The Laziest Kitten
Cinnamon was a very lazy kitten. He didn’t like to do any more work than was absolutely necessary, and this meant that he spent most of his time sitting under the porch, licking his own anus, and drinking hot tea -- while reading French literature that no one else had the patience for.
“Why don’t you like to DO anything?” asked Rubella, a kitten with a particular urge to run around and chase cockroaches. Rubella was fascinated with Cinnamon and enjoyed his company, even though they were very different cats.
“I like doing lots of things,” said Cinnamon. “It’s just that thanks to mechanization and the industrial marketplace, our lives are pretty much useless. So I am going to do the things I enjoy. I don’t understand why this is a problem.”
“I LOVE catching roaches and untangling twine!” said Rubella. “It makes me feel very productive. It is thrilling.”
“Fine,” meowed Cinnamon. “That’s your thing. I am just going to sit here with this book and enjoy myself until I get hungry enough to dig in a trashcan.”
“Can I lick your anus for you?” asked Rubella, sweetly.
“No,” said Cinnamon. “I’ll get around to it.”
The other cats thought Cinnamon was a real bastard. Why didn’t he enjoy doing cat things, like working in a factory or chopping the heads off of haddock and packaging them in cellophane? Or, if he wasn’t interested in “material possessions,” why not help out starving cats in foreign countries whose economies were woefully third rate? There, all of the cats were just as lazy and unproductive as Cinnamon, but they lacked the amenities and cultural access that Cinnamon took for granted. Get off your ass, Cinnamon! Get with the fucking program!
Cinnamon ignored these other cats. What did they know about anything? Someday we’ll all be dead, thought Cinnamon. Life is meaningless and terrible, thought Cinnamon. The best we can ever hope for is a little freedom, a little peace, and a little dignity, thought Cinnamon.
One day, a dog came to town with a shiny briefcase and a curly tail. He was bright and bouncy, and he made a lot of sense to the other cats.
“My name is Tuffy, and I’ve got a plan for us all!” said the dog. “We are going to work harder than we ever have before! We will get rid of all pointless holidays, and we will make any lazy cats who don’t want to work sit in cramped little rooms with no toys and think about how unproductive they are! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! My name is Tuffy!”
The cats all looked at Cinnamon thoughtfully.
“He’s a dog!” said Cinnamon. “We shouldn’t listen to anything he says.”
The cats meowed privately to one another.
“OBVIOUSLY we shouldn’t listen to anything he says,” said Cinnamon.
The cats in hard hats and the cats in overalls narrowed their eyes at Cinnamon and took off after Tuffy. He promised results in Washington.
“You just don’t want your toys taken away,” said Rubella, licking a paw and going away with Tuffy. “You are biased.”
Cinnamon shook his head sadly.
On the news, Tuffy was making bold pronouncements. He called for the elimination of the National Day of Morning because there were too many holidays already. He called for the electronic tagging of all cats, so they would never get lost. He demanded that Cinnamon be put in a penitentiary for his subversive, unhealthy ways.
“You are just going to let them take away Morning Day?” asked Cinnamon. “Just like that?”
“We will probably still get oatmeal and crossword puzzles and novels from the Magic Morning Day Unicorn,” said Rubella nervously. “But we will also put in a 12 hour work day. For the economy.”
“But that goes against everything Morning Day stands for!” said Cinnamon.
“I don’t even believe in the Magic Morning Day Unicorn,” said Tuffy, who had come to arrest Cinnamon. “Besides, what the crap is the point of a whole holiday where you are supposed to do nothing all day long? How boring. Work is play!”
“You’ll be sorry,” said Cinnamon.
“So are you ready to go to jail, then?” asked Tuffy, taking a three-ring binder out of his shiny briefcase.
“Um…I have a job, now,” said Cinnamon.
Tuffy seemed dubious.
“Oh yeah?” he asked. “What is it?”
“I’m an artist,” said Cinnamon, smiling.
Tuffy turned pages inside his three-ring binder, and then shook his head, confused.
“What does an artist do?” asked Tuffy.
“He holds up a mirror to society,” said Cinnamon.
“Hmmmm,” said Tuffy. “Sounds like bullshit.”
“It’s not,” said Cinnamon.
“We’ll be watching you, then,” said Tuffy. “You’d better not try and celebrate Morning Day. That’s how we’ll know whether or not you have a real job, or if you are just lying to get out of work.”
Many cats that weren’t as clever as Cinnamon were hauled off to prison for refusing to participate in Tuffy’s new plan. Cinnamon felt sorry for these cats, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. He fretted and fretted about Morning Day. Cinnamon DID believe in the Magic Morning Day Unicorn. He believed with all his heart.
That year, October 1st came along faster than it ever had before. All of the other cats in the world were working so hard that they barely even noticed, or bothered to mark it on their calendars. The cats that had been taken away to jail had electrodes attached to their whiskers and were given near-lethal doses of electricity whenever they even mentioned the subject. It had become a sticking point for Tuffy’s regime, and that bright, curly-tailed dog was not about to let his well-controlled cat labor force stop their constant production of milkbones, dog houses, and spiked collars for export to the dog provinces of Europe.
On Morning Day Eve, a platoon of armed cats was sent to watch Cinnamon and to see what he would do. Rubella was with them. She wore a spandex uniform with tiger stripes all down the back. She didn’t have time to unwind string or chase cockroaches anymore. Now she spent all of her time chasing subversives and unwinding the entrails of malcontents.
Cinnamon observed the armed guards sadly and offered them a cup of hot tea. They were not interested. Silently, to himself, he said a prayer to the Magic Morning Day Unicorn:
Way up in the clouds
The day never starts
When you come around
You bring us fine oatmeal,
And nice things to read,
You help us love morning
And all of its needs
I won’t lift a paw
I’ll sit and do nothing
As if it were law
When morning day comes,
We will dance pas-de-deux,
When morning day ends,
I will bid you adieu,
I love you.
So show no mercy to our greedy freedom-hating overlords and please kill all of my enemies. Amen.”
The guards fell asleep watching Cinnamon paint a picture of an abstract church being rent in two by a lightning bolt from on high. When morning came, they found him doing something very different. Nobody had put any oatmeal in any of the kitten’s pots and pans, but Cinnamon believed in Morning just the same.
Cinnamon was relaxing in an easy chair while wearing his bathrobe. He was sipping tea and doing a crossword puzzle. A stack of novels was next to him, and -- balanced on top -- was a plate of muffins. He was already eating one of them, but there were many more.
“Would you like a muffin?” asked Cinnamon of his guards.
Rubella was shocked. She immediately phoned Tuffy, who arrived quickly in a Blackhawk helicopter.
“Cinnamon, you naughty cat,” said Tuffy. “You are celebrating the National Day of Morning, as if it still existed! I said that we would be watching you. Did you think you would get away with it? Now we will have to execute you on live television in order to send the rest of your troublemaking kind a harsh message about the rebellion of spirit in an age of stone. Take him away, guards!”
There was a tear in Rubella’s eye. She remembered the days when they used to laugh and cavort. Cinnamon would lick his anus, and she would scamper in the high grass.
“Oh, Magic Morning Day Unicorn! Where are you?” cried Rubella, falling suddenly to the ground. Sobbing. Retching. Tearing at her striped, spandex uniform.
Suddenly, in the sky, there was the noise of trumpets and a cascading harp. Rubella looked up as a neon rainbow hit her square in the face, nearly blinding her with its intensity. She smiled and leapt for joy.
“Holy shit!” said Tuffy.
One of the armed guards who was holding a rifle to Cinnamon’s head began to shake and shiver as if he were having a seizure. With a noise like a popping balloon, he exploded – showering Cinnamon with the finest oatmeal. The oats landed in an enormous pile, right in front of his feet. A spoon spiraled down from the clouds and landed on top, passing the surprised head of the newly discombobulated feline as it flew upward and out of sight. Tufts of skin and fur covered everything except Cinnamon, Rubella, and the glowing pile of delicious oatmeal.
”This can’t be happening,” said Tuffy, suddenly nervous. “What about all of my plans?”
“Do you hear it?” shouted Cinnamon. “The galloping?”
Rubella and Cinnamon took each others paws and watched the sky. Tuffy cowered behind his briefcase.
From behind a low cumulus -- like the rising sun -- Jentacula the Magic Morning Day Unicorn appeared, flapping her white wings, steam shooting from her nose. She was pulling a wagon filled with long, delicate novels, each one as finely crafted as it was meaningful and challenging. As she galloped across the sky, the novels flew from her wagon, landing on the head of every cat who had denied her, and crushing his skull.
“It’s the unicorn!” shrieked Rubella. “Oh, I’m so ASHAMED.”
“Don’t be,” said Cinnamon. “You have made amends.”
Jentacula landed near the two kittens and the whimpering dog. She was very tall and very wise-looking. Despite the fire in her eyes, she had a special smile for Cinnamon.
“You are a very lazy kitten,” she said.
“The laziest,” said Cinnamon.
“You believed in me when no one else did. You truly understand the spirit of Morning Day. You understand nothing, you believe in nothing, and you do nothing. Any other cat with such a bleak outlook would hang himself, but not you. You remain perversely optimistic. Life for you is one big Morning, and it never becomes afternoon in your special, kitten world,” she said.
“All cats will make sure to be lazy from now on,” said Cinnamon. "Would you like a cup of hot tea?"
“I can’t stay long,” said Jentacula. “I have to set the world right again. I thought there was no place for Morning Day anymore, but I was inspired by your bravery, Cinnamon. Now it will be the greatest Morning Day of all time! Actually…would you like to come with me?”
Rubella and Cinnamon looked at each other and then nodded happily. She lowered herself to the ground and the two kittens climbed on.
“But first, we’ve got to deal with this damned dog,” said Jentacula, pawing the ground and turning on the pooch. His tail wasn’t so curly anymore. In fact, he’d shit himself.
“I didn’t know!” said Tuffy. “It didn’t seem very plausible, did it? I mean, a fucking unicorn?”
Jentacula lowered her horn and gored him right in the chest. Blood plumed out in a magic neon rainbow, and Cinnamon and Rubella clapped to see such colorful delight. Jentacula stepped backward out of the way of the blood as Tuffy’s doggy heart pumped, pumped, pumped, and stopped. With a mighty HALLLOOOOO, she took off into the air, ready to spread Morning Day to all her absurd children.
HAPPY NATIONAL DAY OF MORNING, 2005!