Sunday, February 19, 2006


Rusty Joins the Club
Copyright 2006 Janice Price
Standing tall and proud on the typing chair, Percy hits the final key with a flourish. “There, I’m finished. Our journal is up to date. I made a few changes and added some color. I hope you all like the new look.”
The other feline members of the Club are sitting on Jan’s desk. Cameron leans closer to the computer screen. “I thought you were going to change the picture. It looks the same to me.”
“Yeah, it does to me too,” Cyndi agrees.
Buddy is sitting on one side of Percy’s chair and Merci is sitting on the other side. “No, it isn’t exactly the same photo collage,” he says. “Look closer. See the middle picture at the bottom? That’s new.”
Cotton squints at the collage on the screen, and complains loudly, “Why is Crystal on there twice?”
Cyndi and Cameron are also miffed.
“Yeah, what makes him so special?”
“This is unfair. Just because he’s the oldest doesn’t mean he should get preferential treatment.”
“Well, I am the President of the Funny Farm Writing Club. Not that it matters. Percy makes decisions and calls meetings without consulting me.”
“That’s enough, all of you! That’s not Crystal,” Merci arbitrates. “If you’ll look closely at the picture, that cat is bigger and fluffier than Crystal. That’s a picture of Rusty.”
All of the cats except Percy speak as one. “Rusty?”
“There’s nobody here named Rusty!”
“Quiet!” Buddy’s booming voice gets their attention. “Merci and I asked Percy to add Rusty to the group. We didn’t think you cats would get so upset over it.”
“But we don’t know Rusty,” Cotton says thoughtfully and logically. “The journal is only for Funny Farm Writing Club members. Rusty doesn’t live on the Funny Farm and so he can’t be a Club member.”
Merci stands and places her front paws on the front of the desk. “Well, not technically. But -”
“No buts,” Cameron states firmly. “No residency, no membership.”
Crystal walks across the desk, raises his right paw and, in lieu of a gavel, whacks Percy on the head. “Traitor,” he says in a low voice to Percy. He addresses the group in a normal tone. “I hereby call this meeting to order. All in favor of voting Rusty out of the Club he has never been a member of, say aye.”
Cyndi has second thoughts. “Wait a minute. Let’s calm down before we start swinging at one another.” She looks at Buddy. “I’m sure there is a perfectly illogical explanation, and you’re as illogical as they come, so why don’t you explain what this is all about, Buddy.”
“Uh, thank you, I think.” Buddy clears his throat and begins his simple explanation. “Rusty was Miss Mother’s Thanksgiving Dinner.”
“You want a dead cat to join our Club?”
“Jan’s mother ate a cat?”
Percy sticks a paw in his left ear. “Cyndi you shrieked right into my ear. I’ll go deaf if you do that again.”
“But Jan’s mother ate a cat. Which one of us is next?”
Buddy leaps to his feet. “Wait, wait, nobody ate a cat.”
Merci tries to speak in her normal quiet tone but is forced to raise her voice in order to be heard. “Will all of you just shut up!” she yells. “What Buddy should have said is that Jan adopted Rusty from the animal shelter for Miss Mother – in place of Thanksgiving dinner. Jan thought Miss Mother would rather have a companion cat than a big dinner, so she spent the money for their Thanksgiving dinner on Rusty.”
“Yes,” Buddy agrees quickly. “That’s exactly what I meant. Isn’t that what I said?”
“I’m sorry. Let me start from the beginning. Merci and I rode in the car when Jan picked up Sam.”
Cotton groans. “Who is Sam and where did he come from?”
“Please, stop confusing me,” Buddy pleads. “Let me finish. Sam is Rusty. Sam was his name when Jan adopted him, but Miss Mother gave him a new name – Sam. No,” he corrects himself, "Rusty. She named him Rusty.”
“But he still doesn’t live here and so he can’t be a member of the Club,” Cameron says firmly.
Percy speaks up. “Yes, he can. He can be an honorary member of the Club.”
Cameron continues to object. “No, he can’t. We only made Jenny an honorary member because she lived here and was too old to participate in our activities and meetings. If Rusty wants to join our Club, he has to pack his bags and move in here with the rest of the members.”
Merci shakes her head in disbelief. “Cameron, I can’t believe this.” She looks at each cat and says, “Rusty might not live here but Jan adopted him and Miss Mother loves him. That makes him part of the extended Funny Farm and he should be included in the group photo album.”
“Merci is right,” Cyndi pronounces. “If you think about it, we are not just members of the same Club. We are also members of the same family, because - Well, Merci, you were adopted from the shelter. The rest of us were abandoned and Jan rescued us.” Cameron opens his mouth and Cyndi concedes, “Yes, I know, except for you, Cameron. You moved in on your own.”
“I feel a little ridiculous,” Crystal admits. “Merci made a good point. I want to change my vote and vote Rusty into the Club as an honorary member.”
Cotton raises a paw. “I second it.”
“I triple it,” Cameron adds sheepishly. “What? What did I say wrong?”
“I feel good about this,” Cyndi says. “I think Jenny would be pleased with us for making Miss Mother’s companion cat our second honorary member.”
“Jenny has been gone for nearly six months,” Crystal asks carefully. “Do you think we should take her name and photo off the journal?”
Buddy objects with vehemence. “No way! She will always be an honorary member of our Club.”
“Yes, Jenny is gone and Rusty is joining the Club, but he isn’t replacing her. She was a wise old cat.” Merci sighs. “I still miss her.”
“I think I hear Jan’s car,” Buddy fibs, as he turns and walks quickly away, before the Club can see the single tear sliding down his nose.
Secretary, the Funny Farm Writing Club