The Cat That Came to Town

January 18, 2013
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It was a modestly tranquil and serine winter’s night in the small town of Woodcrest. The snow had just ceased falling, the sky was cluttered with an abundance of stars, and the year of 1790 had just been greeted in by many cheering residents. Mayor Anthony Shaw was to deliver his renowned annual oration, which many of the residents have anticipated for almost a year. To them, it was one of the most exhilarating things could take place in their undersized, under-populated, problematic, and quite monotonous town.
“Citizens, please lend me your ears!” he said. “As we bid farewell to the previous year with heavy hearts, we can look toward this new year in sanguinity. Forget about the harsh drought and famine we have had to endure, the fear of death and despair we must tread through, and the various problems of the many. And let us look onward, into a new era! One of hope and prosperity! For today is the first day, of the rest of our lives!”
The crowd roared in a fit of frenzy. The Mayor, feeling pretty assured that he had gotten through to the public, took out a sizeable pipe from his back pocket, and puffed from underneath the whiskers of his moustache. But then, the deafening sound of a gunshot blast halted the celebration. The crowd turned around, only to see a sight they thought only existed in their dreams. It was a dead moose, with a bullet shot clean through its head.
The wielder of the gun was none other than Archer Steadman, the town’s one and only hunter. He was a respected and valued kind of man, as if he himself were a demigod. He was large, with a perfectly chiseled face, and large jaw. Hidden underneath a coonskin cap, was a head of dark black hair; a bit polluted with molecules of dirt.
“Ah yes, Archer is back everyone! What’s the good word on the hunt today?” the mayor asked.
“Well,” Archer replied. “With the moose population back on the rise, we will have a food supply to last us many months!”
“Everyone, let’s all give Archer a big cheer of HOORAH!” the mayor said as he walked off on his podium and into town hall.
The people did just that. They applauded and complimented on Archer’s success, but his focus was heavily fixated on watching the mayor walk off. He tried to catch up to him, but had to tread through barrages of cheering citizens.
“Mr. Mayor!” Archer called.
“Yes?” he replied.
“You know, I was just wondering. Your term as Mayor is almost up, and seeing how its tradition in town that the mayor passes the duty on to-“
“You want me to make you mayor?”
“I’d be honored sir.”
“Archer, I respect you and love you like a son. But being mayor of this town is a great responsibility. It takes a lot more than brawn you know.”
“But sir-“
“I’m not saying my decision is final; but give me some time to think it over.”
Archer sentence was cut short by a bombardment of cheering townsfolk. The mayor walked into the town hall, and shut the door.

The next morning was sunny and temperate. The townsfolk were all living their daily lives and tending to their individual needs. The roads were filled with people walking to their houses and gatherings, the schoolhouse was stuffed with the sounds of children learning their alphabet, and the town lake was glistening blue as fishermen cast their lines in the water as the smell of freshwater filled the air.
But right next to the lake, was a single muddy road that connected the town to the outside world. It was traditionally used by barterers and special visitors. But this particular morning, the old town would get two rather peculiar guests.
The two visitors walking on the damp and boggy road were truly a sight to behold to some. An anthropomorphic cat and dog duo came strolling casually along the road.
The cat was short, and had a yellow and quite portly physique. He sported a black suit and matching black pants, but no shoes. The circumference of his stomach was nearly popping the orange suit button he dawned, and his white gloves and black bowler hat had only further sophisticated his appearance.
“Check the map Rover, what does it say?” the cat said to his companion.
“Um…” the dog responded. “We are approaching the town of Woodcrest.” He said while focusing all of his attention onto the map.
He was slightly taller than the cat, but much skinnier. He wore a white dress shirt, with a green bowtie. His pants were blue, and had red patches scattered across the pant legs. He had light-blue eyes that complimented his light-blue colored gloves and brown fur.
“Good,” Said the cat. “We’ll finally have a fresh start at making money!”
“But didn’t we get…you know…kicked out of our town for tryin’ to make money off of people?”
“Forget about them Rover. Those people just had no ‘preciation for a high quality con-man like yours truly.”
“But what about me?”
“Eh, you’re more of an……..accomplice.”
“What’s an accomplice?”
“Strike that, you’re an ignoramus.”
“Well whatever an ignoramus is, I’ll be the best one I can be!!”
“For the love of…”
The duo walked across the muddy path, and the townspeople looked at them in awe and wonder, for they have never seen such a thing in their lives before.
“Do you see that?” the farmer said to the priest.
“I see it, but I don’t believe it.” The priest said to the schoolteacher.
“This is highly illogical, but it is a truly remarkable sight!” the teacher said to the drunk.
“No, I’ve seen MUCH stranger things.” The drunk replied while emptying out the contents of his flask.
Everyone in the area seemed to take notice of the visitors, especially Archer in particular. The attention he was once getting from the townspeople, had suddenly shifted from him to the duo. He sat down on a splintery wooden bench, and scratched his head in puzzlement.
“Excuse me miss!” the cat said trying to gain the attention of a nearby strumpet. She had elegant red hair fashioned in a bun, and powdered white cheeks. She was wearing a dark blue gown, with a beautiful black silk lining.
“Um, are you new around here? Like I have to even ask.” She said in astonishment. Her eyes were wide open, and had to keep her fear and wonder contained.
“Yup! We’re outlaw-” Rover mumbled as the cat covered his mouth; making sure that he wouldn’t reveal their secret.
“Yes ma’am! We come from the town of Oakwood, just a few fifty-five miles away from this town!” the cat said hastily.
“Oh…well, I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of catching your names.” She said.
“Many apologies. My name is-”
“The names Rover!! Rover D. Dawg at your service! ” Rover loudly interrupted, franticly shaking the woman’s hand. “And this is my good pal Pico P. Stotler! Say “howdy” Pico!”
“Howdy….” Pico said begrudgingly as he lifted his bowler-hat respectfully.
“Oh,” the lady replied. “My names Jezebel, I was just on one of my daily visits to the mayor. If you want, you could come with me. He loves seeing things out of the ordinary; this town is pretty dull you see. ”
“That’d be swell!” Pico said enthusiastically.
“Hey Pico,” Rover whispered in Pico’s ear. “What do you suppose she meant by out of the ordinary?”
“I think this town doesn’t get many visitors from our town Rover. I don’t think their used to seeing two guys like…us.” Pico responded.
“Guys like us? Golly, I didn’t know you felt that way about me.” Rover said as his face blushed.
“What!? No you maroon!! When I say guys like us, I mean fully clothed animals! What is wrong with you?”
“Deny it all you want Pico, you can’t keep hiding from your innermost feelings and desires for me.”
“Just zip your muzzle.” Pico said as he pulled a zipper along Rover’s mouth, closing tightly shut. They both then walked to the town hall with Jezebel.

“I’m telling you mayor. You should have seen them!” Archer said to the mayor as he paced back and forth in front of the mayors desk. The mayor’s quarters were small and congested; almost full to bursting with memorabilia of the towns once prosperous past.
“Archer, there is no way I’m going to believe that a cat and a dog were talking. Let alone how you mentioned they were wearing clothes and gloves. To wear gloves you would have to have thumbs Archer.”
“Well THESE two had thumbs! And they spoke the kings English! Not to mention they drew attention away from me.”
“Archer, are you just trying to humor me again so I would make you mayor?”
“Not this time!! Although that would be nice…”
Archer’s sentence was cut short, for Jezebel had walked modestly into the room, politely waving at the mayor.
“Ah yes, Jezebel! Right on time!” the mayor said as he smiled and waved back at her.
“Jezebel darling, I told you not to visit me when I’m discussing business matters.” Archer said to her whilst embracing her hands.
“I wasn’t visiting you.” Jezebel replied. “I came here for the mayor.”
“Business? Ha!” the mayor laughed in response to Archer. “More like the ramblings of a madman! Tell your lover the story you told me about the talking cat.”
“Stories!? I like stories!” Rover shouted bursting through the door.
“Rover, I thought I told you to zip your lip. And he’s not talking to us anyway. Sorry mister mayor.” Pico apologized.
“Talking…….you are….I mean….clothes…gloves…” the mayor rambled with his eyes wide open in astonishment. “See. What I tell you?” Archer said to the mayor. Then he proceeded to look back at the duo. “You two had better come up with a good excuse as to why you’re here. This town doesn’t need the likes of you. So why don’t you just take your probably talking fleas out of here and go! I’m all this town needs; and what we don’t need is a circus freaks!”
“Archer!! Show some respect! This town has two very special guests!”
“Did you hear that Archer? We two circus freaks are very special guests.” Pico said jestingly to Archer with a big grin on his face.
Archer tensed up and balled up his fists in a fit of rage and jealousy.
“Come lads,” said the mayor said to the duo. “I will tell educate you on the history of this great town.”
“But mayor,” Jezebel interrupted. “Didn’t you call me in here to…?”
“Never mind that now dear, can’t you see I’m entertaining my guests? Besides, your fiancé is here. Why don’t you pleasure him with your company instead? But right now I’m busy.”
“Alright.” She replied.
“Jezebel,” Archer said. “I’ve asked you before to find another profession. You can’t keep-”
“Doing what? Earning food? You have a job and I barely see any currency from that. You’re always at the pub chumming it up with other people, and getting attention from everyone in town. But what about me? You never think of me, and you always just want attention for yourself. So I found a way to earn food without your help.”
Archer had no response. The room grew deathly silent, and the sparks of tension were flickering in the air. Archer took in a large breath, and walked his pride out with him through the door.

“Now lads,” the mayor said to Pico and Rover as he walked them through the long yet narrow hallways of the town hall. “This town was once great with riches and wealth! We had abundances of food, and were overstocked with goods and supplies.”
Pico’s jaw dropped to his knees, and his eyes seemed to bulge out of their sockets taking the form of dollar-signs.
“Yes sir. Life here was always good for the people of Woodcrest. And the crowning of the mayor is about to go underway.”
“Wait? Crowning of the mayor? Isn’t that more of a monarchy type deal?” Rover asked.
“Yes. Well you see boys, when the founders of here at Woodcrest arrived here from England many years ago; they were quite partial to the idea of crowning and passing on rule. So we hold “crowning ceremonies” in which the mayor, that’s me, passes down the mayoral hat to the person of my choosing. That person would soon become wealthy and prosperous around here!”
Pico’s mouth was practically foaming from anxiety, and his heart was pounding right out of his chest. The mayor continued to speak, but all Pico could think about was wealth.
“But alas,” the mayor continued. “This town has been stricken with famine and poverty for the past decade. We had taken so much advantage of our resources, we sort of overused them. Now, we have little money, and people around town do whatever they can to make a quick buck. Now it has gotten so bad, people just work for straight food. Running this sort of town isn’t a picnic either. It takes a lot of money, time, and dedication just to barley keep everyone fed and alive. And that leads to little to no time for merriment. That is why I am overjoyed to pass on the mayor’s hat to someone else. You fellows understand right?”
Pico’s eyes were swirling as if he was stuck in a trance, and images of dollar signs floated above his head. He had not heard a single word of the mayor’s woes, and was still fixated on the fact he could easily become fabulously wealthy. Rover however, had heard every word and nodded his head in agreement.
“Good! Now gentlemen, let’s go down to the pub so we can properly introduce you to the town!” the mayor said.
As the three walked out of the mayor’s office, Pico stopped to talk to Rover in secrecy.
“Hey Rover,” he whispered. “Did you hear that? We could become wealthy!! Not to mention run the place!”
“But Pico, I think there’s more to it than that…”
“Nonsense. What could be so hard about running a small town like this?” Pico replied as he looked around at the town. The buildings and roads were quaint, appealing, and didn’t whisper a hint of poverty. But the sheer knowledge that the town was on a spiraling downfall, was subtly present in the atmosphere.

The mayor had taken them to many of the towns most populated, in order to introduce the town’s newest citizens to the people. The people all loved the duo, and welcomed them with open arms. They delighted the people with their tales of their hometown, and titillated their sense of happiness for the first time in nearly a decade. The mayor was the most pleased with them, and Archer quickly took notice. His jealousy raged faster than a rampaging herd of elephants, and he knew that the outsiders had to go.
All the while, Pico and Rover were making all of the money they could off of the people in the town. They had stolen coins from the wishing well, pick-pocketed passers by, and had gone swindling townsfolk out of their hard-earned money. It then came to the point, were they had more moolah than any normal citizen of the town. Rover feeling guilty about their actions, decided that it would be within his best interest to cease the act.
“Hey Pico?” he said. “I don’t think we should continue doing this. I think we might have all we need. Let’s just gather our things and get out of here before someone finds out.”
“Finds out what?” Pico responded.
“You know, that two people that just started living here a week ago, have more money than people living here for years.”
“No way. We’re running a pretty good racket here. Besides, I heard the mayor talking. He might make me mayor! We’ll be set for life baby!!” he responded

A couple days had past, and the crowning day was drawing closer and closer with every tick of the clock. Pico and Rover were being housed under Jezebel’s roof, and she had many hours of fun and merriment with the duo than all of the times she had spent with her self-absorbed fiancé.
A blanket of darkness shrouded the town, as nighttime began to approach. Pico and Rover sat on cots in the center of Jezebel’s living room, and said their goodnights to her as she walked into her own room.
“Hey Rover,” Pico said. “Once I’m crowned mayor, I’ll make sure you become my assistant. We’ll have money pouring out of our pockets!! We’ll have it made baby!!”
“He Pico, I don’t think this is right.”
“Well, obviously this town is poverty stricken. People are starving around here. We should head out, so we don’t make things worse. This town needs a leader, and let’s face it…we don’t fit the bill. We were just in it for the money.”
“Hmmm…”Pico thought. “Tell you what! Tomorrow we’ll take all the money, and scram!”
“But that’s not what I-“
“Good night Rover!” Pico interrupted as he turned under his covers, ignoring Rover.
Then suddenly about 3:00 am, just as he turned, he saw Jezebel head out of the door. She was wearing the same dress she wore when they first laid eyes on her. Pico pretended not to see, as she walked out of the door. His heart sank, and he started to realize the severity of the town’s poverty issue. Jezebel had to work late just for food.

As the morning arose, Pico and Rover woke up to the smell of eggs and bacon. Jezebel was back, and with the food people had given her from the previous night, she was able to make a very large breakfast. They ate and talked with each other and once they finished, Jezebel went to clean up the mess. Meanwhile, Rover and Pico went into the next room to count their ill-gotten booty. Suddenly, there was a loud knock on her door.
“Hello?” she answered as she opened the door.
“Hey there Jezebel.” Archer said as he let himself in. “Are those….things still here?”
“Yup.” Pico called out from another room, counting his acquired loot.
“Listen Jezebel,” Archer continued. “Where exactly did they say they were from?”
“I forget… a town named Oakwood I think. Fifty-five miles north from here they said.” She replied.
“Oh well that’s great. I was just wondering is all.”
“What are you planning?”
“Look, something’s not right with these two. Who just shows up and gets richer than anyone in town in a matter of days?”
Rover, having strong dog-ears, heard every word of that from another room. He desperately tried to get Pico’s attention to warn him, but Pico was too consumed with greed to even notice.
“Granted I have wondered that,” Jezebel said to Archer. “I’m not going to question it. They probably do odd-jobs around the town, and people reward them gratefully. They have enough money for me to finally quit my job, and live a normal life. I trust them, and I trust that you won’t go snooping around.”
“You have my word.” Archer replied.

Archer then jumped onto his horse, and trotted off with the intention of solving the puzzle that Pico and Rover had set in front of him.
His horse galloped past the entrance of the muddy entrance of the town, and sped through he woods, unknowing of what to expect from the outside world and the surprises it has to offer.

Meanwhile, Rover was still struggling to get Pico’s attention. He reached into is own pocket, and pulled out a very large mallet. He raised it above Pico’s head, and smashed it flat. That seemed to do the trick; for Pico was angrily re-inflated his head, and gave Rover his full attention.
“What is wrong with you!?” Pico asked Rover while rubbing his face and seeing stars.
“We got a big problem Pico! Archers goin’ to Oakwood! We got to get out of here before he finds out the truth!”
“Oh man. Oh man. Oh man!” Pico said as he jumped from his seat. “Let’s beat it!”
They stuffed all of their money and loot into suitcases, and started to run for the door. They opened it up, and were greeted by a roar of cheering citizens.
“What’s going on?” Pico asked Rover.
“It’s the ceremony!” Jezebel said as she walked up to them with the mayor. “The mayor wanted to surprise you!! That’s why I made you a special breakfast!! You better go with him.”
“Come Pico and Rover. I’m going to crown BOTH of you! Your destiny awaits you!” the mayor said.
“Tripe.” Pico said silently through the teeth of his plastered on smile.

Archer and his horse had to tread through much great tundra, until they found what they were looking for. A worn down sign which read “Welcome to the town of Oakwood”, was sticking in front of an open gated community. Archer left the horse outside the gate, and proceeded into the town.
What he saw amazed him. It was an ordinary community, but it was entirely populated with people just like Rover and Pico. They were all animals. The butcher was a wolf, the farmer was a skunk, and the citizens were all sorts of varying species of fully-clothed animals.
The town buildings were clean and colorful, the sun was shining bright and seemed to smile, and the townspeople were all busy living their happy-go-lucky lives.
“Excuse me.” Archer said to a hippo. He was purple, and wearing a black tuxedo with white gloves, and a black top hat.
“Do you know where I can find the mayor?” Archer asked.
“Yes,” the hippo replied. “You can find him in that igloo over yonder.” He said as he pointed to an igloo dead-smack in the center of town.
Archer walked in, and was greeted by a rather chubby polar bear with a bulbous blue nose. He wore a suit, and mayor’s hat, and sported yellow gloves.
“How can I help you….you don’t look like you’re from here.” The bear said.
“No, I’m not. And I couldn’t help but notice your town is made up of….animals.” Archer replied.
“And what is the matter with that. You have a problem with it pal?”
“No. It’s just…look, have you heard of a cat named Pico and a dog named Rover that used to live here?”
“Heard of them!! We had to basically exile them!”
“What did they do?”
“They were the most annoying and con-artists in town! They would steal from people, and con folks out of their money every time they got the chance! They counted cards, stole money, and accidently dropped a safe on my head during one of my daily romps through the town; a safe that they stole!! The townspeople couldn’t take it anymore, so we chased them out! And they can’t come back till they can pay their debts to us!! Also my medical bill, I still get migraines from that ordeal.” He said while rubbing his scalp.
“That’s all I needed to hear.” Archer replied with a smile.

Meanwhile, the mayor was just about to crown Pico and Rover, who knew they would be in a TON of trouble if they didn’t think fast. The mayor was giving a very long speech, and that gave Pico time to really think.
He looked at all the poverty stricken people as if he had just for the first time seen them. He started to notice people coughing, and grinning with the hopes that the duo would be able to make things right again. This gave Pico a sickly feeling in his gut.
“Hey Rover,” he said. “I think we might have done a bad thing.”
“No duh.” Rover replied. “I’ve been trying to tell you that for days. It’s too late now.”
“What was I thinking? I didn’t want to help these people. I just wanted to be mayor so I could have more money than I know what to do with. Not only will we be found out as the frauds we are, we might also lead tons of people to their graves. We don’t know how to run a town. But it’s already too late.” Pico said in remorse, as a tear trickled down his check.

“Stop the ceremony!!”
Everybody looked, and Archer came in riding on his horse.
“These two are not who they seem!” Archer shouted. “They have-”
“Alright Archer, you found us out.” Pico interrupted.
“Yes people. We are not who we say we are.”
The crowd stood silent in shock.
“For you see,” Pico continued. “We have no plans to stay here, and must get going. I have in my possession a suitcase full of money; that I plan on donating to you all.”
“Really?” Rover whispered to Pico.
“It wasn’t the original plan, but we have to do something to make things right. Then we can high-tail it out of here.” Pico responded.
“But wait!” Archer said. “These two are actually con-”
“Confident, that the mayor will make the right decision, and crown you mayor.” Pico interrupted.
“Um…uh...ok…!” Archer said.
Pico looked at Jezebel, and remembered her situation. “On one condition.” He continued to Archer. “That when you become mayor, you will dedicate your time to Jezebel, and use your money to provide for the community. And hire some more hunters for lord’s sake.”
“Yeah!” Rover added. “And Jezebel will be able to quit her night job!”
The mayor wand the audience had no idea how to react; they were in too much shock.
“Well,” the mayor said while taking the hat off of Pico. “I guess that could work. Let’s all give a round of applause to Archer!”
“Wait a minute mayor,” Archer said. “There’s one thing I would like to say first.”
He turned to Jezebel. “Jezebel, I’m sorry for all of the neglect and showboating I've exposed you to. I promise that I’ll to what’s best for this this whole community. I’ll do what’s best for them, and for you. Citizens, please lend me your ears! As we bid farewell to the previous year with heavy hearts, we can look toward this New Year in sanguinity. Forget about the harsh drought and famine we have had to endure, the fear of death and despair we must tread through, and the various problems of the many. And let us look onward, into a new era! One of hope and prosperity! For today is the first day, of the rest of our lives!”
Jezebel waked up to Archer, and gave her a great big hug! The crowd cheered to the top of their lungs, and confetti rained from the buildings. The ex-mayor, feeling pretty happy that he had just been quoted, took out a sizeable pipe from his back pocket and puffed from underneath the whiskers of his moustache. Everything was good, and everyone was happy.

A few weeks later, the town had recovered a great deal from their poverty. New hunters were hired, the food was bountiful, and the buildings were all re-built. The town was once again thriving, and bustling.
“Are you sure you guys have to go?” Jezebel asked Pico. Archer, Jezebel, Pico, and Rover were all standing along the muddy entrance/exit of the town.
“Yup. As much as we’ll miss it here, we need to head out. We’re itinerant vagabonds, and as stupid as it seems, that’s the way we like it.”
Rover continued to bawl his eyes out. He wrapped his arms around Mayor Archer and wept rivers of tears.
“GOODBYE!! I’ll miss you all so much!!!” he said.
“I’ll miss you too.” Archer said as he pushed Rover off.
“Anyways, maybe we’ll come across another town that’s just like our hometown. And maybe they’ll have better burlesque attractions than the ones we had at our stupid, one-horse, out-of-touch…” Pico mumbled to himself.
“Well, we’d best start hitting the trail now.” Rover interrupted.
“Right… goodbye everybody!” Pico said as he started to walk off.
“Goodbye!” Archer and his wife Jezebel replied.
The further the vagabonds walked, the smaller and smaller the bustling town appeared to shrink. Hours past, and the path trailed through an open pasture that seemed to stretch for miles and miles. The amber the waves of grain seemed to ripple along the sides of the majestic mountains.
“Heh Heh…” Pico chuckled.
“What’s the matter Pico?” Rover asked.
“It seems that everything in that town seemed to come together. It was all part of my master plan.”
“What plan was that?”
“Ok, you got me I didn’t have a plan. But it looks like everything pulled through just nicely.”
“Well, where are we headed now?”
“I don’t know. Wherever we wind up, we should be able to make enough money to pay back our debts to Oakwood. And Lord knows how long that’ll be.”
“So you just want money to go back to Oakwood?”
“I hate to admit it, but that’s where we belong. I couldn’t borrow money from Woodcrest because that would just impair their economic growth.”
“Oh I see.” Rover said. “So what you are saying is you miss Oakwood?”
“Do I have to spell it out for you?”
“No need to get offensive.” Rover said.
“Where is the map? I want to find out where we are headed.”
Rover took off his bowler hat, and pulled out a small sack. In it was $2,000 in gold coins. Pico’s eyes bulged out of his head, and his jaw dropped to the floor.
“Where did you get that!?” Pico asked Rover.
“Archer gave it to me. He said the mayor of Oakwood told him why we were exiled. He was so grateful when we made him mayor; he gave us this money to pay back our debts.”
‘Why are you just telling me now?”
“Because I thought that you hated Oakwood.”
“Nope, I was just peeved at them for kicking us out. Let’s go!!” Pico shouted.

They turned around, and ran back in the direction they came from. And as the sun started to set in the west, the sky seemed to turn orange. Sound of the light passing breeze over the field, and the sheer tranquility of the outdoors would be nothing more than a happy memory. For the vagabonds were heading back to their hometown to right all of their wrongs, and hopefully, get a second chance.

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