First Mate Neptune
|~ Neptune Under the Dodger ~ |The First
A Christmas Vacation
Human language can
be so bewildering. Oh - I understand the commands directed at me, “Don’t fall in the water!”,
“Get that bug!”, “Go scare those birds off the deck!” And I immediately jump to attention when I hear
my favorite words “deli meat!” There are lots of other noises that the humans make, many of which don’t
really concern me, so I just don’t pay attention to them. But my name kept coming up recently when the Admiral started
to talk about sending me on vacation while they flew to Ohio for the holidays. I didn’t know what
the heck she meant. I had no idea what vacation, Ohio or holiday is. I know birds and bugs fly. I’ve
tried and learned the hard way that cats can’t fly. I’ve never seen humans up there in the sky so I thought maybe
I’d misunderstood. I was confused, but thought maybe it was just more talk that I could ignore.
the nights were getting longer and cooler. This meant more time patrolling the decks for me. Then the Admiral
put up a fun diversion for me; a little tree with shiny balls dangling from it. Except for the strange words, things seemed
to be normal - until the suitcases came out. This always upsets me because it means that one or both of the crew is going
to disappear for awhile and I never know how long before I see them again. When they both disappear I’m stuck on duty
full time, and it’s always lonely.
I’m used to being put in charge from time to time, but rarely is it for
more than a turn of the sun. If the crew is gone for more than four turns of the sun, when they get back
I always let them know how perturbed I am with having to be solely responsible for the ship’s care for such an unreasonable
length of time. A day of snubbing is usually sufficient to get the point across. But by night time I’m ready to forgive
them so I can snuggle with the crew.
| ~ Handsome Neptune ~ |
To my horror, the brig box came out with the suitcases!
The last time I was thrown in the brig
the crew transported me to some medical facility where I was poked, prodded, and stung by something in the shoulder. This
was not looking good! Ok – so maybe sometimes I miss the scratching post every now and then. And I know the
captain doesn’t really like sleeping with me wrapped around his head, but it’s so comfy there. Is that any
reason to throw me in the brig?
It did no good to resist – I was overpowered by the captain and before I
knew it we were in the land boat going somewhere. The admiral kept telling me I was going
on a vacation at the Kitty Kastle. More strange terms whose meaning I couldn’t comprehend. I settled in for the ride, and
kept perfectly quiet hoping they would forget I was back there. It didn’t work. When
we stopped moving, I was carried into this Kitty Kastle place. It didn’t smell like a hospital – rather
more like the Humane Society, a shelter I lived at back when I was homeless. I feared I was being
rejected from the crew, set adrift once again to try and find someplace to call my own. I did a quick inventory
of the number of lives I had left and it didn’t look promising.
They opened the cell and I crawled out to
do a quick inspection of the area. There weren’t any cages around, which was good. Then the admiral brought
my bedding out, the very pad issued to me back when I was recruited from the shelter. When the admiral and
captain each give me great big hugs that nearly squeezed the stuffing out of me, it seemed to be more proof that I
was being discharged! I held on tight, trying to let them know that I wanted to reenlist. But no matter how I tried,
I couldn’t get my meow to sound like ‘Don’t Go!’ They walked out the door, and I was
left alone in this strange vacation place – whatever that means!
The next time the sun came up, the
door opened, and I was surprised to see another of my kind waiting to meet me on the other side. In
fact, there were lots and lots of other felines all around – more cats than humans! They showed me where
the mess hall was, and although the food was different – I was glad to see it was provided regularly. The latrines
were big and clean, and we had all kinds of things to climb on. It wasn’t like the shelter at all. That
place was nice enough, but all of us there were looking for permanent placement in less crowded facilities. Here,
all the big furry felines seemed pretty happy and best of all we didn’t have any obnoxious barking to contend
I decided if this was where I was going to be retired from duty; it was time for me to be friendly
with the natives. Most of the other cats had never been on a boat, but some of them referred to themselves as military
felines. I noticed Franky eyeballing my medals, so I sauntered over and introduced myself. I told him about my life
at sea, entertained him with my tales about the dumb birds and big fish, and boosted about the honors I’d
received from the admiral back in my glory days. I think he was impressed because we became pretty tight after that.
At first I missed the crew a lot and the ground didn’t move right, but before long shore duty started
to settle in. Me and the rest of the company pulled some pranks on the humans, we ran drills every now and then
to keep fit, took lots of naps, and generally had a marry time. My life at sea started to fade like a dream.
Then, one night, to my utter shock the captain and admiral reappeared!
At first I was freaked out. To get over the heartbreak of being discharged for no reason I could fathom, I
had convinced myself that they must have all fallen into the water while trying to fly (like I have done on more than
one occasion). I imagined that since I wasn’t there to net them back into the boat, they must have drifted
away, or perhaps some of those big fish I had seen in the water ate them.
| ~ Neptune Back Home ~
Now, here they were, big as
life with the brig box in hand. Vacation at the Kitty Kastle was quite comfortable and I’d made some good buddies here. The captain and admiral had been gone for days
and days, so I turned on the snubbing big time. But they surrounded me, threw me in the slammer
and once again we were in the land boat headed to who knows where this time! The admiral let me sit in her
lap this leg of the journey, and before long I gave up my fuming. She does have a way of scratching just the right
place that makes all of life’s little upsets melt away.
Eventually, I picked up the scent
of that salty, fishy air, but I was not ready to get my hopes up. When we stopped, the admiral
set the brig box down and opened the cell. As soon as I felt the familiar rocking
under my feet I knew that it wasn’t a dream after all. Oh such joy I felt to be back aboard my ship again.
Captain Don and I had watched movies before that showed sailors getting off their ship, all
happy and whooping it up. But for me there was no greater joy then being back onboard,
back on duty and part of a crew again.
I could scarcely contain my rumbling when we all climbed into
the berth that night. I think I even scared the crew a little bit when my eyes rolled back in my
head. I could not turn my purr motor off and had to pant to catch my breath from
the ecstasy of being with my shipmates again. They seemed to be on high alert, but I eventually
was able to muster up some composure and throttle back to a lower rumble.
I think I understand
what a vacation is now. It’s when you go someplace different for awhile, make new friends
and eat strange food. It’s when you stay away from home for so long that you really miss
it. But now that I know vacations don’t last forever, I’m glad I had
fun while I was away. I was really happy to see the suitcases buried under the berth, and ecstatic
when the brig was folded down and stowed in the hard to reach cubby. I still don’t ever
see the crew flying – they seem to prefer catching the wind and riding the waves on our ship.
I think they understand that I prefer this life too. Did I just hear
someone say “Deli Meat”?
from the Admiral: Thanks to the wonderful services provided by the Kitty Kastle, we didn’t have to board Neptune in a kennel while we visited family over the Christmas holiday. He
had been adopted from and returned to the Human Society twice before, and had already spent the majority of his life in a
cage before he came into our lives. I wished I could have explained to him that we were coming back for
him, but he definitely let us know how happy he was – as were we - when we all returned to Re Metau.
© 2015 Diana E Reynolds - SV Re Metau. All rights reserved.
“The cat is the only animal which accepts
the comforts but rejects the bondage of domesticity.” ~ Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon