Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rose Berdoo: 1

”What is it?”

”Is it alive?”

”Let me see!”

A beach is never a quiet place: the water is always talking to the shore, and very often the gulls do their best to interrupt the conversation. But this particular beach at this particular time seemed very quiet indeed. Rose walked closer to the sodden pile of sweater and sand-tangled hair.

“Stay back, boys! You don’t want to be too near if it is something dead–we all know what sort of nasties dead edibles attract.”

The dog, with fur of about the same color and consistency as the dirty sweater, turned toward their companions and barked out, “Aw, you heard the captain! Stand back, now!” Whether because of the novelty of the situation or his dogly authority, the others dutifully stepped back while their brave captain continued his reconnaissance.

Rosy’s tail was stock still as he walked closer. He was determined to touch the sweater, to determine the fabric. Could it be wool?

”D’ye see that, boyos?” A stocky cat in the group pointed out, “Fur as flat and smooth as a horsehide in August.”

The captain’s fur was flat but when the sand-tangled hair moved, Rosy jumped straight back as if attached to an invisible pull-cord. The dog and the stocky cat and the others took off like a shot down the beach. Rosy didn’t move a muscle, and the hair-covered head turned and looked him square in the eye.

”Who are you?” Rose could now see the pieces fallen into place as a small human. The others had stopped their panicked flight and were watching from far down the beach. Rosy sat down as the small human asked again, “Who are you? Where am I?”

He sat down on all fours, watching the small human with both eyes. “You’re on a beach. My crew and I found you lying there.”

”It’s cold.” The small human was clutching its knees to its chest, its hands drawn up into the sleeves of the shapeless grey sweater.

Rosy stood up. “Ah. Your clothes are wet, yes? If I may...” He moved closer. The small human was wearing sneakers and pink jeans and, yes, now that he was closer he could catch the delightful smell of wool hiding underneath the strong scent of the ocean permeating the wet clothes. He politely sniffed the toe of the nearest sneaker. “I wouldn’t mind if you were to follow me back to my vessel and change into something dry and warm.”

The small human took just a moment, then stood up. Even a small human is very tall to a cat, even a captain of cats, and Rose moved a few paces back. Seeing that he had the attention of the small human, he turned and began loping away from the water, his tail high in the air. A quick glance over his shoulder showed him the small human stumbling after him, and his far-off crew following behind.

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