Saturday, April 4, 2009


We gather here today to pay tribute to one of our fallen, a mighty warrior who has passed on into the Dream of a Thousand Cats and whose clay has returned once more to the earth. The great Xenocrates is gone. He, whose kittenish face looks down from the tree boughs, whose visage watches over all who enter the website. Xenocrates, son of Lola and a wandering bobcat, brother of Chuckie and of the changeling Euisgue (now returned to the glamor) has left us.

It falls to me, as is my right as eldest, to tell you of him and I alone among you am qualified to tell. I, Chaos, the Mighty Kos, Lord of the Guild, am older than you all. I was there when Xeno, fourth of the litter of four plus one, was born. He was never timid, as kitten or cat, and in the end I fear the very boldness which endeared him to us all may have led to his undoing. As we look at his body, massed with scar tissue, misshapen from poorly healed bones, we must remember that his tattered clay is a monument to his life and a testment that he surely lived more than nine lives.

I remember well his first great injury, the breaking of the tail. It entered into his young mind that he need not pause at the top of the slat fence but that he could leap it in a single bound. He did. His tail did not. And so he hung, tail caught between the slats, bones broken, tail twisted at an angle, waiting patiently until the Thin Man arrived with thumbs to extract him. And once free, did Xeno tend his wounds and sulk to the house? No. He immediately rose and attempted to leap the fence again—and hence the 'z' in his tail. But he did learn to clear the fence and once across he discovered upon the bordering property a live trap, baited with food laced with poison. And after the Thin Man freed him from the trap, he returned again while our thumbed guardian was still trying to hoist himself back over the fence. Twice freed and well cursed, he returned home. Of the poison, he never showed any ill effect. For Xenocrates was a cat of strong constitution if, perhaps, low wisdom.

His battles with the Thin Man over bathing are the thing of viking legend. What other creature has ever fought so hard and done so much damage to the Thumbed One and lived? Who else has the courage to strike the human in the eye and, piercing his lower eyelid, hang on with all his weight to insure the point is made? And did the Thin Man begrudge him this? Well, yes. But such was the loving, jovial nature of Xeno that eventually he was forgiven. A greater accomplishment, I cannot think of.

Throughout his troubled, violent life, sporting a broken nose and torn ear, Xeno was always a friend to dogs. To his last day, he was a friend to the collies of the farm and a willing playmate of any canine who came to visit. I believe he even felt kindly toward the savage beast that, years ago, crushed his ribcage, broke his shoulderblade, and left him for dead. Four long days, our Xed was missing before he turned up on the doorstep bloodied and battered, dried dog saliva matting his fur, but I doubt he held emnity for the perpetrator. Such was not his way. Though the injuries would leave him permanently twisted and lacking one lung, Xee-brick persevered, loving dogs and believing "A cat must do what a cat must do while being who he is." And Xeno was a forgiving cat, filled with love and optimism—and loyalty.

The dedication of Xenocrates to She Who Must Not Be Named is the stuff of legend. Being a cat, he was incapable of resisting any tempting female with a handful of treats and his attention span was, to put it kindly, shorter than most, but his heart belonged to his human. He was her jester, her battered baby boy, friend and playmate, clumsy fool and discerning wise man. We are shamed by the depths of her grief but we are but cats and we know that, though the clay rests, the spirit of Xeno has returned to the Dream and waits for the humans to carry his soul to heaven. Perhaps the Thin Man will explain, perhaps he will not, but we are secure in the knowledge that, in a way, animals do go to heaven, returning with their owners just as, in the end, the humans return to theirs.

Lift high your glasses and toast the fallen hero. Xenocrates has sailed upon the black barge; fire your flaming arrows true. This day a new hero runs headfirst into the table legs in the feasthall of Valhalla. This day, the broken hero returns to the Dream. Give grief for the living and glory for the fallen.

No comments: