by Meriwether O'Connor
That cat emanated fleas like some people exhaled air. In big matted clumps and little, tiny bumps and great big exhales. The fleas came from several towns over and one bunch crossed an ocean, two seas and a bay. They had been trucked in off steamers and flown in from cargo ships. They had lived uptown, downtown and around town but this was their best host yet.
Not to the cat's liking, naturally. This cat, this cat. Well, this cat had the longest hair in the world, you see. Or, the longest flea loving hair in the world. For, it seemed, the hair actually begged the fleas to come visit. It teased them with specially made flea inspired perfumes and lotions and potions. It knotted itself daily into special little flea concubine houses that would cater to the most interested flea parties.
The hair, it seemed, was actually spun not out of regular old cat mane but some sort of new fangled, age-old-flea-inviting-sheep's-wool-simulating fiber. It was so thick that the sun nor the moon could penetrate to the cat's skin. So, not only was this cat the whitest cat ever seen, but not even the fairies could find it to visit at night because the dancing fleas effected their radar and it seldom got little mouse gifts on its pillow from them nor tiny sacks of cat nip tied just so left on the holidays.
The hair was so thick it sucked the air out of the room just to inhabit the jungle that was itself. It had its own atmosphere and human hands nearly burned up as they setteld into orbit then tried to crash land in the hair and pick the various fleas and nits making their living there.
The cat, to put it in shorthand, was in need of some help.
It came that day in the guise of a man with scissors. Now, just not any scissors mind you, but famous Carl Adderly's All Around Good For What Ails You Multi-Purpose Scissors And Coca-Cola Making Kit. The kit was sold by a man who set up a small fold it yourself table down by the crosswalk to catch the people as they left the movies in the late afternoon.
By this time of day, the cat was usually on its third mouse, just trying to reinvest itself with enough blood to replace what the fleas so deftly drained from him on a daily basis. So, when it heard the famous Carl Adderly with his Coca-Cola scissors was in town, he could not help but prance down there, paw after paw in the waning sun of the day.
The cat took up a perch just to the left of Carl Adderly and watched. He watched the crowd and he watched Carl Adderly but most of all, he watched the scissors. For, he had craved and coveted these scissors for nigh on many years now. He had always hoped Carl Adderly would come through town on a day he was allowed out for walk and now the stars had combined in the heavens to make it all a possiblity.
He could be a cat with a haircut.
He wondered who a cat went to for a cat hair cut. He wondered if you had to buy the whole kit to make the simulated Coca-Cola, too. He wondered if it would hurt to get his haircut or if it would just be like getting his fingernails cut. Not exactly pleasant, but dead tissue nonetheless.
He paused. He pondered. He meowed. The famous Carl Adderly looked up.
The cat was suprised, tickled even. He began, "You see, Carl, glad to meet you by the way. I'm in need of your famous Carl Adderly Coca-Cola scissors but I'm wondering if you can just sell me the scissors plain by themselves as I'm not in need of the Coca-Cola. I am a cat, afterall."
What Carl Adderly heard was meowmeowmeow meee-ow! He paused. He pondered. He answered.
"Well, my friend. All I can say to you is 'Hello and welcome to Famous Carl Adderly's Cocoa-Cola Making Scissors demonstration.' " And he began.
The cat was dissapointed, to put it mildly. He had thought the famous Carl Adderly had understood him, an important moment for anyone in life but especially a fleabitten cat with an unusual sheeplike strain of hair and and no one who could stand the pain of picking his nits for him.
He meowed again. This time, he tried to tap out s-c-i-s-s-o-r-s with his paw. Carl blinked.
"You just want the scissors?"
The cat nodded but it looked like he was bored and ignoring Carl. He straightened himself up and tried to look interested. But, he was a cat. He meowed again. Y e s.
"Oh," Carl said. "Well. I see."
He himself tried to look disinterested in the sale. He twiddled this thumbs and knocked his knees and watched the birds up in the sky. "I see."
"Well, it is possible I could sell you just the scissors. I would have to break up the kit, though. And that would cost me some money in the long run on the next sale." He paused.
"How would you feel about a kitty flea collar, too for fourteen ninety nine plus tax?"
"Oh," the cat said, "that would be lovely." And, it was.
So Carl packed up the cat's purchase including the cat collar which was really a dime store bracelet with a poor catch and flimsy glue that he put together as he went along town to town. Today was a Sunday and the cops didn't usually come out on Sundays for things like that. Misdemeanor stuff. He hoped.
So, the cat took his scissors and went off down the street to find someone with thumbs willing to use them. He had not asked the famous Carl Adderly for a haircut, though he had considered it, as the famous Carl Adderly himself had a very poor haircut, even by cat standards.
And, as far as Carl Adderly, well, he packed up early and went home, having just made his most splendid sale of the day. He picked up his sign. And he picked up his cashbox. And, try as he might, he could not help picking up the pillow where the cat had sat for his Coca-Cola scissors making demo. And that was all it took. One by one the fleas popped and hopped and flopped from his fingers to his elbow to his shoulders to his very own Carl Adderly hair. He itched and he scratched and he jumped and he thumped but he could not make the scratching stop.
He sat. He pondered. He jumped.
"If I must jump and I must bump, let it be for a purpose," he smiled. And he got out his famous inventor's sketch pad and began drawing and chawing and thawing out his brain which honestly had not thought many new thoughts lately. "I could make a new flea powder," he thought, "one that would work on all cats even sheep like ones. And all on humans, even ones with poorly managed haircuts that seem to attract fleas when they sneeze."
And he did. And the cats came. And the humans came. And most importantly of all, the original fleabitten cat came.
And, even though Carl Adderly's New And Improved Especially Scientific Exotic Flea Powder For Thee And Me didn't work, because honestly, most of Carl's inventions didn't work, the cat was glad to have gotten out of the house for his walk again.
And he smiled. And he filed away Carl's flea powder invention for another day. And, of course, he itched. But, this time, Carl itched, too. And, really, isn't that all anybody really wants in life is for someone else to know how it feels when it needs to scratch?
So, next time you see a cat scratching that simply can't help himself, offer him some simulated Coca Cola in honor of Carl Adderly. Or, if you happen to be all out of that, maybe scratch your hind leg right alongside him. It might make him feel better than you think. At the least, it'll definitely make him laugh. And all cats need that. Especially yours. But that story can wait for another day. When you've forgotten about this one. And are ready to find out what happened to your favorite jacket. No, the other one. Oh, you didn't know about that yet...