Everyone Knows That Birds Can Sing!

Stella, the youngest member of the Twin Brook feline household has always spent a lot of time prowling around in the basement, so it was she who discovered the secret of the windows. They were not just panes of glass rooted solidly into the house, immovable and unchangeable. They could actually be opened! A push on a lever and a shove on the frame made the entire piece of glass move upward forming a doorway to the great outdoors, in this case the dark carvern which was under the deck. Clarence of Belden, my closest buddy was ecstatic when he learned of this. "Playing poker on the deck in the dead of winter is getting to be a bit much for a cat of my age! Now we can all meet in your basement, Henri and have a nice session of cards without freezing our tails off!"
"I agree! I agree!", I meowed loudly. "But we must be very quiet while our persons are at home or our new clubhouse would be discovered and we would not only have the loss of the basement for our poker sessions but I fear we would also lose access to the deck as well. I don't think they approve of gambling."
"Don't worry, Henri, we will all be very, very quiet!" responded Clarence.
So the word went out about our new club house and on December 12, 2008, the first poker game was held in the basement of my Twin Brook home. Clarence came with Carlyle from the Evergreen Lake Colony. Rumsfeld showed up with a bag of select catnip which his persons had given him. Frank also joined us that evening as well as Abbott and Max, the cat next door. Of course an evening of poker without Raymond Hazelwitz was out of the question. He climbed through the basement window just as we had spread a bunch of old towels on the floor next to the furnice. Helen managed to purloin a can of tuna fish and whipped up some really tasty patties for us! (Why my persons haven't noticed the reduction in the size of the stack of canned tuna, I shall never understand....)
That night, we played poker until the wee hours and dawn threatened the eastern horizon. As we played cards and gossiped about what was happening in the neighborhood, Frank brought up the subject of the oncoming Christmas season. "Do you think we could get a bunch of cats together to form a chorus?"
Raymond bared his glistening white teeth. "I don't think that's a good idea, Frank. If you remember, the last time we decided to serenade the folks in the neighborhood on Halloween, someone called the police persons!"
Frank looked at Raymond, surprise twitching his whiskers. "Weren't we supposed to sound awful so the humans would give us more treats if we shut up? I don't understand...."
Clarence sniffed and wiped his nose on his front paw."It was something like that, Frank. Halloween is a time of fun and atrocious behavior. And we had fun before the police persons came to chase us away." I do believe, however, we have the ability to form a good sounding chorus and I intend to find the necessary members to do so."
"That sounds very ambitious," chattered Raymond, "but who is going to direct this chorus, if I may ask?"
"As a matter of fact," growled Clarence, "I have met with a bird who has expertise in recruiting. He claims he has a vast database of potential participants of just about anything."
"He knows all about birds who can sing in a chorus?" I asked.
"No doubt about it!" replied Clarence, "I consulted with several cats in the neighborhood and they all remarked that Ernest really knows everything about song birds!"
Raymond stared at Clarence, sniffed a few times and then chattered, "And who is going to lead this chorus of birds?"
Clarence puffed up his chest and announce proudly, "Why I am of course!"
Raymond leaned toward me and whispered into my ear. "Clarence is tone deaf, Henri. Who knows what wretched sounds will issue forth from this chorus...."
Carlyle interrupted the discussion with a sharp hiss. "Can we please stop meowing and chattering about this bird chorus long enough to get on with the poker game?" Appartantly, not everyone shared Clarence's enthusiam for bird choruses.
For the next few days, I did not see much of Clarence. He did drop by one afternoon dragging a plastic bag with pages of Christmas songs. I looked at them and nodded my approval. Actually, I had never heard any of them because I don't turn on the radio. I don't know how to turn on the radio....Later he decided when and where he would lead the chorus of birds. "I have decided that December 24, at 8:00 P.M. on Belden Street would be the ideal time and place. There is a huge tree on that street which will house hundreds of birds. Everyone will be at home then and will hear the chorus! I am so excited! I can hardly wait..."
So naturally, I had to run around the neighborhood, stopping every cat that I met to encourage them to be on Belden Street, Christmas Eve to witness the great bird chorus under the direction of Clarence of Belden. Although some resisted my pleas, a little paw twisting convinced them that it would be better to attend than to risk the wrath of Clarence and his friends, some of whom are quite large and have an aggressive nature.
At least twenty-five cats showed up at the site that evening. My housemates Helen and Stella came to lend their support. Penelope joined us as well as Abbott. Raymond came with about ten rat scouts, each lugging a bag of cotton balls. "To protect the ears," growled Raymond as he gazed up at the branches of the tree which would be the stage for the members of the chorus. We did not have to wait very long before the already darkened sky became even darker. Swarms of black birds swooped down and settled in the tree. There was a loud rustle as the birds adjusted their feathers and tried to form lines along the outstretched branches. Clarence stepped forward, bowed to the audience of felines and then faced the tree. He meowed loudly, raised his paws in a sweeping gesture.

Frankly, I have never heard such a noise. The hairs on my tail and the back of my neck stood on end! My heart pounded. I tried to cover my ears with my paws but fell over on my face, bruising my nose. Many of the cats grabbed the bags held high by the rat scouts and stuffed their ears with soft, cotton balls. After less than ten minutes, sirens could be heard screaming their way to our salvation. The police persons had been alerted to the horror of the bird chorus under the direction of Clarence of Belden! Once again, the neighborhood had been saved from ear drum destruction!
Later, Helen comforted Clarence with a dish of tuna patties flavored with catnip. "I had no idea they would sound so awful," wailed Clarence.
"Didn't you notice how bad they were during rehearsal?" I asked.
Clarence looked at his paws. "Actually, I never had a rehearsal. I was more concerned about how the birds lined up on the tree branches....."
Raymond Hazelwitz stepped forward and peered into Clarence's eyes. "Do you suffer from partial blindness? I suppose you never noticed that the birds were Starlings? They are about the noisiest birds on the planet!"
"Ernest told me that they were song birds," meowed Clarence, sadly. "I don't know why he would lie to me like that..."
"Ernest is a crow," replied Carlyle. "He loves to play tricks on cats and just about any other creature. Ask Ashley about Ernest. She knows what a joker that bird can be."
"I don't want to discuss it," barked Ashley. "I shall never get over the humiliation..."
As the evening wore on, and the tuna patties and catnip tea were replenished, the event became more joyful! Clarence meowed a few Christmas songs for us and Carlyle and Rumsfeld joined him in song. Penelope and Helen then sang a medley of love songs and Ashley recited a poem which she had written called, "Ode to the Loyal Canine", she being the loyal canine. All in all, it was a happy Christmas Eve. We had all survived another year and would face a new year. For that, we were grateful!

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