Saturday, October 31, 2009

Maykin Contakt Unegspektidlee

Mom Says:

(Yeah, long blog = go to litterbox. Get used to it. We’re not going to tell you from now on.)

Agent Octavian quite liked his new friend Picotero Paco, the Brussels sprouts farmer and flamenco singer, but honestly! The beautiful mouse dancer was nice, but it felt like Paco had been singing for a whole week.

Ya no sufro! Noooooo!
Ahora yoy a dar mi corazòn,
mi corazòn sangrante,
sóloooooo a la lunaaa….

(No longer will I suffer! No!
Now I shall give my heart,
my bleeding heart,
only to the moon….

“Huh!” Octavian thought to himself. “Suffr, suffr, moon, moon. Enugf alreddee! Is tim fer som disco!” But just as he was thinking this, Paco ended with a flourish. Timidora bowed. The guitaristas stood and bowed. Paco shook himself as if he were coming out of a dream. The crowd stomped and whistled and shouted, “Olé! PicoPaco! Olé!”

Musashi Sez:

So old Paco went off, mutterin that he had ben hijackd by “duende,” whutevr that is, an got himself a dringk. I assoom he got som likyoooor de sprowt de Bursels or like that, but I din’t talk to him again aftr.

An that wuz moslee cuz the pertee mousee laydee com to our taybul to talk to us. Malena pickt up the strugglin Gato and givd him to that othr gy, sayin, “Javier, tenemos camarones extra? Alimentan a este gato con la puerta cerrada. Entendido?”

“Si,” sed Haveeyayr, tryin to keep Gato wift jus 2 arms, but akshul he do okay.

The mousee lookd onlee a littul happier aftr Gato left. She kept givn me the hairy eyball. I tried purrin, but that not seem to halp.

Alek manidjd to calm her down by talking about her dansin as if he nu stuff. Huh. He spoktid in a mix of Spannish an Inglish, an somtimz Malena tranzlaytid an somtimz Perro did. I wuz not folloin the conversayshun until Alek did somthin to mai collr that he calld “chaynjin the freekwensee.” At ferst, I wuz insultd, thingkin he wer callin me a freek, but wen whut he did werkd, I figgrd it had somthin to do wift the mousee laydee’s reellee high vois.

Mom Says:

After making Señora Timidora comfortable with small-talk, Alek said, “You know, I think your husband and I, and my friend Octavian here, have a mutual friend in London, with his initials…”

Timidora squeaked, “O?”

And Alek said, “No. M.”

And Timidora said, “O! What U wan?”

“We’d like to meet with him, if we could.”


“It’s…complex. But his former employer is up to old tricks, and we are hoping to avoid a big mess. Entendido?”


“Could you arrange it?”

“Ah… May B…C… Ah... I tell M. Mmmmm. Huh! C! Com wif Mee!”

And before any of them had planned to move, they were following her out of the bar and into the darkened city streets of Grrrranada.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wae Up Ther on Byootifulest List

Mom Says:

It wasn’t even midnight when Octavian and his friends sat down with Malena, the bar owner/flamenco dancer, so it wasn’t a big surprise that, as they talked, customers—new (no bruises) and old (lots of Band-Aids)—came to the Vista Granada and began (or resumed) their eating, drinking, and listening to the music. Because of course, Paco, that old trouper, just kept on singing out the pain of all the cats of southern Spain, the human gypsies of Andalucia, and all those of every species and every region whose love had ever been betrayed, whose hearts had ever been shredded.

La luuuuuna es fría, pero honestoo.
Aaaay yaaaa yi yi yi yi yai!
La luuuuuna se ve mi dooolooor,
el suuufrimentooo que me causaste.

(The moon is cold, but honest.
Ouch! Ow! Ow! Owww!
The moon sees my pain,
the suffering you caused me.

Octavian sat next to Malena in the corner booth, one front paw on her leg, and listened adoringly as she described the history of flamenco music and dance.

“You see,” she said. “The gypsies heeer have been mistreated, spat upon, called outsiders, and pushed out, overrr and overrr. So when the gypsy stamps the foot in the flamenco, he is saying, ‘Heer, thees my home, wherre I stand!’ So, you know, next time other peeeples make heem move on, well, the land is deefferent, yes, but hees feet are the same, and he can always claim the place he stand as hees home. You see?”

Octavian and Gato purred. Alek nodded quite seriously, saying, “Señorita—“

But Malena’s attention had shifted to her feet. She looked down and said, “Si, dígale a Javier para configurarlo para usted.”

The Spaniard who had helped clean up dragged a table in front of the musicians and wiped it down with a rag. Nodding to the guitarists (because Paco was in a world of his own), he stepped away again. Octavian and Gato, who saw the flash of white and red move from the floor to the table, flexed to leap at it, but Malena’s strong hands fell on their collars and restrained them. “You no attack Señora Timidora. Sheee eeez one of our best dancers. You heer mee?”

And the cats purred penitently, but Malena did not let go.

They watched breathlessly as a tiny white mouse, in a scarlet dress and a lacy black veil, began to dance. If Octavian had been impressed by Malena’s easy human gracefulness, he was absolutely floored by the natural elegance of the little mouse.

“Wow!” said Octavian, betraying his American roots. “She the bomb! Whu is she?”

Malena let go his collar (while still holding onto Gato’s). “Shee eez called Timidora, because she marreed a Russhian whu did not approoov of her Christian name: Maria de los Gatos Timidoro Garcia.”

Octavian said, “So her husbun, the Russhin, is a Garcia? That don’t sound rigt.”

“No, no. Her mother was Garcia. Her father was Timidoro. What does her husband have to do weeeth eet?”

Alek turned to Octavian, saying, “It’s cultural, old man. I’ll explain it later.”

The little white mouse, Timidora, danced with her tiny eyes closed, passionately,

Poooodré amar de nuevoooo,
después de suuuuuu traicióooon
espiadada? De la luuunaaa
brillaaaa de nuevooooo,
después de que ha disminuidooo?

(Shall I ever love again,
after your heartless betrayal?
Shall the moon shine again,
after it has waned?

“Wow,” Octavia said again. “Whut’s her husbnd’s naym?”

“Heem?” said Malena disparagingly. “Oh, hee neverrr com heeer. Heees naym is Mysh Medvyedovich Myshov…”

Alek sat up very straight. “Really,” he said. “What a fantastic dancer she is. Do you think we could express our admiration to her later?”

Malena said, “Si, right after thees song.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Meetin up wift Mai Homeez

Mom Says:

Long blog. Visit your litterbox or equivalent. Kthx.

Musashi Sez:

In his faymus book, The Hobbit, Perfessr Tolkien sed that the fun stuff gets told reellee eezee an goez reellee fast, but the borin stuff tayk wae too mutch time to tell. Or somthin lik that. (I din’t pae too mutch attenshun cuz the book got no kitteez in it. Yah. Non at all! Kin yu imajin?).

Aneewae, we skeddaduld unner the bar whyl the tall laydee egsplayned to the Grrranada polees about the stoopid barfigt. We kept an unconshus ninja bak ther wift us, an the polees took the rest awae. An I noe yu’r goin to be surpryzd (tho neethr the laydee or the polees showd the littlest surpryz), but mai fren, gud old Paco? Yah. He jus kept singin:

La luuuuna brillaaaaa con friàldad.
Aay yaaa yi yi yi yai! Aay yai yi yi!
Suuu luuuuz se meustraaaa al mundoo
cooooon claaaaaaridaaaad
looo que haaaaaa hechoooo.

(The moon shines coldly.
Ouch! Ow! Ow! Ouch! Ow!
Her light shows the world
clearly what you have done.

Mom Says:

After the police left, Alek and another man helped the bar’s owner sweep up the glass and mop down the floors. Still on the floor behind the bar, Octavian, Perro and Gato woke up the ninja and interrogated him.

Well, okay, that’s the nice way of putting it. Actually what happened was this: Perro licked his face (the black mask had long since gone the way of most shoe-shine rags), and Octavian tested his claws on the man’s neck. Gato, whose HyprNip high (long story, Alek will catch you up later) had finally receded, sat back in the corner, groggily licking his legs and occasionally glaring at the ninja when the poor man faltered in his tale.

He spoke in Japanese, haltingly, rubbing his jaw. “Ano, neh, boku wa nigatsu kara…watakushi-tachi no onna-no-hito no nekko no jinja ni… hatarakimashita. Hai! Hai!...”

And the LingwaTron translated into English. “Ah, well, since February I have been working at Our Lady of the Cat shrine. Yes! Yes! Honorable Lord Brother hired us for defense and for a future danger he was awaiting. My fellow soldiers and I only found out what the danger was when these two, er, honorable animals, with their honorable dog-friend, arrived at the shrine. All was uproar. As for the Honorable Lord Brother, his face shone like the sun. He summoned us and gathered us around the Honorable Dog-the-Prophet, and we guarded him. Then today, an alarm sounded. Enemies threatened! We meditated and polished our swords and stood ready. But then…”

Octavian sent a few needle-like claws into the man’s throat, gently, but still the man whimpered. Perro said, “Now Octayvion, we mus be paysient wift thees fellr, as he has been cleerlee tromotyzed frrrom theee battul, no? Com, now, Señor Ninja, tell us yu naym, eh?”

“Tanaka Kumo desu. Ano…hajime mashita?” (I am Spider Tanaka. Er…How do you do?”

Perro yawned hugely, managing to show the length and sharpness of his teeth without making it seem like that had been his point; after all, surely, it had been a very long day, had it not? Perro said, “Si, wee arrr verrrree glad to meetchu, Señor Tanaka. But yu got to noe that wee weel bee eeevn morrrr glad eeeef yu tell us thee trrrruth about, mmm, yerrr employerrrrz, eh?”

The ninja, no doubt to his everlasting shame, fainted. Since Alek had tied him tightly, the three friends let him be and came out from under the bar to be welcomed by the lady in the red dress.

“Ahhh, so yuuu arrrr thee onez who brrrrought theez, whatchucall, ninjaz heeer?”

“Er,” said Perro, ducking his head.

Octavian said, “Whu me?”

And Gato looked up at her with huge dark eyes and purred, “I ammmm soooo sorrrreeeeee, Señorrrrita! Had I noen wherrrr mai direkshunz werrrr leeedeeng us, I wud nevverrrr hav led them heeeeerrrrr.”

Octavian noticed with surprise how the human woman responded less to the content of his statement than to its feline harmonics.

“Well,” she said, and sighed.

Octavian leaped in. He whipped the flat, black Spanish hat off his head and bowed elegantly (it was the hat, he thought; there was no way he could have pulled off such a gymnastic feat otherwise). “Señorrrrrita! Yu hav intrrrodoost me to the incomprrrabl joyzzz of flllamenco! How can I evvvvr repay yu?” He wondered if he had gotten the harmonics right.

He had. She softened, spine first, and bent down and pet his silky fur. “What? The flamenco ees new to you? But you arrrr a natchurrrallll…”

“Perrrhaps,” suggested Octavian, “we shud sit an talk!”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Evrbodee Wuz Barroom Figtin!

Mom Says:

Chairs flew. Bottles smashed. Knives were drawn. Small tables served as shields for individual fighters and as barricades for (the rare and few) noncombatants. The musicians, who like all musicians knew that they would get paid only if they kept playing, played. Paco sang:

Uuuuusted está más bellaaaaaa
que la luuuuuuna y más fríooooo.
¡Ooooooo, cómooooo me largoooo
para el sooool.

(You are lovelier than the moon
and more cold. O!
How I long for the sun!

So, if nothing else, at least the fight was accompanied by the rhythm and poetry of love betrayed. That had to help.

Smack! Bam! Biff! And that was just the humans. The caterwauling of the cats as they attacked dogs, ninjas, non-ninja humans, and each other, was ear-splitting, but all the musicians in the venue noted that there was also a constant bass undertone, provided by the big dogs with their solemn Woofs! and a tenor overtone, provided by the terriers darting about, snarling and chewing on the calves of ninjas (and the occasional non-ninja who had unfortunately worn black trousers that night). Most (though not all) of the YIPES! that night came from the really little dogs, but some came from the men, both ninja and non-ninja, who made the mistake of crossing the women flamenco dancers, with their muscular legs and shoes with all those nails in them…

And still Paco sang:

O, amoooor, me has hechoooo sufrir,
oooo, dichoooos Doooolooores, yi yi yai!
con suuuuus ojooooos la mentira y
el engaño suuuu formaaaa. Aaay yi yi yai!

(O, love, you have made me suffer,
o, such pain, ouch!,
with your lying eyes and
your cheating ways. Ow! Ow! Ouch!

Three ninjas down. Six ninjas down. Seven…

Sirens were clamoring in the distance, quickly coming closer… The bar was becoming less crowded by the second, leaving only the professional flamencoistas and the professional combatants locked in the fight. Because it wasn’t only humans and cats who were testing their strength against that of other tapas-and-strong-sangria lovers. The woofing, nipping, and yipping showed that the dogs of Grrranada also fought each other and whoever else made the mistake of getting involved.

Perhaps, thought Octavian, as he raked his claws across the eyes of some poor ninja doofus, this was what Jimbond had meant when he had listed the joys of spying as including fighting, running, romancing, being really smart, and driving really fast. The ninja hit the floor (which was already scattered with broken glass and splashes of wine and blood) groaning some rude Japanese. Octavian leaped! up onto a table and scanned the room for his next opponent, but even as he watched, Perro and Gato took pieces out of another ninja, and the last met his demise with a fairly solid red high heel to the head. That tall lady was pretty fierce, as well as being an amazing dancer.

Perhaps, thought Octavian, he would have to tell Jimbond about the joys of dancing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mai Ferst Figt wift Ninjas

Mom Says:

As one might imagine, the entrance of ninjas into a public place could cause panic, even among urban dwellers who deal with street violence on a regular basis. Screams, for example. Fleeing, perhaps. Rushing toward emergency exits, at the very least. As it turns out, one would be wrong.

Start with a group of machismo Spaniards who have been making free with the sangria. Add a group of dogs who have been forced to listen to a cat sing, a group of cats who have heard the disparaging remarks of the dogs, and a handful of women flamenco dancers with shoes that have nails hammered into them. Lots of nails.

Then, add a dozen ninjas, wrapped up in dramatic black clothes, armed with black swords and little spiky round things, and in a really bad mood due to their VW bus being outrun by a Citroen with flames coming out of its tailpipes. The outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Given the blood and pain to come, it would seem wiser just to declare the winners and call the whole thing off, honor satisfied. After all, one hates to see a dozen highly trained ninja shredded to the consistency of ground beef. Agent Octavian thought all this in the split second after Perro, Gato and Alek ran in, followed by the ninjas. In the split second that followed that, he had two separate but related thoughts.

The first was, “Huh, Mr. Conshunce, yu’r no fun!” And the second was, “Hey! They’r reellee tough an well-armd! So wen I killz them, it’ll be totullee by aksident! M can’t yell at me! Wooo hooo!”

Then, naturally, he attacked.

The ninjas were still drawing their black swords when Octavian leapd!, all claws extended, and shredded the first ninja fellow’s face like a huge ball of newspaper. He rode the man’s head as the man fell to the floor screaming, and he leaped away and wrapped himself, with all eighteen claws and all thirty teeth, around the right leg of the next ninja fellow. Screaming. Bottles breaking. Cheerful Spanish curses.

Meanwhile, oblivious to the chaos around him, with his eyes closed, Picotero Paco sang:

La luuuuna miaou luuuuna ayaa-yi-yiii!
¿Cómo pooooooodría Te amoooooo?
Tratos oooooooo Penas Cruuuuuuueles!
hermooooosa luuuuuuuuuuna!

(The moon, my moon, O! Ouch!
How could I love you?
Cruel, beautiful moon!

Musashi Sez:

Wow! Bar figtin isn’t haf bad! I almos nevr gets a chans to let mai inner tygr out, cuz mom sorta frown on that sorta thin unless yer lyf in danjr, but hoo-wee! Fynlee mai lyf wuz in danjr an I cud let my clawrz down, if yu noez whut I meen. Fynlee I gets to let all that greshun out on sombodee whu not a nys person (lik mom an her frens an all mai onkuls an ontz—an I gots lots of them!).

Is reelee rathr freein, akshullee. Yu shud mebbe tryz it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lernin How to Reellee DANS!!!

Musashi Sez:

So ther I wuz, sittin an listenin to mai nu frend, Paco the flamenco singr (an Bursel sprowts farmr), singin his guts out to a room jus as full of hoomin peeples as it wuz of kittee an doggee peeples. I wuz appreeshiaytin the atmusfeer, an also jus a littul sangria. Then all of a suddin, the tall laydee wift the long red dress went out to the dans flor an started dansin. Yu wud not beleev! She cud go all slo up top wift her arms an hans, an be poundin the floor wift her feets, like myls a minnit! Reellee, reellee fast! I wuz jus amayzd.

Then, parentlee she sawd me wift mai eyz all big an blak wift wundr, and she dansd out towrd me and pulld me bak, so I hads to dans wift her.

O mai.

Now, I has dansd wift mai mom somtimz, but that moslee a waltz or mebbe a jiggrbug. This wuz totallee diffrunt. Wift this, I hads to be wikkid dignifyd, an also yooz mai front legs, which is not so eezee. But jus as I wuz startin to thingk I cud not do it, som gy thruw me his flat blak flamenco hat. I putted it on, an suddinlee, I wuz dansin! Huh. Pertee awsom!

An Paco singd:

Oooo, poooobre poooooco gatoooo!
Ooooo pobrecitoooooo! Pobre de mí!
¿Cómo pooooodría Te amoooooo?
Tù has arañado miaaouuu cordazóoooon!

(O! Poor little kittee!
O, poor little one! Poor me!
How could I love you?
You have scratched my heart!

So ther I wuz, dansin mai hart out, whil the guitaristas guitared an the singeristas singd, an the othr peeples clapped—12, 1-2-3, 4-5-6, 8, 10—along wift the rithum of the myoozik. An jus as I wuz thingkin, “Huh. I the bomb!” an stuff lik that, Perro, Gato and Alek ran into the bar.

An then the werld egsplodid.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mai Ferst Flamenco, O Mai!

Musashi Sez:

This a long one. Yu gyz shud probabul jus mayk shur to goez to littrbox befor yu reeds mai blog fer the nex cuppul of daez. OK?

Mom Says:

Picotero Paco led Agent Eight through the Barrio de los Animales, weaving slightly, but still keeping up a constant commentary in Spanish that the LingwaTron was having an increasingly harder time understanding. After a while, Octavian simply turned it off. How important was communication, really, under such circumstances?

They entered yet another tapas bar. This one sported brick walls with landscape paintings warmly lit by yellow light. Humans as well as dogs and cats moved through the place, dancing, sitting in corners, munching tapas and drinking sangria.

The guitar music was rough and emotional, and at first Octavian thought, “Huh. Jazz is betterer than this!” But as they moved through the crowd and he inhaled the passion as it zigged and zagged invisibly through the room, he admitted silently to himself that he might—just possibly—be wrong. Maybe. Perhaps. And he had clearly intended it all along. Huh.

Suddenly, a tall human woman in a very fancy long red dress stood before them and picked up Paco. Quickly Octavian turned the LingwaTron back on, just in case this was one of those situations where it would be best to run to get away from some messy love affair gone wrong. (Humans get very fussed when suddenly there are kittens in their home as well as cats…)

“Picotero! ¡Por fin! Debes cantar para nosotros esta noche!” (Chatterbox! Finally! You must sing for us tonight!)

“Sí,” said Paco. “Por supuesto. Tal vez más tarde.” (Yes, of course. Maybe later.)

“Ahora!” (Now!)

Octavian couldn’t hear Paco’s purring, but he recognized the signs. The tall lady carried Paco to a table near the guitarist and turned the microphone toward him.He licked his paw and washed his face reflectively, then murmured something to the guitarists. Then he began to sing.

For Octavian, who had only ever heard fence-singing in America when he was very, very young, the electrifying performance of Paco that night forever changed his view of the artistic abilities of his species. Paco sang with a voice like broken glass. Octavian’s eyes watered from the sheer beauty of it.

Aay yaaa yi yi yi yi yi yai!
Oooo doloo-ooo-ooor miaouu!
Luuuuuuna (aay yaiii!) miiiaouuu,
La luna miaou luna ayaa-yi-yiii!

(Outch!!! Outch!!! O! My pain!
The moon, my moon, O! Ouch! Ow! Ow!

Musashi Sez:

Meanwhile, back wift mai othr buddeez…

Now, of cors, I onlee fyndid this stuff out laytrer, but whil I wuz havin a big old cultchurl epifunnee, mai buddeez Alek, Gato an Perro wer in mortul danjr. Cuz the reellee gud thin about GPS is that yu kin fynds wher yu want to go. But the bad thin is, if yer emenmies hear yu tell sombodee wher yu want to go, they kin yooz their GPS to fynd the saym plays.

This migt seem obveeyus to all yu jentul reedrz in yer ergonomic armchayrz bak hom in the Stayts, but when yu’r out in the feeld, an yer adrenalenalin iz pumpin awae, is hard to remembembr stuff lik this. An also, yu has to figgr that Alek (lik me) is kinda nu at all this spyin, an PyG, tho they ben runnin their listenin post in Marrakech fer a long tim, hasn’t got the feeld egspeereeyens that wud mayk them mor smartypants.

So they didn’t egzaktlee leed thoz darn ninjas to the Vista Grrranada. Of cors not. But them ninjas found it jus the saym.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Payntin Granada Purpul/Tryin to Slo Down

Musashi Sez:

So my nu buddee Picotero Paco wuz dryvin us into the faymous citee of Grrranada. He telld me I gotz to say it this way, wift the rollin r’s, or els it doezn’t count. He telld me I gotz to vizit the Alhambrrra an see its founten wift lionz. He brogt me to his fayvrit tapas restorant, El Gato de Bruselas, wher they servd us lotsa littul playts wift—big soopryz—Bursel sprowts. Som had the garlik, som had shrimp, som had this soft cheez I cudn’t pernouns and also it stuk to roof of mai mouft. But they all hads the sprowts.

Ther also wuz sangria, which wuz a whol lot eezier to drink than thoz Catnip Royales that alwaes mayks mai eyz wattr. An aftr we had eetid a whol lot, he pushd me out the dor an tookd me down the street to anothr tapas bar.

Now all this tim, I wuz tryin to get awae fer a minit so I cud call Alek on mai collr raydio, but no luk. Picotero talkt and talkt and talkt. Mai LingwaTron wuz werkin a myl a minit!

Then fynlee, Picotero sat down in the street to cogf up a hayrball an I sed, “Paco, conoces La Vista Grrranada?”

“Ah, si! Iremos allí a continuación! Yo canto allí.” (LingwaTron: Oh, yes! We go there next! I sing there.)

“Flamenco?” I askd.

“Por supuesto!” (Of course!)

Yah. Of cors. Mor wydenin of mai stoopid horyzenz. It jus figgrz.

Mom Says:

Meanwhile, the Mysiz car was zooming down the road toward Granada, burning rubber, raising clouds of dust, passing all the other cars, etc.: exactly the kind of spy adventure that Alek had always dreamed of and never expected to find himself in.

Perro howled. “Sloooo dooooown!”

Gato giggled. “Wheeeeee!”

Alek pressed on the brake, but to no avail. (He had always wanted to say that something happened but to no avail. It was quite a nifty phrase. But suddenly he began to wish that he had always wanted to say that something happened with immediate success. That phrase was gaining in niftiness by the second.)

Perro barked, “Sheeeeft geeeeer!”

Alek struggled to downshift, and risked a glance at the gearbox to see what was wrong, but a flash of color caught his eye, and when he looked up he saw a bridge—and this was the strange part—it was gradually rising. And he couldn’t stop or slow.

“Hold on!”

“Wift whut! No thuuuummmmmzzz!”

The car rose with the bridge and then flew—

high above a muddy river—

which they could see much more clearly as the car rolled over in its flight—

But Alek wrestled with the steering wheel even as he heard the cat and dog crashing in the back seat. Hopelessly, he aimed the car as best he could at the other side of the raised bridge and held on tightly.

With a crash, they hit the bridge and with a zoom they sped down its length until they hit the road (literally) and kept zooming on, down toward the city in the distance.

“Everybody all right?”



“Oh thank heavens!” With any luck, he thought, they might yet run out of gas…

Friday, October 23, 2009

That Rod Longr Than I Thogt!

Musashi Sez:

So ther I wuz, on the rod wift this innerestin Spaynish kittee whu smelld a littul bit of the ‘Nip, an he talkt an talkt an talkt. I asksd him whut his naym wuz an he sed, “Paco! Pero me llama Picotero!” An mai LingwaTron wuz telling me that he wuz callin himself a chattrbox. I agreed wift him.

He telld me how it wuz to be a free kittee in Espayn, to be a kittee whu choozd to driv the truk, whu groo an seld the Bursel sprowts, an whu sung the flamenco songz. Now, of cors, I hav herd of boft Bursel sprowts an flamenco from mai mom, so I kin talk about them both, eevn tho I hav not got the persnl egspeeriens. An that a gud thin, cuz mai tinee littul noelidj carreed us fer mylz an mylz, moslee cuz Picotero-Paco gotst lotsa opinions about evrthin, but partiklr about Bursel sprowts an flamenco. Yu migt not egspekt it, but, accordin to him, together, they ar the pinnakul of sivilizayshun. Huh. Whuu’da thunk? I bet eevn mai mom didn’t noe that…

Mom Says:

Meanwhile, even as Agent Octavian was having his cultural horizons broadened, Alek, Perro and Gato were facing the more distressing situation of ninjas following them with the clear intent of cutting off their horizons entirely. Even though the ninjas were traveling in a VW bus of uncertain vintage, our heroes naturally did what any of us would do in a similar situation: they panicked.

“Dooooooo somtheeeen!” howled Perro.

Alek did something. He shifted the car into “fifth gear.” A loud WHUMP! came from the rear of the car as it shot away from its own flame. Alek saw the speedometer hand race from 100 kilometers per hour to 115 to 130 to 145…

The ninjas’ VW bus disappeared behind them in a cloud of dust.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On the Rod wift a Verree Happee Kittee

Mom Says:

Agent Octavian leaped into the old blue pickup truck driven by a tabby cat who seemed really quite relaxed. Once Octavian had slammed the door shut, the tabby accelerated, and Octavian admired the contraption that allowed him to drive the truck.

“Ah, si,” said the Tabby, and he babbled at Octavian until the LingwaTron was buzzing to keep up. Its screen read: “My previous truck had bicycle bits, but this pully system is quite an improvement!”

Octavian said, “Ah! Fenómeno!”

“Si!” And the screen was kept quite busy as they drove into late afternoon and evening along the green highway. “Muchas personas creen que…”

And Octavian read: “Many peeples thingk that cats should not to drive the car and especial, the truck! Hah. But I believe betterer! I has the ingenious friends who create the admirable pully system that you see before us. This allow, however the short legs of my latter half, to engage the system of transportation more than all cats in the Spain! I am Loco-Motor-Kittee! Heh heh heh…”

And Octavian thought to himself, Loco, yes. Motor, yes. Kittee, yes. Out loud he said, “Loco! Si, si!”

Meanwhile, back at the shrine, Alek and Perro had jumped into the Mysiz car and burnt rubber as they followed Agent Eight’s advice to skedaddle. Dust rose on either side of the car to show how fast they were going! Gato lay on the back seat, giggling softly, while above him Perro looked out the back window and barked, “We’r sayf! No followrz! We’r sayf!”

Still, Alek pressed his foot down on the accelerator, not sanguine about their prospects. After all, if their protagonist wasn’t actually with them, he reasoned, how good were their chances for survival, really? He knew that a spy’s “thumbs” wasn’t cannon fodder, and the Guild of Narrators knew it, but did this strange order of humans and cats? From the little he had seen in the past few hours, it seemed that the order followed no rules but their own.

“Hey!” Perro barked as Alek accelerated further. “Whatchu doin? Ees not lik them monks follr us, eh? Ees onlee a blak van full of hombres, but not so muchos thos monks.”

Gato giggled, and batted at the seatbelts.

Alek squinted into his rearview mirror. “Hombres? But how do you know they’re not monks?”

“O, ees eezee,” said Perro. “The monks we saw wer wayrin the red an the brown robz, yu noe? But theez hombres wayr the blak.”

Alek wiped the rearview mirror with the back of his free hand, then changed gears and pushed his foot all the way down on the accelerator.

“Hey! Bark bark bark! Yelp!”

“Whoa, yu cowboy!” giggled Gato.

Alek barked a little himself. “Perro! Do you know what a ninja is?

“Huh! Ninja! Lik in mooveez?”


“O, but them aren’t reel. They’z jus monk-lik actrz whu playz assassassinz wayrin the funnee blak—O NOOOES!!!”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Doez I Onlee Do Eskaypin?

Musashi Sez:

Aftr I raysd ovr the wall of the shryn, I raysd down the big roed until mai tong wuz hangin out an I wus reddee to jus drop. But luckee, rigt about then, a littul truk pull up to wher I wuz jus bayrlee skraypin along. I lookt up, an ther wuz this tabbee kittee drivin the truk.

The kittee rolld down his windo an akskt, “Donde esta…?”

Mai collr told me that he wuz askin wher I wuz goin in such a hurree. So I sed, “Voy a Granada.”

Som doggee wuz barkin in the bakgroun. The dryvr kittee sed, “Ah, Granada! También se va a Granada.”

So I sed, “Gran! ¿Puedo ir contigo?”

An he sed, “Si, si!” an laugft lik mebbe he had had jus a littul too mutch of the ‘Nip. But I wuz a furrinr ther, so I jumpt in an kept mai mouft shut.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tygr vs. Insekt Kungfu

Mom Says:

Agent Octavian ran, and Perro and Alek followed, Alek burdened both by his lack of a second set of legs and by the large, spaced-out cat in his arms. As they ran, Octavian remembered what his mother had said about making noise when you fight: either keep all your breath to run or fight, or scream bloody murder and scare the poop out of your opponent. But no half measures, ever.

He raced down the hallway and up a set of stairs, up toward sunlight. Even as he ran, a tiny voice in his brain informed him quite calmly that neither he nor his friends had previously set foot or scent on these particular stairs, so when he reached the top and burst out of the doorway into the shrine’s internal courtyard, to see, across the pavement, a Chinese monk standing on one leg in a Praying Mantis pose, he had already decided what to do.

“Ovr the wall!” he screeched, and launched himself at the poor shmo whose only fault was to pick the wrong time to work out on his kung fu form. Even as he leaped!, screamed, and dragged his front claws across the guy’s belly, he heard Perro bark out, “Vista Granada! Avenidas de los Gatos! We meetchu therrrr!”

But Octavian had no time to acknowledge Perro’s call or even take note of how they were escaping, so caught up was he in his fight with this warrior monk who had long studied the ways of the Praying Mantis and was now taking it all out on someone about one-tenth his weight. In the micro-seconds Octavian had for reflection, he did realize that he was at an unexpected advantage with this young man, given that Octavian had always assumed he might have a human opponent, but apparently, this fellow had never considered that he might have to face a cat in combat.

So, like a good kittee, he did what his mom had told him to do: “When in doubt, go berserk. Then run!”

He never did find out what damage he inflicted on his foe, because he was scrambling up and over the wall and racing through the sparse underbrush along the highway between Malaga and Granada. And even as he raced, tail like a lightning bolt behind him, he wondered, “Whut am I spost to do about Sabaka?”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lerning Lessnz from BirdCatz

Musashi Sez:

So, OK, I let this odd yong Tibettn fellr carree me down som dark stayrz to a damp room that look verre stranj—kinda round and rogf, wift the stonz evrwher. That iz, evrwher egsept the bak wall, wher ther a paintin on the plastr. In frunt of it is a funnee dark red rop, hangin from theez weird not-pillar things. It mayk me thingk they not want me to tutch the paintin (which of cors is sillee).

The reellee old boy aksks, “Do you recognize this painting?”

“Huh,” sez I. “Of cors. I sees it on mai neiygbr’s umrellrs all the tim. It’s Ceiling Cat lookin down to wher the birdcat, Gabriowl, caym down to tell Marry that she goin to be havin Ceiling Cat’s kittee. Um, but yu noe, I not a Cristshun kittee. I’z a Ceilingist Catatayrian. We doesn’t shur about Happee Cat, the kittee of Ceiling Cat. We talks about it a lot, but we hasn’t desydid yet.”

The boy sighed deeply. Then he sez, “Yay, but the LORD can use anyone he wants. Huh. So—“

But I cuts in. “Mai mom is studeeyin to be thee-o-lo-jian, an she sez that Ceiling Cat isn’t necesessarily a gy. Mom sez that Ceiling Cat is way beyond all them catnip mousseez and catnip ballz and whutnot. Mom sez eevn the Baibul supportz this ideer somtimz.”

The boy smiled. “Ah! An enlightened one. Excellent! Ah, but how easily one slips into the sloppy patterns of a particular language in the attempt to sway the masses! Yet we—“

“Um. Soree? But yu gyz ben talkin about yer foundr. He soun a littul bit lik Noah. Kin yu tellz me mor abouts him?”

The boy’s smile was radiant. “Ah, you recognize the language of the founder! Surely you are smiled upon by Noah, our founder, the saint who--”

“Errrr. I don’t noe about all them smylins, but I does has some edjukayshun in theez thins. Whatchur point?”

“Ah! You cut through the knot! I am Brother Narayan, Brother General of our order.”

“So yu desydzd to drug mai frend?”

“Er, well, yes, actually. But--”

“So yu’r eevl, rigt?”

“Um, well, no, actually, we’re the—“

But Agent Octavian had already discounted the little monk and jumped out of his arms. Sniffing the perimeter, he found a very clear path out of the shrine. "Alek, grab Gatto. Perro, let's skeddaddul!"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meetin Mai 1st Lama

Mom Says:

The fight was brutal but brief. No sooner had Agent Octavian got his front paws around Guru’s neck and begun to claw his guts out with this back paws than a high-pitched voice cried out, “Enough!”

Despite himself, Octavian froze, but Guru did not take advantage of the moment, himself also seemingly frozen in space and time. Brother Ian came and lifted Guru off Octavian, who let go his death-hold on the other cat.

The high voice, from behind Octavian, said, “Peace to all present!” and it was clearly an order.

Slowly, Octavian returned to himself from the place of crazed fighting. He sat up and licked his paw and brushed it over the cut beside his eye. With his good, unsquinting eye, he saw a flash of red, coming closer. There was a breath of incense and then he was lifted up. When he opened his eyes and looked at the human who had picked him up, he noticed, first, that his eye had healed and, second, that this human was much younger than anyone he had ever met, which was pretty weird, given that he had, way back when at the animal hospital, known kittees who were only a few months old. Yet the human looked to be at least ten or eleven years.

The young monk excoriated his colleagues in what Octavian presumed was Tibetan or some other equally incomprehensible language. Finally, he switched to English, with a slight British accent that reminded Octavian of M.

“My most fervent apologies, Master Octavian and Master Alexander. My brothers here have clearly overstepped the bounds of wisdom. As our founder would say, ‘Yu kin apolrjyz, or I kin throw yu ovrbordz. Yer choys.’”

From Brother Ian’s arms, Guru said, “S’ry.”

The red-robed monk turned to Brother Ian. “I believe the phrase is ‘your turn.’”

The old man frowned and Guru leaped down and strutted away. “You blame me for the cat’s impetuousness?”

The boy smelled Octavian’s fur (a very cultured thing to do). Then he said, “My son, you know that John Donne would say that ‘no man is an island.’ Our founder would say, ‘Whut? Yu thingkin yu’r a plangk an kin flot alon fer 40 dayz an 40 nigts? Huh. OK! Good luk!’”

Brother Ian bowed his head. “I apologize for letting Guru get ahead of himself.”


“And I apologize for getting ahead of myself.”

“Very well. You may leave our presence.”

Hands in sleeves, head bowed, Brother Ian followed Guru out of the shrine’s vestibule.

Lulled by the boy’s exotic scent, Agent Octavian asked, “OK! So whu ar yu? An whatchu all don to mai frendz heer? An whut this forchozn profit bizness?”

The boy petted Octavian and looked with great compassion on the confused Alek, the drugged-out Gatto, and the hyper-vigilant Perro.

“Ah,” he sighed. “That is the $64,000 question, is it not?”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gettin the Bak Storee

Mom Says:

Alek and Agent Octavian mulled over what they had just heard. Finally, Octavian asked, “So whu this Nostradoggee gy aneewae?”

“Ah!” said Brother Ian, and he settled back against the stone bench as if it were actually comfortable. “Nostradoggus is the name we give to the dog who lived with the human, Nostradamus, when he was at the height of his powers.”

“But I thogt that hoomin wuz jus a old fayk,” said Octavian.

“Ah, that is a testament to the effectiveness of the dog, for the human Nostradamus was often a true seer, and in fact he occasionally saw far more truly than even he knew. So the dog he lived with frequently, ah, you would probably say ‘ate his homework,’ thus ensuring that his accurate prophecies would be indecipherable. For Ceiling Cat does not wish creatures to know the future. Is it not written, ‘If I’d wantid yu to noe this stuff, I’d hav toldid yu it maiself’?”

“Um, is it?”

“It is! And further—“

But just then Guru trotted out from behind a hidden door, and behind him stumbled a big black cat—Gatto—who was anxiously being shepherded by a larger black and white dog—Perro. Octavian opened his mouth to greet them, but when he met Gatto’s green eyes, he saw that Gatto’s pupils were huge and dark, and Gatto’s pace was erratic, as if he were unsure of where his paws were going. Perro nudged Gatto with his nose so that Gatto went in the right direction.

Octavian turned angrily on Brother Ian. “Whutchu do to mai frend? He look all drugged out! Yu kan’t tell me Ceiling Cat is cool wift that! He NOT! Huh! Yu BAD kittee!”

Brother Ian winced. “You speak truly. We have trespassed against Ceiling Cat’s law, but we did it for the best reasons, with the best of intentions! We needed you to come here, rather than to some other place where we could not follow the outcome…”

“Whatchu reellee meen? Yu jus wanted to controlllll us. Errrr. Emmmmph.”

Guru said, “Foolish kitten! We—“

But Octavian had had more than enough. He attacked.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Ordr of Straynj Kitteez an Hoominz

Musashi Sez:

Well, I ben seein som stranj things sins I startd werkin fer Mysiz, but this stol the pie! Huh. All I’m tryin to do is sayv the sivilyzd werld from inpendin dooom, an suddinlee theez fellrs is tellin me they nu I wuz comin cuz som gy 500 yeerz ago left them a lettr about it. Reediklus!

An the annoyin kittee gy, this Gooroo fellr, he gots Alek all skeerd cuz he kin do the Schroeder’s cat thin, wher yu is both ther an not ther, which pertee much evree kittee kin do if we reellee wants to, but it tayk a lot of enerjee and then yu gots to nap fer dayz aftrwrds, so moslee we don’t bothr.

Aneewae, as we follrd Gooroo an his hoomin into the shryn, I sed to Alek, “Huh, this Yoda-fellr is pullin the ol’ Schroeder’s kittee trik, yu noe, lik in fhyziks. That don’t mayk him anee mor impressiv than anee othr kittee.”

Ther wuz a hiss from up on the old gy’z sholdr. The old gy led us into this innerestin ston room wift pillrz an a statchoo of a kittee peeple in a windo-lik thing in frunt.

“Hey!” I sez. “That’s Bastet! What she doin heer in Ceiling Cat’s shryn-plays?”

Alek seemd dayzd. He sat down on the ston bentch on the syd. Gooroo jumpt off the old gy’z sholdr an trotted awae, still huffin. The old gy sat next to Alek.

“Bye, Yoda!” I calld, to gives Alek confiddens. A small hiss travld bak to us in the echoz of the room.

Mom Says:

The old man stuck his hands up the grey sleeves of his robe and frowned. “Alas, Guru is impatient, as many of our order are. They…we…have been waiting long for these events to come to pass. But, as our founder would say, ‘If we’re going to be stuck here for 40 days and 40 nights, we might as well introduce ourselves.’ I am Brother Ian. And you, I believe are Octavian and Alexander.”

Octavian turned to Alek. “Hey, wer yu naymd aftr that littul gy whu tuk ovr almos the whol werld, lik centureez ago?”

“Er, yes, actually.”

“Cool! Altho, mai mom sez that werld dominayshun is hardlee evr reellee werth it.”

Brother Ian smiled. “Well said! And that brings me to what you are probably most interested in knowing.”

“O, gud! So wher mai frenz, Gatto an Perro an Sabaka? They heer wift yu?”

“Er, yes, actually, but don’t you want to know about your role as prophet and what Nostradoggus wrote about you?”

“O, no, not reellee, thx. Yu gots the rong gy. I not a profit. I’z a spy. But yu can’t tell aneebodee. OK? Is big seekret.”

“Er. That’s rather odd, you see. Because you do look quite like the drawing Nostradoggus dictated. ‘Of the semblance of Baysmint Catte, butte wifte thee markings of Ceilinge Catte.’”

Alek stirred. “How do you dictate a picture?”

Octavian said, “It’s that old thum problim. Whut, jus cuz I’z a blak kittee wift a littul whit heer an ther, yu figgr I’m the forechozn gy? That seem sillee. Yu mus get lotsa kitteez heer at the shryn. Probabul som of them gotta be moslee blak wift som whit.”

Brother Ian nodded, smiling. “Of course. But how many of them, do you think, were escorted here by a namesake of Alexander the Great? How many of them who were (assuming that there were more than one) came here four days after the coming of a cat in the likeness of Basement Cat and two dogs, one of whom spoke only Russian?”

“Ummm. Well, wen yu puts it lik that…” said Octavian.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mai Not So Unambigyuos Welkom

Mom Says:

Very slowly, Alek got out of the car, and Agent Octavian followed and sat down next to his feet. The strange cat took his time coming down the strange wooden stairs until he was nose to nose with Octavian. They sniffed each other ritualistically and the strange cat purred.

“So,” he said in perfect English. “You have come.”

Octavian said, “O, they told yu about me, did they? An yu speeks pertee gud Inglish, too. That’z conveenyint.”

The strange cat stared. “Who is the they of which you speak?”

“Whu is the whut?”

“Who do you think told us of your advent?”

“It not mai advent. It mai mom’s, and it not until Desembr. An whut Cristmus got to do wift aneethin?”

Alek spoke quickly. “Er, sir, we came here to meet with some friends, another black cat and two dogs. We assume that they told you that we’d—“

“Silence!” The strange cat’s tale was lashing. “Your coming was long ago foretold by Nostradoggus, and it is he, now reborn, whom you have come to meet. I, Guru, proclaim that you must undergo trials of purification—“

“Yipe!” said Octavian, and Alek jumped, fearing that he had trodden on Eight’s tail. “Yu NOT givin me a baft! NOT WANT!”

As the two cats stood braced, hackles raised and tails lashing, Alek thought he had clearly underestimated the dangers of working with MI-6’s Interspecies Division. The strange cat hissed. Alek poised to run.

Then a deep British voice said, “Guru! Behave! First you’re clawing my best staff and now you’re threatening the guests.”

They all looked up at the top of the steps to see an old man with long white hair and a white beard as he gathered his grey cloak and made his way down to them. The strange cat, Guru, still lashed his tail, but it seemed to Alek rather halfhearted. The old man picked Guru up and draped him on his shoulder and then beckoned for Alek and Octavian to follow him into the small stone building.

“After all,” the old man said to Guru. “We can at least let them have a seat in the vestibule. We let the tourists in there, so we may as well let the long-awaited prophet of Ceiling Cat in.”

“Huh!” said Guru. It sounded very much like he meant it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reetchin Mai Disrtnayshun

Mom Says:

Agent Octavian drowsed while Alek drove. Finally, he felt fully returned to himself (because kittees don’t handle air travel well, and it messes even more with cats who are living multiple simultaneous lives). He said, “Hey, Alek, I thingk that I am fynlee bak! Huh. Wher wuz I aneewae?”

Alek sighed with relief. “I don’t know, old chap, but I never want to go there.”

“Wher we heddin now?”

“To a shrine out in the country, a rural area where animals are a bit freer to meet each other without human surveillance.”

“Cool! Wen kin we stop fer, lik, littr an dinnr?”

“Quite soon, actually. I hope within twenty minutes, at most.”

“Eksellint! Yu ar the bestest shofer a spy-gy cud possibul hav, Alek. Huh, wayt! I jus rememembred! Yu’r a spy too! Yu must be reellee gud. Yu eevn foold me!”

And the big black cat curled up on the front seat and went back to sleep almost immediately. He seemed to be smiling, with his tail wrapped around his body so that the tip just brushed his nose, almost tickling it.

Trees and fields flashed past. Alek thought to himself, What is it about this cat? Every time I think I’m about to strangle him, he says something like that and I want to pat him on the head, or scritch him under the chin...

And just as he was thinking this, he turned the car into a long curve that ended in front of a very old shrine. Alek braked and made a long, quiet, involuntary noise, half a sigh and half a grunt of fear. Octavian woke from a dead sleep and in a flash was standing on the dashboard, quivering, all his fur standing on end.

“What is it? Yu skeerd? What happnin?”

Alek spoke slowly as he scanned the sanctuario before them, a narrow stone structure leading out from a heavy outcrop of sandy-colored rock as if it were extending an inner cave. “I think…we’re here.”

“Yah. So wher this heer we at?”

They watched anxiously as a small breeze set small colored feathers quivering at the edges of stone on stone, in the narrow arches between weathered pillars. Octavian sniffed and said, “Alek, roll down yer windo!”

And such was Eight’s urgency, that Alek did it, letting in hot air. Octavian closed his eyes and sniffed. And rumbled.

This was not a purr. This was a warning signal. If a neon sign had suddenly appeared above Agent Eight with the message, “Pet Not the Cat,” Alek would not have been surprised in the least.

What did surprise him was when Eight murmured, “Mmmm, Alek?”


“Look off to the…um…lift. Whatchu see ther?”

“Um, a very steep stairway made of stones or possibly big slabs of wood?”

“Mm. Aneethin els?”

“Um, a possibly very old cat who doesn’t seem to definitely be there between one second and the next?”

There was a small sigh of relief. “OK. So it not jus me. That is probabul gud, rigt?”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fyndin a Shryn Wiftout Yoozin GPS

Musashi Sez:

Aftr Alek got the car from the gy wift the funnee aksent, we drov around fer a whyl, to mayk shur that noboddee follr us. They didn’t. We left Malaga an “wendid our wae” into the contree-syd, until I wuz fallin asleep on the front seet. Yah, it wuz all green an nys, but ther NO mousseez, ther NO layzr poyntrz, ther NO fishiz (not toonr, not eevn shrmp, if yu kin imajin!). I meen, whut’s the point of beein awayk if ther not goin to be egsytin stuff to looks at? (Or, possibul, to eetz).

Aftr a whyl, Alek patted me on hed to wayk me up an aksd, “So Eight, what do you make of this ‘Pyg’? M gave me her take, and Ibrahim his. But what do you think?”

I stretchd an yawnd hyoojlee. Then I sed, “Gatto is the reel thin, a whatchucallit, a vederin of the Gaym. Huh. An that Perro is not fer us to mess wift. He Gatto’s buddee, lik them buddee mooveez wher evrboddee is sakrifysin hisself fer evrboddee els. Yu noe.”

Alek sed, “You think?”

I sed, “Wud I sez it if I not thingks it?”

Aftr a whyl he sed, “Huh. I suppose you’re right.”

An I sed, “OK! But, I not totlee unnerstan the derekshuns Gatto givd Zaina. Wher we goin?”

Alek sed, “I’ve read a lot about Andalucia, the southern part of Spain. But I had never heard that the great medieval heresies had arisen here. Most of them happened in Italy, in southern France, places like that. You can find ruins from the time of the Cathars, but… Eight? Wake up! As I was saying, this shrine is the first I’ve heard of from this particular… er, nontraditional dogmatic belief…er…occurring in Spain.”

I yawnd agen. “Yu not ansr mai qwestshun.”

He sigd lik he wuz egsadjeraytin. “Fine! We arrrr going to El Santuario de Nuestra Señora del Gatto del Cielo!”

Now, of cors, I not hav a cloo whut he sayin, but it not mattr. He is hoomin peeple; I is kittee peeple. So I sez, “Well, of cors. Yu shud’v sed so befor.”

Mom Says:

Clearly, Octavian is learning a great deal about how to communicate with humans. We didn’t say that it would be positive or constructive communication. But he’s got the method right, at least…

Monday, October 12, 2009

Doin Plan B

Mom Says:

Even the short flight between Marrakech and Malaga made Agent Octavian’s ears unhappy ears, so when he and Alek landed in Spain, Octavian was seriously cranky.

Fortunately, Alek had understood from early on—back when they checked into the hotel in Lichtenstein—that Octavian was likely to be a major player on the world espionage stage, and that he, as Octavian’s “thumbs” (as his role was known in Mysiz), would probably only rise in the ranks inasmuch as he aided Octavian in his missions. Also, it was hard not to have a soft spot for the big black kittee, with his (generally) sweet disposition and his (mostly) innocent way of looking at the world.

So Alek was patient.

Which was, Alek reflected, a very good thing, given that dealing with a young cat with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was only one level better than dealing with a squirrel with a caffeine addiction. Okay, maybe two levels. Three, at most.

It certainly required skills in diplomacy that he wasn’t sure he had (otherwise he might have gone into a less covert type of civil service). They managed deplaning and customs with no trouble, but as they waited at the baggage carousel, Octavian was scratching his ears and looking like he might bolt at any moment. Alek gave him a tiny piece of chewing gum to ease the pain in his ears, but it didn’t last long (“It not tayst gud. Don’t yu got som that got toona flayvr?”). He folded the tinfoil into a crane and teased Octavian with it for a while, but then their luggage came and Octavian’s lashing tail signaled that he was struggling catfully in order not to leap! on the carousel. Piling their bags on a cart and scooping Octavian up and setting him on top, Alek trundled them out to the front of the airport, scanning the ranks of cabs and other cars for the one sent by Mysiz.

Finally, a small silver sedan pulled up in front of them, and a young man in a tweed slouch cap popped the back trunk open and jumped out. “’allo! Eer y’go, guv! All set to go. Mind the ‘fifth gear,’ as it does somethin’ wikkid in the naytchur of flare-back! Alright?”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mai Ferst Phon Call to Meee!

Musashi Sez:

Ibrahim’s wyf, Zaina, mai Moroccn fren, led me to the phon an verree kindlee held it up to mai eer fer me.

“Allo?” I sed in mai bestest French. This meen “hullo.”

“Allo, Octavian. Es Gatto. I am glad dat yu ar down frrom the treee dat yu werr up. Is that the Eenglish?”

“Yah, that’s gud Inglish. How ar you, Gatto? I’m glad yu manijd to get away from them Rushn soljers. Is Perro OK?”

“Ah, si, Perro es bueno. Sabaka also bueno. Wee arrr in Malaga, in Espanya. Sabaka, well, he ees dog, no? An dogs arrr, how yu say, ankshyus peeples, yu noe? So we—Perro an I—arrr theengking that yu might want to, perhaps, com to Malaga and talk to heem agayn. What yu theengk?”

“O mai,” sez I. “Hmmm. That migt be hard. But…Yu sez he migt has infermayshun I kin yooz to solv this big crysis thin?”

“Si, si! Perro say thees may go up to highest seerkulz of goovernemant! Eez verrrree crrrooshal, he theengks. I hav not noen Perro to ges rrrong on such theengs evvrrr.”

I sigd dramatiklee. “Wull, in that cays, if yu thingks it wull halp…”

“Octavyon, I am theenking thees may be, rrrr, qwyt beeeg.”

“OK, Gatto. In that cays, I chanj mai planz. I mayk stop in Malaga befor goin hom. Wher I find yu?”

“Has yu got pensil?”

“Huh,” sez me, lookin around. “Pensil, yah, but thumz no. Kin yu tells the address to mai frend heer? She writ if fer me.”

An that is how we caym to shift to Plan, um, B.

Diffikult Ordrz

Mom Sez:

Agent Octavian spent the next few days studying maps of Spain, Europe, and the World with Ibrahim and Alek. And although he found it hard to concentrate for more than a half-hour at a time, still, eventually he did manage to absorb the core information that seemed to be most important to them and to M. They sat on the floor to make it easier for Octavian, and Alek patiently repeated M’s briefing several times, so that even though the spy kittee kept leaping! up and running off, or sometimes falling asleep on the maps, in the end he could recite their tasks from memory.

“Have you got it now, Eight?” asked Alek.

“Shur,” said Octavian. “We flyz to Spayn an yu dryvs from Malaga to Grrnada, wher we goin to mayk contact wift the ol Rushn spy whu liv ther now. His naym Ivan. He left spyin fer Rusha aftr the chilly war endid. He still keep in tutch wift his old buddeez an he migt noe whut’s goin on. We needz haffa bottul of wodka an I has to promis, promis, promis to be a reellee gud kittee an not do aneethin to jepperdyz the mishun. Huh. As if I wud.”

Alek nodded (again) and said consolingly (again), “Yes, Eight, I know, but this mission is highly sensitive. If anything, even the slightest thing, should go wrong—“

“Yah, I noe. Fayt of sivilyzd werld, hangin in the balans. I got it.”

“And then, after we contact Ivan?” prompted Alek (again).

In another room, the phone rang.

Octavian said, “We keeps in clos contak wift M in Londin.”

Ibrahim’s wife came into the room. “Excuse me, gentlemen.” Ibrahim began to rise. “No, it is not for you, but for Monsieur Octavvyon…”

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spyin Not Chanj: Is Still Waytin

Mom Says:

After the incident at the prison (and in the palm tree), Agent Octavian was shaken. It’s not easy when you know you are descended from gods (in this case, Egyptian ones) to suddenly face the idea of your own lack of invincibility. And that’s before even taking into account of the more physical trauma of mild heat stroke and accompanying hallucinations.

For five days, Ibrahim harbored Octavian (who was incredibly tense, and who started to take it out on Ibrahim’s favorite armchair until he realized what he was doing and stopped and slunk off to a corner for a whole day). Ibrahim and his wife Zaina, however, had fortunately seen agents in this situation before. Zaina sat him in her lap and stroked his shiny black fur for as long as he would allow, sometimes even for minutes at a time. Ibrahim pulled out a small white metal box with a red crescent on the top, sorted through bandages and small packets of pills, to pull out a very tired-looking stuffed monkey, with which he enticed Octavian to play, pounce!, and generally claw the crap out of something other than his chair.

This two-pronged therapeutic program (known in professional espionage circles as TPTP) proved relatively effective. By the end of the week, when a courier from London finally came with Octavian’s new orders, Octavian could sit still or nap for almost an hour at a time before leaping! up and running around the tiny apartment like a crazy kittee.

And it didn’t hurt that—Well, let’s be honest. It helped quite a lot, actually, that the courier M had sent him was his old friend, Alek.

Musashi Sez:

Wen Ibrahim tol me that we wuz goin to hav a cooreeyur from M as a dinnr gest, I wuzn’t too happee. Moslee fansee-pantz dinnr gest typs egspeks yu to sit still fer a long tim at the taybul, an I still wuzn’t ther yet. But wen he opnz the dor, ther stud mai ol frend Alek, whu had pertendid to be mai sekretaree an shofer wen we wuz on mai firsts misshun in Licktenshyn.

I leapt! up an Alek cogt me, laugfin. He sed, “Eight! Well done! You survived an assault by Spyetsnaz! Not every agent can manage such swift and agile self-extraction, you know. Your currency at HQ has quite gone up.”

An altho I doesn’t see how I suddinlee gots mai own kinda monee jus cuz I kin run up treez reellee fast—I gotta say, this do mayk me feel kinda betterer…

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Rigt Kinda Reskyoo

Mom Says:

This is another long one. Go to your, um, receptacle of choice before you embark on the journey with us….

Musashi Sez:

Ther I wuz, a sorree, pantin, mizrabul kittee, clingin to the tree fer deer lif, as I had ben fer hours an hours (at least 4, I figgrs). An suddinlee, I heerz 2 voisiz, 1 veree low an 1 veree hi. This wuz stranj, cuz I had jus ben heerin a vois callin mai naym a moment befor, but it had ben a diffrint vois callin mai othr naym.

“OcTAVyon! Arr yu steel up therr?” It wuz Ibrahim.

“Yh. Imprh! Zmssh—” I tryd to call, but mai vois fail!d me. I lippt anothr of Q’s tablits, swallrd the watr, and tryd agen. “Ibrahim! Iz me! Musashi! I meens Octavian!”

“(I theenk he eez feevrish, eef he doz not noe heez own naym!) OK! Octavyon! We are going to be getting yu down. Mon petit ami heer weel clym up an halp yu.”

I herd skramblin at the bays of the tree an then a thump! The noiziz reepeetd a few timz, an I thogt, “Huh. Too bad the kid gots no laddr, lik I got.” An then I wok up propr an yelld down to Ibrahim, “Hey, I jus remembrer: I gots a laddr he kin clym.”

So I pulld out Q’s laddr an lookd at it. It hads theez cool, meen, poyntee thins on one end, an littul ledd wayts on the othr. So I settd the poynteez into the tree and pattd them, an wen that din’t werk, I sittd on them, an then they goed in just fine. Huh.

Mom Sez:

The microfiber ladder unrolled itself down the tree’s long trunk, and ended a meter above the ground. Ibraham’s little friend, a boy of about nine, climbed up the ladder like a monkey and stuck his head into the palm leaves where Octavian clung, trembling and wide-eyed.

The boy, whose tousled black hair was in his eyes, just as the palm fronds were in Octavian’s eyes, said, “Sadiqi? Ami? Fr’en?”

Octavian murmured, “Amiiiiiii!”

The boy said many things then, in a soothing voice, as he gentled Octavian into letting go of his deep claw-hold on the tree, transferring his weight to the boy’s arms and closing his eyes completely as the boy made his—much more awkward—way down the ladder. When the boy let him go at the bottom, Octavian leaped! away and ran! but then turned around and ran back, eyes wide and black, jaw low and panting. Octavian sat, trembling, and whipped his tail around his front feet.

“Um. Shukran!” he said.

The boy laughed. “Afwan!”

“Um. Salaam alaikum?”

“Hah! Alaikum salaam! Aetanee b nafseek!”

Ibrahim gave the boy a few coins and the boy ran off laughing.

Octavian let Ibrahim pick him up and carry him. “What he sae to me?”

Ibraham’s rough low voice was reassuring, “He say to you, ‘Eez nothing. Tayk cayr of yourself!”

“Yu givs him monee?”

“A handfoool of dirham. He weel bee happee. Hee haz also the tayl of this dae to regale heez frendz, no?”

“Um, shur…”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vizhun? or Mebbe Mirazh?

Mom Says:

The sun sizzled on Agent Octavian’s black furry head as he lay trapped at the top of the date palm tree in Marrakech. The water in his mouth from Q’s MHDO tablet was shear bliss. He squinted in joy and when he opened his eyes he saw a strange sight:

A great, round boat, sat on a high hill, with a long queue of animals patiently waiting their turn to enter. There were zebras, giraffes, goats, lions, horses and sheep. There were even lelephunts. Storm clouds were amassing in the distance, but as he watched, Octavian saw a break in the clouds, and a great white cat poked his head out and called, “Musashi! Musashi! Run! Come with us before it’s too late! Musashi!”

Part of Octavian wanted to run and join the animals on their funny boat. Another part thought that if he couldn’t get down from the tree for normal life, he probably couldn’t get down for some freaky maritime exercise.

And the last part thought, “Wooohooo! Whut that Q put in theez tablits?”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Deep Reflekshuns

Musashi Sez:

This partiklr blog wuzn’t spos’d to tayk so long. Then it did. Sorree. Go to yer littrboks befor yu reeds it. Kthxbai. M/8

Mom Says:

For Agent Octavian, stuck in the green, long-leaved top of a Moroccan date palm, the heat seemed intense. Back in Boston, such temperatures only trouble the natives at the height of summer, in August. With a fan here and there, and ice cubes in the water bowl, one can withstand the furnace-like blast, knowing that it won’t last more than a week, two at most. But now here he was, wrapped up in leaves and roasting like a pig at a luau. And there was nothing he could do. Cats are very good at UP, when it comes to trees; DOWN is quite another matter. And that’s when you are talking about NORMAL trees with NORMAL branches stuck out every so often, as opposed to this, this telephone pole with a hat on it!!!

Octavian panted. Then he thought, “Did M noe that somthin lik this migt happin to me? Is that whut she was figtin about wift Mom? So wher ar them egstra resorsis she promist?” Then he remembered the neat pack that Q had attached to his collar. What had Q said to him?

“In this small case that can hook to your harness, you’ll find a micro-fiber rope ladder and MHDO tablets for emergencies.”

Oh! thought Octavian, so as long as I got spit, I got water, even if I can’t climb his ladder.

Q had also said, “The spikey-looking thing is a Spaw: part spike, part straw. If you stick it into something that contains a liquid, you can suck the liquid out through it. Since you’ll be near the desert, it helps to be prepared.”

And Musashi, er Octavian (it was hard to concentrate in such heat) thought, “Well, palm treez has coconuts, an them hav lotsa liqwid! So Q’s not such a Fail! gy afteral. I jus pul out the Spaw an stik it in a coconut.”

Octavian fumbled with the pack, then pulled out the Spaw, which had a string attached to ease the grabbing of it. Then he looked around his very small green sanctuary. He had an idea that coconuts were almost as big as him, or at least about as big as his head, and sort of brown and furry. But the only brown—or for that matter non-green—thing around him was much smaller, and sort of sticky looking, with no fur at all.

Still Octavian was game. He pushed the Spaw into the first of the little, shriveled brown things. And sipped. What he got from it was goo, not, he reminded himself hurriedly, entirely unlike the Petromalt® that his mom made him eat to keep him from hacking up hairballs. He quite liked Petromalt®. This other stuff was…semi-liquid. That would have to be enough. He moved, slowly, cautiously among the leaves, sucking out the sap of one of these strange brown things, waiting as long as he could, and then attacking the next.

The sun, far too slowly, moved past the place directly above him, to strike him instead at an angle. On the one hand he liked the heat; he was, after all, a solar-powered kittee, as all cats are. But on the other hand, his inability to drink was becoming a greater and greater burden. He faced the quandary of all those who wander in the wilderness: where is the line between squandering what you have too soon, and waiting so long that it cannot help you? He needed to still have some spit left for Q’s tablets to work for him.

Octavian waited. And waited.

Then he waited some more.

Finally, he thought that he had about as little spit as he had ever had in his life, so tremblingly he opened the first MHDO tablet and lipped it into his mouth. What happened next, he never described to anyone: not Jimbond or M, not even his mom, although we in the Narrator’s Guild must assume that he muttered in his sleep, or, presumably, we would not know about this at all. For Octavian had a vision, and his vision was this—

Musashi Sez:

Hey! I’m gettin the hang of this cliff-hangin thin! Huh!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mai Unfortchoonatlee Brillyant Eskayp

Musashi Sez:

Ther ar timz to stand, an ther is tim to run.

I ran.

Throo streetz. Around hoomin peeples. Ovr froot stallz an between bildinz. Instinkt led me. I followd.

The raw myoozik of the bazaar, hoomin voisiz an aminal voisiz, roz togethr in a simfonee of urjensee. I ran lik I had nevr run befor. I leepd! bildins and slithrd between stallz. I yowld an hisst wen hoominz thretnd to get in mai wae. They springd asyd. Huh.

(Wudn’t yu? I bet eevn mai mom wud, if she sawd me lik that. Pertee amayzin whut terrir kin do fer a feller in a hurree. Thoz Lympic athleet fellerz shud trai it.)

Fynlee feelin mai strenkth runnin out, I srtchd mai surroundins fer a plays to go to groun, but no luk. Still, I is a resorsful kittee, as M alwaes sez. If I kin’t go to groun, kin I goes up?

An ther, rizin befor me wuz the stranjist tree I evr saw, all trunk curvin up wift a wig of leevs on top. I didn’t stop to thingk, I jus kept runnin and ran up that tree liks a skwirrul. I reetchd the top an was pantin an pantin an tremblin, remememberin how them bullets had hit the dirt jus nex to me! I still hadz the dirt in mai eyes from the sprayback.

But, thangks be to Ceiling Cat, I wus sayf!

I wuz, I gots to admit, sittin in a big ol nest of leevs 25 feet in the air, shur. But othr than that, I wuz sayf.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Rong Kinda Reskyoo

Mom Sez:

Perro, Gatto, and Sabaka looked up to the small dark objects flying closer and gaining in size and noise. Ibrahim said, “They arr heleecoperz, but that does not mean that aneething problematique—“

Gatto sed, “Yu meens theez ar CIA helicopterz? Alreddee?”

Octavian said, “O, gud! Mysiz—I meens, my CIA is reskyooin yer hoomin!”

But Sabaka only howled. Gatto translated, his tail lashing nervously, “That is not the CIA or any frend. That is the Russianz, that is Spyetsnaz! O Ceeling Cat, hav mersee!”

Three dirty grey helicopters landed inside the prison fence, and from each one ran six heavily armed men in tan field uniforms. They sprayed the prison door with bullets. A dozen forced their way inside the compound, while the other half dozen covered the exit, once shooting at a guard who raised his firearm. The man dropped to the ground, but did not seem to be injured, just cautious. A claxon sounded, harsh against the city’s daily low buzz. Shots sounded inside the compound and then thirteen men came racing out, the twelve soldiers and one emaciated prisoner. The covering soldiers sprayed the onlookers with bullets. Marrakechian onlookers—two- and four-legged, citizens and visitors—scrambled to get away. Then the helicopters were rising again.

Those fleeing paused and turned back to look. Guards from the prison came racing out shooting at everything, looking just as terrified as their victims, spreading their terror as they went. They screamed, “Ces chiens! Ces chiens!”

The humans looked up to the helicopters disappearing into the high, far distance, but “those dogs”—and those cats and Ibrahim—fled.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lernin to Notis Importint Things

Mom Says:

The morning wore on. Ibrahim squatted next to the giant palm tree, watching the people pass into and out of the prison compound. Agent Octavian sat at attention, with his tail curled in front of his legs. Time passed slowly.

After a while, Octavian padded over to Ibrahim and said, “Kin yu keeps watch? I needz a nap!”

Ibrahim laughed his deep, rough laugh. “Sleep, petit hurairah, leetl kittee. We want you to be alert when they return.”

But Octavian was out like a light.

The sun rose further. Octavian’s dreams were cut through by an odd, drum-like noise and he woke and stretched out and yawned hugely. Ibrahim patted him on the head, saying, “Well rested already? I thought you would take the longer nap.”

Octavian threw himself back down on the pavement. “Whu cud sleep wift that funnee noiz up ther?”

Ibrahim looked up, squinting and shading his eyes with this hand. “How odd… That looks almost…”

A scramble of claws announced the presence of Perro, Sabaka, and Gatto trotting out of the prison, now without the packages that had been attached to their collars.The loud noise from far above their heads grew louder.

“Ibrahim, whut ar them things?” asked Octavian, as the others joined them under the palm tree.

“Well,” said Ibrahim, “I hate to say it, but I think—“

Musashi Sez:

This yer weeklee cliff-hangr. Peepls ben sayin ther not enugf suspens in this blog laytlee, so we ar tryin to improov. I thogted that we needed an akshul cliff fer this, but mom sez no, a meddaforikul cliff is jenrullee gud enogf.