A Green Island Tale
This is a story that takes place on a wold of virtual pets. Any resemblence to any copyrighted world and to any one in real life is strictly conicidence and your imagination.
This story has a few instances of rather ugly profanity, but aside from that is suitible for all ages. Neopets serves as the story's inspiration, but it is completely free of all Neopian indica.
Chapter 1 -- Old Man on an Island
It is said that without the clubs, no pet in the World of Pets would survive and keep her sanity, and perhaps it is true, but what of a pet who must switch associations because her owner has morphed her? Shanti is lucky she has a kind and understanding brother Ephraim, a sphenis and a dreamer of dreams. Ephraim has had his share of being "transformed." He says that in another life time he was human, and that in another life time the owner was human too, before she turned to avarice, first to buy minipets, then to turn every member of her household a special color, and now to build a mansion near the golf course. There were no books for any of them to read, no piano for Ephraim who says he can play piano, no time to enter the weekly beauty and talent contest. Of course the owner still takes the pets to the shelter for their moral edification, but Rosalita, the oldest, would go there anyway to read to young members of her species. Rosalita is a female sauro, strong, level headed, and practical. It was always Shanti who was the emotional one.
Shanti was born an alien. She was small and helpless with chalk white skin and red eyes and large hands and feet. She was sick the first few days of her life because her owner gambled. The owner repented and avoided all games of chance. These were in the days before the owner became avaricious. Shanti, to tell the truth, remembered nothing of the space station where she had been born. She was a child of gardens anda the gritty streets of Central City and of any book she could read.
Shanti always attended to the lessons her owner gave, and soon became among the most learned of her species. She was the third pet in the household to receive a new color except that the owner found it cheaper to morph her. "Look," the owner said. "Phocae are far more rare than aliens, and a ruby phoca is the rarest of all." So Shanti had swallowed the potion in the bathroom. Well she remembered the bitter taste and losing her fingers and toes and collar bone. She now had a bigger heart and lungs. Her legs were fused into a tail that was powerful for swimming which was why she was headed with Ephraim to the Harbor Club for the daily dip. Sphenis like phocae are primarily aquatic, despite cut drawings of spenis skating and despite the fact that Ephraim struggled to dance. He was what he was and so he was drawn to the water.
Shanti wiggled down a narrow alleyway and in through the side door into the changing room where sphenis were removing their bow ties. Since Ephraim was two tone purple and range, he had a special two tone bow tie. He hung it on his peg. There were many more sphenis than phocae so the phocae used the sphenis' club. Fortunately, today there was another phoca in the locker room. It was a green female named Daliah who looked mangy and ill cared for. "I need a swim," she panted.
"You'll get it soon enough," he sighed. "We should get our owner to page your owner. The Fairy Clinic treats pets for free."
"My owner is too young for contact," groaned Daliah.
"Come on slow pokes!" called out a familiar voice. It was Pinkie who was a green sphenis and the club's defacto leader. "Everybody is in the water."
The two phocae and Ephraim headed out the big back doors, down the slippery ramp and out into the canal. The waters were dark but calm and sphenis and phocae were rolicking about in them. There was one other phoca in the water besides Shanti and Daliah, Flor, a male who was busy practicing his diving. The only good thing about being a phoca other than the ruby red coat was the diving. Shanti could stay below the surface an amazing amount of time and dive deep and long without popping her ears. Sphenis were the fastest swimmers, but it was the phocae who were the best divers. Even the fish species, could not equal an ambitious phoca's dives. Unfortunately, Daliah just wanted to swim easy laps and when Pink announced it was time to swim out into the sea, she was all too happy to follow.
"These ocean runs stink!" groaned Flor. "We always go to the same place."
"We have to stay out of the harbor," explained a sphenis named Edwerd.
"We could cut around the boats," protested Flor.
"He has a point," added Reaper, a yellow sphenis with an owner who was also too young to communicate. This had to do with something on the outside called COPPA. Reaper did not understand it.
"I don't run this club. I've only been a phoca for a month," she added.
"Yes, you used to swim on the moon," grumbles Flor.
"That was the smartest alien and that is now the smartest phoca," Ephraim reminded Flor.
"Flor is right about the ocean runs though" said Shanti. " We always swim to the end of the canal and then turn left up the Medevalia One and Two coast and then come home. We never go toward the harbor or even south."
"There's nothing I can do about it," Ephraim answered.
"Why don't we just swim where we want and the heck with what Pink says," Flor asaks.
Ephraim does not have an answer. "As long as we stay clear of the boats," he says at long last.
"Fine when we reach the sea, set a course southwest. That should keep us away from the boats and give us some new territory. OK, who's coming with us!"
"I'll come!" Flor cries enthusiastically. "Me too!" shouts Reaper and two or three other young sphenis.
"If you go I won't be responsible for what happens," complains Pink.
"You were never responsible for anything old bird!" Flor yells back.
A few minutes later the sphenis and phocae hit the ocean and Shanti pulls away from the group turning southwest at a forty five degree angle. She is glad to see that Ephraim is following her. "Woo hoo!" calls out Reaper. Reaper, Flor, Ephraim, and Shanti swim for a long time. They go nowhere near the harbor but instead out into the wide ocean, but the ocean does not get wide or not as wide as Shanti who has studied the map would have believed.
That is why Shanti is not surprised when the four adventurous swimmers encounter land. It is an island, green as the grass of Shanti's dreams, with trees that have tiny green leaves and golden brown trunks and bamboo standing in thick golden and emerald stands and blue green conifers. There is even a small sandy beach on the island's other side. There are no amusement rides, pirate ships, stores, and only one human he stands at the edge of the beach saying something under his breath that Shanti can not understand. He is also the funniest looking human Shanti has ever seen. His skin is wrinkled and spotted with age. He has nearly no hair on his head and he squints as if he has difficulty seeing.
"I think that is an old male human," says Shanti.
"Owners don't get old," answers Flor.
"Maybe it's not an owner. Maybe it's a grandpa. My owner has a grandpa and he is old." Reaper explains.
"You talk," says the old male human.
"Of course we do," answers Shanti.
"But seals don't talk!" the old human answers.
"This is the World of Pets. We all talk," replies Ephraim who introduces himself.
"That is a Hebrew name," says the old human.
"My owner gave it to me. I used to have another name but that was an insult."
"Oh and what were you called?"
"Twatlicker," Ephraim speaks his old name as the other pets gasp. Fortunately, no one throws pets out for speaking their minds, but humans even old male humans are another story.
The old male human doesn't laugh or get upset. He merely gasps as if he has been struck. " Do you know how I can get back home?" he asks.
"If you can swim, you can come back with us back to the main land. There is a bridge there that humans cross to go back to the outside world."
"I don't swim that well," the old male human complains.
"We'll have to think of something then," answers Shanti.
Chapter 2 -- Shechianu
Rabbi Laivi Applebaum stared out over the unfamiliar green grey sea. The night sky was faintly tinted green or maybe it was his old eyes playing tricks on him. All he knew was that the moon was definitely different. He supposed he should say shechianu on it; for he had never seen a moon before. It was not just a deep gold but it was pock marked with huge dark green and black spots, a spotted mottled moon. There was also one very incredibly bright star in the sky.
Rabi Applebaum sat down on the sand. His head did not ache so much as spin. "What was hapepning to him?" he wondered. He had been unable to sleep because his feet hurt. He had walked downstairs to catch some air and he had opened the sliding back door of the parsonage and found....himself on this island. Now he could not find the back door to his house or even his own back yard. There was no sound of cars in the nearby street or even on Hilton Ave., the nearest main road.
Then the talking anlimals had come. They were not just talking animals brightly colored talking animals. The female seal had been deep red and lime green and one of the penguins had been half purple and orange. The other penguin had been yellow and the other seal light blue. Rabbi Applebaum wanted to pray but what does one pray for? Deliverance from this insanity he supposed except it was really quite calm and pretty. He was not even hungry; for he was an old man of refined appetites. Well at his age, he had better be. He decided that this must be a dream and if he lay down to sleep he would awaken in the warm sheets of his own bed with the rebbitzen beside him.
He stretched out on the sand. He hoped and prayed no animals would wake him. And for a while...none did.
The Bottomless Bucket was where all the sauro2 had their club. The sauro1's club was called the Trough. Sauro1 walked about on four feet and had spines and tiny wings on their backs. They had round faces that could have the meanest or alternatively the gentlest expressions. Sauro one walked on two feet and had prominent paunches and large smooth tales. Sauro2 could give tooth smile. Rosailta was a sauro2. She had started life red but been painted brown righ before Rosh HaShannah, though her owner had told her that Rosh Ha'Shannah, the Jewish new year was a secret. Mention of things religious on the World of Pets could have an owner thrown out. If Rosalita lost her owner, she knew she would die. Rosalita was one of very few female sauro2s. There were some female sauro1s but not that many, but only one out of maybe thirty or forty sauro2s were female and many of those had been turned female by the zap, an expensive tool that greedy human owners bought. Rosalita had come in to the World of Pets a female.
"Hey!" called out DinoFang, a big red sauro2, "How's the supermarket warehouse tonight. You still working up in the office?"
"They were short staffed so I was down on the floor teaching the younglings to stack pallates. They had a volpine supervisor who kept giving me dirty looks...." Rosalita sighed. "What's for dinner?" she enquired.
"Wheatena! Chicken and noodles, and grapefruits!" called out Babelicious, another red sauro.
"Wheatena, smells delicious. Working on the floor makes me hungry!" complained Rosalita. She rubbed her tummy in anticipation and took her place in line. Two more sauro2s pulled in behind her. There was a young yellow and a somewhat older, larger blue. They said they came out of the rail yards and had been riding the rails to the Space Base all evening. They did it for fun. That meant their owners were away. It also meant they were hungry but they knew the rules. Wait in line and you'll be served. Wait in line or else.
"Hey," called out the little yellow whose name was FGFGHJK, "We're having sphenis drumbsticks tonight. Can I keep his bow tie?"
"Kid you've got a sick sense of humor," answered Rosalita.
"Shit!" groaned the big blue grarrl whose name was TRex. "The poor yellow sphenis is shaking."
"That's my sister," said an authoritative voice belonging to a phoca with ruby red fur and lime green jowels. "Sauro2 don't hurt any body. They work harder than everybody."
"Shanti," called out Rosalita. "Do you realize this is dinner time. I just got off second shift."
"It's an emergency sister," Shanti pleaded.
"What happened?" asks Rosalita.
"There's an old man stranded on the island that is out beyond the harbor. It's a deserted island. I suggested the old man swim back, but he doesn't know how to swim and he's really too old."
"You want me to skip dinner to rescue an old man from an island. Why didn't you carry him on your back. You're a much better swimmer than I am."
"My fur is slippery," answers Shanti "And Ephraim is too small. We need a boat?"
"And does it look like any one here has a boat?" asked DinoFang, a big red sauro.
"You could build one out of those pallets you have at work," suggests Shanti.
"I don't know anything about carpentry," answers Rosalita. "Does any one here know how to make a boat big enough for an old man to row or sail?" The sauro2s look at eachother.
"I have another idea," suggests Rosalita. "We have another sister do we not?"
"Yeah we do and she is blessed and lucky, but you're older and smarter," adds Shanti.
"Ephraim is the oldest of all," answers Rosalita. "Anyway Bballfan has connections. She's at the Ambassador's Club in the Harbor. She gets invited there. There are boats and yachts. If we could take one of those."
"You mean ask for one?" says Ephraim.
"I mean take. It's an emergency. We're saving a life. We'll even bring the boat back."
"You mean like pirates?" says Reaper, the sphenis.
"Yes, except we bring the boat back when we're done, and we don't mess it up." adds Rosalita.
"Who wants to come with us!" calls out Shanti.
The sauro2s look at one another. "There's a big buffet at the Ambassador's Club. We can get dinner to go there," Rosalita announces and the prospect of not skipping dinner and having a fine adventure seals the deal.
"Gentlemen!" announces DinoFang. "Shall we be off."
The Ambassador's Club is even ritzier than Phi Petta Kappa to which Rosalita and her three siblings belong. It is located on Harbor street in a big low building with a four sided roof and double doors and golden light shining through lovely frosted glass windows so curious pets can't look inside. Humans who are high ranking staff and their guests and certain selected pets are entertained there. Bballfan gets to go to the Ambassador's Club because she is a seventeenth degree pure white ungu4. Ungu4 are limited edition pets that look like rhinosceri with manes. There are not all that many ungu4s, and there are probably only a handful of seventeenth degree pure white ones who are also members of Phi Petta Kappa. The high ranking humans like to entertain others of their own kind and they like the successful feel of being surrounded by high ranking and very special pets. Shanti, Rosalita, and Ephraim, though very special are not considered special enough for invitations to the Ambassador's Club.
The spotty mottled moon shines down on the Amabassador's Club as two hundred some odd sauro2's and a handful of sphenis and phocae advance on the entrance. A human guard blinks. He has never seen an army of sauro2's and marching en masse they are formidable.
They also sound formidable as their big sauro voices boom out:
The guard pulls some kind of device out of his pocket and starts pressing buttons one handed. "Put that down mister and you won't be hurt," says Rosalita. "Just open the door quietly and let my friends inside."
The guard pulls open the door and in walk all the sauro2s with Ephraim, Flor, Reaper, and Shanti. "Sing our Song!" calls out Rosalita and the chorus begins again. "Oh here we march on our two feet. We need a treat. We like to eat...." Humans, sweet smelling perfumed humans, men in black jackets that look like the ones Ephraim remembers from another life and white shirts that glow and black bow ties and women in off the shoulder gowns stand amused and smiling.
"So these are the sauros!" exclaims a skinny beareded human in a tight black coat, white shirt, and black bow tie. "We should use them in one of our plots. I had no idea they sung so beautifully."
The song ends and the men and ladies clap. Rosalita glances around for her blessed sister Bballfan and finds the ungu4 tending bar. There is something humiliating about a pure white seventeenth degree ungu4 tending bar. "What are you doing here?" asks Bballfan to Rosalita. "We're here to borrow a boat. There's a human stranded on the island on the other side of the harbor. Shanti found him when she went swimming tonight. We need to rescue him so he can go home."
"I don't have a boat!" exclaims Bballfan.
"Of course you don't," answers Shanti, "but you know people who have boats."
Bballfan rolls her pretty violet eyes. She rubs her horn with her hoof. When will she be able to explain to her two younger sisters who are really her older sister that no human should be trusted, not an owner, not a staff member, none.
"What about that man who liked our singing?" asks Rosalita.
"I think they flew him in from New York," says BballFan. "That's very far away."
BballFan is right. Their owner comes from Georgia but was born in New York and it is very far away. She has told stories about it.
"I'm going to ask him anyway unless you can do a better job?" Rosalita declares.
"Go for it," says Bballfan. "We pets are just part of the scenery here."
"Scenery doesn't sing," answers Rosalita who strides off to find the skinny male human with the beard and gold glasses. He is standing by the piano where Ephraim is toying with the keys playing one of the songs he remembers from when he was human. He really can play the piano. The greedy and avaricious owner really does need to buy a piano.
"May we borrow your yacht or can you give some of my friends a ride in it, please?" Rosalita asks the skinny bearded human. "Ephraim will play piano for you all night, and I can sing with him. I know Take Me out to the Ball Game and Lady is a Tramp and lots of other songs."
"Do you want my business card?" the skinny man asks.
"No I need your help. I mean your card would be nice too. One of our friends is stranded on the island not far from here. He can't swim and he needs a boat to take him back to the mainland so he can go home. I think he's an owner." adds Rosalita. If sauro2s could sweat she would be sweating right now.
"I don't have a boat," answers skinny. He purses his lips.
"How do you know you're not lying!" snarls DinoFang. Ephraim pounds the piano keys in disgust.
"Because he came from New York on a plane," answers Shanti. "A boat would be too big to pack in a suitcase to take on a plane."
DinoFang blinks and the skinny man turns around. "I may know someone with a boat," he says. "Just wait right here." Rosalita watches as the skinny man disappears into the crowd. The sauros have crowded around the buffet and the kitchen staff are putting out more hors d'oerves and main course. Rosalita feels her own stomach rumble though now the show is watching how much those truely voracious sauro2's eat. They have gone from being serious singers to clowns and don't even know it. "Easy," says Shanti. "Remember, I used to be an alien and people always thought I was dumb. They did not even notice my Phi Petta Kappa key."
Just then skinny comes back with a woman who has very very long sand colored hair and pale blue eyes and large round breasts shoved into a blue brocaded gown. "Melissa is going to take you out on her boat," explains skinny. "You won't be coming with us?" asks Shanti. "Of course I will. Melissa is a friend of mine," Skinny adds.
Shanti, Rosalita, and Ephraim, follow Skinny and Melissa through the kitchen and then out a small hallway to a loading dock that juts out over regular docks that stick out into the water. Melissa's yacht is tied to the far end of the leftmost pier. Ephraim, Shanti, and Rosalita climb on board. Skinny sits up front with Melissa as she starts the boat and it drifts out into the bay. Shanti comes up front to give diretions. The sea is black flecked with the golden light of SpottyMottel, the moon. To swim in that sea would truley be to swim in the moon, thinks Shanti as the island draws close.
Melissa has to park the boat in the shallows and the three pets and skinny who has removed his fancy shoes and rolled up his black pant legs wade ashore. The sleeping old man is just a shadow. He is barely breathing. "Wake up!" Shanti calls to him. "We're going to rescue you!"
Rabbi Laivi Applebaum opens his eyes. A brown two legged reptilian monster has joined the burgundy and lime seal and her purple and orange penugin companion. "Oi vei!" he groans. "That's the boat out in the water!" shouts Rosalita. "We went through a lot of trouble to get it for you. Come on. You don't want to stay on the island forever!" Rabbi Applebaum sits up and then scrambles to his feet and walks across the cold midnight sand except the moon has not turned white and its light is golden despite its spots and mottles. Why is the moon so spotted and mottled tonight he wonders. The ocean waters are cold. He is glad he will not have to swim to shore. He is also glad to see human faces, a young man with a black beard and a woman with long sandy hair and a big sweet motherly smile. Rabbi Applebaum feels relieved. From inside his pocket, the skinny man gives Rabbi Applebaum one of his business cards. "Are you Jewish?" Rabbi Applebaum asks the skinny man. "I'm not observant," answers the skinny man. Then Rabbi Applebaum tells about who he is and where he lives and what he does for a living.
Reaper, the sphenis, asks if he is a grandpa and Rabbi Applebaum says that he is not, but he is a great uncle instead. Then Reaper asks how Rabbi Applebaum can be so old. Rabbi Applebaum says he was born in 1920. Reaper does not know how to do the math but that was a long time ago. Shanti does the math and wonders how long humans live. Do they live longer than pets? Can they have more than one life like Ephraim.
All too soon the boat returns to the pier behind the Ambassador's Club. Melissa take Rabbi Applebaum aside and says " You have to be very careful after you get home. You got pulled in to this world as a nonowner and whatever it is inside you that pulled you here once may do it again. You need to put this world out of your mind and pretend you never were here. This is a fun world for children and adults to relax. That it might frighten someone of your generation is understandable. Just forget about it. That is the surest way not to come back and have to be rescued."
Shanti, Rosalita, Ephraim, Repaer, and Flor all walk Rabbi Applebaum to the bridge where humans who are owners enter and leave. They watch teh old man in his underware with hs stooped and balding head leave into the night. "Do you think he'll come back?" asks Shanti. "You heard what that lady, Melissa, said" answers Rosalita. "This is a hard place to forget," answeres Shanti. "I would not want to be forgotten."
"It's not what you want," interrupts Ephraim. "It's what's good for the old man as an old man."
"People don't always do what is good for them," says Shanti.
The Armada and More
It is not second shift yet but there has been time for Rosalita to have enough sleep which is why she and half a dozen other sauro2's are digging palettes out of the back of the grocery warehouse. The two humans who manage the warehouse sit on folding chairs watching the show in the vacant lot behind the parking lot in the back of the warehouse. One smokes a cigarette. He is the generous one. He has given the sauros nails and bolts and hammers and other tools.
"This is a brown print," explains Chomper, a large green sauro who is battle scarred. My owner explained how to put a boat together so it doesn't sink. "My owner says we need sails!" complains a small blue sauro2 named Dragon. "Do you know how to sail a boat?" Rosalita asks. "My owner told me," Dragon answers. "He can't talk to other owners so he talks to his pets." Rosalita thinks about this. She thinks about all the things her owner tells the four of them and their minipets as well.
"Rosalita," orders Chomper. "Go ask the warehouse humans for a tape measure. The boats won't come out right unless they are measured." Boats, thinks Rosalita. Well they do have enough palettes for a fleet. The female warehouse human complies when Rosalita asks. They know each other from up in the office. "Just see no one eats it," she complains. She folds her arms and watches the boat building.
The idea had been DinoFang's. Build a great fleet of boats from palettes, an armada and then row out to the island and then take it over. With Dragon's owner's help they would be sailing instead of rowing. The deserted island would be a special place for sauro2s and maybe sauro1s. Of course, if the phocae and sphenis swam out there, there would not be much the sauros could or would do about it. DinoFang had promised. Phocae were so rare they didn't figure in any one's mind. The owner had been right there, thinks Rosalita and as for sphenis. Most families that had sphenis in them did not have sauros and vice versa. The owner who was an adult female in her forties, was an exception to nearly every rule in the book. Rosalita liked the idea of the island belonging to sauros and the less popular/populous pets in general. "Hold it steady Rosie," said Chomper as he sawed through part of a palle to make it the right shape.
Rosalita had to go inside before the boats were finished. She did work second shift and today she was up in the office dealing with invoices, outvoices, and other paperwork that involved food. "You're all going to get in trouble with senior staff," groaned the female warehouse human. She was about the owner's age and like most lower level staff, not happy to have a job in the World of Pets. "This island business will come to no good," she complained. "The world is ours," answers Rosalita.
The police raid the railroad yard after it has grown dark. Shanti can see them from the windows of the office in the disptach tower where she helps route trains and handle paper work. What other work would a literate and well schooled alien who is now a phoca do? Shanti thinks of all the sauros who ride the rails along with the aliens. The aliens make her the saddest; for they tend to become tongue tied when brought before authority. They are born helpless and often not even named and desparately in need of schooling which their owners fail to provide. These are the times that Shanti wishes she were still an alien. She is sure the raid has netted some of her own former kind.
Shanti watches the security forces load the delinquent pets into a big paddy wagon. Those with owners will go home to their owners with warnings. Those without owners will end up in the shelter. Shanti remembers trips to the shelter to read to the little aliens. Sometimes Rosalita goes with her to read to the sauros and to eat the stale bagels that keep the sauros full and happy.
Inside the pound, the pets sit at tablesgrouped roughly by species as they go to their clubs in the World of Pets. Sphenis and Phocae have one table, rare species and painted pets another, and sauros a table of their own. The aliens sit on the grass or lie on blankets. They always are the saddest, shell shocked, wounded and without the training to appreciate the good things the World of Pets has to offer.
"Come on Shanti, quit day dreaming." calls out a ungu3 who is the overseer. He put up with her when she was an alien and phocae are off everyone's map. "I need to make a phone call," Shanti says and leaves her stool to pick up the phone which lies on the counter. "Bottomless Bowl, Babelicious speaking?" says a big sauro2 voice at the other end of the line. Shanti explains about the raid. "Thankyou," answers Babelicious. "Say, you're Rosalita's sister aren't you?" "How'd you guess?" "She speaks highly of you. Our armada sails after second shift, want to help guide it to the island?" Babelicious sounds excited. "Sure thing if we visit the shelter first," answers Shanti. "I think they took a lot of sauros in the raid." Babelicious' voice drops to a sad growl. "Stupid humans! Why?" he asks. Shanti wishes she had an answer.
Then Shanti phones the apartment. Ephraim, the bicolored sphenis, and her brother who is both older and younger is probably just getting up now. Lucky him. Shanti gets Ephraim on the line and tells him about the mission of guiding the sauro armada. Ephraim giggles into the receiver. "But we are going to the shelter first," explains Shanti. "The sauros have business there."
At Congregation Zvi David, in the state of Georgia in the World of Humans Rabbi Laivi Applebaum gives his sermon. "We have to choose what is important and not trivial. We have to choose adult pass times, not childish pursuits. Now in this country there are thousands if not millions of people who are addicted, ad-ict-ed, to the World of Pets. What do they do, play with silly little computer animals, and this enterprise is SO SUCCESSFUL it is turning a profit. It is also employing young men and women who could really be doing something productive in the world and it is taking away the attention of our children from beneficial pursuits such as study and learning.
"Well, in our beautiful tradition, one of our gifts is that we know what to value. We are not like the pagans of the Near East or like untutored children. We are good productive parents. We are knoweldgeable adults. We know how to avoid the snares of useless pass times...."
The owner shifts nervously on her seat. She wonders if it is time to go visit the synagogue's man of all work, Jonathan, and have a talk in the kitchen, or maybe she needs to use the bathroom. Judaism and the World of Pets are usually compatible if one keeps one's mouth shut to other owners about one's faith and heritage. If one doesn't one can risk losing one's account. Those are the rules of the World. Violate them at your own risk.
"And so we start to do right by our children and by ourselves. We do not waste our time; for our beautiful tradition values time above all else. And we encourage others to do the same..."
The owner slowly stands up and clutches the bottom of her sweater. She pulls it up over her head. Beneath it is a t-shirt with a picture of Rosalita, her beloved sauro2, on it. She won't have to disrupt the rabbi's sermon. Sometimes actions speak a lot louder than words and certainly a lot louder than the cowardice of fleeing to the kitchen or bathroom.
Several heads turn. Rabbi Applebaum stares at the owner. "You would play at the Worlld of Pets," he sneers. The owner can see Rabbi Applebaum's face flush red. She has derailed his train of thought. She sits down again. Rabbi Applebaum does what he can to finish up the sermon. The owner thinks that one of the prominent ladies in the schul will yell at her for her display, but at the oneg table the women only stand in knots with their husbands and friends and talk jobs, business, anything but the sermon. One young man comes up to the owner and speaks of how his kid sometimes plays at the World of Pets, but doesn't yet have a t-shirt. "I guess you're pretty involved," he says. The owner nods. "The rabbi is right about it being addictive," she answers.
Ch. 4 Taking Care of Business
The Shelter for ownerless pets in the World of Pets is a great building like a fortress built of wheat colored stucco and orange tile and plenty of glass, but the glass is mainly on the inside. Outside are walls like ramparts and even towers though the towers are faux. Humans coming in the big wooden doors either head down the right hallway to abandon an unwanted pet or down the left hallway to view the pets in need of new homes. Down the left hallway is a great plexiglass picture window. Behind this window is a platform on to which three pets climb. Then three more pets, and then so on. Owners sometimes bring their pets to view the show as a means of moral edification. This makes docents out of the pets.
What you ask is a docent? Well the Shelter has a back entrance as well. It is an entrance and an exit and pets never leave feet first. This is a no-kill Shelter. There are plenty of young owners, often those who can not communicate with other owners who are charitable. Though it is cheaper to create a new pet, the calculations of the heart often take precedence over the calculations of the pocket book. The docent door is not for owners or even for pets imprisoned in the Shelter. It is for pets who come to volunteer to help those of their own species. Rosalita, Shanti, Ephraim and half a dozen sauro2's and Reaper who is being very brave tonight, let themselves in through the docent door. A happy Shelter employee informs Rosalita that the next load of stale bagels will not arrive for half an hour. Rosalita wonders what a fresh bagel would taste like. The only ones served in the Shelter are stale and it is the sauros both ones and twos who eat them with their sharp teeth. The bagels come in big boxes and several flavors.
Rosalita saunters over to the sauro table. Among the sauro2s she sees FGFGHJK, the small yellow sauro who was riding the rails. He looks as djected as a practically minded sauro can. "What happened?" Rosalita asks though she all ready suspects. "My owner's sister took over the account. She took his place. She didn't like sauros so she dumped me and got a radix. What do I do now?" Rosalita tells FGFHJK to stay calm. Another boy, an owner probably forbidden to speak with other owners, will come for him. The process usually takes no more than a night. "I wanted to go to the island," complains FGFGHJK. "You'll get to go in a few days," Rosalita consoles him.
Meanwhile Shanti has started to sing. Becoming a phoca has not changed her voice. "I don't feel no ways tired. I've come too far to turn back now. No one ever told me, that the road would be easy. I can't believe He brought me this far, just to leave me." Rosalita takes up the round after Shanti has gone a few words. "I don't feel no ways tired. I've come too far to turn back now. No one ever told me, that the road would be easy. I can't believe He brought me this far, just to leave me." It was a song their owner had taught them who had learned it from her roommate at Cornell (wherever that was. The owners told tales of that wonderful place somtimes and of Ithaca, New York which must be a wonderful town.) and had passed it on. If the owner ever sung the song in which the He refers to God they would throw her out of the World of Pets and leave Rosalita, Shanti, BballFan104_735, and Ephraim in the Shelter, if they were so lucky. Pets could sing what they want. Owners could tell pets anything.
Sitting on their blankets on the grass in the big glass covered courtyard in the middle of the shelter far from the presentation stage an the window through which the humans looked, the aliens sat and listened to the sad chorus. Sometimes singing was better than reading. "You must have a wonderful owner," sighs FGFGHJK. "She's good to us when she doesn't get too greedy or lazy," comments Shanti.
Shanti and Rosalita are sad to leave the Shelter. FGFGHJK is still there despite two trips to the presentation platform. "Wait until you see him again at the Bottomless Bucket," says Ephraim who heads off with Shanti to the Harbor Club to begin guiding the boats. Rosalita heads to the loading dock up the river. The Sauro Armada is already in the water and BigGuy, a bright red sauro1 is demanding the right to be captain as opposed to DinoFang and Sam two sauro2s who did most of the building work. After much arguing and posturing the sauros decide that BigGuy is head of all the Sauro1s as long as the Sauro1's learn to sail.
There is only a light wind tonight and the sauro armada moves slowly through the channel down toward the sea and around the bend toward Green Island. Rosalita stands lookout. When the armada reaches the sea, brave phocae and sphenis join them to guide them into the waves and out away from shore and away from the harbor where executive humans sometimes have their yachts parked. The spottymottel moon shines down over the sea breaking up in golden yellow slivers and down on the glassed in roof of the Shelter courtyard. It is almost the same color as FGFGHJK's scales. Rosalita tries not to think about that. Shanti watches the boats behind her as she and Ephraim and Reaper swim slowly. There are six sets of sails made from old bed sheets. It is a miracle that the boats are seaworthy, yet sauros have good heads for practical things. "Let it be," she tells herself. " Maybe things will find their own way." Boats are a step in the right direction.
Rabbi Laivi Applebaum again sits on the beach staring at the green sea and the Spottymottel Moon. Is the moon always full and mottled here. It is an ugly moon. This is an ugly dream. He is going to have to talk to the schul President about a certain disruptive member of the congregation. He can think of how that conversation just might go. "I don't see what you're getting out of this...." Of course there was an answer. Congregation Zvi David was the only traditional or remotely traditional Jewish Congregation within a hundred miles. Jews do not schism, and on the outposts and frontiers, schuls take all comers. In a large city, the woman would have found a congregation that fit her or no congregation at all. Who knew.... She was there because she had no where else to go. She was there and miserable because it beat being nowhere. To complain would be to drive her away and Jews don't schism.
That was when Rabbi Applebaum saw the sails. He counted six of them, ragged small sails, but sails nonetheless. Slowly the boats, big catamarans and rafts grew larger and Rabbi Applebaum could see the crew. "Oi vei!" he groaned. The boats were manned by two types of reptilian monster, all in bright colors except for one kahki colored one with horrible spines down his back and one chocolate brown one whom he vaguely remembered. Are they here to attack, he wonders.
The sauros beach their boats on the sand and the phoca and sphenis escort wades ashore. "I declare this Green Island the property of all sauros! We have conquered it and it is ours!" shouts DinoFang. The sauors, both ones and twos all applaud. "The phocae and sphenis who help us are our friends and they are welcome here too! But we are in charge! Not the humans, and not the popular and pretty pets!" DinoFang adds. There is more applause.
Rabbi Applebaum rolls his eyes. Shanti slips over to him. "Rabbi Applebaum," she says softly. "We'll take you back on one of the boats. We have our own boats now so we can rescue you whenever you need it."
How does one say thankyou to a ruby red talking seal with lime green jowls? Rabbi Applebaum does not know so he does not say it. The sauros are busy talking about which part of the island belongs to whom and realizing that none of them have explored the island yet. Shanti explains it will be a while before the boats leave.
Green Island, it turns out, is a good place, with fresh water bubbling up in a small creek and lots of bamboo trees and plenty of nice brown dirt for gardens. Rosalita's owner always talks about the gardens she had in a northern place called Utica but can't have because she lives in an apartment in the Southern United States. Rosalita thinks that if the sauros can grow gardens they can have food. DinoFang, Sam, and TRex think the bamboo would be good for buidling houses and boats. Shanti says that if they get the owners to smuggle in books then all the sauros and others who use the island can learn to read and become educated. That is the sweetest gift of all except maybe singing.
The SpottyMottel moon has nearly set by the time the boats with sauros on them are ready to leave. Rosalita invites Rabbi Applebaum on to the same craft as she. He sits nervously near the mast where he is a bit of a danger to navigation. In the morning the winds are strong but difficult. By the time the rafts are moored the sauros who work first shift climb up on to the docks and head off without even a bagel in their bellies. Some things must be more important than food. "Would you like me to walk you over to the bridge?" asks Rosalita.
She sees that the old man is talking to himself. "Rabbi Applebaum," she addresses him. He blinks. He is a very lucky man tonight. Those fierce reptilian monsters could have eaten him if they were not so busy playing like children on their island. I must never end up there again, he thinks. "You know what the nice executive lady said to you about this place," Rosalita tells Rabbi Applebaum.
"What nice executive lady?"
"The one you met the first time you were on the island...."
"What did she say...."
"Put this place out of your mind and you won't come back," Rosalita responds.
Rabbi Applebaum smiles. He can not read the facial expression on the big brown lizard who today is his escort back to the real world of sense and proper adult pursuits. He can't explain that it is his job to keep people away from distractions like this and help them value what is important. Of course he doubts that except for one slightly crazy congregant, that the World of Pets is much of a distraction but there are parents and grandparents and maybe they can spread the word. In short, Rabbi Applebaum has his job to do as a rabbi and he is going to do it.
At the bridge he bids Rosalita adieu. He does not bless her because you don't bless crazy brown reptilian monsters that are figments of overactive and immature adults imaginations, adults who should know better. Rosalita watches the rabbi go. She thinks she knows why there are so few older human owners. They just don't get the hang of working with pets. What a pity. Rosalita also thinks she'll need to talk to DinoFang just in case the rabbi shows up on Green Island again.