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Heidi Jacobsen - The Pineapple Ranch

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Catman

It was sunset in Key West.The sky was on fire as the sun sank down low towards the water. A crowd of tourists had gathered by the waterfront to see the famed Catman. Pierre La Pure was there in his black pants and white t-shirt, his twirled moustache was grey and scraggly. He mischievously announces, "Any dog lovers here? Go back to your seat!" In one hand he held up a hoop ringed with fire and calls to Tanner the cat to jump through it. "Come on, you can do it ma cherie, it’s all in your mind!" he barks at Tanner. Tanner looks at the crowd and the hoop with the ring of fire around it and quickly jumps through. It’s a success! There is laughter and applause from the audience. Pierre laughs hysterically, "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!"

"Bien! Pada pada pada!" Pierre gave her a treat. It was a shrimp biscuit, something that Tanner just couldn’t get enough of. There were two more cats there, Galloise and Thomas. They were all strays. Pierre had found them in Key West, wandering the streets, feeding from garbage cans and tourist handouts and fishing by the pier, feeding on scraps of grouper and snook from local fishermen.

Tanner was a shy girl cat. Thomas was the street wise boy cat and Galloise was the pampered alley cat turned princess, because she always got her way. "There’s no way I am walking that tightrope again", she said indignantly to the other cats. "You’d better" said Thomas. "We’ll just see about that", said Galloise.

The crowd applauded and took pictures and video of the show. The three cats loved Pierre and listened to him as he spoke his commands, sometimes in a funny cat language only they could understand. Pierre beckoned to them for the finale. "Come here, stay there…Come here, stay there…" He joked. It was time to do the tightrope walking trick.

"Oh, here we go….I am not doing it." Said Galloise. Thomas retorted, "Good luck old girl…..You’d better walk that rope if you want some dinner later tonight." Pierre called all the cats over. They lined up. Pierre calls out to Thomas, "Thomas! Thomas! Thomas!" Thomas went first, skillfully walking across the thin rope, his balance perfect, his head held high and proud. Tanner went second, almost losing her balance once as the crowd gasped, holding their breath tightly. Galloise hung back, looking carefree. Pierre clapped his hands. "Galloise!!!"

Galloise stepped up the ladder and slowly put one foot in front of the other on the tightrope. She displayed a regal air and deftly walked the rope, finally getting to the other side. The applause was thunderous and the three cats looked pleased with themselves. Pierre gave the each a treat. Another show over, now the cats could finally get some rest.

Pierre was busy signing autographs and posing for pictures with the tourists. The three cats sat in their cages watching the crowd leave. People came over to say their goodbyes, some leaving change in their tip bucket. Pierre gathered up his equipment, packed his show in his small suitcase and they headed home for the night.

Pierre and the cats lived on an old weatherworn houseboat on the water called "Catman Do". It was a junky old boat that Pierre had purchased from an old fisherman named Fred for a song. They loved living on the houseboat, even though sometimes the water scared them." My cats, my cats, you did well tonight," Pierre crooned to them. "Tonight we will feast on shrimp creole and prawns, I have a special treat for you mes chiens." They reached the boat and boarded, each cat scampering to their spot. Pierre took off his clothes and put on an apron to begin cooking for the night. All three cats loved Pierre because he had befriended them and saved them from life on the streets of Key West. Pierre turned on some music and began singing a song, singing all the wrong words and out of tune but the cats didn’t mind, not one bit.

They sat down to dinner and Pierre gave each cat a generous helping of shrimp and prawns. A single candle flickered on the table, it was the only light in the room. Outside the moon shone brightly and reflected off the water. "One day, mes chats, we will go to Broadway with our act, we will become the toast of New York, eh?" He smiled at them. "What do you say to that?" Thomas looked over at Galloise and Tanner. "Why not Vegas while we’re at it, huh girls?" Galloise retorted, "If we go to Vegas I am getting my own dressing room." They finished up their food and Pierre drank a great deal of red wine and got very sleepy. He looked at them. "Goodnight mes amis, I must lay down now." He stumbled off to bed. The three cats settled into their beds and licked themselves clean.

It was the middle of the night. One small thud was heard on the boat as Jimmy the Pirate landed aboard the Catman Do. His silver spur on his boot rattled and he whispered to his fellow pirates. "Follow me and be quiet." The three pirates followed him and they quietly opened the door to Pierres’ bedroom. Pierre was sound asleep, dreaming and snoring. They picked him up and carried him off the boat. Thomas stirred in his sleep. He could have sworn that he heard a noise, or was he dreaming? He opened his eyes and saw the three pirates sneaking off the ship carrying Pierre. He woke up Tanner and Galloise.

"It’s Pierre! They have taken Pierre!" he cried in dismay. "Who has?" asked Tanner, alarmed. "Some pirates I think, look, there they go!" They watched the pirates disappear by boat away from them. "What will we do now?" said Galloise. "I know, we will follow them, hurry, get in the rowboat." He said urgently. "But I can’t swim!!!!" cried Galloise. "I will row, now get in!" They got in the rowboat and Thomas steadily rowed the oars towards the pirates’ boat. "It’s too far! It’s too far!" cried Galloise. "Oh shut up!" said Tanner, "This is serious". The moon shone brightly on the three cats and soon they arrived at the base of the pirate ship.

"Alright now, be very quiet!" he put his finger to his lips. "Follow me, do as I do." He deftly climbed the ladder to the ship and the two cats followed. The pirates were inside with Pierre, their poor Pierre. They peeked through the window and saw him tied to a chair. He was in trouble!! "We need a plan", said Thomas. "Wait until they sleep, the we’ll save him." Said Tanner. "I think we’re in trouble too, who will save us?’ cried Galloise.

The three pirates surrounded Pierre. One of them carved an apple with a big sharp knife, near Pierres throat. "So, tell us Pierre, what did you do with the map to the secret treasure?" Pierre shakes his head. "I don’t have it. I swear! You have the wrong man!" The pirates all look at each other. "But surely you know, you are the owner of the boat we saw docked in the harbour, the boat that we know is owned by Fred Bailey." Jimmy the pirate touches the tip of the blade to his neck. Pierre is alarmed, "No, you are mistaken, Fred sold me that boat years ago! He is dead now and I don’t know of any map to any secret treasure! I swear it! On my cats lives, I swear it." Jimmy look at him darkly. " Well, we’ll give you ‘

til morning to fess up and then, sorry matey, you are fishbait. I don’t buy your story and neither do my mates here."said the Jimmy the pirate.

The cats waited and waited until all the lights went out on the pirate ship. A pirate guard sat guarding the door to the room that Pierre was in. "Looks like we have an obstacle girls." said Thomas. "Watch me!" said Galloise. She scooted over to the guard and began to rub herself on his leg. "What the?????" said the guard. "Oh, it’s just a pussycat!" he petted Galloise. She led him away from the doorway towards the front of the ship. "Now go for it!" She hissed at the cats. They ran inside the door to find Pierre.

Pierre was tied to the chair and tears were streaming down his face. Thomas purred loudly, licking his hand. "Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!!" cried Pierre. "How did you ever find me here?" Thomas scratched and scratched at the ropes on his hands until he was free. "Oh thank you mes chats!!!"

They climbed off the boat and into the rowboat. But Galloise was still missing. "You stay here, I will go and get Galloise," said Thomas. He jumped out of the rowboat and onto the pirate ship deck. The pirate was holding Galloise in his arms. "Hmmmm"…said Thomas. He slunk around the back of the ship and climbed up on the mast, waking out to the very edge of it. He pounced down on the pirate and he let Galloise go with a loud yelp. "Hurry!!! Run, run, run!!!!!!" yelled Thomas. Galloise and Tanner ran to the edge of the boat and jumped onto the rowboat where Pierre was waiting. The pirates ran towards them shouting loudly."Stop! Stop! Stop!"

Pierre paddled the rowboat quickly and they finally reached shore. They piled out of the boat and Pierre ran to get the police. The cats followed. "Well done girls!" said Thomas.

"That was close" said Galloise. The Police arrived and Pierre told them about the kidnapping. They took notes and asked him if he would be alright. He nodded his head. "If it wasn’t for my cats here, God knows if I would still be alive". He beamed at them. "I love you". The three cats nodded their heads and nuzzled up to him. The feeling was mutual. "How about we head home now?" asked Pierre. "Time for some cat nip?" Thomas smiled, "You’re on bro!" Pierre reached down and gave Galloise a hug, "And you ladies have never been so brave! I am so proud!We escaped from the clutches of the pirates! Ha ha ha ha ha!"

That night Pierre slept with all the cats in his bed and dreamed a wonderful dream of playing their act on the big stage in New York. Pierre was grateful that his cats loved him as much as he loved them and would never forget their adventure.





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