Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monty and the Cats

I was sorting through some really, really old papers and began to laugh when I found this writing assignment from 1995. That year, my siblings and I had the same special assignment every week, and Dad was the one who chose the topics and graded them. At fourteen-years-old, I fancied myself a future Pulitzer Prize winner for children’s literature, so this story was tailored for my greatest critics: my younger siblings. I’m posting it, with some minor corrections, as a bit of nostalgia. See if you can identify the nine cartoons that were my primary influence:

At about four-o-clock one Tuesday afternoon, Monty Mouse sat on an empty park bench and opened that week’s edition of the Cheezy News, the most popular newspaper in Rodentown. He scanned the classifieds until he had found the article he was looking for. It read the following:

For sale by owner. One cozy mouse hole. Furnished. In a nice home. Very inexpensive. At 441 E. Rodentia Drive. See George Mouse.

How nice, Monty thought to himself. Already furnished, inexpensive, and in the nicest part of town too.

He rose from his seat and stretched. “I’d better go and hurry over to see this hole,” he said, “or someone else will buy it first.” He walked across the park to the nearest bus stop and boarded on to the Prairie Dog Express.

Monty Mouse liked the Express and took it often. In his opinion, it was nicer and more reliable then the new, expensive Underground Mole*-Road, that was usually too crowded for a fat mouse like himself.

He paid the driver and walked towards the back of the bus. Monty usually sat in the back because it was always empty and quiet.

Almost always.

That day it was so crowded the only empty seat was next to a pair of teenage, female gophers. They giggled and talked loudly the whole time, which greatly annoyed him. Monty Mouse was glad when the bus reached his stop.

He stepped off the bus, walked to the corner of Beaver Boulevard, and down the street on which his new home would be on.

It was a fine house, white with red brick. He strolled up the driveway, looking carefully at everything around him. He didn’t want to be cheated in any way.

Monty went up to the mouse hole door on the side of the house and knocked. A tall, thin mouse in a suit opened the door and let him inside.

“Welcome, friend,” said the thin mouse. “I am George A. Mouse. What can I do for you?”

He is very friendly, thought our little, bright Monty. “I am Montague Maxwell Mouse,” he replied to George. “I have come to look at this mouse hole that you have advertised about in the newspaper.”

“Ah, yes,” said George, rubbing his chin. “As you can see, it is entirely furnished and well kept. Everything is in working order.”

“And what is the asking price?” asked Monty.

George looked guilty. “How about two hundred rodent coins?”

Monty Mouse was surprised. “Only two hundred!” he exclaimed. The he glanced at George suspiciously. “Is there something wrong with the house?”

“Well, yes,” replied George. “The lady who lives in the house has three cats. Mean cats. They always keep me from getting cheese from the kitchen.” He paused and then asked, “Are you still going to buy the hole?”

“Of course. Why turn down a good deal just because of some cats,” said Monty. “I will buy this hole right now.”

Monty and George signed the papers and arranged for Monty to move in the next day.


The next day, that is Wednesday, after Monty Mouse moved into his new mouse hole, he went to see off George A. Mouse, whose business had caused him to move to a different state.

“Goodbye, old fellow,” George said, before he got on the plane. “I hope you like your new home.”

Monty left the Flying Squirrel Airport and returned to his new hole. After reading for a few hours, he realized it was time for lunch. He went to the refrigerator and took out the food he had bought earlier.

After eating a big meal, Monty Mouse still wasn’t satisfied. Then suddenly he smelled cheese. Monty could hardly contain himself. He rushed to the back door that lead into the house, opened it, stuck his head out, and sniffed.

Oh, how he could smell that wonderful cheddar cheese. The lady was in the kitchen making herself a sandwich. The telephone in the livingroom rang, so the lady left her sandwich on the counter to answer it.

Monty knew this was his chance. He could run into the kitchen, climb the counter, and take the cheese before the lady came back. His plan worked. He ran fast for a fat mouse, but before he could make it back to his mouse hole, he’d found himself cornered by two large cats.

“And who do you think you are?” asked the black one, grinning viciously.

Monty wasn’t a mouse who panicked easily. He stood up as tall as his little body could and in a strong and dignified voice replied, “I am Mister Montague Maxwell Mouse, III.”

The two cats looked at each other with surprised faces.

“He talked, Felix!” said the fat, orange cat.

“Yeah!” said the black one. He turned back to Monty, who was considering the best escape. “You’re the first mouse who’s ever talked to us. Most just run away, screaming.”

Even though that had been his first intent, Monty tried to hide it. “Oh! I would never do that,” he lied. “There is no point in screaming and running. That would be useless.”

“Yep,” said the fat cat, speaking quickly. “We’d just pounce on ‘em and feed ‘em to Cleo. By the way, I’m Garfield and this here’s Felix, my pal. I was named that ‘cause, well, I like to eat.” His orange face reddened when he spoke.

Monty, not comprehending what the fat cat had said, looked at Felix, the black cat, hoping he could explain things clearer.

“Where do you live,” asked Felix. It was obviously hopeless to get anything out of him. He was too busy asking questions to bother answering yours.

“Right over there,” replied Monty, pointing to his new hole.

“In the MacMouse’s old hole,” said Garfield, sniffling sadly. “They were such a nice family.”

“They were so kind,” Felix said, and to Monty’s surprise, he started crying too!

“The Mrs., she would always bake us birthday cakes,” Garfield cried. “And the little ones. The baby, sweet, little Janie Anne, she would call me ‘Big Pussy.’”

“Everything was fine,” said Felix, “until Cleopatra ate them all.” Both cats started crying again.

Monty, not one who takes a liking to crying cats, tried to change the subject. “Who’s Cleopatra?” he asked.

“Shh! Be quiet,” Felix said suddenly, and the crying came to an abrupt halt. “Hear that?” he asked.

Monty listened carefully, but couldn’t hear anything.

“It’s Cleo,” whispered Garfield, sitting down. “You’d better hide.”

Monty hid himself behind Garfield just when he heard Felix say, “Why, hello, Cleo. We weren’t expecting you to come home for lunch today.”

Monty saw a thin, white cat with a black head and mean eyes walk into the kitchen. “Oh, shut up Felix,” she said. “I came back for lunch, and you’ve got it. Where did you hide that mouse?”

“What mouse?” Garfield asked innocently. Monty quickly crawled under his big pays when Cleopatra stomped up to him.

“The mouse you’re hiding, dummy!” Cleopatra hissed in his ear.

Felix hurried over to her. “Cleo,” he said, “if we had a mouse we’d give him to you, right? So why bother arguing. We’ll tell you when we’ve caught a mouse.”

“Well, you’d better!” she said. Then she walked away with her nose in the air.

“You can come out now,” said Garfield, looking down at Monty.

“She could’ve eaten you,” said Felix. “You’d better stay away from here.”

“Oh, Cleopatra doesn’t scare me,” Monty said with false courage. “And I’ll come and visit you every day.”

As he was walking back to his hole, he heard Garfield say to Felix, “What a brave, little mouse.”

But they didn’t know just how brave Monty Mouse was. He knew that he would only visit him when he was sure that Cleopatra the cat was not around.

*Moles are not rodents, but are insectivores. They have been added only for the convenience of the writer.