Written by Mokihana Calizar
Please enjoy the tale for your own pleasure,
but do not reprint it or copy it for any other purpose without permission from the author.
The grand dame of the Wood and her royal fairy friend watched as Pat Nicely and his long time friend finally positioned the golden wagon into place. It was not an easy project, but given the duration of the process of building the wee home, this part of the journey was time most welcome. Pat Nicely and his mate Lokea Bird were in for the time of their lives. The Creators’ salt shaker had loosened the braid of these old people’s lives, and with The Ledge as their new home all that was in need of it, would certainly fall away. Compared to the gabled mansions that rose from the clearings throughout the Wood, Pat Nicely and Lokea Bird’s golden wagon on two wheels could fit easily into a single mansion’s bedroom. Once the wagon wheels were braced and anchored with stout steel pegs and the rear corners balanced upon broad fir stumps, the humans congregated inside the big house across the driveway for a celebratory feast and general merry-making. The Family lived in the big house and included Anna Paint, her mate Joshua Tree and their familiar Jane E. a charming middle-aged chiz-shu who had lost the use of her left eye to a matronly cat named Melissa who had scant tolerance for curious adolescent canine. Melissa had long since passed, and Jane E. is now unquestionably in charge of the household.
“T.F.” Traveling Frog hadn’t noticed his side-kick Calliope Salamander lying on the moist leaves at Tutu’s root croppings. Few among the clan would be so familiar with the regal leader of the Gypsies, but Calliope and Traveling Frog go way back. “Calliope! We have family come to be with us, family of the Other-side and what a beauty they have brought to add to our encampment.” “T.F. what say we get a closer look?” It was really not a question, the slippery one was on the front porch of Pat and Lokea’s vardo before Traveling Frog could shimmy the length of trunk to the ground below. Fortunately for both tiny folk, Pat Nicely and Lokea Bird’s familiar, a sleek young black panther of a cat, Jo was safely housed in her traveling carrier. “Visitors?” Jo asked. Seeing the predator safely locked behind the barred door, Calliope bravely answered. “Pardon me for the correction madame, but I believe it would be you who is visitor for we … Lord Traveling Frog of the Gypsy Fairy Clan and I, Calliope Salamander trace our being here on the Pond of Ever, to a time beyond your memory.” Jo’s golden eyes looked unblinkingly at what she would under normal circumstances consider lunch, or at least, toys. But Jo was also a cat of many lives on the Great Planet with standards and protocol well preserved. “I am honored,” the miniature panther purred, “It is obviously I who is the visitor and from the scents that fill my nostrils I am no longer in the city woods of my origin. There are scents that touch unfamiliar images within me. I suspect I could just as easily be lunch, as predator in your Wood.” Traveling Frog had known many feline in his long life, and had mourned the loss of close friends and kin to the unthinking instinct of cats. Though his kin would lose life or limb to a cat’s attack, the feline would be left with a very bad case of disorientation at the very least and at worst, death if the tiny but potent poison glands were crushed in the pursuit. “You know us by name dark panther, what is the name your people call you?” “My name is Jo, short for Josephine.” Traveling Frog was a stickler for formality and also loved the sound of the name “Josephine.” “If it’s all the same to you I will call you Josephine when we meet new friend, and give you my oath, you will be friend to our clan here on The Ledge.”
Jo knew by the garb of her tiny ‘friend’ he was indeed something special. Perhaps it was the velvet purple cape that covered his green mottled skin, or the iridescent violet crown, more likely though it was the gossamer wings that glistened like stars that ensured Jo’s loyalty. “Thank you Traveling Frog, and if it’s all the same to you I will call you ‘Lord’ whenever we chance to meet. Does that suit you?” Calliope would have blushed with embarrassment if a salamander was capable of blushing. The salamander’s bright orange skin would have concealed any emotion approaching embarrassment, and the truth of it? Calliope Salamander could not be embarrassed. As unlikely an occasion he could never have imagined though. But then, The Ledge was a place of complete unlikelihood …