The Jesus Analog Cat, The Boring Old Biddy, and the Unsupervised Kitchen Appliance - Chapter 2

In which four little children meet a talking cat with a god complex and are understandably terrified.

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The horrible little man was only a little taller than Lola herself and he carried over his head an unseasonal umbrella. Later in life, Lola would look at such a thing with a sneer and think, ‘Ugh, damn hipster,’ and vote against her own interests just to keep such a person from climbing any further socially.

From the waist upward, the nasty little creature was shaped like a man, but his legs were like a goat’s – complete with glossy black hair like her sister Sadie’s, Lola noted. Instead of some sort of insufferably trendy shoes, he had goat hooves, caked in what Lola assumed was his own feces. She didn’t know what the hell he was, but she would not have been surprised to learn that he was the only one of his kind. Or that he wasn’t intentional. He also had a tail, but it was vestigial and contained no nerve endings, thus unintentionally proving evolution. The awful man-beast had a strange face, decorated by a pointed beard and curly hair. Lola thought he looked Grecian. Which, she thought with a nod to herself, would certainly explain most of his other features.

In his other hand, the merry abomination carried several brown-paper parcels. Between the snow and the parcels it looked just as if he had been doing his Christmas shopping. Lola thought the greatest gift he could have given anyone on his list was going away and never coming back and also not writing.

“Good evening, good evening,” said Mr. Tambien.

“Uh– Good– good evening,” Lola stammered.

“Excuse me– Excuse me– I don’t want to be inquisitive– but be ye a Daughter of Eve?”

Oh, here we go, thought Lola.

“As long as you have absolutely no follow-up questions… sure,” said Lola.

“And are you – forgive me – are you what they call a… a girl?”

Lola sighed. “Uh-huh…”

“You are, in fact… Human?”

“Are you one of those people who thinks girls aren’t human? A senator from Texas?”

Lola scanned the wintry sky, certain she had heard a rimshot.

Mr. Tambien twitched his head with confusion in a way that made Lola’s skin crawl. As an adult, she would see a similar movement called “stop-motion” and forbid her children from ever watching such an unsettling thing if they wanted to keep on living in her house.

“Yes, I’m human.”

“To be sure, to be sure,” said Mr. Tambien. “How stupid of me! But I’ve never seen a Son of Adam or a– a Daughter of Eve, as it were, before. I am delighted. That is to say–” and then he stopped as if he had been going to say something not intended, but remembered in time. “Delighted, delighted. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tambien.”

“Yes,” said Lola. “You already said that. What is this, a recap?”

“And may I ask, O Daughter of Eve,” said Mr. Tambien. “What is your name?”

Lola pursed her lips and considered telling him her name was Sadie, but since it wasn’t immediately clear how that would benefit her or cause problems for her sister, she decided to take a chance on the truth.

“Lola,” she said.

“And might I ask–” said Mr. Tambien. Lola squeezed her eyes into tight, impatient slits. “How have you come into the Land of Barnia?”

“Barnia? What’s that?” said Lola, curious if there was a government subsidy in her future.

“This is the Land of Barnia,” said Tambien. “Where we are now. All that lies between that rubbish bin over there – that’s the city limit sign – and Cair Potrzebie on the bend of the Jaffee River. And you– you have come from the wild woods of the West?”

“I crawled into an off-brand refrigerator to avoid having to choke down old people food and I’m pretty sure I’m dying of carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Lola. “On the plus side– guess who’s the favorite child now? Good luck measuring up to my oxygen-deprived legacy, ingrates.”

“I’m– afraid I don’t understand many of your Western words,” said Mr. Tambien in a rather melancholy way. “If only I had worked harder in Westican studies when I was a little Faun, I should no doubt understand your strange tongue… As it is, it’s mainly gibberish. Perhaps we can communicate through broad hand gestures and raising our voices?”

“Everybody understands my tongue– I speak English,” said Lola. “Well– American.”

“Haha, yes,” Mr. Tambien said with a bewildered smile and a nod. “Of course. Tell me, Lola– What season might it in be in this… American?”

“Winter.”

“Meanwhile, here in Barnia, it is winter.”

“It’s– winter there too.”

“Haha, as you say, Daughter of Eve. How would you like to come with me to tea?”

“Uh– Sure. Gee, my brain sure gets weird when it’s deprived of air.”

“Haha, as you say,” said Mr. Tambien. “My home is just around the corner and there will be a roaring fire – and toast and sardines – and cake!”

“You can keep the raw fish. What kind of cake?”

“Poppyseed.”

Lola twisted her mouth in disappointment. “Well… It’s not like I’ll really be tasting it anyway. Lead the way, freak show.”

Mr. Tambien laughed and bowed obsequiously and skipped away through the snow. Lola watched him for a moment, then dug her hands into her pockets and trudged after him. Hell was certainly an odd little bore.

They had not gone far before they came to a place where the ground became rough and there were rocks all about and little hills up and little hills down. At the bottom of one small valley, Mr. Tambien turned suddenly aside as if he were going to walk straight into an unusually large rock. But, at the last moment, Lola found that he was leading them into the entrance of a dank little cave. She soon found herself blinking in the unvented light of a wood fire. Mr. Tambien took a flaming piece of wood from the fire with a pair of tongs and lit a lamp along the side wall.

“Now, it shan’t be long!” he crowed as he put a kettle on to boil on his primitive stove.

Lola worried her face was going to freeze in an expression of pure chagrin as she looked around the little cave. There was a throw rug and two little chairs and a table and a dresser and a mantelpiece over the fire. In one corner there was even a door somehow, which Lola thought must have led to Mr. Tambien’s creepy bedroom. Facing the door was a shelf full of books. Lola inspected these while Tambien set out tea things. The books had titles like How to Seduce a Wood Nymph and Silenus’ Guide to Sylvan Sex Acts, Vol. 1.

Lola looked into the middle distance and blinked.

“Now, Daughter of Eve!” cried Tambien.

Lola guardedly pulled out a chair and slowly sat.

There was a brown egg, lightly boiled, for each of them, and sardines on toast, and then buttered toast, and then toast with honey, and then a sugar-topped cake. Lola was just wondering how long it would be before she was completely weaned off solid food when the Faun began to talk.

And God, he went on and on about the fruitiest things she had ever heard. Nymphs and Dryads and dancing presumably naked under the moon with Red Dwarves or something. Lola was fully convinced she was in Hell.

“Oh, gee, Mr. Tambien,” Lola said, snapping her bare wrist towards her face as Mr. Tambien pulled out a flute. “I’m so sorry to stop— all of that, but I really have to go.”

“But– where will you go?”

Lola waved her hand in a general way. “I’m sure it makes no difference.”

“It’s no good now, you know,” said the Faun, laying down his flute and shaking his head at her very sorrowfully.

Great, Lola thought. I’ve ticked off the demon guy. Now my eternity of ironic punishment begins.

But, she thought, at least if he was whipping her, he couldn’t play his flute. So– bright side.

“If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll see if I can jar my body out of this refrigerator. Really freak out my brothers and sister, you know?”

Then Mr. Tambien started to weep.

Lola took a deep breath.

She had to admit, she was pretty impressed with the tortures Hell had managed to conjure up for her to this point. Saddened, but also impressed. 

“Oh… don’t… cry,” said Lola with no conviction at all. She really didn’t want to touch him. Who knew how that approximation of empathy would be misconstrued by Mr. How to Seduce a Wood Nymph.

“Okay, well,” Lola said as she tiptoed around Mr. Tambien. “I’ll let myself… out of the open air hole.”

“Oh-oh-oh!” sobbed Mr. Tambien. “I’m such a bad Faun.”

No part of this was not alarming.

“Oh, you’re not bad,” Lola said, inching towards the entrance of the cave. “You’re just… I don’t know, unstable probably. Well, have a good day!”

“Oh-oh– you wouldn’t say that if you knew,” replied Mr. Tambien between his sobs. No, I’m a bad Faun. I don’t suppose there was ever a worse Faun since the beginning of the world.”

“Well, there’s probably not just a ton of competition.”

“My old father, now,” said Mr. Tambien, “that’s his picture over the mantelpiece. He would never have done a thing like this.”

“Weeping like a woman?”

“Taken service under the Biddy. That’s what I’ve done. I’m in the pay of the Biddy.”

“The Biddy?” Lola said, failing to stifle a chuckle. “Who’s that? Is her name Sadie?”

“Why, it is she that has got all of Barnia under her thumb. It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas. Think of that!”

Lola cast her eyes around the room. “…Kay. Plenty of people don’t celebrate Christmas. Not that unusual. But what does she pay you for? Gardening or something?”

“That’s the worst of it,” said Mr. Tambien with a deeply unsettling groan. “I’m a kidnapper for her, that’s what I am. Look at me, Daughter of Eve. Would you believe that I’m the sort of Faun to meet a poor, innocent child in the wood, one that had never done me any harm, and pretend to be friendly with it, and invite it home to my cave, and all for the sake of lulling it to sleep and then handing it over to the Biddy?”

“Oh, yeah. Absolutely. One hundred percent.”

Mr. Tambien’s mouth dropped open. “Oh-oh-oh!”

“I mean… Nooooooooo. You? Pshaw! Who would ever think such a thing of a half-naked goat monster? But, hey, bright side– You didn’t.”

“Daughter of Eve, don’t you understand?” said the Faun. “It isn’t something I have done. I’m doing it this very moment.”

“But I didn’t fall asleep.”

Mr. Tambien considered this. “A fair point.”

“And you can still stick it to the old biddy by helping me get out of here. If there is a way out. I’m not entirely sure.”

“Of course I will,” said the Faun. “Of course I’ve got to! I see that now! I hadn’t known what Humans were like before I met you. Now I see they’re pushy and judgmental–”

“But darn cute.”

“Touche, Daughter of Eve.”

“Come, we must be off at once. I’ll see you back to the waste bin. I suppose you can find your way back from there, to American?”

“Assuming I’m not dead or a vegetable, yes.”

They both got up and left the tea things on the table, and Mr. Tambien once more put up his umbrella. He offered Lola his arm, but Lola gave him a look that said that wasn’t happening, so he played it off as an awkward stretch and they went out into the snow. The journey back was not at all like the journey to the Faun’s cave. They stole along as quickly as they could, without speaking a word, and Mr. Tambien kept them to the darkest places. Lola was relieved when they reached the trash can again.

“Do you know your way from here, Daughter of Eve?” said Tambien.

Lola looked very hard between the trees and could just see in the distance the dark insides of the budget Frigidore refrigerator in which she apparently was not trapped. Indeed, everything was coming up Lola. 

“I do,” she said.

“Then be off home as quick as you can,” said the Faun. “And– c-can you ever forgive me for what I meant to do?”

“So long as you stop talking about it.”

“Farewell, Daughter of Eve,” said he. “Until we meet again!”

Lola waved dismissively over her shoulder. “Uh-huh. Look for me in the window.”

Then she ran towards the far-off sight of broken shelving as quickly as her legs would carry her. And presently, instead of rough branches brushing past her, she felt plastic, and instead of the pure smell of snow, the stench of mildew. All at once she found herself kicking open the Frigidore into the same cobweb-riddled room from which the whole adventure had started. She slammed the cut-rate refrigerator closed and looked around, panting for breath.

“I’m back!” she shouted. “I’m alive! I’ve come back!”

“Quiet down in there!” her brother, Parker, snapped from down the hall.

“Ingrates.”

As a comedy writer, the details of my life are depressing at best and sketchy at worst. I have written for all of the best comedy sites and none of the bad ones, resulting in a net gain of half a ham sandwich....