F is for Freddy
That’s the name of the boy in The Presidents and The Dork, Precious Mwansa’s story in Cat Tales, the anthology drawn from last year’s Book a Break short story competition. In fact he’s the dork, which isn’t the best of roles to have in a story. I sympathise. Not that I’m a dork myself, far from it. As Lord High Clawncellor of Taunton, I’m closer to the President. Or monarch in our case, which is frankly preferable to some presidents I could name but won’t because it’s best to ignore the little runt.
But I do have an inkling of dorkness because just the other day Tiberius from Greenbrook Crescent came up to me with a sneer all over his silly mug and said, ‘You know what, Smith? You’re a muggins.’ Now a muggins isn’t quite a dork but no one aspires to the status of muggins either, so I put on my best scowl and said, ‘Oh, yeah? Why’s that, then?’
‘Stuck inside all day reading. Blogging too, from what I’ve heard. Huh! Hiding away now, are you? Muggins!’
It was rather tiresome because I have a lot on my plate with the A to Z, not to mention Utopia to read, but still I couldn’t put up with any lip from Tiberius so I had to put him in his place. Namely the vet’s operating table, having his ear stitched on.
But back to Freddy. Unlike me, he isn’t one to fight his corner. He’s more inclined to withdraw. The school bus wasn’t really his thing. Maybe it was the rusty door and windows. Maybe it was the screeching noise it made when it came to a sudden halt. Though come to think of it, more likely it was the people… the other kids on the bus. ‘Freddie the dork, Freddie the loser’, they’d say. So he just stopped taking it. You know how they say you’re supposed to cut out negativity? This was something in that light. Some sort of defence mechanism. Detach himself from the world, lose himself in his own.
This is in Zambia, by the way. At least I assume it is because that’s where Precious is from. Though it’s not actually mentioned and come to think of it, there’s a reference to baseball so it could be America. I don’t know if they play baseball in Zambia. Not that it matters where it is. That’s the whole point in fact. There are Freddies all over the world.
And who, you ask, are the presidents? Abraham and Jefferson. That’s what he called them. I know what you’re thinking. Who names their cats after household names—or American greats for that matter? Two grey Siberian cats he found on his way home from school. […] He never regretted his decision. There was nothing quite like them. Well, they purred and moved and meowed like any other cats would. Nothing special in this regard. But beyond their soft fur, beyond the purring, beyond loving to be cuddled, they provided Freddie with the company he’d never managed to find amongst humans.
Poor Freddy. Things don’t quite work out the way he planned. Because Abe and Jeff – oops! No spoilers. Almost forgot! Just this bit then: I’m going out on a limb here but in my opinion, they were ready. To stare at the bright and blazing sun. To rub themselves against concrete walls. To face the soulless, murderous monster that is the universe.
I love that bit about going out on a limb, don’t you? Authorial intrusion, Curtis called it – he often comes up with ridiculous jargon like that. Me, I just like a story or not. And this one’s cool.
I’d love to go to Zambia. I don’t think there’s much chance because I don’t even get out of Taunton, to be honest. But I’d love to meet the presidents, see what they’re up to now. I’m curious to see if we’d get on. I think we would, so long as they’re not the pompous sort. Just having a fancy name doesn’t make you a fancy cat. As Tiberius well knows.
If I go to Zambia, I’ll say hi to Precious of course. She’s just passed her law degree, which means she’ll be a lawyer soon, I suppose, and that’ll keep her busy. But I hope she finds time to write. I’m going out on a limb here, but in my opinion there are plenty more cool stories to come from Precious Mwansa.
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