Don Redmond (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As usual the three main characters belong to the folks of HB. Most of the kats in this tale belong to me. However, after one reads enough stories by others there is bound to be some influence. I thank you all. In particular, I thank Jade Callan for essentially writing most of the last page. If Ted ever decides to start up The Swat Kats again (fat chance!), the producers could do worse than to start with some of the stories on this archive. For those looking for real action I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. There are no Swat Kats and no supervillains trying to take over MegaKat City. There are only lots of kats trying to understand the meaning of love. For the historians in the audience the first two parts take place before Anniversary Blues and the third part takes place afterward.
Enough of this! On with the show.
The Commander Balks
There was a time, after Felina moved out of the Enforcer Barracks, that she lost her transportation. Callie offered to give her a lift since she was going the same way. One evening Commander Feral looked out of his office window as he was tired of paperwork and was resting his eyes. He saw Felina hop into Callie’s car and he could have sworn that Felina slid over in the front seat so that she could sit right next to Callie. He decided
his eyes were playing tricks on him.
The next morning when Felina arrived at Enforcer Headquarters Feral was looking out of his window trying to get up the energy to go back to the rest of the reports left over from the day before. Again he saw Felina arrive in Callie’s car and this time he wanted to see if what he had seen the night before was accurate. What he saw was his niece lean back into the car and kiss the deputy mayor. He called down and had Lieutenant Feral sent up to his office.
There was a knock at the door of his office and he growled for the person to come in. It was Felina now decked out in her Enforcer’s uniform.
“You wished to see me, uncle?”
“I can’t think of any other way to go about this so I’ll just come to the point. What kind of relationship do you have with Deputy Mayor Briggs?”
Felina was taken aback. This is not the sort of thing she expected her uncle to ask her. She had no reply, at least not one she wanted to make if she could help it.
“Commander Feral, is this an order to answer?”
“Felina, don’t make this any worse than it has to be.”
“Then I prefer not to answer at this time.”
Feral thought about ordering an answer from her, but why risk her lying to him. “Dismissed.”
Felina turned and strode out.
That night, when Felina went out to get a ride from Callie, when she got into the car she stayed on her side of the front seat. Callie thought this a little odd from the way she normally behaved. She also saw the tension in Felina’s body.
“What’s wrong, Felina?”
“My uncle knows about us.”
“What do you want to do?”
When they got to Felina’s apartment Callie was willing to just leave, as she often did, but this time Felina asked her in, as she sometimes did.
“How did he find out?”
“I think he probably just saw us together. Today he called me into his office right after I got there. Maybe he saw us kissing.”
“What did you tell him?”
While the two kats tried to decide how to handle this situation Felina got her car back and was at least able to drive to work without arousing any more suspicion. However, on the third morning after her first meeting with her uncle when Felina arrived at Enforcer Headquarters she was again told to report to the Commander’s office.
When she got there the secretary told her to go right in. As she closed the door behind her she saw Callie sitting in a chair off to the side looking none too pleased. Behind his desk sat Commander Feral look quite upset.
“You wanted to see me, uncle?”
“Explain what?” Felina knew, as soon as she saw Callie, where this discussion was going, but she wasn’t going to help the Commander by saying it first.
“Don’t get smart with me, young lady!”
Callie had to force herself to not laugh out loud, not that anything was very funny at this point. However, Feral had certainly pushed one of Felina’s hot buttons. Whether he had intended to or not it was done.
Felina tried to control herself. “I am not your ‘young lady,’ Commander. You are not my mother and I am an adult kat.”
Feral realized that he had gone too far. He loved his niece and did not want this to turn into a shouting match. He had hoped to have a rational discussion. “Felina, think of what you’re doing.”
“What am I doing?” If he was going to try to make this a father-daughter talk, then she was determined to continue to make this as hard as possible for him.
Feral exploded. “You and the Deputy Mayor!” He stood up and stared at his niece. “I don’t think that a kiss that lasts several seconds is exactly a thank you for driving you into work. I had wondered about the two of you before, but I didn’t think I would see it in public.
“Do you want to see the latest Ann Gora report: ‘Enforcer and Deputy Mayor Caught in Love Nest’?”
“You think Callie and I are somehow unique? We are just two kats in love with each other. Why should that concern you or Ann?”
“I didn’t get you into the Enforcer Academy just so you could turn into a lesbian!” Feral turned to glare at Callie as if to accuse her of somehow seducing Felina into the paths of sin.
“Leave her out of this. If it’s the Enforcers image you’re worried about, maybe I should tell you about the gays on the force. Or does being a he-kat exempt one from this tirade? Should I tell you about the other lesbians on the force? How has their performance suffered because of that?”
“How am I suppose to know? I don’t know who they are?”
“That is the question, isn’t it?”
Callie decided she might as well jump into this discussion. She could see how painful this was for Felina since Callie knew how much Felina usually admired her uncle both as a kat and as an Enforcer. So she stood up.
“Tell me, Commander, how does this publicity you’re so afraid of hurt an Enforcer’s performance? Shall I get all of last week’s MegaKat Chronicles and see how many times Tom Harlan’s name is mentioned in Herb Kat’s column and with whom? Has his performance suffered because his name is spread all over the gossip columns?”
“Harlan is one of my best pilots. What he does off duty is his own business as long as it is not illegal.”
“Then what about us?”
“And what about Steel?” Callie pressed the attack. “Everytime I hear you talk about him he seems on his way back to being an officer.”
“Pfah. Steel is a bozo. I only keep him on the force because of his family connections. If he were booted out of the Enforcers, which is what I would like to do, Mayor Manx would hear about it before Steel hit the ground. Then I would hear about it. Your boss is indebted to a lot of powerful people.”
“So why is Felina’s lifestyle so bad? Has it hurt her performance?”
“Have I hurt her performance?”
“No. The few times I have seen her with you, in an official capacity,” Feral almost smiled at this point, “you two have worked together quite professionally.”
“Uncle,” Felina tried to sound conciliatory, “I am not asking for your blessing. I know how you feel, but I am only asking that you judge me by the same criteria that you judge the rest of the Enforcers. If I fall down there, then we’ll have something to discuss.”
Feral looked at the two she-kats in his office. This had not gone the way he had hoped it would. He had to laugh, which surprised the other two kats. Did he really think Felina, or the Deputy Mayor, would turn contrite? He knew, from personal experience, that both of these kats were strong-willed. Perhaps he should of started this discussion where he was now going to end it.
“Felina, all I ask is that the two of you be discreet. Having to answer for Harlan is enough of a headache. Dismissed Lieutenant.” He looked over at Callie. “You might as well go with her.”
The two kats left and Felina walked Callie back to her car. After Callie got in she looked around and,seeing nobody about except Felina, said, “This may not be the best time to ask this, but would you like to come over for dinner tonight? I’m having sweet and sour shrimp.”
“You know how to get to my heart.”
The two kats laughed and Felina leaned in the window to give Callie a quick kiss. As she watched Callie drive away Felina felt like she was a very lucky kat.
The Mother Walks
Hecuba Feral was at the MegaKat Mall doing a little last minute checking up on things for the wedding of her son, Ajax. As she walked through the mall she thought she spotted her daughter Felina, the one disappointment in her life. As she walked over to at least say hello to her daughter she noticed that there was another she-kat with her and that they appeared to be holding hands. She was appalled and rushed over to where her daughter was. However, by the time she got through the crowd to where she had seen her daughter Felina had disappeared. Hecuba was determined to talk to her daughter and straighten this out.
Hecuba wasn’t able to get to her daughter’s apartment until the next morning. She knocked on the door, but no one answered. She listened closely and thought she heard the shower running. She smiled and reached in her purse for the key to the apartment that she had talked her brother-in-law into giving her.
Inside she heard the shower still running and sat down in the kitchen to wait. When the shower stopped she started to get up, but then heard a she-kat’s voice that wasn’t that of her daughter. “I’ll start the coffee.”
Into the kitchen where Hecuba sat walked Calico Briggs wearing only a robe that was just barely tied. As soon as Callie saw the older kat she turned around and walked back into the bedroom. There she saw Felina sitting on the bed trying to dry her hair. “There’s someone in the kitchen to see you.”
As soon as Felina left the bedroom Callie started to get dressed. She had recognized the she-kat: it was Felina’s mother. Felina had several times mentioned that she did not get along with her mother and Callie thought it best just to leave. Callie tried to not pay attention to what was being said in the kitchen, but its volume made it impossible to ignore completely.
“What is she doing here? Have you no shame?”
“Mother! This is my life.”
“Well we’ll see how much of a life is left after I tell your uncle about what you doing.” Hecuba Feral was smiling. She thought she had her daughter.
Felina laughed at her mother. “You’re too late. Commander Feral already knows.”
Callie appeared in the kitchen doorway. “Well, Felina, I guess I should be going.”
Felina who was standing near the door walked over to Callie and pointedly put her arm around Callie’s waist. “No need for you to leave. I’m sure my mother would rather take care of my brother’s wedding.”
“Why don’t you let the kat go. I can see she is ashamed at being caught here.”
Callie sighed. She didn’t want to be a part of this discussion, but shame was not what she was feeling at this moment. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Feral, but shame has nothing to do with this. I love your daughter and she loves me.”
“Love? Don’t be ridiculous. You two can’t love each other. It’s …,” suddenly Hecuba Feral was at a loss for words. She could not think of anything vile enough to describe what she thought.
Mother and daughter glared at each other and Callie wondered who would blink first. Without saying another word Hecuba stood up and pushed past the two kats in the kitchen doorway. At the front door of the apartment the older kat threw the apartment key to the floor and slammed the door behind her.
“That was fun. What’s next on the entertainment schedule for today, Felina?”
Felina laughed and then kissed Callie. “At least you didn’t have to hear her rail at me about being an Enforcer. Now that’s entertainment.”
The Matriarch Talks
The two stubborn kats were standing in the apartment’s living room arguing with each other. Each had their own take on the right way to proceed.
“No, no, no! I don’t want to get mixed up with your family again, Felina. First your uncle, then your mother and finally that awful party.”
“Callie, this is my grandmother we’re talking about. She’s going to be 100. I have to go to see her again.”
“Then you can see her without me!” Callie turned her back to Felina.
Felina walked up to Callie and put her arms around Callie’s waist. “Please. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. She’s a great kat.”
Eventually Callie gave in. She did not want to tangle with the Feral clan any more than she absolutely had to, but, in the end, Felina convinced her. She also promised Callie that if this did not work out, then this would be the last time.
Callie knew that the Ferals were a rich family, but she did not realize that they owned one of the islands out in MegaKat Bay. As Callie and Felina rode the boat to the unnamed island, with a few other kats that neither Callie nor Felina knew (“The clan is quite large.”), she was glad to see that unlike AnnaKatta island, which was a few miles to the east, there was no volcano in the middle of this island.
As they neared the island a very large beach became apparent. Behind it was a wall of dense forest that was lit up, as if it was on fire, by the near setting sun and on its right hand side was a short pier. To the right of the pier the island’s coastline became quite rocky. Callie thought it looked like a great place to spend a weekend providing she didn’t have to meet too many of the people already there.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Felina had walked up next to Callie. “If it wasn’t for this special occasion this would have been held at one of the downtown hotels like my parent’s anniversary party. For an occasion such as this, however, the Enforcers would basically cordon off the building and the block around it. Wealth sometimes has its privileges.”
When they got to the pier the boat pilot helped the kats out of the boat and then loaded their luggage into a waiting station wagon. The car traveled along a road that wound though the trees that had been visible from the water and the farther inland they went the taller the trees became.
Then they came around a corner and went through an old wrought iron gate. The trees receded into the distance and before them grew a large three story building with a few outlying buildings. The main building sprawled and looked like a house, but Callie thought no one could need a house that was as large as this. It had a log cabin exterior with several stone chimneys visible even from this distance.
When the car pulled up at the main house several kats appeared to help the passengers out of the car and take control of their luggage. Inside the house the door opened onto a landing. To the right and left were stairways that went up to the second and third floors. Straight ahead was the Great Hall. Already the room was full of kats.
The kats who had just arrived with Callie and Felina followed the servants and their luggage up the stairs. Callie and Felina were taken up to the second floor to the left and went down a long wide hallway. They
stopped in front of a door that looked like all the others and were let in.
The room that opened before them was easily as large as either of their two apartments. Callie was still not use to the wealth of the Ferals and just looked around in amazement as her eyes swung from the bathroom to the large dressing table that had a huge mirror above it to a king size bed to a picture window leading to a balcony and then two couches, each with their own coffee table, another dresser and finally a walk-in closet. Even Felina looked dazed by the opulence.
After telling the two kats that tonight’s dinner was buffet style the servant who had brought them to their room left them alone. The two kats unpacked in silence not wishing to break the spell of awe that had come over them. Finally, Felina felt compelled to speak.
“I’ve been here twice, but both times were when I was a young kitten. I suspect that the enormity of the place must have been beyond my comprehension then because I don’t remember it being this large.”
“It’s beyond my comprehension now and I’m an adult.”
“We should have asked the kat for directions to the buffet. I’m starting to get hungry.”
“I suspect that all we have to do is follow the crowd. I’ve been to enough buffets to know that that is where kats congregate. I suspect that the Ferals are not so rich that they do not like to eat. If that fails, I am sure we can find a waiter to direct us.”
At the bottom of the stairway the landing opened to the left, down a half a dozen steps, into the Great Hall. There were enough kats milling about to field several football teams (“The Ferals are prolific. Look at my
family: three brothers and two sisters.”), but Callie pointed out a large knot to the far left. “I think we’ve found the food.”
Felina tapped Callie on the shoulder and pointed to the right into the middle of the crowd. “Let’s avoid that area. It appears to be where my mother is holding court.”
Unfortunately by the time they got to the bottom step Felina’s mother had seen them and was coming their way. For a moment Felina thought about just walking on, but she was sure her mother would follow. She hoped that a hello would suffice.
“Hello mother. You are looking elegant as usual.”
“And you are looking obscene, as usual. How dare you bring that kat,” Hecuba pointed in Callie’s general direction, “here?”
“I don’t recall anyone saying one couldn’t bring companions. Didn’t I see Teucer and his fiancee over near you? If you’ll excuse us, Callie and I are hungry.” Felina turned away from her mother and put a hand to Callie’s waist to turn her in the direction she wanted to go.
“Don’t you turn your back on me, Felina Alexandra Feral. Not while I’m still talking to you!”
Felina spun around. “Why not, mother? You always turned your back on me. You realized I was in trouble in college before I did and you did nothing. If it hadn’t been for Uncle Ulysses …,”
Felina was interrupted at this point by Hecuba’s scream of rage.
Just then Ulysses Feral showed up at his sister-in-law’s right shoulder. Her husband, Menelaus, was still somewhere behind. Callie had turned away from Felina and was going, Felina knew, back to their room upstairs. Callie had had enough and was on the verge of leaving. Her mother had sabotaged her happiness again.
Hecuba turned to Ulysses and sputtered, “Speak to your niece!”
Feral was not thrilled with the tone of command. In the early days of her marriage to his brother he was genuinely fond of Hecuba, but somewhere along the way she had turned into a kat who thought the universe
revolved around her. He didn’t know whether he felt sorrier for his brother or their children. He did know he wasn’t going to kowtow to her.
“Why should I? You’re doing a fine job. The same kind of job that sent Felina to me and into the Enforcers. For that I thank you, Hecuba.”
Felina used this as an opportunity to grab Callie’s hand and take her over toward the buffet. The two kats could hear the argument still going on. It had one other benefit for the hungry kats. The crowd around the buffet was paying more attention to the argument than to the food. However, by the time they got to the food Felina found that she was no longer hungry.
It was Callie’s turn to do the steering and she led Felina past the kats in the Great Hall and outside onto the stone porch that overlooked the huge formal garden. There were a few other kats milling around outside, but
Callie was easily able to find a place where they could find relative peace.
The two kats stood side by side with Callie’s arm around Felina’s waist. Callie could feel the tension in Felina’s body that was fighting for release, but knew that Felina was not about to give her mother the satisfaction of knowing that she had made her daughter cry.
While Felina was trying to control herself her brother Ajax came by to see her. He had just gotten married, but Felina had not attended his wedding. Even though Ajax was the only member of her immediate family she
did more than tolerate, she had called him to tell him she wasn’t going to attend. He had understood.
“Hello, sis, Callie.”
Felina smiled. “Hello, Ajax. Good marriage to you and Mara.”
“Thank you. Mother is a little over the top tonight, isn’t she? I’m just sorry you’re the one she always takes it out on.”
“I’m the disappointment in her life. I’m the daughter who is not perfect. I’m glad you can live with her and still be as decent you are.”
“She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m moving out.”
“You are? Great! When are you going to leave?”
“I have some deals in the works and if they pan out as they should Mara and I should be in Katcago before Midsummer.”
“That’s really great. Mother will love you, too.” Felina laughed and then brother and sister embraced. “I love you Ajax.”
“And I you, sis. Well, I had better get back to my bride before she misses me too much.” So saying he turned and vanished back into the crowd.
Felina went back to stand next to Callie. “You see, I do have some decent relatives.”
The two kats stood together for a few minutes and watched the crowd ebb and flow around them. Nobody paid them any attention and they preferred it that way. Then Felina looked at Callie. “You know, I’m still hungry.”
After gathering up some food the two kats decided to go back outside to avoid as many kats as possible. Outside, in the garden, they found a wooden bench that had been placed in front of a well lit lily pond. As the kats looked into the pool they saw koi swimming about amongst the lilies. Out here the voices in the main house seemed distant enough to ignore.
While they were eating one of the ubiquitous waiters came by with a tray of champagne. “Would you ladies like something to drink?”
“Nothing right now, unless you can rustle up some milk.”
“Very good. And you, madam?”
“The same, thank you.”
Five minutes later the waiter returned with two large glasses of chilled milk. The two kats thanked him and before he got too far Callie told Felina she was going to go back in for a little more. “Can I get you anything?”
Instantly the waiter turned back to them. “Can I get something for you?” Callie gave him a short list of things she wanted, with quantities, and Felina did likewise. The waiter returned soon with the desired seconds and both kats profusely thanked him.
“You know, I could get use to this really easily.”
“Believe me, you don’t want to have to take what goes with it.” Felina pointed to the direction of the main house.
Callie looked in that direction and saw the sunset instead. There were just enough clouds in the sky to provide a flaming sunset. “Look at this Felina.”
Felina turned around and was likewise enraptured by the sunset.
Later another waiter came by to see if the kats wanted any champagne, or other liquor, and left off some champagne and took some dirty dishes back with her. After several more glasses of champagne the two kats decided they had had too much to drink and went for a walk to clear their heads.
They were a little tipsy as they walked down the concrete path that led through the garden, but they had little trouble following it even when the lighting gave out. While the moon wasn’t full it did yield enough light for the kats to see their way. At some point they lost track of time and just kept walking until they came out of the trees and found themselves face to face with a sea of grass.
Not far into the grassland they found a large boulder that they could sit on to rest. Felina thought that this would be incredibly beautiful under a full moon. She turned to the kat next to her on the rock and decided she was incredibly beautiful even in this light. Felina put an arm around Callie’s waist and Callie lay her head on Felina’s shoulder.
After a time Felina asked, “How do you feel?”
“Fine. You know this fresh air makes me want to go to bed.” Callie turned her head and gave Felina a quick kiss. She hopped down from the rock and held out her hand to the other kat. Felina took it in hers and the two
kats walked back to the main house.
When Callie awoke in the morning she smiled to herself as she remembered the night before, at least the part after they got back to their room. She reached out to Felina and felt some fur and then a breast. When she looked in Felina’s direction she saw the other kat lying on her side smiling back at her with the sun highlighting her fur.
“We should to do this more often.”
Felina slid across the bed to be next to Callie.
Later they were walking down the stairway on the way to the breakfast buffet. At the bottom of the stairs they were met by one of the servants. “Madame Celeste wishes to talk with you.” Callie turned to follow and when Felina started to come along she was told that it was to be a private audience.
“I’ll meet you out in back?”
Callie was taken down a hallway that led out of the Great Hall. There were several rooms off the hallway and she was taken to the one that was next to last. Inside the room was bright and there were books everywhere. On one of the desks were some photos. One was of an old he-kat and another was a wedding picture of two young kats. The female was beautiful with luxurious brown fur.
The old kat sitting in the wing back chair was obviously the older incarnation of this young bride. Callie was bidden to sit in a chair facing the matriarch of the Feral clan. She smiled at Callie and as Callie sat she was put at ease until Celeste asked her first question, though it sounded more like a statement.
“You are Felina’s lover?”
Callie did not want to go through this again and started to get up. She was waved back down, somewhat imperiously, by the older kat.
“Relax, child. I admit to being somewhat abrupt, but when you are my age one has a tendency to want to get to the point. I only bring this out in the open so you won’t have to waste your time trying to answer questions without revealing your secrets. Unlike Hecuba I don’t have any preconceived notions. Do you really love Felina? This isn’t some sort of school girl crush is it?”
Callie laughed. “If it is a crush, then it has lasted several years and Felina seems to share in it. Everytime I am with her I realize how much I love her. She is the one true kat for me.”
“That is quite a claim.”
“One that can only be tested over time since two she-kats aren’t allowed to go through the rites.”
“Perhaps something may be done about that sometime. How do you feel about Felina’s choice of occupation?”
“I hate it. Not like her mother does. I don’t see it as something unfit for her: as though a Feral she-kat shouldn’t being doing this sort of thing. She hates Felina being an Enforcer. One shouldn’t dirty a Feral’s
hands with such work. Better to dirty them making money.”
Callie paused for a moment as she realized she was beginning to rant. “I hate it because, even though Felina and I live apart, I’m still afraid that some day I’m going to hear someone describe Felina’s death. I hate it for selfish reasons: I don’t want to lose her. However, it is her choice of occupations. She is very happy being an Enforcer and I will not begrudge her that especially since she is such a good one. How did you feel about Commander Feral when he decided to join the Enforcers?”
“Touchi. I suppose we felt that Ulysses would outgrow it. We figured that once he saw what the ‘real world’ was like he would realize that he should come back home and to be honest we thought they’d probably toss him out of the Enforcers. That didn’t happen and we were left with the consequences. There was a time when we tried to pressure him to quit, but his feelings never wavered, and so we decided it was best to accept it.
“A similar thing happened when Felina wanted to go to college. Hecuba asked me about it and I told her to let Felina go. I knew Felina was a stubborn kat, but I assumed she would ‘see the light.’ Of course, I wasn’t raising her and didn’t realize how things were at home. When she went into her down turn her mother panicked and tried to threaten her daughter. Even I knew that wouldn’t work. She, more than anyone, is responsible for Felina going to her uncle and from there into the Enforcers.
“Ulysses was just looking for something exciting that he liked to do, but Felina was trying to escape her home. I don’t know why her brothers and her sister are so ‘normal,’ whereas Felina is the odd-kat-out. I am glad she has found something and someone,” the old kat put her hand on Callie’s knee, “that she loves. She deserves the happiness.”
Celeste asked Callie about herself and when Callie mentioned that her family was in the wine business asked some questions about things Callie didn’t think anyone outside the business would know. After a time old she-kat fell silent for a moment. “I believe I interrupted your breakfast. I should have thought to have some brought to my room for you. I am sorry. We can talk later.”
Celeste closed her eyes and sank back into the chair. Callie took that as a sign that the interview was over and she stood up. She went over to Celeste and kissed her on the forehead. “I look forward to it, my lady.”
Outside the room she met the servant again who was kind enough to lead Callie back to buffet and to point out where Felina was eating.
At the table Callie saw Felina sitting with two other kats that looked quite young. The he-kat was another Feral brown although he had orange stripes on his elbows and a tan patch on his nose. The she-kat was a luxurious gray whose hair went down past her waist.
When she saw Callie Felina stood up to greet her and to introduce the other two kats. “May I introduce Bruce and Selina Kyle? They are from a distant branch of the Feral clan.”
Callie shook hands with both of the kats and noticed that Selina was pregnant. “When are you due?”
“In three months.” Selina looked shy and bent her head back to her food.
When Callie asked Bruce about himself he mentioned he was in the software business. She asked him if he had ever heard of Scarlet Iris Creations. “Yes, we do some subcontracting with them. They’re a tightly run ship. The owner is really on the ball. Do you know him?”
“He’s my brother-in-law.”
The talk wandered to other things and after awhile only Callie was eating. Bruce and Selina excused themselves and Felina was left to watch Callie finish up her breakfast.
“So what do you think of Bruce and Selina? I met them a couple of years ago under circumstances that escape me. Maybe it was at Midsummer or New Years. As you can see not all Ferals are closed minded.”
“I already knew that. Bruce and Selina are certainly a perky pair, even if Selina is a bit shy.” Callie paused and looked, to Felina, like she was trying to find the right words to say next. Her voice was a little flat when she continued. “I hope they have a good future.”
“So what did Grandmother say?”
Callie finished eating and filled Felina in on the interview. “Celeste is a great lady. She is still sharp as a tack. I would have loved to known her during her prime.”
Callie pushed her empty plate away from her and finished her milk. “This is great milk. It is really fresh. So what’s on the schedule for today?”
“Really nothing until tonight. If this wasn’t such a special occasion we’d be in the city and kats would be coming and going. Tonight is the birthday dinner, even though Grandmother’s real birthday is tomorrow.
For some reason the birthday dinner is the night before. Of course, in this case it works out well since it’ll be on a Saturday night.
“Tomorrow from about ten until two is the birthday party itself. You know: presents, well-wishes, speeches, cake and ice cream, whatever. Then we all clear out of here and go back to making money.
“Of course, when we were kittens it was presents at ten, cake and ice cream at ten thirty and from eleven on it was time to run around the house and play with our toys.”
“Since we have the afternoon off do you want to go for another walk? The last one led to good things.”
Felina laughed and stood up. Callie followed suit and the two kats went out to explore more of the island.
While out walking in the woods Felina and Callie came to another little meadow. This one was just a grassy clearing, with a couple of trees, unlike the clearing they came to last night which, in the darkness, seemed
to go on forever. The two kats decided to take a rest and sat down at the base of one of the trees. As they sat they talked about their situation and whether it was worth it. It didn’t take them too long to decide it was.
Then Felina stood up in front of Callie and motioned her to stand up also. Callie wasn’t sure what Felina had in mind, but she went along with it. Felina then took Callie’s hands in hers and stood facing her.
“I’ve probably got all the words wrong, but it’s the best I can do. Calico Briggs: I take thee in sickness and in health, whether rich or poor, for all the days to come unto eternity. My beloved: I take thee as my one true kat.”
“Felina Feral: I take thee in sickness and in health, whether rich or poor, for all the days to come unto eternity. My beloved: I take thee as my one true kat.”
Then the two kats spoke in unison. “Oh Great Mother, we humbly ask for your blessing on this union and that you allow it to prosper.”
The two kats put their arms around each other’s waist and pulled one another close. They held each other for several minutes before kissing in an almost chaste manner.
Afterward they decided to head back to the main house. It was after midday and while dinner would be extravagant it would still be awhile before that meal and the two kats were beginning to realize that they were getting hungry. Not all needs were spiritual.
This afternoon the buffet was a soup, salad and sandwich buffet. At one end were a large variety of breads next to many types of meat and cheese. For the salad portion there were lettuce of all kinds and every imaginable type of food to put over the lettuce. Neither Callie nor Felina got to the soups.
When they took their food to the outside they were hailed by a familiar voice. They turned and saw Felina’s brother Ajax and his wife Mara. The two she-kats settled in at the table and noticed that the other two kats had plates as heaped with food as theirs.
“I figure that eating here this weekend should do wonders for my food budget for the coming week.”
“You have to admit, sis, the clan knows how to throw a party.”
A waiter came by and asked the four kats if they needed anything.
“Aside from a bigger stomach I can’t think of anything. Thank you.”
The kats ate for awhile in silence before Ajax spoke up. “You did forget part.”
“Of the rite.”
It took Felina a moment to realize what Ajax was talking about. When she did she started to stand up, but Callie put a hand on her shoulder to keep her seated. “You were spying on us!”
“Felina, no. We were witnessing. To be official every marriage rite needs to be witnessed. We did not want to break in then or after because the moment was yours, but we did want to witness for you.”
Felina sat in silence for a minute and then smiled at her brother. She put her hand over his. “I am sorry I yelled at you. I guess mother is making me paranoid.” She was silent for a moment before speaking again. “So, what did we leave out?”
“Well, let’s see.” Ajax turned to Mara. “There is a line about in good times and bad.”
“There is the part about love, honor and obey.”
All four kats started laughing and around her laughter Callie asked, “Did you two use the obey part?”
“No. You should have seen the look on Hecuba’s face when we got to that part and left obey out. Ajax thought she might faint.”
“What brought you out there?”
“Probably the same thing that brought you two out, sis. It’s a lovely day and we had nothing to do until nightfall. When we saw the two of you we were going to join you, but Mara realized what you were about and stopped us. We just stood at the tree line and watched.”
“I wish our wedding could have been like that. Hecuba only invited her closest five hundred friends.”
The four kats laughed and went back to eating. The talk turned to less weightier issues such as what Mara did and what Ajax was going to do in the future. By the time they finished stuffing the last crumbs in the four kats decided that perhaps it was time to retire to their rooms until dinner.
This afternoon the Great Hall was not very filled with kats. Most of them were undoubtedly touring the grounds as these four had done and a few groups had been seen picnicking throughout the grounds. As it turned out Ajax and Mara’s room was on the other side of the building from Felina and Callie’s room and it was on the third floor as well.
As they parted Felina spoke. “You have the bravest one, Mara. He has the courage to stay there and leave on his own terms. I ran and the others surrendered. Good marriage to you both.”
“And to you two also.”
As the two she-kats got up the stairs to the second floor they met the kat who had escorted Callie to her interview with Felina’s grandmother. He was coming down this time from the third floor.
“Ah, I have been looking for you.”
“We went out for a walk.”
“Not surprising. It is lovely outside and I have been out only briefly. Madam would like to talk briefly with the two of you if you wouldn’t mind.”
Felina was not about to forego a chance to talk to her grandmother and Callie certainly wished to see her again. Felina swept her arm out in a lead-the-way gesture and the servant led the two she-kats back down to the
first floor and through the Great Hall to the hallway that led to Celeste’s room.
The old she-kat was seated in the wing back chair as she had been when Callie had seen her earlier though this time there were two chairs facing her. While Callie just sat when bade to do so Felina first gave her grandmother a hug. Celeste smiled when she noted that Callie reached out to take Felina’s hand in hers when Felina finally sat down.
“I hope things have gone well with you two today.”
“Yes, Grandmother. We decided to see more of the island.”
“I’ve already grilled Callie about how you two feel about each other so I suppose I should ask you the same.”
“Of course, I love Callie.”
“Also, we solved one of the problems we spoke about.”
Celeste spoke to Felina mostly this time. She asked about Felina’s feelings toward her job and also toward her family. She listened quietly as Felina spoke, sometimes vehemently about what family life had come to mean to her.
“I know it always hasn’t been the best for you, Felina. I am glad you now have some happiness in your life. Well, I don’t mean to keep you two. We will meet again at dinner.”
The two young kats were just opening the door when Celeste spoke one last time. “Good marriage to you.”
“So what are you going to wear to tonight’s dinner?”
“The same thing I wear to all Feral family dinners: my red velvet dress. And you?”
“I’m going oriental tonight.” So saying Felina pulled out of the closet a silk dress of basic green that had a wrap around landscape painting.
“Sure, you always have to find a more beautiful dress.” Felina spoke in her worst drawl. “It’s just a little thing I found in my closet.” Felina draped it around herself and did an imitation of a model walking the ramp.
“You do that again and we won’t make it to dinner.”
When they came down to the Great Hall they saw that most of the tables were small round tables that could seat six. However, at the front of the hall, to their right as they looked out from the landing, they saw the long table that was the head table. In the middle of this table sat Celeste. Around her sat Bruce and Selina on one side and Ajax and Mara on the other. There were still a few empty places at the head table.
To the left they spotted a table in the back that was fairly empty. They headed toward it and had just sat down when Celeste’s servant came by.
“Excuse me, but there is a place reserved for you. If you will follow me.”
The two kats did as he bade and followed the servant forward. They were expecting to maybe get a table in the middle somewhere, but they kept getting closer to the front. Finally they found themselves facing the head table.
Celeste smiled at them and the servant led them to the two empty places on Ajax’s side. Felina was seated next to her grandmother and Callie sat next to Ajax. Left vacant was the chair on the other side of Celeste.
Callie quickly realized how scary it was being at the head table. When she looked out on the tables in front of her she could only see a few tables deep. Unfortunately everyone in those tables could see her. As Deputy Mayor she was use to being in front of people and in that capacity she had talked to a lot of these kats, but this situation was different. This time she was in their den.
Felina noticed that the Feral main line was in the front row of tables. Her mother and father and eldest brother, Diomedes, his wife and their twin daughters sat at one table. Her uncle sat at the next table with Teucer and his fiancee and Polyxena and her husband and their son. It was like looking at the family tree laid out before her. The farther back you were the less closely related you were to the main branch.
Selina and Bruce sat at the head table, even though they were distant relations, because Selina was pregnant with her first child. This was one of the reasons that could get you invited to the head table. The other was being newly married which was why Ajax and Mara were here. Felina wasn’t so sure why she and Callie were here unless it was Celeste’s wake up call to her daughter-in-law that she was not, yet, the one who ran the family.
In addition there were a few empty places and tables that were not filled. The empty seat next to Celeste was in memory of her husband, Hermes, who had died some years ago. Also, next to the table that Hecuba sat at was a completely empty table, though the settings were in place, in memory of Felina’s other uncle, Agamemnon. He and his family had perished in an airplane crash.
Through all of this Felina noticed that as soon as she and Callie had been seated at the head table her mother stopped looking up at her son and his wife. It was an honor to be chosen to sit at the head table at clan gatherings and she no doubt had felt proud that her son had been chosen. Felina assumed that her mother would not know what to think now.
Fortunately for everyone the meal began to be served and all the kats in the Great Hall had better things to do than look elsewhere but in front of them. At one point during the meal the waiter asked Callie if she would like some wine and Callie nodded. After he finished pouring her glass he set the bottle in front of her and Callie saw that it was a bottle of Jade Rose wine from her family’s winery. When she looked over at the old kat she saw her smiling.
Eventually everyone had enough to eat and/or drink and the various members of the clan began to wander out of the Great Hall. Some went back to their rooms while others went outside to continue the party: some to finish up the dinner wine and some to get over it.
Felina had been talking with her brother for a few minutes near the head table when he looked at his watch. “I’m sorry sis, but even though this weekend is in honor of our grandmother I have to meet with some business associates early tomorrow morning since it is the only time we’ll have before they leave the area. It was good to sit down to dinner with you again.” Ajax kissed his sister on the cheek and he and Mara walked out of the Great Hall.
Callie found herself talking with Ulysses Feral about non-city subjects, something she thought she’d never do again. She had to give him credit for coming to Felina’s defense and she hoped it signaled a change in his attitude. She excused herself when she saw Felina was free and went over to her. Ulysses said goodnight and turned around to chat with Teucer who was presently without his family.
“This was a great dinner, Felina. Of course, now that it’s broken up I feel like I can breathe again.”
“I know what you mean.” Felina noticed that Celeste was being escorted out of the hall back to her room. She went over to her. “Grandmother, I want to thank you for honoring us at your table.”
“Felina, my dear, I only want to have peace within the clan, but then when you get to my age you are allowed to do something odd.”
Felina hugged her grandmother and Callie did her best bow.
Back in their room the two kats undressed and were soon in bed. As they lay together they suddenly felt a little like newlyweds. Callie brushed a strand of Felina’s hair out of her smiling face.
“My love, I feel happier now than I have in a long time. I am sorry I made such a fuss about coming to this.”
Felina’s response was to lean over and kiss her lover.
At the second half of the birthday celebration many of the younger kittens were outside playing while the older members of the clan were in the Great Hall. Of course, the young ones did keep coming back in for more
cake or ice cream.
Not everyone brought presents since buying something for a centenarian is not very easy. Indeed most of the presents were gag gifts many of whom seemed more appropriate for Mara, say, than Celeste. Most people, present or not, had something to say about Celeste and the testimonials went on until about noon when it was Celeste’s turn.
She stood up to speak. “One of the problems with being my age is that everyone expects you to only have profound things to say. Sometimes I feel like I am suppose to be on a mountain top dispensing wisdom. I wish I could say: here’s the secret of life, but I don’t know what it is. As I’ve talked with many of you over the weekend I’ve found that there does not seem to be any one path. However, we are all Ferals and if we lose our respect for each other, we lose part of that bond. We are a family.” Celeste looked around the Great Hall. “A very large family. I thank you for coming here this weekend. You do me a great honor.”
When she sat down again every kat in the Great Hall gave her a standing ovation that lasted several minutes and caused Celeste to blush.
Around two in the afternoon kats began to leave the island. Ulysses offered to get Enforcer helicopters to fly everyone off so that they wouldn’t have to wait for the launch, but almost everyone seemed to be in a chatty mood, and so only Felina and Callie took him up on it.
Out in front of the main house a large mob of kats stood or sat waiting for the car to take them to the pier where they could wait for the launch. Kittens were dashing madly about here and there and getting yelled at by their parents to no apparent effect.
To one side of this throng stood Ulysses Feral looking at the trees in the direction of the city he was sworn to protect. Already he had begun to think about the cases that lay ahead of him and what he would need to do when he got back. One could watch him turning back into Commander Feral.
Just behind him stood Felina and Callie, arms about each other. Callie, like Ulysses, was thinking about the work that was waiting for her when she got back to work tomorrow, but not as single-mindedly as he was. She was also thinking about how much she loved the kat her arm was around. She could also feel it every time Felina made eye contact with her mother, who was standing amid the mob of Ferals, because her body would tense.
More than once Felina wanted to talk with her mother, but everytime Felina caught sight of her, Hecuba would quickly look away. Finally, Felina realized that to go to her mother now would only provoke another scene like the one on Friday. She decided to settle for resting her head on Callie’s shoulder to await the helicopter.
When it arrived Ulysses again found no other takers for a ride into the mainland, and so the three kats followed their luggage into the helicopter. Ulysses sat across from the two she-kats.
“Where to, Commander?”
“I assume the pier first.” The she-kats nodded. “Then you can take me back to Headquarters.”
The three sat in silence for a while. Feral observed his niece and the Deputy Mayor as the two she-kats sat holding hands with their fingers interlaced. They leaned towards each other slightly, as if listening to some tune no one else could hear. As he looked at them he thought about what his mother had said earlier in the day. He sat up and looked at his niece.
“Do you want something, Uncle?” Felina finally asked.
Feral tipped his head to one side, “Yes, Felina, I do.”
“To see you happy.”
Felina glanced at Callie and smiled, “I am happy, Uncle.”
“Are you, Felina?” Feral straightened his head.
She smiled sadly, “As much as I can be.”
Feral sighed, and reached over to take Felina’s other hand in his. To their surprise, he also took Callie’s other hand, “I was against this from the beginning, make no mistake, but I can’t stand in the way of Felina finally finding true happiness. As an elder member of the Feral Clan, I welcome you, Calico Briggs, into the family. I charge you to care for Felina, make her happy, and love her all the days you share with her.”
Callie’s eyes widened and she was so startled she almost forgot the proper response. “I so promise, as a member of the family, to care for Felina as if we were of the same blood.”
Felina’s eyes glistened with tears. “Thank you, Uncle.”
“I don’t profess to understand you, Felina, but I do love you as though you were my own daughter. If this is what makes you happy, so be it.” He released the hands of the two she-kats.
“You have been better to me than either my own father or mother, Uncle. As far as I’m concerned, I am your daughter.”
Callie stared at Feral as if seeing him for the first time. Just as Felina seemed to bring out the worst in her mother, she brought out the best in her uncle. This was a strange family she had joined, but there were some things that made it worth it.
“Thank you, Felina.”
The three kats rode the rest of the way in silence, a more comfortable silence then they had enjoyed in a long time.
O, Beloved, when
You and I make love, we step
straight into heaven.
Omar Katyam, Persian poet
The Feral Clan: The Soap Opera
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