From Kitten to Jellicle Cat, Asparagus finds his home and niche on the boards of the grand stage. Tracking the lengthy life of a legendary feline, there is Hope and Dismay, Triumph and Defeat, and Love and Heartbreak. A Jellicle tale for Jellicle Cats. Table of Contents PrologueChapter 1: Born BlindFootnotesAlso by SebaxGuest Book Prologue M any nights were spent at the many doors of many different theaters. It was not customary of habitual Ushers from each to be unacquainted with a frequent, aged guest. A guest whose taste for histrionics knew neither boundary nor had lack of curiosity; curiosity was typically an unadvisable thing for one such as this particular guest, but Asparagus had always been curious ever since he was a kitten. Yes, Asparagus, who was known affectionately as “Gus” to many cast and crew of countless productions, was the cat at the theater door. He was the mobile theater cat who was fraternal to the “Adelphi” as he was recognized at the Duke of York’s. No one quite knew the secret of his traversing, since he was an ancient cat with trembling paws, brittle bones, and vice versa. Quite inscrutably though, Gus was not only a familiar sight, but rather a welcome one; amongst scores of lucky theater cats, Gus was the uncelebrated celebrity. Throes of feet would trample past him as he lay by the doors of any particular theater, and to the owners of those feet, they would not so much as even register there was a cat at all. Those in the business of entertainment both abhorred and understood this un-relation in that, admittedly, Gus was easy to miss with a what had to be a foundation made of parchment. That was, at the very least, supposable in his incomparable skinniness. On the other hand, Gus had been, in another time, not the cat whom everyone ignored at the door way, but had instead been the cat everyone on the West End raved about as a talent so great that he could be rated amongst noted contemporary performers, and the performers themselves would agree with such an equal. After all, Gus had acted with Sir Henry Irving, and he had acted with Sir Herbert Tree, and both were reported, at one time or another, to have referred to Gus’s impressive talent with utmost respectability and sincere affection. That was a past life. This one involved the feet trampling that passed by without a thought of the scrawny, shabby feline that had once been important, but no longer seemed fit to hold the title. The initiated doorman occasionally evinced slight annoyance no one ever remarked so much as a “What a nice old cat that is” while exiting or entering when Gus had decided upon that venue for the evening; but there was little evidence that any of it bothered Gus. The truth was… it did; deeply so. The only game-changing factor was that old age had impressioned Gus with an almost permanent look of indifference to everyone and everything that crossed his path. Yes, on occasion, Gus would meow happily when presented with a superb play, but it pained him terribly to do so and the company understood if he chose to enjoy quietly; a glimmer of joy would always appear in the old cat’s eyes if he were truly delighted. One particular night, at a most particular playing of an utmost particular play, Gus was indeed enjoying the aftermath of a rather new and (what Gus considered) inventive production as he reposed at the feet of the show’s creator. The audience had cleared out and the majority of the company had gone home, but Gus’ own company was no other than Mister J. M. Barrie, while the cold December wind blew softly outside the theater door by which the two sat. As he did when the task was earned and worth the effort, Gus meowed contentedly and purred without as much difficulty. “I thank you for that.” Barrie sighed, scratching between Gus’ uneven shoulder blades. “Oh yes, I must admit, your reputation does precede you, my friend. I take it from pretense you enjoyed the play?” Barrie’s brogue bounced and his burr blended lightly down to the curled up Gus, who pleasantly purred in reply. “I am much obliged for the generous review.” Barrie chuckled without the slightest trace of irony. “I do begin to suppose, dear Gus, if cats are like man in the one sense that comes to my mind when I think of Peter, Wendy, and the Lost Boys, and that is, I humbly ask, do cats wish to return to youth? Or is age a mark of wisdom?” ‘How silly’ Gus looked up at Barrie with an aloof expression on his feline face and thought to himself, ‘Of course I do and don’t all at once, just as those of humankind do and don’t. But I implore, I ask… how shall I relay my answer to you?’ His only staunch reply was a curt meow. Vague to the uninitiated, but such was the way of cats anyway. “Ah, right. Silly me. If you could talk, I’d have to ask you more than just one silly, fleeting question about the mutability of passing youth. Everyone does wonder, simply, how you came to be, so that we are graced by you at the theatre door.” Admittedly, Gus adored the adulation. He would not belay a request to tell one of his famously windy stories to fellow animals, and his club meetings by the local pub were the stuff of legends; at least in his own head. But, again, he couldn’t answer Barrie. That was a shame… Gus had truly enjoyed the play. He had enjoyed the production so much that he had skipped his evening nap to watch its entirety. Though he attempted to keep awake, Gus slipped into slumber as Barrie chuckled and scratched Gus behind the ears. Chapter 1: Born Blind F our newborn kittens mewed theirs first tender cries in a London alley as the harsh December air drifted all around them. An absent father left a young Queen to the task of carriage and nursing, but Carstraw, a beautiful calico, was so tender at heart, she knew she would easily make do with the absence. Her whiskers lifted as she gingerly smiled, though she was weak, hungry, and made to be more tired than she had ever been in her single year of life. It had been a rough life, she knew, but that ceased to matter the instant she started to live for her litter. The four were her first, and to see their moving forms try to swim on a late edition of a city newspaper. “Welcome, my loves.” Her voice was one that was steady and produced calmed nerves like an easy breeze, but was not as cold as the wind that threatened to abruptly end the lives of her newborns. “Draw in, and be warm.” She spoke to kittens that were no less deaf than they were blind, but her gentle forepaws sweep brought her young to her abdominal bosom all the same. That was the way they rested for one evening as queen for want of throne, and no lack of biting, hungry mouths finding their way to her teats while she licked them clean of the fluids that coated them. Carriages rattled, babies cried, and light poured out from alley windows down on the peacefully dismal sight of Carstraw and her four. Her pale yellow eyes fluttered closed while she came to grips with her new, strange reality, but the kittens continued in their own suckling endeavors unfettered by the horrid and wonderful world they had entered. It was some time- a course of a score and five days- before each Kitten had reached a point of managing some form of independence. This brought Carstraw no end of joy and stress in one fantastic ball of- “Amandus! You get down from there!” Carstraw shouted to the tawny, skinny one, whom had made his way up a dangling hemp rope in the same alley of the birth of all but one of the five cats. Three fluffy rumps were plomped squarely on the cobblestone as they watched in awe of their brave, ignorant brother. Lilyplate, the all-white one with blue eyes, giggled while Saffronpaw, a black cat with reddish brown colorations on all four of his paws and down his sturdy back, and Asparagus, a skinny, brown cat with white colorations and stripes around his hazel eyes, dared each other turn to be the next one to go up. “You go up.” Saffronpaw’s voice was husky for one so young. “You’re the strong one. You do it, Saf.” Asparagus rebuked with disdain at the height Amandus had reached. To the tiny, wobbly-legged kittens, it seemed miles that had been traversed from the ground to the target of Mother’s aggravated cawing; in reality, it was merely a few feet, but what is distance to a kitten or babe? “I will, just as soon as you do.” Saffron replied unsteadily, poorly feigning confidence. “I hear you down there, and I say you are both gutless cowards.” A spritely voiced called from above. “You mind your mouth Amandus Straw!” “Yes, mother.” Amandus obediently called back down. “And come back down at once.” No change in volume had presented itself in her voice, and in no reply when reply had come before, Carstraw saw it fit to increase her tonal volume and screech at her dareful kitten. “THIS INSTANT!” Scratching comforted her to no end as she was content to see the eldest of her litter make his descent. Only when Amandus had reached the ground did Carstraw let loose a well-deserved motherly sigh of relief. “I came back down just for you, dear mother.” Amandus cooed and tried to sway his mother’s temper. Her paw smartly smacking his bottom a few inches made his efforts all for naught. “Oof!” Amandus grunted as he landed a little ways off from his siblings. “Never, ever do that again at your age. You’ll learn to walk first before you go round the bend and start becoming tightrope walkers and acrobats and such.” Carstraw was firm, but fair. Her voice had lost its rage, but not its bite. She would teach her kittens to obey, but only out of her love for them did she even bother to ensure they made an effort to behave. This point had been made clearer than crystal on many instances prior, but it was usually Amandus being reckless, or Lilyplate whining of low estate, or Saffron crying of not enough food when he ate a good deal more than the other kittens already. Asparagus alone was, to Carstraw, her “little gentleman”. Asparagus found both pride and displeasure in the title, since the preening was only beneficial when his mutable mood suggested it was beneficial. “Now then, lessons continue if Amandus can behave himself and you all mind yourselves as well.” By habit, all four kittens replied with a “Yes, mother” lacking sarcasm. Carstraw nodded her head and relaxed her back before licking Amandus on the head. “Your bravery, my boy, is going to do you some use in the future, but, for the sake of your mother’s all-too-loving heart, place yourself far from danger for the time being.” Amandus nodded in reply, and Carstraw purred. “Good. Now then, you may play as I search the empty room to make sure it is, in fact, currently empty.” Asparagus knew the empty room all too well. A dark, but homely place of Victorian comfort that had been abandoned for some years by previous tenants and it served as the unofficial home of the Straw family when rains persisted or dangers lurked in their familiar alleyway. “I’ll keep the peace, mama.” Gus stuck out his chest and tried to make his small frame appear larger than it was. Carstraw chuckled,but with humor as much as pride in her children’s individuality. “You mind yourself and your siblings. I trust you’ll do just fine, my little Gus.” And Carstraw licked Gus’ forehead, which unfortunately toppled the kitten backwards in a somersault that his brothers and sister could not suppress their laughter at. Carstraw stifled their giggles and set Gus right before pouncing up to the empty windowsill nearest the small group. In a flash, she was gone inside, and Asparagus was left to watch his siblings. “Mama left me in charge, so you have to do what I say.” Asparagus stated proudly. He was full of heart upon saying it, but was disheartened when he spotted three tails wiggling in the air as three tiny faces marked themselves with malicious intents. “Uh…mama….left me…in…” Asparagus was thoroughly trounced, pounced, and tackled by his giggling siblings until even he was led out of his somber façade to enjoy the kaleidoscope of roughhousing the four Straw kittens had become in the alley they called home. Footnotes An origin story of "Gus, the Theatre Cat" made famous by the poem by T.S. Elliot and the stage production of the Musical "Cats" set by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It's what I crafted in my mind to play Gus on stage. Also by Sebax "Based Forward"- Set 14 years before the events of Kingdom Hearts I, and 4 years before Birth By Sleep, a musically-inclined boy finds himself under the tutelage of Yen Sid after the destruction of his Homeworld of Theate. Studying to be a mage, Base finds himself in over his head in matters he barely understands. "Give My Regards to Bridleway"- Based on the "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" TV show, Rarity heads off to Bridleway to be part of a show. With the help of her friends, can she hold her own in the theatre? "Burns"- Set 28 years before the events of Red/Blue, Caesar Cyprus, a young aide to Professor Oak, is sent to Cinnabar Island. The research he does there will lead him down a path to an even bigger adventure for him. Guest Book Not a KHV member? Sign the Guest Book, please! I write for the love of it, but I do need, from time to time, some sort of encouragement, or else I just lose interest in posting. Sign Here!