Sam Guest - The Teacher

Sam Guest moved to Beaufleuve from Colorado. As an “air force brat”, he actually moved from the West multiple times. At nineteen, on his own, he chose a different path from his parents.  He began the pursuit of his lifelong dream to teach. One of the best teacher’s colleges in the US was in Beau Fleur, so Sam followed his dream and enrolled. After getting his degree, he decided to stay in Beau Fleur and found a perfect bachelor’s cottage house on Abbottsford Road. It was right down the street from the campus where he began as an instructor.
Sam always had a conscience. He always felt sympathetic to other people’s troubles. He also had a great love of nature and animals which, he believed, was inherited from his mother who was a nature photographer. So once moved in, he took note of the preponderance of cats! There were tortiseshells, ruddy reds, blues, goldens, blacks and whites. They were small, tall, old and young; curly eared, straight eared, wide and thin.  It certainly appeared  as though they ran things!
One day, Sam met one of his more interesting neighbors, Magikys Cigany, who happened to live kitty-corner from him.  Maggie, as she was called by most in the neighborhood, was the resident “cat lady”. Yet, by no means as ordinary cat lady.  She was very friendly and introduced a few of the tamer cats to Sam by name. 
He began watching the antics of the Abbottsford Road cats in the evening when he sat on his porch with a glass of wine; or in the morning with his first cup of coffee. He found it was both relaxing and enjoyable to watch the crews comings and goings. One morning, Maggie stopped over to join him for coffee. He asked the inevitable question: why didn’t the cats smell as bad as some neighborhood cats?
Maggie started talking and Sam was captivated. She shared coffee and tea throughout that lovely summer Saturday, and explained the problems feral cats face. She explained to Sam how a program called Trap, Neuter and Release, was taking the country by storm to help quell the overpopulation of the well-meaning cat.
Sam learned about the local TNR group that would go out and literally trap feral cats; take the cat to a sterile clinic and have them neutered or spayed, vetted & ear-tipped. The ear-tipping, in Maggie’s words, was “like a wink that said I’m feral, I’m free and I’m vetted” to the public.
He became intrigued and asked Maggie if he could accompany her on a TNR outing. There was no hesitation on her part. A new recruit!
For Sam, whose closest brush with wildlife lately were the young students he taught, it was great fun. He became that recruit Maggie had hoped for. He learned everything about TNR, joined the trapping sessions, contributed to the cause and felt good about it. He even started helping Maggie with the local Abbottsford colony.  As he learned about the “core” group, as Maggie called the seven cats that seemed the oldest and most in control of the colony, he started a carpentry project and built much needed winter-proofed cat housing for the colonies survival and comfort through Beaufleuve’s frigid winters.
Sam was hooked, by Abbottsford Road, the neighbors. and the cats. He was a teacher in more ways than one. Soon, Sam would find out just how much he meant to the Abbottsford colony and how much they cared for him.  Sam was part of the destiny that would place him in both romance and danger.   Deep inside, he knew something was afoot … and, truthfully, he couldn’t wait!


Brett Jelenti - A Cruel Man

Brett Jelenti was born outside of Beaufleur, in a suburb called Viande, the son of a wealthy lawyer. He was the only son, burdened with the expectations of an extremely ambitious father. Mr. Jelenti expected his son to run his practice when he retired. All of his father's ambitions fell on Brett’s shoulders as Mr. Jelenti began to lose firm grasp on reality. Brett’s father became consumed by alcohol when he was 45 years old. The older man hid his affliction well while he was building the business. Now that it had flourished, the lack of challenge, dealing with a son that was both brilliant and troublesome, and secret financial worries pushed him over the edge. He was hospitalized three times for alcohol poisoning.
It was Brett who found his dad dead of a gunshot wound to his head. When he found him, he sat a moment next to his father’s dead body and smoked a cigarette. He picked up the bottle of Scotch that the old man had left on the kitchen table and took a swig. Then he calmly dialed 911 and left the house.
After the funeral, at the reading of the will, Brett had expected to share quite a bit of money with his mother and sister. Unfortunately, Mr. Jelenti had troubles with the IRS it seemed.  The whys of his suicide became apparent. He had been fighting the IRS for years with no one's knowledge. His practice was in shambles and the IRS was beating down his door. The estate owed money. There was nothing left.
Brett, himself, went out and got drunk that night.  He woke up with a splitting headache, a stranger in his bed and an idea.
He never was too keen on finishing school to become a lawyer. His father had known that. Yet, through his schooling Brett learned he could be quite charming when he needed to. He wasn’t a bad looking guy according to the string of women he dated. After putting these positive traits together, and the fact that he really had no interest in being poor or working a day job, he came up with an alternative occupation.
He would woo rich, older women and steal them blind!  Not a bad job actually. They could afford it. He saw how his mother used to spend his father's money. If anything went missing, the insurance would cover it.  Also, he'd be giving these old wealthy hags a chance at a brief romance in their twilight years. A win-win situation!
So Brett Jelenti began his career as a thief and gigolo. Treating woman well was never one of Brett's strong points. Yet, he learned quickly how to flatter the older of the fairer sex and get into their beds and wallets. Once in their house, he carefully chose what to take. He chose jewelry that was rarely worn, therefore, rarely missed. He actually was shocked at how many of these women just threw huge quantities of gold and jewels in dresser drawers never to be noticed again. He noticed them. 

He became quite good at his occupation and was making a healthy paycheck. One day he read about an older woman who was famous for helping animals in Beau Fleur. He could care less about that. What caught his eye was the rest of the article. She was supposed to have a treasure trove of antiques that had "magical" powers. Well, whether they had magical powers or not, he was sure the old lady had a treasure trove!
So he set his sites on Magikys Cigany, the eccentric old gypsy of Abbottsford Road. Soon Brett would not only learn that some of the artifacts were indeed magical, but, he would also remember his encounter with Maggie and her "friends" - The Abbottsford Cats - for the rest of his life.


"Magikys Cigany" The Gypsy Queen

It seems these days, where humans are, cats must be too. Truthfully, the African Wild Cat was a solitary wild cat that really didn't mix well with humans. Throughout the ages, after luring and domesticating some less leery wild cats, both in Africa and Europe, humans discovered that cats were very helpful with keeping smaller varmints at bay in addition to comforting their humans in times of trouble. 

Unfortunately, humans have also vilified the cat as a being not quite animal, but, belying an intelligence and spirit as deep as the human spirit. This characteristic of the feline was feared by the rabble in the middle ages and, surprisingly, by some of the clergy. That clergy, though, were self-seeking types who were looking for scapegoats for their own misdeeds. The poor cat was a perfect target. Luckily the middle-ages passed, and the cat took her rightful place by the side of cat-adoring humans again. That "specialness" of the feline became one his most endearing traits. The mystery, loyalty and love of a cat was something a human longed for but did not know quite how to handle.

The Abbottsford Cats are quite special, and much of that is because of the symbiosis among these feral throwaways, one special woman, and her special cat. Magikys Cigany, who most called Maggie, was born in the United States, the only granddaughter of Hungarian immigrants. Her grandparents loved the old country completely and taught Maggie all of their ways. They were gypsies. They lived by the Roma gypsy rules. Maggie's grandfather was pure Romani and her grandmother was Hungarian. Caught in a prejudice against her grandfather, her grandparents decided to move to the land of plenty. The land without prejudice - the United States of America. They saved what they could from her grandfather's musical ability on the violin and her grandmother's seamstress skills. They boarded the ship to New York City three months pregnant with with Maggie's mother, Ana. It was both a journey of  trepidation and elation. There was no turning back when they arrived. After deciding to settle in a small city near the Grand Lakes, BeauFleur, they began to take root. They lived in a house full of magic, music and love.  Ana married briefly. Her husband died in a factory accident just a year after marriage. She lived the rest of her days with her parents.  Maggie was born just after her father passed. She was special from the start. Her grandfather was the first to see that Maggie understood the old ways. He would spend hours with her teaching her the magic of the playing cards, geomancy, and music.  Maggie introduced the cats.

She brought home every homeless kitten in the neighborhood. She learned to bottle feed kittens, raise them with love, and find good homes for them. She excelled in school, but, made few friends.  She was plagued by nightmares of a vision that she could not forget in the daylight. Her grandfather finally gave her a book when she was 20 years old.  She read the book and never said a word to anyone about it. Her grandfather died the year after she read it . Her grandmother passed soon after. Maggie took care of her mother in the same house they had all lived in all twenty-two of her years. She had no desire to leave Abbottsford Road. Everything she loved was right there.

After a brief illness, her mother passed too, and Maggie was alone.  She had inherited a great deal of money. Where it came from was a mystery. Her mother had a settlement from the factory for her father's death and invested wisely. But, even that could not explain all the money Maggie inherited. She decided to honor her heritage and the book that she would let no one read. She used some of the money to study the ways of the Romani people. She travelled throughout Hungary, Romania and India and met many relatives. Through these travels, she learned powerful secrets and brought home much magic.  She knew you could not really buy magic, but, many of the lessons she learned from her grandfather and her travels went into designing her house on Abbottsford with magical treasures she carefully bought in the old country. With the wisdom of her grandfather and those she had met in the old country, she began to learn powerful spells of healing.  She wanted to heal. The spells of love, revenge,and such did not interest her. She wanted only to heal. So Maggie lived for 30 years on Abbottsford Road, healing those who called for her.

She  had a brief affair and one daughter; then closed the door on romance. Healing was her destiny.  But, her life was cursed. The curse was spelled out deep in her tattered old book. It was a source of sadness, yet, a source of inspiration to continue her work as a healer of animals on this Earth as long as she was able. Yet, destiny moves at its own speed. Maggie would soon learn that it has a way of creeping up on one when it's least expected.

 "Magikys Cigany" @2012 Kim Yvonne Cady


Yiva - The Spirit Cat

Yiva is a Spirit Cat sworn to uphold the Code of a Spirit Cat. She was born like any other kitten, but, endowed with a sense and need to find a human soul mate. She didn't have far to look. Magikys Cigany (Maggie as her friends called her), was born on Abbottsford Road in the city of BeauFleur raised by her Hungarian parents to respect the ways of the old country. She spoke the language and had the accent her parents had. She was well-versed in the ways of everything gypsy.

A good cat was hard to come by. A good cat was what a gypsy needed to run ahead of her and warn her of danger when on the road. A dog ran in packs and would run off at the sight of a pack in the old country. A good cat stayed close and through the acute feline senses became a protector and comforter to her chosen human.

Maggie knew she needed a good cat. Little did she know how good of a cat she found when she found little Yiva in her nip beds in the back of her house.  Maggie would plant catnip in her garden to add a little spice to the lives of the Abbottsford Cats that ruled the neighborhood. She had taught Sam, a gentle rather non-cat man how to trap, neuter and release a feral cat back into the neighborhood when it was found. By doing this, the cats would keep the mice and rats at bay. They would be fed, watered and protected in the winter with the fabulous cat houses Sam could make. Also, they would not overpopulate the area and keep other felines out.  Yiva, just appeared, looked about six weeks old, and was extremely independent for a kitten that young.

Maggie didn't really find her. Yiva found Maggie. She sat in those cat nip beds and let out the loudest yowl that the neighborhood had heard in years. The kitten was extremely satisfied with herself when the woman came outside and found her. She let her pick her up and immediately demanded food with a frantic continuous yowling of a lessor volume.

It wasn't long before the gypsy began teaching the apt pupil the ways of a familiar.  Yiva was an eager learner.  Maggie was no longer alone with her magic; and Yiva, the Spirit Cat, had fulfilled one of the main decrees of the Code. With the Yiva, Maggie's magic was complete.


"Delikatny" The Healer

Delikatny was born in the desert of Las Vegas. His nest was situated behind a small casino near the dumpster. For a hungry mother cat, heavy with kittens, this was a close-to-perfect spot for a litter.

 One evening, a cocktail waitress saw the scruffy, white cat scamper to the dumpster. Stealthily, she followed her back her kittens. Enthralled, she gave them snacks on her breaks. Lobster, steak, ham, and caviar were standard. The family benefitted greatly from Vegas’ “free buffet” policy. The manager would ordinarily have a litter ousted by the local animal control. But he was sweet on the kind-hearted waitress. She convinced him to leave them alone. In the meantime, she phoned her feline-savvy friend and prepared to find homes for the entire bunch.

The mama had never known people. She was a true feral and wary. The friend knew if she didn’t catch her the first time, there would be no second try. The girl, waitress, and manager set up one trap after stopping the flow of food for a day. They hoped a delectable sardine and lobster bisque would entice this wild thing from the dumpster into their well-concealed cage.

Since Las Vegas is a 24 hour town, the waitress set up a series of sentries to keep an eye on the cage. Coyotes were rampant in Vegas, especially around the casinos. She didn’t want Ivory (as she named Mama) to meet a bad end.

It worked. That morning, mama was throwing herself against the wire cage, hissing and spitting like a snake. They quickly gathered up the kittens, who were barely two weeks old, and hustled the family off to the feral-friendly vet who had the scars to prove it.

The trapping group found a ranch to take the family. Mama had the run of the barn. She hid each of her kits in a fine nest and never ran out of milk. In a month, the three kittens were scampering all over. Two were female and one was male. The waitress decided to take the male. Although slower than the others, she whispered to the manager, “He has a cream color coat that’s to die for.”

Sunny, as she named him, was different than most cats. He never stopped purring. When she'd hold him, he purred louder. At times, he walked in circles and then flop down where he stopped. The vet felt he had some nerve problems, but didn't think it was serious. He pronounced Sunny happy and healthy. She was relieved.

One day, the waitress never woke up. Sunny lay on her legs looking up at her ashen face. He meowed and decided to sleep by her hair. She was so still. He moved to her chest. When the paramedics came in, they pulled him gently off the girl. It was an overdose. Not understanding what 'overdose' meant, Sunny tried to keep these strangers away from his friend. He bit one hand hard. The attendant threw him on the floor and kept working on the girl. She didn't move.

Something in Sunny clicked. She left. She went somewhere else. He could barely smell her anymore. She was gone. He decided to look for her and crept out the half-opened door unnoticed. In the desert heat, he began his quest. He looked for her everywhere in the strange city. He'd never seen so many people and buildings. He kept searching.

One day, a little girl pointed at him. “Daddy, daddy, kitty, kitty”. The daddy could see that this cat had seen better days. Sunny had been walking the Las Vegas Strip for weeks - eating out of dumpsters and drinking from fountains. The man was a good-hearted man. He picked him up and noticed his blue collar. He'd call the number and reunite the cat with his owner.

The family put Sunny in the back of the SUV with litter, food and water. He was beside himself. He knew he had to find the waitress - his only real friend. There was no time for this family. He escaped at the first gas station that they stopped at. The little girl opened the door and he was gone. They searched for him for hours and finally gave up.

Now Sunny was in the real desert. The family was staying at a hotel outside of the city. It was barren and hot. He ran under the gas station then set out to return to the glittering city east of him. It was blistering the next day. There was no water anywhere. Dehydration was catching up to him. He decided to stop for a moment and slept. It was no ordinary sleep. It was the sleep of death.

Then he saw her. His friend! She waved gently and told him to turn back - it wasn’t his time. She explained that when he laid on her, he saved her. She was alive; but, barely. She would be going far away where he couldn’t go, to help her get better. He was a healer. She had always known he was special. Then she disappeared.

The family discovered him half dead on the highway. They also learned the fate of the young waitress. She knew she was in for the fight of her life as she got clean. She was ready to face what she had to.
The family adopted the quiet Sunny and flew him home to BeauFleur. That was fine with Sunny. In BeauFleur, Sunny joined the Abbottsford Cats and was dubbed, Delikayny, for his gentle ways. He became the clowder's Healer.

"Delikatny" The Healer @ PhotoArt by Kim Yvonne Cady
"Sunny Sees" Photograph by Kim Cady @2011


"Zereto" Keeper of the Gardens

Black cats are somehow extra special. Their deep, dark fur represents the stuff of dreams and daring. Yet, unfortunately, when you are born in a litter of five pure black kittens, something has to distinguish you from the pack or you may not make it to a forever home.Black Whiskers was very peaceable. His other black lsisters and brothers were more eye-catching with unusual white whiskers or cute little white eyebrows. People noticed them.

The shelter where Black Whiskers came from was what they call a “high-kill” shelter. This kind of shelter euthanizes quickly. If you aren’t adopted in three days, you are probably on to your next cat life.

It was obvious Black Whiskers didn’t get the memo. He just slept in back of his cage in the darkness while his litter mates danced, showing off their white whiskers to their best advantage. At the end of the adoption blitz, Black Whiskers was just waking up and all alone.

A young woman saw the kitten. She was in her twenties with fabulous black hair and hazel eyes. She looked into the back of the cage and smiled as the kitten yawned and put a tiny paw up to her face. It was the first real movement he had made all weekend. She called out to a hard-working, very tired volunteer. “What happens to him now?” The volunteer just shrugged. The woman knew what that meant. She spoke, “OK - box!”

The volunteer didn’t like this woman’s attitude. After all, she wanted a box to take the kitten home without signing any of the proper papers. It was possible she could be a worse fate for the critter than going back to the shelter. The woman saw the volunteer’s wary look. “I know I’ve got to fill out the forms - bring them on. You see, this kitten isn’t going to go over the Rainbow Bridge for a long time because he met someone who's been looking a long time for a beautiful black cat!”

The mention of the Rainbow Bridge made the volunteer smile a bit. She figured if this woman knew about the legend of the Bridge - the place where animals waited for their companions to meet them after their life on Earth - she couldn’t be all that bad. Black Whiskers probably wouldn’t make it to next week’s adoption blitz anyway.

The woman signed the papers and paid $100.00 for the neutered and vetted kitten. She was giddy knowing she saved another impossible to adopt critter. The kitten looked at her with thankful green eyes. It was like he knew all along there was no need for prancing. A friend was on her way.

Once in the car, she spoke “Black Whiskers? Not for you. You need a special name. Mama will name you. She's good with names!"

So the black kitten who had been ready for a one way trip over the Rainbow Bridge with no one to meet or wait for, became Zereto, the Keeper of the Gardens on Abbottsford Road. It wouldn't be long before he would demonstrate his ability to fade into the night and become the Keeper of Secrets for the Abbottsford Cats.

"Zereto in the Gardens" PhotoArt @2010 Kim Yvonne Cady