September 10th 2007 5:52 pm
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I sprinted the last few meters of the path, and waited with Orangina, Gromit, Hudson, Toffy, Diego, and Bella in the thorny shadows between the rosebushes and the bamboo fence. Toffy was intently cleaning crepe myrtle petals from between his toes. Diego greeted me with a wink, then went back to picking spiderwebs out of his long whiskers.
Gromit’s pupils were huge and he was prancing in place. “Jubilee, wasn’t that incredible? I want to do it again!” He caught himself and his nose turned bright red. “The stairs, I mean. Just the stairs!”
Bella and I were still giggling together when Ham jogged to the end of the fence and joined us behind the rosebush. With the group all present and accounted for, Orangina led us around the end of the bamboo fence and towards the smell of the other cats. The security lights on the sides of the houses created, ironically, plenty of shadows for easy darting and hiding. We were now in another cul-de-sac, ringed with large, expensive houses (even a cat could tell they were expensive), overlooking the valley below. The cul-de-sac tilted higher on the northeast rim, and at the highest point on that rim perched a house that looked like ice cubes stuck together in a highball glass. Its poured-concrete slabs clung like a bird dropping to the side of the hill. Where the structure faced the cul-de-sac, it jutted out slightly, creating an overhanging crag that sheltered, of all things, a small but actual cave in the ivy-covered hillside. Several sets of cat eyes gleamed in the shadows. Here and there, the ivy rustled with the scurrying of tasty-smelling mice and lizards.
As we approached the cave, a mostly-grey cat with a white bib and paws galloped towards us. The dark leather of his nose stood out against his white muzzle like a punctuation mark. “Hi! I’m Fafnir! Tweak said we’d be joining up with more cats here. We’re the first cats here so far. Come meet my family!”
He bounded ahead of us before Orangina could finish saying, “Well-met by moonlight, little brother.”
“Oh, right, sorry, well-met by moonlight,” Fafnir called back as he bounced through the ivy.
We followed Fafnir up the short ivy slope to the shallow stone cave, where three more cats were perched on the rocks. A smallish female, blue-grey all over, with sparkling gold eyes, stood up as we entered. “Well-met by moonlight, fellow cats,” she said. “My name is Tweak. These are my brothers, Fafnir and Wiggy, and Wiggy’s girlfriend Pepper. Are you Journeying to the Festival of Bast, too?”
“Well-met by moonlight, sister,” said Orangina. The rest of us settled in for the requisite round of greetings and introductions.
Wiggy was the eldest, with a gentle face, and grey markings that resembled a saddle and helmet over his snowy white chest, belly and legs. His girlfriend, Pepper, hung shyly by his side. She was a young calico tortoiseshell, with white paws and bib, and a jagged white blaze between her wide green-gold eyes. Pepper must be a popular name for torties, I thought, remembering Cricket’s tortie kitten. Tweak was smaller and younger than Wiggy, but where her older brother was mellow and laid-back, Tweak was full of feisty energy. I could see why she was leading their group. They all seemed to regard Fafnir, the youngest, with a mixture of exasperation and amusement.
Once the formalities were done with, we all settled down to chat and get better acquainted over a long grooming. As tired as we all were, the conversation rapidly turned to how long it had been since we’d all last eaten, and how we might go about getting some supper.
STAY TUNED!!!! More Catster pals will be joining the Journey soon!
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