could bring their mates. And I did tell them it was going to be awesome because the humans were out of town.

Snoops: We don’t know a gang of alley cats. There aren’t any alleys around here.

Kommando: They said you were cage-mates at the shelter. At least everyone’s gone before the neighbors saw.

Snoops: This place looks awful. We need to clean it up.

Kommando: Why? Most of the damage is outside. We don’t go outside. They’ll think raccoons did it.

Snoops: What about the house?

Kommando: They didn’t clean before they left. They’ll just think we did the rest because we thought they deserted us.

Snoops: You’re smarter than you look. Let’s take a nap.

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6

Is WordPress Specie-ist?

As I was wandering through some blogs a few days ago, I made a discovery. There are a lot of blogs about/by cats. Which makes sense, since everyone knows cats are the original Internet stars. There are probably an equal number about dogs, although I really didn’t do a full recon on that. In fairness, for me size matters when it comes to dogs. Generally speaking, I prefer those of 40 pounds or more.

Of course, I found some posts about hedgehogs. Lord Nelson (my hedgehog) seemed to be the predominant recurring character. I guess grumpy and spiny is not for everyone. In fairness to Horatio, though, he has stopped huffing at me.

The only thing I found for bears were some very nice photos, but nothing with any personality. Likewise for most creatures who live in the wild. Raccoons and bats made the cut for the cuteness or nuisance factor. Not exactly material for an ongoing storyline. I disqualified blogs like Cute Overload who have a variety of animals, but only pictures/videos intended to make you say “awwwww”.

Then I tried to figure out how one would put backyard critters in a blog. When I looked out the window this morning, I would have sworn it was November: cool, gray and rainy. Eureka! A story about how the little guys decide where to winter. Hint: most of them can’t afford the fare to Florida or Padre Island. If we’re quiet, we can listen in:

The fall meeting of the semi-rural/suburban animals was about to get started. Squirrel, the most energetic of the group, was getting ready to moderate. He looked around to make sure everyone was represented.

Then he frowned and pointed. “You predators, you know you’re not allowed at these meetings.” The coyote slunk off, but the rest stayed.

Fox: You never let us stay. What are going to say that’s so top-secret?

Squirrel: You know very well that the main topics of these meetings are food and safety. The last time we let you guys stay, you and raccoon spent the meeting whispering about which of us looked tastiest and which was the easiest to catch. We’re talking about winter survival today. Now scram!

Raccoon: We have to survive too, you know.

Squirrel: Maybe, but not by eating us.

Fox and Raccoon walked away. The deer made a circle around the little group to keep them out.

Squirrel: OK, does everyone have a den ready?

Woodchuck: We found a great place under an old tree trunk. My cousin Woody already claimed the primo spot under the deck.

Rabbit: Just remember, Woodchuck, we live in that complex too. Keep the noise down.

Woodchuck: What are you talking about? We hibernate all winter. You guys are the ones practicing to repopulate the world in the spring.

Mouse: We’re taking our usual spot in the walls of those two old houses over there (points to a couple of Victorian holdovers).

Mole: Well, be careful. There’s a couple of domestics over there that roam around a lot outside.

Mouse: Not to worry. The pointy-eared one spends the winter in front of the fire and the floppy-eared one only comes out to mess up the landscape. The human won’t stay out and play with him.

Squirrel: Are all of you going to fit in those two houses?

Mouse: Not a chance! But the older kids want to try toughing it out in the woodpile. I tried to tell them that the humans use those woodpiles in the winter. They think they won’t get caught. You know what it’s like trying to talk to kids.

The animals all laugh and nod.

Frog: It’s almost time for us to burrow into the mud for the season, so we’re set.

Snake: Same here. What about you, squirrel?

Squirrel: We’re splitting up this year. Some of us are going the usual route and sleeping in trees. But my brother Earl heard that attics are nice and toasty in the winter.

Mole: There’s bats up there!

Squirrel: Earl says they were all driven out over the summer.

Mole: But the humans will hear you.

Squirrel: That’s part of the plan. The mice will be in the walls and the squirrels will be in the attic. It’ll drive the humans nuts, but it will be too cold for them to do anything about it. We just have to get out quick in the spring.

Mole: I think the rest of us will just hang out at the club underground. It’s pretty cozy if we cuddle up. We mostly sleep anyway.

Squirrel: Well, it looks like everyone’s set. The community center has extra nesting material if you still need any. Otherwise, on to the potluck! Remember, you can take as much as you want, but eat everything you take. It’s the season for bulking up, we don’t want any food to get wasted. Anything you brought that’s not eaten, you can either take home or donate to the emergency pantry.

The animals disperse to eat and talk.

The humans have been inside commenting on how cute they all are. They don’t realize they are about to be invaded.