Monday, October 7, 2013

The Tale of Boo the Cat

Boo Cat (photo by Susan Bauer)
Once upon a time, on the banks of a great river and in the shadow of a Great City, there grew up a small village make all of tents. They popped up like mushrooms, the motley collection of nylon and canvas and even some wooden shelters built of timber and plywood scavenged from the trash heaps, from among the unwanted things, the things cast away by the people of the Great City.

The people who came to the Village of Tents came because they had nowhere else to go and found themselves alone in the great world, in the shadow of the Great City, and without hope. And because they had no hope, in defiance and maybe a little in despair, the people named their village of tents "Hopeville", and clung to one another for survival, and began to build a community in the shadow of the Great City and its prosperity.

The people of Hopeville had very little in the way of material goods. They had neither TV nor washing machines nor bathtubs nor computers. Humid summer days by the river oppressed them with heat and mosquitoes; icy winds in winter with created a special variety of hell. Food they got however they might, through begging, and scavenging, and the kind gifts of strangers.

For the most part, the more fortunate residents of the Great City went about their business and paid no attention to the small village growing up in its shadow. Sometimes young men from the city would drive down to the river in their bright cars blaring music into the night and toss a flaming ball of rags into the village for sport. When a small canvas home would catch on fire and burn, the boys from the city would screech and yell, joyous with their conquest, fleeing back to the city in their bright cars before the sheriff or the fire brigade could arrive to put out the blaze.

What does it matter, the city boys told each other, crowing among themselves. They're only homeless people. And indeed, the boys went mostly unpunished, though the Fates see all.

And though the folk of Hopeville had little enough of wealth the way the world measures it, yet out of the night to their campfires crept creatures with even less still, poor and hungry and sometimes ill, frightened a little, and all alone.  Knowing what it is to be alone in the world and forgotten by it, hungry and cold and afraid, the people of Hopeville welcomed the creatures which the the people of the Great City had forgotten and cast out, and the people of Hopeville shared what they had, giving aid and succor to the lost creatures of the Great City. A few scrawny cats, a few starving dogs made their slinking way to the campfires of Hopeville, and were taken in.

What little food the people had, they shared, and the creatures were grateful, and loved the people, as cats and dogs have, down through the ages, wherever there have been folk to show them kindness.

Now among the people of  Hopeville lived a woman named Sepporah (not her real name),