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Queen Jack, the Humbled


Nicole Starleigh Yeager

I'm a cat. My name is Jack. I am Queen of my home and my human regards me as such!

Interesting way to start off a story, huh?

Anyway, enough about me. As anyone would know, there are three breeds of cats: the Insiders, the Outsiders, and the Free-goers. I'm an Insider, which means I stay cooped up in the house most of the time. Outsiders rarely come inside -- they do better outside. Free-goers come and go whenever they please, in or out of the house. That's the life. I think, deep down inside, I really am a Free-goer. I just have to convince my human of that.

I'm a beautiful, gray, long-haired, female cat... with a boy's name. Hmpf. What they say about humans is true: they really are dumb. My human thought I was a boy!!! I think I would do much better with a name like... Dominique or Sassy or something elegant like that. You know, Cleocatra, or something.

I lived with my human for about a year in this quiet, old house with lots of grass and trees all around; there were birds to prowl and friends to play with. Noah was my favorite. He was an orange tabby cat. He wasn't allowed to come inside the house a whole lot, though. My owner adopted him as an Outsider. He was so much fun to play with! He taught me how to sneak out of the house and escape to the Outside for a day. I didn't do that all the time, just once in awhile when I couldn't stand being around the humans anymore. I mean, really, a cat could go insane trapped inside the walls of a house all day!

At first, my human was angry with me whenever I came back from one of my little excursions, but after awhile, I had her trained to the point where she would just welcome me back and ask if I'd had fun that day. I never stayed out very long. A cat's bladder is only so large. Noah told me I should just use Nature's litter box, but I just couldn't bring myself to go to the bathroom out there with all the dirt and bugs around. Besides, what if someone saw me?

Speaking of having her trained, I think I've done fairly well raising her so far. All I have to do is look at the faucet and she turns it on so that I can get a refreshing drink. She even turns it off when I'm done, too. I greet her at the door when she comes home from wherever she goes during the day just to make her happy, but what I really want is dinner. It works like a charm, I rub against her leg, scurry over to my food dish and clink my name tag on the metal bowl... voila! Dinner is served.

She plays with me whenever I want her to. Well, except in the mornings, when she's only half-awake and before she gets into the Torture Chamber. I don't know what possesses her to do such a thing. She puts me in there every once in awhile and I hate every minute of it! I get all wet, then she covers me with this stuff that bubbles up, and then she pours water all over me!

She wraps me in a towel afterward, but it doesn't matter because I hate being wet! I just give her the Silent Treatment for awhile. Well, at least until I get hungry. She's a smart one, she is. I've discovered this. It's like she knows when I just want something and when I really do feel like sitting with her. She's quick, too. Before I even get to the sink, sometimes, she'll leave the water running for me.

Anyway, enough about the past. I'm incredibly infuriated with her at this point in time. Or, well, I was a few days ago, but I've started to come around. The things she did to me deserve no forgiveness! But, I'm going to be the bigger cat and let her slide... as long as she meets MY conditions.

First of all, I thought she'd abandoned me. I walked around the house for days calling for her, but she never came! I looked everywhere: behind the couch, under the stairs, in the closet... I even braved searching the Torture Chamber - but she wasn't anywhere! The other human that lived there just came and went as usual. She seemed normal. She spoke to me a few times, only to say, "Don't worry, Mommy's coming back for you as soon as she's ready for you." What was that supposed to mean? How long would I have to wait? When will she be ready for me? I imagined myself old and decrepit, lying lazily in the windowsill when she finally came back... Mommy...

I leaped onto the windowsill several times each day. I looked out into the driveway... no, her car was not there. I meowed a few times, but she still did not come. I felt a lump in my throat and started to cry. She wouldn't just leave me, would she?

A few nights ago, after she spent a few days emptying our room of all the boxes she had cluttered in there, she came back. I sprang from the windowsill to the dark floor (it was very late at night) and ran into the kitchen, nearly colliding head-first with the front door as she walked in. "Mom! Mom! You're home!" I meowed.

She ignored me and turned on the light.

"Mom! Mom! I'm so glad you're back!" I meowed again.

She still ignored me. Her friend was with her. I knew this friend. They called her Jo. Jo said hi to me. But Mom didn't.

I didn't know what was going on. She packed up my bowls, cleaned out my litter box, and gathered all my toys. She even grabbed my Feel-Better-Box out of the cupboard! (The stuff inside that box always makes me feel better.) I started to worry a little. I was curious that everything in our room was gone, from the dresser to the clothes to the table by the window that I always sat on and even the pillow that sat in the corner of the room for the past seven months.

Mom finally said to me, as she walked right past me and didn't even look at me, "Jack, it's time to go." Then Jo picked me up and carried me out to mom's car!

Mom knows I hate riding in her car, it's bumpy and awful and you can't even look out the window because everything flies by you so fast that you just get dizzy and sick. "Keep that Feel-Better-Box handy!" I meowed. "You better hope I don't get sick in your car!" I was starting to become spiteful. After all that time and she couldn't even say hello to me? Not even one little pat on the head?

The ride wasn't too long, lucky for them. We got out of the car and stood in front of the tallest house I ever saw! It was so high I couldn't even figure out how to get to the roof! Jo let Mom open the big door and then there were stairs -- lots of stairs. I tried to get down to investigate, but Jo wouldn't let me. I was a little miserable about that. I let her know it, too.

And of course, Mom scolded me and threatened to have me declawed. Okay, Mom, point taken.

Once they stopped climbing the stairs, Mom opened another door. Inside this door, they finally put me down.

It was a strange place, so I was on my guard. There were strange smells and there were familiar smells... then I saw them. There were all the boxes from our room! What was going on here? I sniffed around and investigated for about a half hour and found something else that I didn't like... that little terror Jo called her kitten. Jill (yes, Mom and Jo planned it to work out that I, Jack, and the kitten, Jill, had cute names - something about a poem or something) had been to our house a few times... and I made it VERY clear that she was not welcome in MY territory.

I was ready to go home. I ran over to Mom and pawed at her. "Let's go home!" I meowed. "Take me home this instant!" I pawed my way up her leg and looked at the door.

Mom just laughed at me! "This is our home now," she said to me. "So get used to it. And you'd better learn to get along with Jill, too!"

Hmpf! I see how it is! There were a lot of people in the new place, all moving boxes and pushing furniture. Our couch was there. And there was my recliner, too! Over in the corner by the door that I couldn't see out of...

This was too much too fast! I ran to the back of the house and found more of Mom's boxes shoved into this room... the smell was very familiar, so I crawled behind a few of them and cried myself to sleep.

The next morning, I discovered that Mom put my litter box in the bedroom for me. I guessed she put it there because there was no other place to put it. They had boxes everywhere! Lazily, yawning, I made my way to the litter box when I heard that wretched kitten squawking from another room. Oy, what hell this was going to be.

Looking around, I found Mom lying on the floor. She had no bed yet, just a pillow and some blankets. Hmpf! Rip me from my home where I was comfortable - where I was QUEEN! And plop me down here in the midst of strangers and pandemonium - and another cat to boot - I was feeling a little bit vindictive.

I stood right NEXT to the litter box - not in it - and did my business. I was confident that Mom would get my message.

Ohhhh... did she ever! I think my hind-quarters were sore for five days.

Anyway, I gave Mom the Silent Treatment as well. She didn't seem to acknowledge it, though. She just kept saying to me, "Deal with it, Jack, this is your new home." I didn't want to deal with it. I missed the big house I had before... now I only have five rooms, and when I figured out the big window was really a door, I discovered I was afraid of heights... I was going to be trapped in this dung hole! With that wretched, wretched Jill!

Jill would not leave me alone. She was a juvenile, only a few months old. Myself, well, I was about a year old. At any rate, she was a holy terror! Always sneaking up on me and pouncing on me and mussing up my beautiful gray fur! And then when the little cry-baby would whine if I swatted her away they yelled at ME! Jill would sit there and snicker as I retreated to my corner in Mommy's room. I have never been so humiliated in my life. Mom would pay for this!

As the days went by, more and more of the boxes were unpacked and more things appeared in the new place. It really was starting to look and feel like home... but I wasn't going to let Mommy know that! I still wanted us to go back home. I made it very clear I wanted NO interaction whatsoever with Mommy. If I wanted something, I just waited until Jill wanted it, too. Then we got it from Jo.

I was very pleased that my ignorance seemed to be getting to Mommy. She deserved every minute of it! She stopped talking to me before bed, she stopped greeting me when she came home from wherever she went during the day, and she would sit and stare at me, but I just kept on ignoring her. It was working. She needed to realize I was not happy where we were.

Let me just TELL you about how horrible Jill the kitten was. I was blamed for everything she did! All because her mommy, Jo, spoiled her and said that since she was so young, she couldn't have been the one doing anything wrong. So, Mommy always reprimanded me. I was getting frustrated.

For example, Jill would dig her dirty claws into the corners of the couches - and since neither Jo or Mommy ever saw her do it, they only heard it, Mommy believed Jo when she said that Jill never ever scratched the furniture before, so it couldn't be her. Yep, you guessed it. I got scolded and more often than not - a smack on the rear. That really smarts, you know. My temper was rising.

I got in trouble when Jill knocked the smelly-good bottles over in the Torture Chamber and they spilled out into the bottom. It was my buttocks that was smacked when the food dish was flipped over and she played hockey with all the little pieces. I was me who was yelled at when Jill yanked all the wires out of their places behind the big moving picture box. And it was my face they held close to the bag of catfood with little teeth marks in it... why wouldn't Mommy believe that IT WASN'T ME!

Then I overheard Jo talking to Mommy one day as they put Mommy's brand new, enormous bed together in her room. She said, "Jack's just rebelling because you moved her out of her home. She'll snap out of it." Snap out of it? Snap out of what? I wasn't doing anything! Yes, I was angry because I really did want to go back home, but I was a Queen! Queens never stoop to the levels of that rat, Jill! Ugh.

I was beginning to miss the things that Mommy and I used to do together: cuddling on the recliner and watching TV, playing tag throughout the rooms, the cool, refreshing drink I got when Mommy would turn on the faucet in the bathroom sink for me... She hardly ever even talked to me anymore - not that I was talking to her either - but I sort of missed our conversations. And sleeping on the floor in the corner wasn't quite as comfortable as my old spot back at home in her bed...

I knew what I had to do. I wanted Mommy back, but I didn't want her to be mad at me or thinking I had developed uncivilized habits or anything. I had to catch Jill in the act... a plan was slowly forming in my head. Jill may have been a little more sneaky than me, but I was a little bit smarter than she...

I talked Jill into chewing a hole in the corner of the catfood bag. She wasn't going to go for it, but I said, "They wouldn't have left it on the floor if they didn't want us to help ourselves!" And since she had such a big appetite anyway, she was more than willing to jump at the chance for a snack.

She started gnawing on the bag. A few moments later, I meandered into Mommy's room and stretched out a paw to her leg. Mommy looked at me. Happy to see that I finally wanted her attention, she moved to pick me up, but I turned tail and pranced into the hallway. I stopped and looked over my shoulder.

"What do you want, Baby Girl?" Mommy asked me.

I looked in the direction of the closet and back at Mommy. I opened my eyes as wide as I could. "I know something you don't know," I thought, slyly.

Curiosity got the better of her, as I'd planned, and she ventured out of her room to see what I was trying to show her. As soon as her feet moved in my direction I ran to the closet door where Jill was busy gnawing away on the corner of the catfood bag, and sat my little butt down and waited for Mommy to get there and see her.

"Jillian!" Mommy scolded so loudly that Jill jumped twice her own height in spook and ran head first into the horrid suck-things-up-off-the-floor machine. Mommy quickly caught her and shoved her face up next to the hole, then gave her wicked little rear a good cuff. Victory! I couldn't help but smirk as Jill cried out and ran to Jo's room, where I heard Jo say to her, "And what were you doing?"

Mommy even knelt down in front of me and stroked my soft fur. I realized just how much I'd missed her touch. She began to speak to me in the soft, comforting tone I knew from home. "I'm so sorry, Baby Girl, I had no idea it was really Jill all along. I should have known you wouldn't have been that misbehaved... although I'm still not happy about the little accident next to the litter box last week..."

Before I knew it, I was purring. I was purring for the first time since we came to this new place. "Never again, Mommy! I promise!" I stood up to daintily sashay my whiskers across her soft, fair cheeks. Her smile made my heart swell. The Silent Treatment would end, I decided. Mommy picked me up and we went into her room and cuddled on her brand new bed. I watched over her while she dozed off into a little nap. I was actually happy, cuddled up there with her. If I had to share the rest of the place with Jill, at least I had Mommy's room. And at least I had Mommy.

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