Modigliani and Gauguin have suddenly found themselves Midwesterners. Modi, the older and wiser cat—and who had moved in his seven years from apartment to apartment, town to town, and even state to state—tried to explain some of what was going on to the younger Gauguin, who had never lived anywhere other than Southern California. (No, he was not pursuing an acting career.)
A few months prior to the dreaded day when the brothers were shoved ruthlessly into the pleasantly called sherpa bags that are actually feline prisons with lattice work mesh windows, their HUMAN had begun to act strange. Actually, if you were to ask Modi, he would say that she began to act more strange. After all, humans in general were strange, what with their silverware and clothes and endless tools designed for entertainment. If cats did have those fantastic prehensile thumbs, Modi would have encourage Gauguin to assist him in creating a painting of their HUMAN, Modi's contribution in long smooth strokes of charcoal and Gauguin's in vivid splotches of solid color with the depth of the ocean. Of course, the reader will remember that these cats are only named after famous artists that their HUMAN particularly enjoyed.
The boys' quest to get on THE OUTSIDE and DO SOMETHING was subdued despite the spring air in Santa Monica and replaced with curiosity and anxiety. Their HUMAN had begun to sit down with them every few days to repeat the phrase "move to Chicago." Though to Modi and Gauguin the sound of the words became familiar, they lacked any real meaning; that is, until the day that the SUITCASES were brought down from the top shelf of the bedroom closet. Cats hate SUITCASES. They hate SUITCASES because SUITCASES represent the one thing that cats truly dread, something more atrocious than dogs and baths and having to swallow tapeworm pills all in the same day. SUITCASES represent change.
Modi began to assume that "move to Chicago" meant that his HUMAN was going on one of those trips before which she would promise to "be back in five minutes." She did that from time to time, and always a nice HUMAN would come over every day to fill their food bowls and talk lovingly to them. He licked the orange fur on Gauguin's neck, attempting to reassure the young cat whose tail remained fluffy for most of the afternoon. This practice soon relaxed Gauguin, who headed toward the litter box for some scratching and quality thinking time. Though Modi put on a brave face, he was worried. He hated when his HUMAN left "for five minutes" and this "move to Chicago" thing didn't seem fun at all. He and his HUMAN began a battle of wits. When she walked to the closet or the bureau to collect clothes, Modi would settle into the SUITCASE. She would put down the stack of shirts and pants, lift him out of the SUITCASE, put in the clothes, and then return to the closet or bureau. Modi would get back into the SUITCASE, and the process would begin anew. He loved his HUMAN and certainly wanted to be wherever she was, but his main thought was that if she was going somewhere it was in his best interest to join her…if for no other reason to ensure he got fed.
With the SUITCASES full and shoved into a corner of the apartment, the boys settled down a bit. Gauguin enjoyed climbing on the new tower of fun and used the SUITCASES as a scratching post. Perhaps, thought Modi, "move to Chicago" simply meant another form of cleaning, which his HUMAN did often—too often in his opinion. Then, the cardboard boxes arrived. The HUMAN struggled with the large stack of broken down boxes as she attempted to open the screen door. Instead of taking the opportunity to GO OUTSIDE and DO SOMETHING, though, both cats arched their backs and shirked away. As their HUMAN began the process of building the boxes and sticking little pieces of packing tape on their backs (not nearly as funny to cats as it is to HUMANS) the boys sniffed every perfect corner of each. What was going on here?
Before they knew it, the apartment was completely packed away in to these boxes. Gauguin noted with disdain that his green blanket, catnip mice, and even the coveted litter box were tucked into the squares. It was time. Their HUMAN said the phrase that the boys now knew well: "Do you wanna go to Chicago?"
Locked safely in their sherpa bags in the backseat of their HUMANS evil CAR, the boys tried to sniff one another through the mesh windows of their prison cells. They could see a small litter box and fresh food and water. This would be no drive to the VET. This was bigger. Their HUMAN turned a little silver key and the beast of a CAR roared to life. She turned in her seat to face them: "Are you ready?"
For not the first time in their lives, the cat brothers wished that they could speak HUMAN-ESE. Instead they resorted to protesting meows. The HUMAN, who had not yet bothered to learn cat language, assumed they meant yes, apparently, for she faced forward and the CAR began to creep forward—toward CHICAGO.
Want to find out about Modi and Gauguin's 2,000 mile journey in the CAR? Return to poeticdiversity next time for the continuation of this chapter.