Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Funeral of the Queen of the Cats by Norman A. Rubin

The Funeral of the Queen of Cats

by Norman A. Rubin

Good evening my good friends. Your company is quite welcomed in theseblustery days. Let me take your coats and hats. Now, come closer to the warmth of the fire. Yes, pull up your chairs to the hearth and make yourselves comfortable. That's it. Now set back and listen to my tale that will raise your hairs and chill your flesh. Relax as I relate the tale of the funeral procession of the Queen of Cats.....

"Down in the easterly part of England, not far from a pleasant town on the road to the fair city of London, there stood a sexton's thatched cottage alongside the small village church. For all that is known the edifice still stands and its weed-strewn cemetery still holds the ancient crumbling bones of many generations of the village.

"It was about two centuries in the past when Mad King George ruled the British Isles when that unpleasant incident at the burial grounds to the church was noticed and duly noted. Under the crazed king's corrupt rule the Colonies was lost and lawlessness was part and parcel of the daily life. One of the daily pursuits in obtaining a fair living, outside of trifling with public and private funds, was in corpse snatching.

"Oh yes, my friends, corpse snatching was a very profitable occupation as various universities of that era required plenty of cadavers for dissection by their many interested students; the fresher the body the higher the payment.

"Now where we? Yes, yes the story!

"On a fair Autumn evening at that time when the full moon was high, two scruffy gentlemen were quite busy at the cemetery on the grounds of that village church. It was quite difficult to discern their features in the dark of night. One could say that one was rather thin and long-legged. The other was rather middling in height with a rolypoly body. The only similarity was the shabbiness of their dress.
Also both their faces were covered from the noses down to the neck with a decorative kerchief.

Quite busy I dare say as they were quite occupied in exhuming the body of the corpulent town's barkeep who recently expired from the vapours. It was a seemingly easy task as the vicarage grave digger couldn't count over four feet; and not one of the mourners took notice to the depth of the final resting place.

"The light of a dimly lit lantern shone on their efforts in violating the final resting. All was almost quiet except the sound of the hoot of an owl on the prey and the squeal of the hunted field mouse. Grunting noises were also emitted from the twosome as they shoveled earth and gravelly stone from the grave pit.

Then suddenly the sound of the shovel hitting wood could be heard. Again and again the noise of the scraping of the spade on the pine was emitted as the grave robbers busily cleared the earth from the plain pine coffin. Eerie silence followed as the tiring work stopped as the wooden coffin of the dear departed was fully uncovered.

"'Aye matey, there she be, the box!" chortled one of the foul grave robbers, 'gimme a hand in opening the cover.'

"With the quickness of their hands they forcibly opened the pine cover. There was no reverence in their souls when the receptacle of dead revealed to them the cadaver wrapped in a winding sheet. The stink of death was all around accompanied by the body's wormy comrades. But all this went unnoticed by the nefarious boyos as the
smell of money was stronger in their avarice hearts.

"'Aye tis a proper body, quite fresh! Should fetch a good price,' commented one of the chaps.

"It took a bit of effort for the two body snatchers to pull the body from its resting place. As they were lifting the rather heavy body they were startled by a rather loud hullabaloo. Without a further word they dropped the corpse, which unwound from the the sheet. Then they quickly snuffed the lantern and cautiously peered over the top of the grave.

"The noise frightened the living daylights from them that turned their stomachs and made them feel queer all over. The weird noise was the sound of caterwauling by a crowd of cats miaowing and yowling. Yet above the screeching the grave robbers could make out distinct wails and chants.

"Yowrl, yowrl, yowrl,
Tell all, tell all, the queen is dead,
The Queen of the Cats is dead,
No more no less,
As clear as the church bell,
Yowrl, yowrl, yowrl."

"The frightened body snatchers peered into the gloom of the night spread across the gaunt grey gravestones and saw a sight that chilled their blood. Coming towards them were thirteen blacks cats; seven were in the lead and six were bearing a heavy coffin of walnut wood, which was partially covered with a drape of crimson red and bearing a small gold coronet.

"The robbers held their breaths, not daring to scratch an irksome itch or wiping a sniffling nose. The strange funeral procession was heading slowly, but slowly towards them. At every forth step the feline pallbearers stamped on their paws and let out a low chanting miaowing in chorus, just like the winds of lamenting doom.

"Within time the funeral procession came closer to the open grave hiding the two gentlemen. The chappies peered with saucer-like eyes and they could see more distinctly. The cats in their sight had eyes that shone like coal embers, burning in an amber glow. The procession was led by big black beast of a feline, followed by six equally large black cats and in the rear six smaller black cats carrying the coffin. They moved solemnly between the shadowy gravestones, never stumbling,
never violating a grave with their steps.

"The body snatchers's knees were knocking quite hard and what hair they had on their heads was standing on end. Their teeth chattered as they uttered a prayer for salvation. The black cats came to the opened grave. Then the hellish procession stopped.

The two men dropped to bottom of the grave and hugged the earth walls. As they look up into the dark of night they saw the leader of the funeral procession looking down at them with a baleful eye. The grave robbers felt a trickle to their pantalons as they remained still in their terror. Finally, after a a moment of agonizing silence, the black cat addressed them in weird sounding cat-like human voice.

"Yowrl, yowrl, yowrl,
The Queen of the Cats is no more,
She was born amoung mortal beings,
She died truly consoled Amoung the gods,
Yowrl, yowrl, yowrl."

"The eerie sight and the equally frightenening sound was enough for the body snatchers. A blessed swoon overcame them and they drifted into the land of dreams, or rather disturbing nightmares, never daring to return in their subconciousness to earthly awakening.

"At the cock of the crow the following morning the elderly sexton of the church awoke to its call from his restful sleep in the comfort of his cottage. With a bit of grumbling he lifted himself from the rumpled sheets and went to the china chamber pot under his bed. Afterwards relieving himself he went to the washbasin on a small
wooden stand near the a large window that faced his small church and the cemetery alongside.

"He dipped his hands carefully in the cool of the water as he looked at the grounds in the clear sun filled days. He blinked as he looked towards the cemetery. The sight was unbelievable to his eyes and with a quick splash of water to his eyes he attempted to wipe away the terrible view. Yet, it was true to his eyes, that the earth from the grave of the corpulent barkeep had been shoveled away to the last bit
of dirt.

"'Goodness gracious, heavens above, this is sacrilege," he cried out.

"The elder sexton's thin creased face was etched in agitation from the view that shocked his dimming grey eyes. With a tremble to his limbs he rushed as fast as his spindly legs could walk and he made his way to his wardrobe. He searched about into the depth till he found his thick knobby walking stick.

"Then he donned his thick woolen robe and scruffy slippers. He puffed up his scrawny chest, grabbed his weapon and unlocked the door to his dwelling. With caution to his walk and with the knobby stick to his shoulder he stepped on the path to the cemetery. He was appalled at the sight of the mound of earth at the grave of that good citizen of the community.

"Slowly by slowly he went to the opening in the ground. Then he gripped his weapon tighter as he peered into the depth. A strange sight greeted his eyes. One of the grave diggers was seen locked in the arms of the corpulent barkeep, uncovered from the shroud with his eyes opened in supposed bewilderment. The other chap was sitting
against the earth wall of the grave, dirty in smelly filth, and chanting over and over in senseless rhythm...

"Yowrl, yowrl, yowrl,
The Queen is dead,
The Queen of the Cats is dead,
Yowrl, yowrl, yowrl..."


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