The lion let out another roar. He stood in front of Clarissa's famous door, no longer a cat but a king of cats.
Andre, Shakespeare, Diego -- even little Winifred in her stroller were speechless. They stared at the lion, lost in a terrified frozen moment that seemed like it would never end.
Then Henry marched into the loft carrying two bags of groceries. He didn't see anyone at first so he called across the loft, "Diego, where are you, Diego?"
Then he heard the lion let out another roar, and he stopped dead in his tracks.
Not knowing what to do, he scrambled to the other side of the loft where he saw the lion arched in front of his mother's door, and his wife and child, and Andre and Shakepsreae standing feet away from the lion, still as statues.
The grocery bags fell out of Henry's hands and their contents spilled across the floor. A can of tomato paste rolled over the lion's tail causing it to roar again.
Henry looked out over the bizarre scene, and all he could think to say was, "Oh my god!" before he scrambled over to Winifrid's stroller and pulled her and it out of the way, causing Diego to say, "What about me?"
And then Andre, shivering, cried, "And for Christ's sakes, what about us, too?"
"Henry came to rescue his wife and his child from this beast, not some overstuffed chef," Diego breathed as she watched Henry push Winifrid's stroller across the hall.
Then Andre stepped close to Diego, and he smirked and said, "I don't think so, honey. Where is your Henry now? He is across the hall with Winifrid and you are still here with the lion. HA!"
Casually, Shakespeare sneered, "You know, dummy, she's not in a stroller like Winifrid -- she can walk away if she wants. So can you."
"Yes, Shakespeare," Andre said mockingly, "we can just casually walk away while the lion eats us."
Then Henry cried from across the hall. "How the hell did a lion get into my mother's loft?"
Andre took a quick glance at the lion, who was looking at all of them like he was just about to devour Sunday breakfast, and then he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Henry, you are not going to believe this..."
"Sure he will," Shakespeare snapped.
Andre cleared his throat, and ignoring Shakespeare, he continued, "Well, Henry, it happened like this: a cat got lost and found its way into the kitchen. You should have seen it, Henry, it was so cute it jumped on the stove."
"Yeah, so cute that you tried to set it on fire by raising the burner."
"Look who is talking, Shakespeare, you said he was an imaginary cat! Anyway, Henry, somehow the cat got scared and he ran out of the kitchen and into the loft."
Winfried raised her little head and whispered, "Daddy, Andre forgot to tell you he is a talking cat."
Hearing that, Diego raised her hands and pointed towards the stroller, "And I told her we weren't having any talking cats."
"Good thinking, Honey," Henry squinted and half-grinned.
Then Andre became all flummoxed and he cried, "But this is not the point! The point is, Henry, he ran behind your mother's door, and only seconds later he turned into a lion!"
"But he wouldn't have run into the loft if you didn't scare him!'"Shakespeare hollered.
"And a big help you were, SHAKESPEARE!"
Suddenly the lion's mouth opened and he said (in a highly cultured voice,) "Will everyone stop arguing. I can't stand it when people argue."
Then the lion nervously fidgeted and sprawled out in front of the door.
Everyone jumped, but Shakespeare laughed, "Looks like he turned into a dandelion."
Andre patted Shakespeare on the back and began to laugh as well. "Looks like it, Shakespeare, looks like we have nothing to worry about."
Then the lion sat up and roared. And Andre jumped, and Shakespeare shuddered, and Henry froze, and Winifried shivered, and Diego sighed and said, "You were saying, Andre?"
Andre cried, " Oh my God, Oh my God, oh my God! We are all doomed! That creature is going to devour us!"
And the lion opened his mouth and said, "You know I really can't take anymore! I am tired, I don't know where I am and you keep shouting. Why is he always shouting?" Then he stretched out in front of the door and covered his ears with his paws.
"He's just a bit high strung," Shakespeare said and pinched Andre's leg.
"Ouch, I am always shouting because I am constantly under siege here. And you know something? You are wrong, Shakespeare, he is not a dandelion, he is a whiny-lion!"
Then Henry shouted across the hall, "Perhaps you should try not to aggravate the lion, Andre."
"Yes," the lion said, licking his paws, "let's try not to aggravate the lion."
Suddenly they heard high-pitched buzzing and the loft began to rumble.
"Say, lion, if you think I am aggravating, wait till you see what happens next." Andre grinned and then his eyes, nose and ears slowly quivered.
And She entered the room, her black eyes popping, her tentacles sweeping across the floor, her head pointing down toward the creature, as she released a peircing buzz that sounded out, "WHO GOES THERE? EXPLAIN YOURSELF, LION."
The lion stood and let out a mighty roar.
"What is he doing?" Clarissa buzzed out, "someone tell me what he is doing?"
That's when Andre raised his hand and said, "He is a lion, Clarissa, he is roaring! What do you think he is doing? But I wouldn't worry about this one, he seems to have a nervous condition."
"Thanks a lot," the lion said, looking at Andre like he had just bit into a lemon.
Then Clarissa's head arched abruptly and she buzzed,"ENOUGH! ENOUGH! WHERE DID THIS INTRUDER COME FROM?"
Henry looked up from the stroller and said, "Calm down, mother."
"I will not, Henry I will not. I want to know, how did this creature find its way into my loft, and what is it doing by my DOOR?"
"That is the thing, Clarissa," Andre raised his hands and cried, "he is not really a lion, he is a lost cat that found its way into the kitchen and later into your loft, but what happened was he went through the door and changed into the lion that you see here today."
Immediately Clarissa reared her head and buzzed, "OH NOOOOOOO! OH NOOOOOOO! He must go back NOW and change back or the entire EVLOUTIONARY BLALANCE WILL BE THROWN OFF COURSE LEADING US ALL TO UTTER CHAOS."
Diego shook her head and squinted. "The what?"
"Never mind, Honey," Henry said.
Then the lion covered his ears again and said, "Why is everyone always arguing and shouting around here? Nonetheless, there is no way I'm going through that door again, it was much too nerve-wracking an experience for me. And it is dark back there, in fact, the more I think about going back there the more nervouser I get." He shook his mane and trembled.
And at once, She shriek-buzzed, "Is this lion crazy? Listen, lion, you are going back through that door and right now."
"Am not," the lion said and he rolled over.
Then Andre clasped his hands together and pled, "Please, Clarissa, let us try reasoning with him first."
"Reasoning with him? Reasoning with that nervous wreck? Impossible. And lest you all not forget who told you about the powers behind that door, and what did you all call me? WHY I OUGHT TO EAT THE LOT OF YOU!"
Terrified, Andre got down on his knees and crawled across the floor to the lion and cried, "Oh please, oh please, oh pretty please go through the door, oh please, she is quite serious."
"No dice," the lion said and he stretched out in front of the door.
Then from out of the blue little Winifred's voice came across the loft, "Mr. Lion, Mr. Lion, if I may? I just had a long talk with my mother, and we have decided that if you change back into a cat I can keep you for my very own. Oh please say 'yes,' Mr. Lion. It will all be so grand!" She puckered her little mouth and blew the lion a kiss.While Diego stood over the stroller blankly grinning.
At first the lion hesitated, then he paused as if lost in thought and he said, "Can I have my own bed? Nothing fancy, just something comfy that I'm sure you could find at any pet shop?"
"Okay, okay," Diego said and sighed.
Then Henry walked over to Diego and cried, "You know, no one asked me!"
And from above, "Shut up, Henry," Clarissa buzzed while she paced back and forth, causing many things to fall off the wall in the halls.
Then without delay the lion pushed against the door. It flung open and he disappeared behind it.
Moments later they heard the purr of a cat. Quickly Henry opened the door and the cat scampered over to Winifred's stroller and sat down beside it.
Then Andre turned to Shakespeare and said, "I just love a happy ending, don't you?"
"Sure sure," Shakespeare snapped.
And Clarissa buzzed in an ominous voice, "Is this the ending, or is it just the beginning?" |