Cat Jacket

A red snail travelled away from the hot air
balloon before it lifted from the mud. A man
expressing wonderment with a silent black hole
and two red dots actually wore a jacket of a manly deep
blue that set him apart from the other observers. Will
we fly today? I mean, float. For we float in the
balloon. We float over the town and over the country
and hope the winds stay calm and that our silks do not
catch flame. If they catch flame we will light up the sky.
People in distant villages and enclaves will look
out their windows and admire the fireworks. We
travel nevertheless, travel far and wide. We meet
people from distant lands who wear strange headwear,
how outlandish they seem! And they speak in musical
tongues which pacify any anxieties caused by the long
trip. Are we hungry? Of course we are hungry, but
we are strict carnivores and scoff at the vegetable
and herbal offerings. Where are your chops and steaks?
Where are the big-boned ribs charred to perfection
over burning wood? Our hosts laugh and bring us
roasted local birds. How tasty! But all those bones!
We are presented a splendid garment adorned with
gemstones and brocade. We are told this garment must
be worn by a feline in order for “the prophecy” to come
true. This is the first we’ve heard of such a thing
but we have no reason to doubt our hosts, though they
smell peculiar as they state their case. When they
stop talking the odour dissipates and a scent of lilacs
and rose cream infuses the air. Perhaps they produce
this fragrance with some kind of machine, for we take
great stock in machines these days, we use them
for everything. The balloon is not a machine, strictly
speaking. On our return the skies are sleek, the moon
translucent. We see the green flag of our campsite and
descend. We are happy to be back. We call for a cat.
Bring one immediately! Then we see that the red snail
has scarcely moved since we departed but we aren’t
certain if it’s the same red snail or a clever impostor.

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