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The Puss-In-Boots Society

Cats are called different things in different countries. In America they’re called kitties. In England they’re called pussies. In Southeast Asia they’re called lunch. But don’t tell that to devoted cat fanciers. In England, the Puss-In-Boots Society was devoted to that fantastic cat. There were people who claimed their ancestors owned the actual Puss-In-Boots.

One of these people was Maud Williams. One of her ancestors had a cat whose claim to fame was the saving of the life of King James in 1619. The fearless feline would entertain people by dancing as it wore some little leather boots on its back paws. A plot to assassinate the king was overheard by the cat. It transmitted a message telepathically to its owner, who informed the King of the plot.

But the cat himself took action: when the conspirators approached the King’s bedchamber, the cat pounced upon them and fought them tooth and nail until the guards could come to take the men away. The King was so grateful that he awarded the owner of the cat knighthood, a small estate, and a royal stipend that today is 10,000 pounds sterling annually.

Another ancestor of a supposed owner of Puss-In-Boots is Harold Bennington. His ancestor owned a cat who saved the life of Charles II while he was fighting the Great Fire of London in 1666. As the King was helping some firefighters douse the flames on a house, the cat leaped upon His Majesty and stole his hat.

The monarch chased after the cat and managed to avoid being buried under over a ton of burning debris as the wall he had tried to extinguish collapsed and killed two of the firefighters. He would have been the third victim. In appreciation, the owner of the cat was knighted and received an estate plus a stipend which is now also 10,000 pounds a year.

One person whose ancestor supposedly had the original Puss-In-Boots who has been banned from the Society is Doctor Arthur Fitzsimmons who has a cat hospital south of London. He doesn’t just love cats. He considers them almost human. He abhors the practice of dressing cats in costumes which means he condemns the annual costume party the Society holds in honor of the Society’s namesake. He also thinks the people are too snooty. Whenever he has tried to introduce evidence that his ancestor had the original Puss-In-Boots, the Society has refused to consider it. He has no royal estate or stipend which in their mind means his ancestor never had the cat the doctor claims his ancestor possessed.

An American writer named Richard Mann decided to investigate the man’s claim without telling the Society that wanted him to be a celebrity judge of the annual costume party. As he entered the house which had the front door wide open, the aroma of cats struck him at the same time meowing did. He saw some cats watching a soccer match on the TV. One cat appeared to be reading the newspaper on the floor. The most extraordinary feline was at the electronic keyboard playing, believe it or not, some Bach. His paws limited his playing ability, but he was definitely playing Bach as best he could.

A young woman the man assumed was the doctor’s daughter approached him and said, “You must be looking for the doctor. He’s out back in the hospital delivering Clara’s kittens. Her mate Fagan is out there too. It would be best if you waited until the doctor is done.”

“I can still go out there, can’t I?”

“Go ahead. I can’t guarantee what type of reception you’ll receive.”

The man left the house and entered the waiting room of the small hospital. A red light above the door to the operating room was lit and half a dozen cats were staring at it. One cat, assumed to be Fagan, was pacing the floor nervously.

When the American approached the door, the cats hissed at him and looked like they were ready to dig their claws into him. He backed off. After the light went off, the door opened and the doctor who looked like a Monty Python character entered the waiting room. He stripped off his gloves and tossed them into a hamper. He picked up Fagan and seemed to be able to speak with the tomcat. He stroked him behind the ears and placed him on the floor again.

The doctor turned to the writer and asked, “Am I expecting you?”

Richard stretched out his hand to shake that of the doctor and said, “I’m Richard Mann. I want to find out about Puss-In-Boots.” “Did the Society send you to check me out?” he asked resentfully.

“They don’t even know I’m here. They probably think I’m taking in the tourist spots.”

“I bet they want you to judge their silly little costume affair. Is that right?”

“Yes. But...“

“And you think I’ll subject my pussies to such nonsense?”

“Not at all. I just want to hear your side of the Puss-In-Boots saga. Did your ancestor have the cat we know as Puss-In-Boots?”

“I am as sure of that as I am that I just delivered six kittens to Clara. Mother and babies are doing just fine. The father has even suggested three names while we were communicating; Hev, Sule, and Cha. Oh, that’s right. You don’t understand cat. In our language they’re Harvey, Susan, and Chance. When they get older they’ll answer to both names. Let’s go into the house where I can introduce you to the direct descendant of the legendary Puss-In-Boots.”

“I bet he was the one playing the keyboard.”

“That is correct, sir. He can also write by using a paw glove he invented and read minds just like his famous ancestor could. I can let you read some of my manuscript concerning Jur... I mean Julius. He may not make children forget about Harry Potter. But his story and that of his ancestors would fascinate lovers of pussies around the world.”

The pair entered the house where Julius, also known as Jur, was playing along with a recording of a Bach violin concerto. The violin track was removed and the remarkable cat was playing the keyboard in its place.

While the cat was allowed to play, the doctor removed the manuscript titled “Puss-in-Boots and Beyond” from the manuscript box. The latest entry was shown on the computer screen. Richard leafed through it and was amazed at how fantastic the cats were.

It appeared that the ones who claimed to have the original Puss-In-Boots actually had descendants of Puss-In-Boots that lived during the late 1500’s. Julius was from a long line of genius cats that started with the patriarch, Puss-In-Boots.

“Why haven’t you gone to the press with this information?”

“And become tabloid rubbish? Not on your life. You say you’re a writer. What type of material?”

“Have you ever read my book Beyond the Void ? It deals with a universe that is discovered beyond the boundary of the stellar material thrown out by the Big Bang.”

“I’m more interested in serious material like soccer scores and if the Queen’s bowels moved properly.”

“I can leave a copy of it with you. I think I’ve got a case in the trunk of the car.”

“I’m sure you do. But we have enough toilet paper as it is.”

“I guess they were right. You really can be a pain.”

“Not a bastard? That’s what a lot of them call me. I don’t quite understand why they would call me that. A twit maybe. But a bastard requires real evil on my part. I just think they’re silly.” “I’m from New York. We’re born with an extra layer of skin so we can take all the crap people throw at us.”

The daughter walked over to the table and handed Richard a DVD and a letter. She told him, “I want you to show the fools at the Society Julius in action and read to them the letter. If that doesn’t impress them, they can all go to bloody Hell.”

Richard read the letter and tears began to well up in his eyes. He rubbed his eyes and said, “This is beautiful. You better believe I’m going to read this letter. This is something the world needs to know.”

“I appreciate what you want to do for Julius and his ancestors. It will mean a lot to him and his mate Ja... Jane and their four kittens. Would you like to stay for dinner? I know it may be a bit early for you. But we like to get our meals out of the way so we’ll have more of the evening free to do things.”

“I’d like that. Thank you.”

The trio ate together and had a good conversation about various subjects. Even the cats ate with the humans and showed remarkable manners. Julius had a paw glove attached to a fork and ate his food with it. Richard stared at the amazing kitty until the doctor shook his head and told the American he was being rude.

After dinner, Richard returned to his hotel and viewed the DVD on his portable DVD player. The cat was truly amazing as he played the keyboard, wrote wearing the paw glove, ate with a fork and a spoon, and even used the computer. He held a conversation on-line with someone who never suspected he was conversing with a gray tiger kitty.

The costume party was the next afternoon. After all the contestants paraded past Richard, he presented surprise number one which was the DVD of Julius performing incredible feats. Everyone was amazed. He finished the presentation with the reading of the letter Julius had written.

“I met this cat yesterday and I feel that even though he isn’t here, he deserves some recognition along with his caretaker, Dr. Arthur Fitzsimmons.” There was a bit of an uproar in the crowd and protests. But some TV people were there covering the event and urged the people to be quiet so Richard could read the letter.

Dear humans:

My trusted friend, Dr. Arthur Fitzsimmons, cares more about cats, a race of soulless people, than for humans who have the choice of either rejecting the salvation offered by a loving Saviour who died for their sins, or plunging into a fiery abyss absent from God.

As I understand the Scriptures, I have no opportunity to share in Heaven’s glory and peace. But the transition from this life into the next is full of uncertainties for me and my people. So I could very well be destined for an eternity of bliss in fields ever green and water as clear as crystal which awaits God’s true children.

I am sure that if anyone deserves to enjoy the pleasures of Heaven, Dr. Fitzsimmons does. He may not be as devoted to the God who created him as he is to my people. But if the level of devotion for the Saviour is even half that of his devotion to my people, it could very well equal that of ministers who care for their congregations and visit members while they are in hospital.

I have witnessed the good doctor breathing life into many of my people. He has gone for days without eating when expenses have been tight in order for his daughter and my people to be able to eat. There are reports from my people that the good doctor has risked his life to spare the lives of my people when they were abused or in danger of dying during fires and natural disasters.

He has rescued my people from research laboratories when testing has endangered their lives, and he has paid the price of incarceration. He has been on the brink of destitution on many occasions, but somehow he has triumphed. I love the man and long for him to be active caring for my people for years to come.

With much love and respect, Jur (Julius)“

There was stunned silence in the room and some tears were shed. A few moments later, the president of the Puss-In-Boots Society stood and said, “That was a moving letter that supposedly Julius the cat that belongs to Dr. Fitzsimmons wrote. After watching the video presentation, I am beginning to believe the letter may be an interspecies message. I know that a mere apology is insufficient to redress the grievances the years of rejection have subjected the good doctor to.

“Tomorrow, I will petition the Queen and Parliament, if necessary to award the doctor and his practice an annual grant of no less than 100,000 pounds. We in the Society have wronged him for too long and must attempt to make amends.”

There was applause from everyone gathered in the hall; it grew to a standing ovation. The next day, an audience with the Queen was arranged for the doctor, his daughter, and Julius who was sure to astound the lady and everyone else gathered there. Cameras were going to introduce England and the rest of the world to a direct descendant of one of the most famous cats who had ever lived. It was a long overdue honor that was sure to make the doctor grin like the nearly as famous Cheshire Cat.

Copyright © 2005 by Bewildering Stories on behalf of the author

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