Love At Globes and Maps

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

Love

Mr. Vinégar

Click below to hear Mr. Vinégar read this passage.
Love at Globes and Maps, By Mr. Vinégar

 

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar Blog

Ms. Graben

This morning love blossomed at Globes and Maps Inc., my place of employment.  Ms. Graben, who usually wears a variety of sacks in muted colors, was clothed instead in a bright see-through dress with a plunging neck line that stopped just short of her knees.  Aren’t you cold? Ms. Snickety asked, viewing Ms. Graben’s skimpy outfit with obvious disdain.  Not at all, Ms. Graben replied cheerfully, though her arms and legs were covered with goose bumps the size of bee stings.  I held my tongue because I wasn’t sure what to think – a middle-aged woman prancing around in her underwear while doing the books is hardly conducive to a workplace environment – but it was not my place to say so.  Nothing more was made of the matter until mid-morning when we heard whistling in the hallway.  A moment later, Winston the Aqua Water Man, strode into the office holding a huge bottle of water in each hand.

Winston
I would have gone back to work had Ms. Graben not pushed past me with such force that I almost fell off my chair.  Hi Winston, Ms. Graben smiled.  Tall and slender, Winston must be twenty years younger than Ms. Graben. He has long brown hair, a wispy mustache and beard and speaks in a voice better suited to a boy of twelve which is probably why he seldom speaks at all.  You’re looking fit today, Ms. Graben said coquettishly.  As if in reply, Winston took down the empty bottle from the stand and in one quick movement ripped the sealer off the new one, hoisted it in the air and plunged it dramatically down into the waiting mouth of the cooler.  Oooo! Ms. Graben shivered.  I love water. I could drink gallons of it, she continued, as the water gurgled down. It’s good for my complexion.  It’s good for your figure too, Winston said, winking broadly.  Ms. Graben giggled and smoothed her dress over her stomach with the flat of her hand.

 

Ms. Snickety tsked and rolled her eyes.  Ms. SnicketyNow everyone knew the reason for Ms. Graben’s attire, including Winston who was admiring her assets through the bubbling water.  It’s such a funny sound, Ms. Graben laughed.  By now all the water had finished draining into the receptacle.  Winston picked up the empty bottle. I’ll leave you the extra one, he said to Ms. Graben.  I’ll have to drink even more, she said, unnecessarily, as she accompanied Winston out the door.  Oh please! Ms. Snickety said loudly.  We heard Ms. Graben’s laughter in the hallway and then she reappeared, her cheeks flushed and her bosom heaving.  She paused by the door for a brief moment and then, making a circuitous route to the restroom, casually knocked Ms. Snickety’s jar of pens and pencils onto the floor as she passed by her desk.  I thanked my stars I had remained silent for I was holding a hot cup of coffee when she passed by me.  I do not know how this tryst will play out but from Ms. Graben’s heavy breathing it appears to be a volcano in the making. On the other hand, Jonesy and Mami’s relationship seems positively tranquil in comparison.

 

Jonesy

Click below to hear Jonesy read this passage.
Love at Globes and Maps, by Jonesy

 

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinegar blog. Peter Elbling.Tranquil?  Are you kidding me?  It’s one long whine.  I can’t even go behind a bush to do my business before Mami’s, Where did you go? Who did you see? What did you talk about?  She can go about the neighborhood all day long if she wants, it wouldn’t bother me.  But she never goes anywhere!  She just stays in and watches TV.  

Mami waiting

The other day I saw Blackie across the street.  I went over and nudged her just to say hello, and when I came back there was Mami waiting for me.  What did you say to her? She asked.  Nothing, I said.  Yes, you did. I saw you.  I just said hello.  Yeah, right! Well, if you’re not going to believe me why did you even ask?  And then she smacked me in the face and stalked off!

The next day my face blew up like a balloon.  Mr. Vinégar had to take me to the vet. As I got a shot, I thought to myself, I’m done. I’m over her.  Mr. Vinégar took me home and who do I see sitting outside the door waiting for me, Mami.  Come out, she said, like nothing had happened. I can’t, I said, I have to stay inside for a couple of days.  Why?  She said.  Why? Look at my face!  Oh, she said, That’s nothing. You’ll get over it. It was just a love tap. 

If that was a love tap I don’t want to be around when she gets mad.  As it was I had to stay inside for three whole days.  The strange thing was that by the third day I missed her!  Now what’s up with that?  

 

The Fight – Part 2

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

Click below to hear Mr. Vinégar and Jonesy read this passage.

The Fight by Jonesy

Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogWhatever anger I had felt toward Jonesy for the rip in the couch disappeared the moment I saw him limp in the following morning.  His left hind paw was covered in dried blood and, from the sad look on his face, I sensed he was in great pain.  I immediately pulled out the carrier to take him to the vet.  Usually, he ran and hid at the sight of it, but this time he crawled in meowing quietly, although as soon as we got into the car he yowled so loudly I was obliged to tune into a rock & roll station to drown him out.

The vet, a Dr. Thatcher said that Jonesy’s middle claw had been ripped out but that part of the flesh was still attached to the bone.  Apparently, when frightened, cats sometimes dig their claws into whatever is closest – in this case probably the sidewalk or something similar.  When Jonesy had tried to escape, the claw had been torn away.  Jonesy would have to be sedated so that the flesh could be cut away cleanly and the wound dressed.  The vet also said the gash had become infected and a shot of antibiotics would be needed to clear-up the infection.  I told him to do whatever was necessary and, after praising Jonesy for being a brave little trooper, left him in Dr. Thatcher’s care.

When I returned, Jonesy‘s foot had been bandaged and he was ready to be discharged.  I was given a supply of pills to mash into his food and told that Jonesy must not gnaw at the wound and had to be kept inside.  I knew this would be difficult for even as I drove home he somehow broke out of the carrier and crawled around the car howling and whining making it extremely difficult for me to drive.

I hoped that the injury might curb his energy but it didn’t seem to affect it at all.  He sprang at the door every time I went out and when I came home I had to push him out of the way to make sure he didn’t escape.  I even showed him the veterinarian’s bill of $900 in the hope that this might encourage him to co-operate.  It did nothing of the sort.

Jonesy With BandageTwo days later we were standing in front of Dr Thatcher.  Jonesy had chewed the bandage off and was licking at the lesion.  It was just as well that we went.  The infection had spread to the pad of his paw and a stronger medication was now necessary.  A new bandage was put on, as well as a cone around his neck which was intended to prevent him from chewing the bandage off.  I don’t think I ever felt more sorry for Jonesy than when he tried to lick his neck, for he could only lick the cone and the harsh sound magnified his frustration.  I scratched his neck and head for him for which he seemed most grateful and for a short while we were almost as close as we had been when he was a kitten.

Three days later we were back at the vet again.  I had watched in amazement as Jonesy cleverly pressed the edge of the cone into the floor so that it bent in half and gave him enough room to swing his hind leg around to the front enabling him to nibble at the bandage.  Not only that, but once after locking him inside, he jumped out of the bathroom window onto the steps leading to the street below – a good ten feet – for I found him walking along the top of a fence by the little tree, the bandage dangling uselessly from his paw.  The cone was re-attached and the bandage wrapped higher up his leg.  This however, did not stop him from trying to open the door as soon as we got home.  His frustration at not being able to do so, escalated until one evening after nudging him away so that I might pass through, he leapt up and pushed me in the back.

Click below to view Jonesy’s frustration at being left inside:

 

Jonesy

Those three weeks were TORTURE!  I managed to get the bandages off twice and even jumped out of the bathroom window, but I couldn’t get rid of that cone! And going to the vet was murder! Whenever Mr. V called me in that sing-songy voice, Jones-zee Jones-zee I wanted to scratch his eyes out because it meant I’d have to sit in the cage and ride in the car, and all the time he’d be telling me how everything was going to be all right…when I knew it wasn’t! And the vet was a real perv, too.  Every time I saw him he shoved Jonesy Sleepingsomething up my butt and looked in my mouth and messed with my paw.  As for those pills:  I hated them! Mr. V mashed them up and put them in my food – like I didn’t know – but I was usually so hungry that I didn’t have the time to pick them out.  He did scratch my neck for me and I liked that.  I liked that a lot…especially since we hadn’t been spending a lot of time together.  A couple of times I was so relaxed I fell asleep.  Mr. V gave me a whole bunch of treats too, but I couldn’t stand being cooped-up, and after the second week I got so depressed I just slept.

 

Mr. Vinégar

Three weeks after the initial incident, the bandage was removed so the wound could get some air.  The cone, however, had to be kept on until the medicine ran out.  Dr. Thatcher said if Jonesy licked his foot when I took off the cone it meant the infection had not completely healed and I must put it back.  If, however, Jonesy didn’t pay any attention to his paw then it was all right and he could go back to his old life.  Two days later I nervously untied the cone.  Jonesy shook his head enjoying his new freedom.  He made no attempt to lick his foot.  Much relieved, I opened the front door.  For a moment, he looked at it as if he couldn’t grasp its meaning.  Go on, I said, you can go outside.  He meowed and pushed the screen door open with his nose just enough to slide his body through.  For a moment he stood in the doorway, rubbing his cheek against the doorjam looking from one side to the other.  Then he hurried down the stairs.  He was well again.

 

Jonesy

My foot was as good as new.  I didn’t even think about it.  I rushed down the steps to hang out…when I got to the sidewalk, I stopped.  I needed to find out where Prince was first.  I went back to all the places I had marked. The marks were still mine.  I marked them again just to be sure.  Then I went to the nice lady’s house. She made a big fuss over me, asking where I’d been and if I was all right.  I let her know I was pleased to see her, rubbing up against her legs and licking her hands.  I could tell Prince hadn’t been there.  I asked around but no one had seen him.  He had gone, this time for good, and I can’t say I was sorry.

Jonesy’s Girlfriend

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 
Mr. Vinégar

Click below to hear Mr. Vinégar read this passage.
Jonesy’s Girlfriend By Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling is Sour Mr. VinegarJonesy GroomingI was eating breakfast the other morning when I heard a plaintive meow. I knew it wasn’t Jonesy – his meow is demanding – and besides he was on my bed grooming himself. The door was open for it was a hot day and upon looking up I saw a tortoiseshell butter ball with short stubby legs, and a thick dark brown coat flecked with orange and black standing in the doorway. What do you want? I said, reaching for my broom. Feral cats are common in this area and the last thing I needed was an attack of rabies. The cat meowed in a pathetic way cocking its head to one side as it did so. The cat had meowed loud enough for Jonesy to hear but he hadn’t made the slightest effort to see what the fuss was about.

MamiCurious, I wandered into the bedroom and was surprised to find that the cat had followed me. It either didn’t have the courage to jump onto the bed or because of its size wasn’t able to. Jonesy didn’t even bother looking up but continued to clean himself. It occurred to me that the cat couldn’t be a male for Jonesy would have challenged it ,but since he treated it in such a cavalier manner it must be female – and a love-struck one at that. In any event, the cat returned to the kitchen, ambled over to Jonesy’s food corner, and scoffed down some hard pellets.

At the sound of the crunching Jonesy shot out of the bedroom. Fearing there might be an altercation I reached for the broom again but if anything Jonesy seemed a little cowed at the sight of the cat eating his food and ran to the door. She followed and there they paused, he on one side of the door she on the other, before they both went downstairs. Since then this cat has appeared every morning at my door with the same plaintive cry, as if to say, Is Jonesy here? I find this mating ritual rather amusing and look forward to seeing how it plays out.


Jonesy

Click below to hear Jonesy read this passage.

Jonesy’s Girlfriend By Jonesy

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinegar blog. Peter Elbling.Jonesy Best Spot On CouchIt is NOT a mating ritual! Geez!  Nothing’s going on, okay! We just hang that’s all. And for your information, her name is Mami. She lives with the lady a couple of doors down. When Prince first took me there she said to me, This is my place and my food and this is my spot. Ignore her, Prince said, so I did. I went back the next day by myself, had something to eat, watched some TV, slept and then I left. She didn’t say anything. A couple of times, just to be polite, I asked if she wanted to hang out or go rat hunting but she barely looked at me. But that all changed after my fight with Prince. This time when I came in she jumped off the couch came up to me and said, Are you all right? I heard you hurt your paw. It was nothing, I shrugged. It’s all healed now. That Prince was a real jerk, she said. I hope you gave it to him good! She said it real angry like, which surprised me.

Since then we’ve been hanging out. She always gives me the best spot on the couch if I want to watch television and she always leaves some salmon for me if the lady gives it to her. But that’s it! She’s okay I guess but she’s not really my type. She’s too shy. And clingy. I got to be free, you know what I mean? And you can’t be free if you got some clingy female following you around everywhere.

 

 

The Fight – Part 1

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

JONESY

Click below to hear Jonesy read this passage.

The Fight by Jonesy

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinegar blog. Peter Elbling.Mr. Vinégar's Catastrophe. Prince: Checking Things Out.I was getting pretty fed up with Prince even though he’d been the best friend I’d ever had.  He had these dark moods where he growled and smacked me just ‘cuz he felt like it.  He even sprayed the curtains at the house where the nice lady let’s us sleep.  Then he runs out the side window so it looks like I did it.  And for no reason, he scratched the face of the little stray dog on our street.  I didn’t want to believe that story about him killing those kittens – but now I knew it was true.

A couple of days later he followed me upstairs into Mr. V’s place.  Mr. V wasn’t there but I smelled something cooking so he was probably down in the garden picking some herbs.  Hopefully not the ones I peed on.  Prince wandered into the front room where the couch was.  Mr. V liked to sit there and relax when he came home from work.  I was allowed to sleep on the couch but scratching was not allowed.  I made that mistake once when I was little and, well, let’s just say I never did it again.  Anyways, Prince walked around sniffing and poking his nose in everything.  I could tell he was looking to do something mean.

scratchBefore I could stop him he jumped onto the couch and made a big scratch in the leather. Oh man! We would have gone at it right therebut just then Mr. V came in and Prince raced out leaving me to take the blame.  I was mad.  Really mad!  I went looking for him but I couldn’t find him anywhere so I went to all the places he’d marked and I peed on them.  Then I sat down in the middle of the street, howled a couple of times to tell him what a coward he was – and waited.  It must have been a couple of hours later when I saw him watching me from across the road.

He was sitting in the light of a streetlamp, his shadow stretching all the way to where I was.  A car passed between us, and when it had gone, Prince was crouching right there in front of me!  His eyes were dark slits and his tail twitched back and forth.  He made a weird ugly growl that was supposed to scare me but I did it right back at him.  I circled to my right, arching my back to make myself taller.

Jonesy and Prince FightSuddenly, Prince leapt at me.  For a second we were in mid-air slashing and whipping at each other.  I tried to bite him but he pushed me down.  I dodged behind a tree and then flew out the other side and dug my claw into his haunch.  A second later we were scratching and biting and kicking and clawing, racing up and down the street, on top of cars, under them, and screaming and yowling like we had been dipped in boiling oil.  And then, just as quickly as it had begun, it was over, and I was alone on top of a wall.

I couldn’t believe what had just happened.  My heart was pumping.  Blood was oozing out of my left paw.  I wanted to get down but I was afraid Prince might still be around so I waited until the sun came up and then slipped down the wall into Mr. V’s backyard.  I curled up behind a bush and tried to sleep, but now my paw was killing me real bad.  Later that morning I was so hungry I forced myself upstairs and howled outside the door until Mr. V let me in.

 

Click HERE to read the blog where Prince is introduced.

To read about when Prince and Jonesy first met, click HERE.

To read Part One of Jonesy and Prince’s first big adventure together, click HERE.

To read Part Two of Jonesy and Prince’s first big adventure together, click HERE.

To read Part Three of Jonesy and Prince’s first big adventure together, click HERE.

 

Sleeping

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

MR VINÉGAR:

Click below to hear Mr. Vinégar read this passage

Sleeping by Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogI am a light sleeper.  I need dark and quiet and the slightest noise or bright light can wake me.  If I don’t get enough sleep I become irritable.  Ms. Graben claims that I’m naturally irritable and that my sleeping habits have nothing to do with it.  What Ms. Graben doesn’t realize is that certain voices affect me like a bad toothache and hers is one of them.

 

Jonesy sleepingJonesy on the other hand can sleep whenever or wherever he wants.  The TV or the radio can be on; it makes little difference to him.  If he wants to sleep he simply curls up and within minutes is dead to the world. I’ve also noticed that he will sleep for three days on the couch, for another three on the window sill, and for another three on the grey cushion.  He continues this routine until he gets bored and then he dreams up another.  It’s harmless.

What isn’t harmless, however, is his waking me in the middle of the night demanding to be let out.  Even as I stumble to the front door he suddenly decides he needs to eat first.  I cannot tell you how many times I have stood in the doorway, a cold wind rattling my bones, while Jonesy finishes his marinated morsels of salmon feast in gravy.  For a while we came to an agreement that he would go out at eleven o’clock whether he wanted to or not.  Somehow that agreement has been forgotten so now I get up every night whether I want to or not.

If it rains heavily or is unexpectedly cold I, of course, relent and Jonesy remains inside.  On those occasions he inevitably makes a bee line for my bed.  At first, I thought this was a sign of love, but I’ve quickly discovered it’s nothing of the kind. He makes himself comfortable in the middle of the duvet and gets upset when I try to move him.  Consequently, I have often spent nights curled up around him and have woken with more cricks in my spine than the hunchback of Notre Dame.  All of this could be avoided if the landlord simply installed a cat door, but the landlord seems to believe that the front door is a piece of sacred architecture which cannot be altered in any way.  So I do not see a change in my sleeping habits occurring in the near future.

 

JONESY

Click below to hear Jonesy read this passage

Sleeping by Jonesy

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinegar blog. Peter Elbling.sleeping on chairRegarding sleeping with the TV or the radio on – It’s just a question of mind over matter.  I don’t understand any of it anyway, so I’m not missin’ anything.  As for moving around, I slept next to the window during that hot spell so I could feel the breeze. Other times I like to sleep on the couch especially when Mr. V has already sat there – ‘coz it’s already warm.  I mean, it’s not rocket science!

Of course whenever I’m sleeping Mr. V always has to sit down right next to me and start bugging me. Jone-zee! Jone-zee! What are you doing?  What does it look like I’m doing? I’m sleeping!  He strokes me for a minute or so and then he leaves!  Now I’m wide awake.  I have to lick all the places he’s stroked because the hair isn’t laying flat and then go sleep on the floor because I know he won’t bother me there.

As for taking up room on his bed, if I get there first I’d be stupid if I didn’t make myself comfortable.  Duh!

 

 

The Muse

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogAlthough I have been an employee of Globes and Maps for twenty years I had never felt as inadequate as I had in the past six months.  As executive in charge of new ideas I had to continually come up with new places to put maps as well as create new maps themselves.  Lately the well had run dry.  My last three ideas, the Sahara desert on an electric blanket, the Himalayas as a coat rack, and the roll of toilet paper with a different country on each sheet had all been resounding disasters.  I dreaded our monthly meetings and whether he was looking at me or not I felt Mr. Karl’s eyes on me every time he entered the office.

My co-workers were sympathetic and took it upon themselves to help me.  Mr. Chang bought me strange fish which was supposed to energize my brain.  Ms. Snickety bought me a book of crossword puzzles and Ms. Graben said that I should stand in front of the mirror and repeat:  I DO have a brain and today I will use it to come up with fresh brilliant ideas,  fifty times every morning before breakfast.  I followed all three suggestions sometimes by themselves and once, in desperation, all together.  But other than spewing fish juice on the crossword while I was reciting my mantra nothing happened.  In the end it was Jonesy who came to my rescue. 

 

Jonesy

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinegar blog. Peter Elbling.Mr. Vinegar's CatastropheMr. V was in trouble. It had been building over the past couple of months until it was right in my face.  I could always tell when he was in trouble because he ate lots of sardines.  I like fish, but sardines? Pul-ease!  They’re oily and afterwards your breath smells like…well sardines.  That wasn’t all.  Last week he wore the same shirt three days running.  I know because I slept on it and let me tell you it was funky before I got there.  This last week he didn’t shave for two days.  He used to pick me up at least once a day but he had hardly picked me up in the past month.  And as for my daily massage…I’d forgotten what it felt like.

Three nights running, I’d come home at different times of the night and each time he was staring at his computer.  Yesterday evening, he was mumbling to himself.  I had to do something.  First I rubbed against his legs to let him know I was there.

He said, Hi Jonesy, but he didn’t bother to stroke me.  So I jumped up on the table. I’m not supposed to do that but he didn’t say anything…just stared at the computer screen.  So I did too.

It’s a map of all the rock festivals around the globe, he explained.  I can’t stand the music, but millions of people love it and they go to the festivals so I thought perhaps some of them would like a map as a souvenir.  What do you think?

I thought it was the worst idea I’d ever heard but I didn’t want to dampen his spirits – he’s an artist, or he thinks he is, and artists can be very sensitive.  Not as sensitive as cats of course but still I had to tell him in a firm but subtle way that his idea was crap.  Because if you don’t say anything artists take to drink and drugs and jump out of windows – it’s a proven fact – and I didn’t want that on my paws. So I scratched myself as if I was thinking and then I just walked across the keyboard which threw the whole thing into the recycle bin.

Whenever I’d done this in the past Mr. V had always had a fit but this time he picked me up and said, You little rascal!  I was so relieved I started purring.  He flipped me on my back.  My little tiger, he said scratching my neck.  Or are you a lion?  Hmm?  Which is it? Suddenly, he stopped.  His eyes grew big!  My goodness! He said.  That’s it!  Cats of the World.  A map of the world featuring all the different species of cats and the countries they are found in.  It’ll go to zoos and schools and kids and everything!   He put me down and began banging at the computer.  I hadn’t seen him so excited in a long time.  I never thought of myself as a muse before but if that’s to be my role in life, so be it.  Anything for Mr. V.

Mr. Karl’s Saga

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling is Sour Mr. VinegarMr. Karl in Mr. Vinegar's catastropheI was leaving the office late the other evening when I noticed a light on in the conference room.  I peeked inside and there was Mr. Karl staring at a much younger photograph of himself in a naval uniform on the wall.  He was also clutching an open bottle of whiskey.   Before I could slip away he said, Come here, Vinégar!   I muttered that I had an engagement but he ignored me, pulled up two chairs and said, Park it right here.  Then he took a swig from the bottle, wiped the top of it with his sleeve and passed it to me.

In the spirit of companionship, I took a drink.  The whiskey burned a fire down to my belly and then set the rest of my body ablaze.  Pointing to the photograph, Mr. Karl said, Who’s that?   Why, that’s you, sir, I replied brightly.  I know that, he snapped. I mean, who is he? What does he want? Where is he going?

He’s not going anywhere, I said quickly, because he’s already arrived. He’s at the top of his game.  Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Mr. Karl muttered.  He took the bottle from me and drank again. Do you know, he said, that I joined the navy to see the world? But I spent the whole Goddamn time in San Diego! I had chronic motion sickness. I couldn’t stop throwing up.

That’s too bad, I said.  He ignored me and continued.  So when I left the navy I thought I’d see the world by train. I took a train to Mexico and then all the way down through Central America.  How fascinating, I smiled.  I hated it, he snarled. Hated the food, hated the climate. Do you know they have bugs the size of rabbits down there?  Really? I replied.  Well, they do! He insisted, as if I had been arguing with him.

Mr. Karl Rants. Mr. Vinegar's CatstropheMr. Karl pushed the bottle on me again and said…  So then, I thought, I’ll go to Europe, the old country. Do you know where my folks are from?  No, I don’t, I shrugged.  Neither do I, he sobbed.  He was quite drunk now and I was beginning to see double myself.  I hated Europe even more! He continued.  They’ve got funny money, they don’t know how to make a decent hamburger and they don’t speak English! What do you think of that?

But surely they spoke English in England, I said.  You mean, Jolly good? Old chap. Pip, pip, pip! He snorted in a terrible English accent. It was crap. I couldn’t understand a word of it.  He paused to drink again.  So I came home and I started this map company. Now everyone thinks I’ve been all over the world.  That I love to travel.  But I don’t.  I hate it.  Now you know the truth.   He leaned in close enough for me to count his little yellow teeth.   And if you tell a Goddam soul, Vinégar,  I’ll cut your heart out!  You get me?  Yes, I nodded vigorously.  That’s what they do in the navy, he went on.  They cut your heart out.  Oh, fifteen men on the dead man’s chest.  Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, he sang.  

I was beginning to wonder if Mr. Karl had even seen the ocean let alone been in the navy, when suddenly he stood up and started a hornpipe around the chair before collapsing in a heap on the floor.

I don’t remember how I got Mr. Karl home or how I got home myself but I when I arrived in the office the next day Mr. Karl acted as if nothing had happened and I wondered if I had dreamt it all.

 

JONESY

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinegar blog. Peter Elbling.I heard Mr. V coming up the stairs before I saw him.   He was singing and shouting and when he opened the door he almost fell into the apartment.   I’d never seen him like this before and so I hid under the bed.  Jone-zee! He said in that sing song voice he sometimes uses. Why are you running away?  Come here. I want to talk to you.   I crept even further under the bed.   Jone-zee! Come on out.  He got down on his hands and knees and squinted at me.  Don’t you like me anymore?

I didn’t answer.   I like you, he said, I do.  He put his forehead on the floor and stared at me.   I didn’t trust him so I didn’t move.  If you don’t come out I’ll have to come in and get you, he said in that sing-song voice.

He started to crawl under the bed but he’s much too big and he banged his head.  Ow! he yelled.  Jone-ZEE! Come here!   He reached out his hand out to me!  I moved back against the wall.  He obviously hadn’t vacuumed under the bed in a while because little clumps of carpet were stuck to his chin and he spat out a feather.  Come here! He said, I’m not going to hurt you.

Mr. Vinegar in the morningI know you’re not, I thought, that’s why I’m staying as far away as possible.   He stretched his hand out again and I swatted it with my paw but good.   Jone-ZEE! He shrieked. You stuck me!  He sucked at his finger which was bleeding. Then he put his head sideways on the floor and looked at me. You know what you are? He said. You’re an ungrateful little pussy cat.  I’m never going to speak to you again. And he closed his mouth to show that he meant it.  What was I supposed to do? A few seconds later his eyes closed and he started snoring.  Horrible, loud snores just like the vacuum cleaner.   After that it was easy to slip past him and out the door which he had forgotten to close.

When I came back the next morning, Mr. V was getting dressed. Boy, did he look a mess.  He left for work a little while later with bits of lint still sticking to his hair and clothing.   I almost felt sorry for him.  I mean I understand the need to let go every once in a while but Mr. V should try cat nip instead of whatever he was doing.  Catnip’s an energy rush.  Of course you’ve got to be careful about how much you take.  I heard of one cat who ate a whole packet of catnip and then went to the local dogpark and said, Which one of you pussies is man enough to take me on?  He was never heard of again.  But that’s an extreme case.  If Mr. Vinégar ate a packet of catnip he’d probably just climb up and down the curtains several times and then fall asleep on the floor like I do.  Come to think of it that is something I’d love to see.

To see more of Mr. Karl watch Mr. Vinégar and The Ants by clicking HERE. Or you can read the blog “The Name” to read more of Mr. Karl HERE.

The Wild

Peter Elbling's The Vinegar Jonesy Chronicles

Jonesy

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinegar blog. Peter Elbling.I’ve been betrayed!  Mr. V often walks around with a sour expression on his face moaning about this or griping about that. I’m used to it.  His favorite word is Quiet!  He says it about everything.  He says it to the kettle when it boils and to people on TV. He even says it to me! If Mr. V doesn’t like something, it’s Quiet! Quiet! Quiet!  But I just found out that underneath all that Mr. V is a softie!  A real softie! Here’s how I know.

Sparky the squirrel. Mr. Vinegar's CatastropheOne morning I was feeling hungry so I went to my food bowl in the kitchen.  At one end of the kitchen is my bowl and at the other end is the door to the outside.  As I got to the food bowl I glanced up and I saw Mr. V crouched in the doorway feeding one of those flying rats with the fluffy tail – A Squirrel!  He was talking to it, saying all the little cutie pie things he usually says to me!  It made me want to vomit!  If anything deserved a good dose of vinegar it’s those bug-eyed monsters.

 Well, I couldn’t have that. Not in my house!  So I charged it.  Oooo, you should have seen that little #&% go.  Up onto the railing, and from there onto the wall, and then across to the tree at the end of the porch.  And I was right behind him.  I would have gotten him too if Mr. V hadn’t interfered!  No! Jonesy!  No! What do you think you’re doing?  I’m trying to catch that diseased piece of vermin is what I’m doing. And I would have caught him too if you hadn’t interfered!

Oh, was he mad!  No! he kept saying to me.  Bad Boy! Bad Boy!  I couldn’t believe it! Me?  Bad Boy?  He hurt me real bad.  That was when I realized.  Mr. V is a softie!   He likes squirrels.  He’s got to be a softie to like squirrels.  Next he’ll be having a possum over to tea.  Well, this changes everything!  This is war!

 

Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling is Sour Mr. VinegarJonesy in Mr. Vinegar's Catastrophe.A recent article stated that cats kill billions of mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, and birds every year in the United States.  Feral and strays cats were mainly responsible but pets, such as Jonesy did their fair share too.  I read that a collar with a bell could reduce this statistic by a third so I bought a collar with a bell and put it around Jonesy’s neck.  It was a breakaway collar in case he caught himself climbing a tree. 

Within a few days I saw the collar dangling on nearby branch like a piece of discarded clothing after a fraternity party.  I bought another collar. It ended up the same way.  I gave up on the collars.  I remembered that the article had also suggested that if cats were kept indoors, the killings would be reduced by a third.  But keeping Jonesy indoors was much easier said than done for he had found ways of getting out, such as jumping from his lookout in the bathroom window to the stairs below, which is a good ten feet if not more.  So other than admonishing him sternly I wasn’t sure what else I could do.

It was distressing, however, to know that I was harboring a killer of little critters since I have always considered myself at one with nature, enjoying creatures great and small as long as they didn’t leave a mess, make a noise, and kept their distance from me.  Recently, however, my resolution was severely tested.

PossumI had just entered my apartment when I saw a creature with an enormous stiff tail disappear into a hole in the side of my building – right by my bathroom!  Horrific stories of unsuspecting people sitting on the toilet suddenly having their private parts snapped at by an emerging crocodile, snake, or other hideous creature now flooded my mind. I immediately called the landlord and asked him if rats were included in the rent.  The landlord replied that it was not a rat but rather a possum which by law, neither he nor I, nor anyone else could remove.

I thought possums were shy creatures but this particular possum must have known the law for it delighted in flaunting its territorial rights at me.  Returning home one night, I was about to climb the stairs leading to my apartment when I was confronted with a pair of bright eyes staring at me out of the darkness.  The fact that the eyes were at head height was more than a little alarming because I couldn’t see how large the creature was.  We stared at one another for a few seconds before the possum turned around, waddled up the stairs, and disappeared into the wall.  

This happened several times and on each occasion the possum sat there almost daring me to mount the stairs before it was ready to leave.  I must admit I encouraged Jonesy to try his hunting ability on the possum, but although Jonesy was adventurous he was no fool.  The possum was twice his size and its claws three times as large as his.

Our confrontations came to an end when the possum was killed by a passing car.   I then discovered it had been a female for it had left an offspring behind.  Now I was able to persuade the landlord to remove it for fear that Jonesy or something else–I was deliberately vague—might take matters into their own hands.

 

 

Conversations With Jonesy

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

MR. VINÉGAR:

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogI’m not a particularly vocal person.  I communicate with a few friends and my co-workers. Needless to say, my communications with Jonesy are also somewhat limited. There’s the plaintive meow when he wants attention, the short brusque meow when he’s hungry, and the long wailing – I’m going to be guillotined – when I take him to the vet.  There is one occasion however, when he’s very talkative and it was my own softheartedness that caused it.

When Jonesy was a kitten I was told that if he started to whine when I went out I shouldn’t pay attention to it for he was bound to stop in time. But his whining was so pitiful – I’m sure he practiced – that on several occasions I went back to comfort him.  This was a mistake for then he took to howling whenever I left.  He’s continued to do that but has since topped this behavior with something not so embarrassing but even more bizarre.

Waiting like a well trained dog

Waiting like a well trained dog

The first time it happened I was going to a gathering of stamp collectors a short distance from my apartment.  Jonesy ran beside me slipping from one car to another.  I kept telling him to go home but he ignored me.  When I reached my destination I told him he could come in but he was understandably apprehensive of the number of people so he stayed outside.  Since I was only two blocks from my apartment I reasoned Jonesy would make his way home as soon as he got bored. You can imagine my surprise when I left three hours later to find Jonesy waiting for me like a well-trained dog.

Since then Jonesy has often accompanied me to the edge of his territory, which is about a block in each direction.  If I continue past that he will howl at my back for a couple of minutes and then wait in the general vicinity for my return. I was initially charmed by this act of devotion but it has since proved to be a curse.  On more than one occasion I have returned home hours later having taken a completely different route, and it was only after I had gotten into bed that I suddenly remembered him.  Then I’ve had to get up, dress, and rush outside to find him.  Inevitably he is in the same place where I left him.  It’s now that he talks non-stop, loudly meowing as if inquiring where I’ve been, what I did, who I was with, what did they say, and from his tone admonishing me for not coming home sooner. It’s bad enough to have to wander about in the dead of night in my dressing gown and slippers looking for him, but lately his haranguing has become so bad that I’ve taken to carrying a little note book so I can jot down where I left him in the first place and thus avoid these embarrassing moments.

 

JONESY:

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.Of course that’s when I talk to him because that’s about the only time I can get a word in edgewise.  When I see him I’ll come running over and I’ll say low, but loud enough for him to hear, Hey it’s me!   He’ll turn around and say, casually, Hey, Jonesy.   Then I rub against his legs asking how he’s been and so forth and so on. He pets me and we walk back to the apartment together.   We keep it just between ourselves, you know, two dudes saying, Hi.   I’d love to have longer conversations with him but he just doesn’t listen.  It can be very frustrating.

PUT ME DOWN!

PUT ME DOWN!

For example, last week I came rushing in and I said, I’ve got to get to the window. There’s a hurt crow out there somewhere and I want to nail it. He said, Do you want something to eat?  No! I said, not now. See the crows on the wire?  I just came around the corner when they started cawing like crazy.  I bought some fish, he said.  Do you want some?  He obviously wasn’t listening to a word I was saying.  Later!  I snapped.  Crows only caw like that when one of them is hurt. It’s probably broken a wing or something. If I find him he’s toast.  

Mr. V picked me up.  What are you doing? I shouted. PUT ME DOOOOOWN!  He said, Don’t lean out the window like that, you’ll fall.  Are you kidding me? Me? Fall? LET GO OF ME!  Of course by that time the crows had long gone.

He might as well have just held up a sign saying, FLY AWAY! CAT ON THE PROWL!  Now you understand why I have such a hard time talking to him.  Oh, I know he does his best, but sometimes I have to wonder if he’s going deaf or if he’s just plain stupid.

The Rat

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

JONESY

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.The rat houseTwo nights ago, I slipped out just before Mr. V went to bed.  The dogs had all been for their walks, so the streets were empty.  At the bottom of the stairs I saw Prince.  Wanna have some fun? He said.  Sure, I said.  I followed him down the alley till we came to a house that was being demolished.  Prince climbed a ladder to the roof so I did the same.  Prince began grooming himself so I knew it would be a while before anything happened.  One by one the TVs went off and soon it was just the streetlamps and the stars.  Every now and then a car sped by but other than that it was quiet.

Suddenly, I heard a movement on the ground below.  From out of the wood pile beneath us came two small rats.  They sniffed the air and then scurried along the edge of the fence towards the garbage cans.  One can was on its side, the garbage spilling onto the sidewalk.  The rats disappeared inside the can.  I thought of all the times I had played with the toy mice Mr. V had given me but that was nothing like this. This was the real thing.  And I was pumped.  After a moment another rat came out of the wood pile and hurried after the other two.  I heard them banging about in the can.  Prince slipped down the ladder and crouched behind a large piece of wood.  His tail flicked back and forth.  I was right with him.

Our bodies were rigid.  My eyes, my nose, my ears – every part of me was alive!  The noises in the can stopped.  A rat peeked out and sniffed the air.  Our tails stilled.  The rat acted like it knew something was up but it didn’t know what.  I wanted to kill it.  I didn’t know why but I did.  The rat kept sniffing the air.  Another rat came out and crouched beside the first.  They kept moving backwards and forwards, sniffing and twisting but they didn’t know whether to move or stay where they were.  The third rat joined them.  Perhaps they thought there was safety in numbers because all of a sudden they broke into a run.  They were halfway across the little patch of ground hugging the fence when Prince sprang.  

The lead rat tried to turn but it bumped into the other two. Prince smacked him with his paw sending him spinning, and then he pounced on it.  I didn’t know what he did after that because I was flying at the other two.  One of them tried to bite me but I caught it between my paws, sank my teeth into its throat, and shook it.  Five seconds and it was all over.  I looked up panting and said proudly, I killed it!  Prince looked at me then at my rat and said. What did you do that for?  I shrugged.  I thought that’s what I was supposed to do.  No, Prince said, Didn’t your mother teach you anything?

It was only then that I saw that his rat was still alive on the ground in front of him.  It tried to scoot away.  Prince caught it with his right paw, pulled it back, batted it to his left paw, then back to his right, and then back and forth a couple more times.  See, he said, This is the fun part. Now what are you going to play with for the rest of the night?  I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything.  No worries, Prince said.  Take it back to Mr. V as a present.  Show him what you’re made of.

If you can’t remember who Prince is, click HERE to read the blog where Prince is introduced.

To read about when Prince and Jonesy first met click HERE.
 

 

Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling is Sour Mr. VinégarThe ratYesterday morning began in a most unpleasant manner.  As I was leaving for our monthly “new business meeting” at Globe and Maps Inc., I felt something squishy beneath my right foot.  Leaping aside I saw that I had trodden on a dead rat!  It took all of my self-control not to throw up.  Then I saw Jonesy hovering nearby.  Some experts believe that cats bring dead rodents to their owners to impress them, and others think it’s to show their appreciation.  I believe Jonesy did it to amuse himself for I swear he was grinning.  Whatever the reason I found it disgusting and I told Jonesy so in no uncertain terms.  I was in no mood to deal with the rat then and there, and so I hurried off intending to dispose of it later, and prayed that it was not an omen for the day to come.

The meeting began with the reading of the minutes and the reporting of the quarterly, which were woefully low.  At last,  it was time for new business.  My last suggestion, printing a map of the Sahara desert on an electric blanket had turned into such a fiasco that I was determined to make amends.  I had worked on my new idea for several weeks, made numerous prototypes and was convinced that if the company got behind it our fortunes would be reversed.  Get ready for greatness, I said lifting the cloth to reveal my surprise.  I suggest that we print a map of a different country on each sheet of a toilet roll.

Country toilet paperI am always conscious of the waves of jealousy emanating from my co-workers toward me whenever I’ve presented my ideas – after all it is my ideas which keeps the company afloat – so I was disappointed but not surprised at the tepid response. However, I was amazed at the hostility and downright ignorance that was hurled in my direction as soon as I had finished.  Ms. Snickety thought the idea disgusting and sordid, and said she would never be able to look me in the eye again.  Ms. Graben said that she didn’t want her bottom stained all the colors of the rainbow. Mr. Chang wondered if people would scroll through the roll looking for countries they hated before using it.  Mr. Karl didn’t say anything but when we took a vote he added his name to the nays.

In response, I told my co-workers that not only was I appalled at their narrow-mindedness, but also that their comments were more of a reflection of themselves, rather than on the product.  I would have continued but they all rose from the table muttering that they had work to do.  Mr. Karl picked up the sample toilet roll.  I’m going to pay someone back for that curry I ate last night, he said, heading for the rest room.  Mr. Gupta glared at him.  For some reason that had reminded me of the omen I had seen earlier, and I inadvertently blurted out, The rat!  We don’t eat rats, Ms. Gupta snapped.  Before I could explain she continued, In fact it’s the opposite. There’s a temple in Northern India where people worship rats.  I’ve often thought of going on a pilgrimage there myself.  Well, I said, if it doesn’t matter whether the rat is dead or alive you don’t have to go to Northern India. There’s one outside my door you’re more than welcome to.  And so ended another day at Globes and Maps almost as soon as it had begun.  Sometimes I wonder whether it’s all worth it and if I shouldn’t take my talents elsewhere.

To see what Mr. Vinégar’s coworkers look like watch the video Mr. Vinégar and The Ants by clicking HERE. Or you can read the blog “The Name” to see pictures of his coworkers by clicking HERE.

 

 

The TV And The Sandwich

 Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

JONESY

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.Mr. Vinegar's Catastrophe TV at Mr. VsI’ve been getting a lot of slack lately from Mr. V about staying the night at that woman’s house next door.  But he doesn’t understand that it’s much easier to watch TV there.   At Mr. Vs place there are too many things in the way: the railing, the bottle with the boat in it, the bottles without boats in them, maps, and lots of globes.  There’s so much stuff you can hardly see the TV.

 

Mr. Vinegar's Catastrophe. TV at her placeSo to get a better view, I have to balance on the handrail which can be very tricky.  There are stairs on the other side of the railing going down to the kitchen and I’ve come really close to falling down them more than once.  Oh, I know they say that cats always land on their feet, but I’m here to tell you – they don’t.  And when they do, it’s hard on the paws!  So I prefer to watch TV at the woman’s place.  You can lounge on the couch, or if you want to get really close to the TV, you can sit on the bookshelf.  It’s easy peasy.

 

 

To discover how Jonesy found his 2nd home read Jonesy’s First All Nighter -  Part 2 click HERE. And Part 3 HERE.

Mr. VINÉGAR

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogI, too, was recently involved in a balancing act, and although I didn’t fall down a flight of stairs, I was pitched head first into a vat of humiliation.  Yesterday, as we were about to eat lunch at Globe and Maps Inc., Ms. Snickety unwrapped a piece of sandwich paper (on which Ms. Snickety was clearly written), took out half a sandwich, and held it up in front of us.

What do you see?  She asked, her lips compressed into one thin line of rage.  A bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on whole wheat bread, Ms. Gupta shrugged.  I see some mayonnaise, Mr. Chang added.  And what else!  Ms. Snickety yelled.  It was so unusual for Ms. Snickety to yell that we were all stunned into silence.

Someone’s taken a bite out of it?  Mr. Karl volunteered.  Yes!  Someone has, Ms. Snickety replied. And it wasn’t me!  No one is going to leave this room until I find out who it was.  There was a long silence.  I’m waiting, Ms. Snickety said, for the culprit to own up.  We looked at one another accusingly but still no one came forward.  Very well, said Ms. Snickety, I want everyone to take a bite out of the other half of the sandwich so that I can compare the teeth marks. Who’ll go first?

Mr. Vinegar.  Ms. Snickety's sandwich.I will!  Mr. Chang volunteered.  I haven’t eaten this morning.  Just a small bite Mr. Chang, Ms. Snickety warned, it’s not your lunch.  Mr. Chang took a bite.  It’s good, he said.  The tomato is really fresh.  Where did you get it?  Ms. Snickety ignored him and examined the sandwich.  The original teeth marks were small, but Mr. Chang’s teeth are like piano keys so the marks were very different.  Ms. Graben and then Ms. Gupta each took a bite and it was quickly determined that they were not the culprits either.

The reminder of the sandwich was passed to Mr. Karl who accidentally squeezed it so hard that some lettuce and one slice of tomato fell onto the floor.  I hate tomatoes anyway, he grumbled.  But they’re good for you!  Mr. Chang exclaimed. They’ve got vitamin C and A and E and they protect you against prostate cancer. Someone your age should be eating tomatoes all the — Thank you!  Mr. Chang, Mr. Karl snarled.  He took a quick bite and gave the now limp piece of bread and lettuce back to Ms. Snickety.  The teeth marks were not his.

Your turn, Mr. Vinégar, said Ms. Snickety.  I’d rather not, I replied.  Everyone looked at me aghast.  And why not?  Ms. Snickety asked.  I’d rather not say, I said.  Immediately a space opened up around me as if it had suddenly been discovered that I was a murderer.  I think you’d better say, Mr. Karl said.  This is a very serious offense.  If we can’t trust one another — Oh, very well!  I said, and with great embarrassment I reached into my mouth and removed my bottom partial.

Ewwwww!  Ms. Graben squealed.  I can’t eat bread with my partial in, I explained. But anything to help… I held the partial over the sandwich so we could compare the teeth marks.  It’s the same!  Ms. Graben shrieked!  No, it isn’t!  I said.  But there’s a gap between the teeth on the right hand side, she insisted.  And that’s where the gap is in your mouth.  No, it isn’t.  It’s on the other side.  But you could have eaten it on the other side, Mr. Chang said.  And moved my teeth around?  I asked incredulously.  Don’t be ridiculous.  Well, who could have done it?  Ms. Snickety said.

Have you compared it to your own teeth?  Mr. Chang asked.  Are you suggesting, Ms. Snickety glared, that I took a bite out of my own sandwich and then forgot that I…her face colored and her glasses fogged up.  She looked down at the table.  After a slight pause she whispered, I’m so sorry.  I completely forgot.  I was hungry – It doesn’t matter, Mr. Karl said, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder.  Let me buy you lunch.  She leaned against him ever so slightly.  Ms. Graben and Ms. Gupta rolled their eyes.  We left the conference room.

Oh no!  I said, in the hallway.  Everyone stopped.  What is it?  My…teeth, I muttered.  They’re probably in the trash can, said Mr. Chang.  I dumped the rest of the sandwich in there.  I’ll help you — No thank you, I said and hurried back inside the conference room.  My partial was in the garbage can with the remaining bread, two leaves of lettuce, and several slices of soggy tomato.

I washed the partial under hot water for several minutes before putting it back in my mouth. It had been such a distressing experience that despite being famished I didn’t eat anything for the rest of the day.

To see what Mr. Vinégar’s coworkers look like watch the video Mr. Vinégar and The Ants by clicking HERE. Or you can read the blog “The Name” to see pictures of his coworkers by clicking HERE.

 

 

My Other Home

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

MR. VINÉGAR

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogAs I suspected, Jonesy has become so emboldened after his first all-nighter that he has been spending nearly every night on the streets.  It’s virtually impossible to keep him indoors.  Naturally I worry about him so before I leave for work in the morning I stand on the porch and call, Jonesy! Jonesy! hoping and praying that he’ll appear.  More often than not he doesn’t show himself right away and I’m forced to raise my voice, which I hate to do.  After a moment or two I inevitably see him on the roof of one of the neighboring bungalows meowing as if he was being tortured.

Come on, I say.  But in typical teenage fashion he takes his time, ambles across the roofs, scrambles down the adjoining wall, climbs the stairs, and then saunters right past me into the apartment.  He then bolts across the room with his tail high, and heads straight for the food dish.  Lately he just sniffs at the food, laps up some water, grooms himself, and then heads straight for the back door again.  I have a feeling he’s been spending the night with a woman who lives in one of the bungalows next door.  No doubt she feeds him cheap food filled with sugar or some other trash, which is why he isn’t eating my food.  I will have to speak to her about that.  But whether he eats my food or not, once I’ve seen him I can leave for work knowing all is well with the world.

 

JONESY

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.Yes, I’ve been staying at that woman’s place.  After spending the night there with Prince at end of our all-nighter, I decided to go back the next night.  As I went through the cat door – I don’t know why Mr. V won’t get one of those – I saw a woman in the room.  I thought Uh-oh, I’m in trouble now.  But all she said was, I know all about you.  You’re Jonesy, aren’t you?  You were here last night.   Make yourself comfortable.  And she went back to what she was doing.  Wasn’t that cool?

Jonesy stretched out on the couch. Mr. Vinegar's Catastrophe.I jumped on the couch and I must have fallen asleep because when I woke-up the woman was gone.  I ate some food cuz she’s always got food out, and then left by the same little door.  I’ve been going back ever since.  Sometimes Prince comes by, or a couple of other cats from the hood drop in.   It’s laid back.  No curfew.  No hassles. The only rule is no fighting and no spraying.  Other than that you can do what you like.

The only problem is…Mr. V.  Every morning when I’m still fast asleep I hear him calling Jonesy! Jonesy!  If I ignore him he starts using his sing-songy voice, JONES-Zee! JONES-Zee!  Doesn’t he realize it’s embarrassing to have your name called out like some common criminal?  I’ll do anything to stop that so even as I jump off the couch I start yelling, I’M COMING! I’M COMING!  I keep this up as I climb through the cat door and jump onto the nearby roof.  As soon as Mr. V sees me he says, There he is!  What a good boy!  What does that even mean?  I’m a good boy because I wrenched myself out of a perfectly good sleep to go see him?  And when I get to the door he always says, Do you want to come in?  Now if I’ve gone to the trouble of dragging myself out of bed, climbed over some roofs, down the wall and up the stairs you’d better believe I want to come in.  So I answer – Yes! Real short and snappy-like.

I go to the food tray just in case there’s a piece of fish there – usually not.  I let him pet me a bit and then I go sit by the back door again and wait.  Now comes the guilt trip.  Oh, he says, can’t wait to go out again, eh?  Where do you go anyway?  To that woman?  When I don’t answer – it’s none of his business anyway – he gets a little edge in his voice.  This is not a hotel, you know, where you can come and go as you please.  Then he goes into the part about me not appreciating him, and all that he does for me blah, blah, blah.  I just sit there very quietly grooming myself.  Eventually, he has to go to work so he opens the door and I’m out of there.  It’s not that I don’t like Mr. V or that I don’t like my place, but I’ve got to be able to come and go as I please otherwise I’ll turn into one of those pussies that just sits in the window all day like some stone statue.  And I’d rather be dead than do that!

 

To read Jonesy’s First All Nighter – Part 1 click HERE. For Part 2 click HERE.  Part 3 HERE.

If you can’t remember who Prince is, click HERE to read the blog where Prince is introduced.

To read about when Prince and Jonesy first met click HERE.

Jonesy’s First All Nighter – Part 3

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

JONESY:

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.My adventure with Prince at the cat lady’s creepy old house continued.  When we got upstairs the room was as crowded with mangy cats as the downstairs had been.  An old Siamese with one eye hissed a warning at us, but Prince ignored him and made straight for an open window.  From there he stepped onto the branch of a tree which went across the garden to the outside of the fence.  He jumped to the ground and loped off in another direction without even looking to see if I was following him.  I was following him because I didn’t know where we were and I wanted to get home.  But we didn’t go home.

We wandered around till we came to a street with much bigger houses.  Prince darted through a garden of rose bushes and round the house to the back door.  If it smelled like the last place I wasn’t going in.  But it didn’t smell like that at all.  It smelled like a really nice clean litter box so when Prince went through a little flap at the bottom of the door – It’s for cats, he said – I went through it, too.

Long Haired Cat. Mr. Vinegar's Catastrophe.I found myself in a kitchen.  The floor was tiled like Mr. V’s but this kitchen was as big as Mr. V’s whole apartment.  There was even a counter in the middle of it.  Prince went straight to a corner where an old long-haired cat was sleeping.  It looked at us and thumped its tail a few times.  Prince nudged it with his head and then went to a bowl close by and started scoffing up the food.  I’d hardly eaten any of the chicken at the other place and now all the traveling had made me hungry so I nodded to the cat and started in on the food as well.  It was top shelf stuff with lots of gravy just the way I like it.  The long-haired cat lay there silently watching us.  We were half finished when Prince suddenly jerked his head up.  His ears pinned back.  I looked over my shoulder and there standing behind us, was the biggest dog I had ever seen.  Sorry boys, the cat laughed, I forgot to tell you.  He’s back from the vet.

 

Scary Dog. Mr. Vinegar's Catastrophe.The dog raced towards us barking madly, the nails of its paws scraping on the tiles.  Instantly, Prince and I leapt onto the counter.  I nearly fell in the sink.  The dog put his paws on the edge and tried to climb up.  He was drooling and slobbering and barking.  I was so scared I couldn’t move.  Not Prince.  He gave a low blood-curdling yowl and as the dog tried to bite him Prince dug his claws into the dog’s nose – and drew blood!  That made the dog even madder!  I swear his teeth got bigger!  I jumped straight up in the air.  Don’t ask me how but I dug my claws into a long piece of wood just below the ceiling and pulled myself on top of it.

I could hear people yelling and running downstairs.  I have to admit it – I pissed myself.  I think some of it fell on the dog because it went berserk leaping and barking and banging into the walls.  I saw that a kitchen window high on the wall was open at the top so I ran along the wood and jumped for it.  I missed.  I tried to grab the wall to stop myself from falling.  The dog turned towards me.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Prince leap off the counter and make for the cat door.  The dog twisted in mid-air and went after him but he lost his footing on the tiles and Prince got away.  I must have dripped to the ground.  I screamed for Prince but he’d gone.  That’s when the dog came for me.

I ran straight up the wall.  About halfway up I felt the dog’s breath on my back.  I heard his jaws snap shut – but he missed me!    I clambered onto the tiny window sill, jumped through, and landed on the grass.

I raced around the house just in time to see Prince disappear into the rose bushes.  I know he saw me but he didn’t slow down so I had to run as fast as I could just to keep him in sight.  When I got to the big road I ran straight across and nearly got hit by a car.  I kept on running and I didn’t stop until I was back on my street.  I was exhausted.  I asked Prince why he hadn’t waited for me.  Sorry, man, he said.  Dogs.  I’ll make it up to you.  I know a place to crash.  It’s cool.  I crash there all the time.

I didn’t want to wake Mr. V so I went with Prince.  He led me to an apartment close to my house.  We climbed the stairs and there in front of me was another one of those cat doors.  I thought, Uh-oh, but as if he could read my thoughts, Prince said, No dogs, I promise.  I followed him through the door into a little room.  It was warm and cozy with a nice big couch.  He was right.  It was cool.  Prince curled himself up on the couch and closed his eyes.  I lay down too but I couldn’t sleep.  I was on fire.  I kept reliving everything that had happened.  It was scary but so exciting!    I looked over at Prince who was fast asleep.  Did he live like this all the time?    Where did he live?    And how did he know all these places?    I lay awake for hours thinking about these things and so when I did fall asleep I didn’t wake till the next evening.

Prince was up and eating.  He looked at me as if to say, Ready?  I really wasn’t in the mood, I was still shaking from last night, but since I didn’t want him to think I was a pussy I ate a little, groomed a bit, and off we went.

 

Mr.  VINÉGAR

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogThat evening, I again drove round the neighborhood calling Jonesy but my cries fell on deaf ears.  I was about to accept the fact that he was gone forever, when from an alley across the road I saw two cats brazenly strutting toward me.  One was Prince – and the other was Jonesy!  I jammed on the brakes, jumped out of the car, and ran to him.  I tried to pick him up but he fought me as if he was embarrassed at the attention.  I let him go and walked home calling him at the same time.  I could see that he was of two minds but to my great relief he followed me.

Once inside, I locked the door and cooked the fish I had bought for Jonesy when I was out of my mind with worry for him.  He must have been starving because he devoured it immediately along with several treats.  Then he jumped onto my bed and groomed himself.  Something about him had changed.  He seemed bigger or perhaps just more confident.  As I lay down beside him I realized that, like it or not, he had become a teenager and that from now on these all-nighters were going to be the norm rather than the exception.

 

To read Jonesy’s First All Nighter – Part 1 click HERE.  For Part 2 click HERE.

If you can’t remember who Prince is, click HERE to read the blog where Prince is introduced.

To read about when Prince and Jonesy first met click HERE.

 

Jonesy’s First All Nighter – Part 2

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

JONSEY:

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.Mr. Vinegar's Catastrophe Cat Lady HouseI don’t remember if the moon was out or not, but if it was, it wasn’t shining on this place.  This place was dead.  There were so many bushes you could hardly see the house.  The yard was filled with broken furniture and years of cat piss, crap, rat turds, and rotten food all mixed together.  It stunk!  I heard some pathetic meows coming from inside the house.  Could cats really be in there? 

I followed Prince as he picked his way across smashed-up tables and chairs until we came to an open window and looked in.  What a sight!  There must have been at least 50 cats in there – I’m not kidding!  They were sleeping or licking their ragged matted coats.  One cat’s eye was all yellow.  A Siamese was missing an eye.  One cat even had a broken tail.  You could see the ribs on a couple of them.  The whole place smelled of disease.  I wanted to throw up!

Cat HoarderBefore I could ask Prince why we were there he jumped through the window and onto a table disturbing two large black cats that were curled up asleep.  They screeched, but when they saw who it was they scrambled out of his way.  He jumped down and walked across the floor.  I stayed right in his shadow.  Several cats gave me the eye but I guessed they wouldn’t try anything as long as I was with Prince. 

Then I saw an old woman sitting in the corner.  There were cats all over her.  In her lap, her arms, above her head, at her feet.  She looked thin and frail with a mop of grey bushy hair.  Prince leapt onto her lap right on top of the cat that was sleeping there.  It howled.  Prince swatted it once and it ran away.  The woman woke up. 

Prince, she said, stroking his back.  Where’ve you been?  Her voice was soft and low almost as if she was purring.  Prince lifted his head and allowed her to scratch his neck and chest.  You’ve come back.  You’re a naughty boy, you know that?  Then she saw me.  Who’s this you’ve brought with you, huh?  Why, you’re just a kitten, aren’t you?  Oh, but what a handsome one.  Oh, yes you are.  You’re a handsome kitty.  She leaned down and tickled me under my chin.  Her nails were long and pointed, and she knew exactly how to scratch me.  Before I knew it I was purring too.  So Prince is showing you the ropes, is he?  She said.  You be careful now.  Prince can be wicked, can’t you, Prince?  You take care of him, Prince.  You hear me? 

Now I knew why all the cats hung around her.  She not only knew just how to scratch you, but also how to talk to you too.  Well, she said, let’s see what I’ve got for my handsome boys, shall we? 

She reached behind her chair for a bag and pulled out little chucks of meat and dropped them on the floor at her feet.  It’s chicken, she said.  I’ve taken all the bones out.  And remember, share!   Prince gorged himself and left a few pieces for me.  All the traveling had made me hungry, but I didn’t get to eat much because Prince was heading through a door.  The other cats were glaring at me, and NO WAY was I going to be left behind.  Now where’re you off to?  The old woman said.  Come and see me before you leave, you hear?  If Prince heard, he didn’t care, as I followed him up the stairs to the next floor.

(to be continued)

If you can’t remember who Prince is, click HERE to read the blog where Prince is introduced.

To read about when Prince and Jonesy first met click HERE.

 

Mr.  VINÉGAR:

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogI finally fell asleep trying to console myself that cats had an excellent sense of direction.  Hadn’t they made films about cats travelling across half a continent to reunite with their owners?  When those films had come out I had dismissed them as sentimental claptrap, but now I desperately hoped they were true.  The very next moment I flew into a rage at the unnamed thief who had stolen Jonesy and immediately called the police to file a report.  When the desk officer heard that Jonesy was a cat, he suggested I call the local shelter.  I promptly reminded him of the police motto to protect and serve, at which point he threatened to arrest me if I ever called the station again. No wonder this country is going to the dogs!

As soon as it was light I put fresh food and water outside the door convinced that Jonesy would return for his morning meal.  He didn’t.  I called in sick to Maps and Globes and walked the streets calling his name and asking everyone I met if they had seen him.  My luck was no better than the night before.  But refusing to believe the worst I bought a piece of fresh fish and cooked it for when Jonesy came home.  I told myself he had overslept somewhere and would come in for lunch.  He didn’t.  By evening I was a nervous wreck.  I missed the affectionate purr, the insistent little whine, the soft fur.  I remembered the times he had run across my chest in the bath.  The way he scrambled up and down the stairs of my loft.  How he fell asleep on my chest.  I tried to watch television but I couldn’t concentrate.  It was only after I had unwittingly listened to an entire album of something called Megadeath on the radio that I realized exactly how upset I was. 

Jonesy’s First All Nighter – Part 1

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

MR. VINÉGAR

Peter Elbling is Sour Mr. VinégarMr. V looking for JonesyA month after the crow incident, I called Jonesy in at the usual time but he didn’t respond.  I waited ten minutes and called him again.  Still no answer.  Puzzled, I walked around the block calling his name.  Nothing.  I tried to think lightly of it but dark thoughts kept slipping into my mind.  Was he hurt somewhere?  Perhaps he had unwittingly strayed out of his territory and had been unable to find his way back.  But his name and address were written on his collar!  So if he was found by a Good Samaritan that person would know where to bring him.  But the collar was the breakaway type in case he caught himself on a limb while climbing a tree so if the collar had come off and he had been found than the Good Samaritan wouldn’t know where to bring him.  But what if they weren’t a Good Samaritan?  What if they were a catnapper?

Mr. Vinegar's Catastrophe.  Catnapper.They could have ripped off the collar and driven to San Francisco or Chicago by now.  He could be anywhere!  I got into my car and drove around in increasingly wider circles calling JONESY!  JONESY!  The only answer I received was from some old bat who shouted at me to be quiet.  A half hour later, in a cold sweat, I climbed the stairs back to my apartment filled with guilt, fear, and remorse.  How could I have let him out?  He was just a kitten!  I didn’t deserve to have a pet.  If he came back I would… I would give him to someone more deserving.  I barely slept all night.

 

 

 

 

JONESY

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.Freeeeedom!  Freeeedom!  I had heard the word a lot but I had no idea what it meant until that night!  How can anyone know what that word means unless they’ve been restrained and constrained and destrained and all the other types of strained?  I know my mother was an alley cat and I guess my father was too because I crave the night.  I’ve heard of cats who never go outside day or night.  There are some who even run away from an open door!   D’ya know what Prince and I call them?  Pussies!

How can a cat not love staying out at night?  There’s hardly any traffic, even less people, and the dogs are all locked up!   Sure there’s possums and rats and mice and squirrels but that’s nothing.  The night is ours.  I’d been planning on staying out all night for a while now but I needed a push.  Prince gave it to me.

After the thing with the crow we became buddies.  I knew his rep.  I mean, who didn’t?  There wasn’t a cat in the neighborhood that Prince hadn’t scarred.  There was a rumor that he had killed the kittens of his girlfriend because they weren’t his, but that’s street talk and you can’t believe everything you hear on the street.  But Prince was tough there was no doubt about that, which was why I always got embarrassed whenever we were kicking back and suddenly Mr. V started calling, Jone-zee!  Jone-zee!  It was humiliating!  I can’t help it!  I mumbled as I left.  Prince looked at me then bent down and licked himself.  I’d never been so miserable in all my life!  That’s when I made up my mind I was gonna do something about it.

So the next night just before Mr. V called me I said, Why don’t we do something? Prince looked at me real casual.  He didn’t say anything, he didn’t have to.  That was one of the great things about him.  You just knew right away what he was thinking.  He stood up, stretched his front legs and slipped off.  I was right behind him.

We cruised down the block past my boundary, crossed the street, turned the corner, went two blocks, and came to a big street.  It was the biggest street I had ever seen.  I stopped.  I had never been this far from home before.  Prince said, Stick with me.  He waited until a car had gone by and then said Now!  We raced across the street.  Okay?  He said when we got to the other side.  I nodded.  My heart was pounding.  But I was stoked.  We went down another block or so until we came to this old house that was surrounded by bushes and trees and stuff.  I could smell cat piss everywhere.   There was a hole in the fence in front of us.  Prince squeezed through.  I looked around half hoping Mr. V might be calling me but if he was, he was too far away for me to hear.  I took a deep breath and followed Prince through the hole….(to be continued)

 

To read about the Crow incident click HERE.

If you can’t remember who Prince is, click HERE to read the blog where Prince is introduced.

To read about when Prince and Jonesy first met click HERE.

The Crow

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

MR. VINÉGAR

Peter Elbling is Sour Mr. VinégarJonesy on the veranda railingJonesy had been going out by himself for about a month when the incident with the crows occurred. I usually let him out as soon as I awoke and always left bowls of food and water on the porch before I went to work. Several times as I left, I saw Jonesy sitting on the veranda railing eyeing the crows that sometimes swooped down from the roof just out of his reach.

Then they would inevitably perch on a nearby telephone line and mock him with their familiar Caw! Caw! Caw! Once or twice I heard Jonesy making a strange throaty cooing sound, but whether he thought a bird might mistake the sound for one of their own or if he did it out of sheer frustration I do not know but I empathized with him.

Ms. Graben at Maps and Globes often made a similar cawing laugh when I presented my ideas at our weekly meeting, and I often found myself making strange noises in the back of my throat in lieu of my reaching out and throttling her.

When I returned in the evening Jonesy was always hungry and so I fed him again. Despite his ravenous appetite he grew quite slowly. It wasn’t till I returned home unexpectedly one morning that I understood the reason for the slow rate of Jonesy’s growth.

Walking up the back stairs I heard a terrible cawing and screeching. I raced round the corner and had to fight my way through several vicious shrieking crows. Swatting them away I saw Jonesy, all four pounds of him, standing defiantly by his bowls of food. He had a feather in his mouth. The crows had obviously been helping themselves to his food which the poor little fellow was desperately trying to protect. From then on I made sure that he ate before I left and he very quickly gained the right weight for his age.

Jonesy wants to talk so bad he’s salivating all over the couch….

JONESY

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.As usual Mr. V got it all wrong! Yes, the crows were stealing my food but I was letting them! I wanted them to get so comfortable that they’d forget all about me and then BANG! I’d pounce! As it is, one of them will be peeing in their pants for years to come (if they had pants). They’d been after me from the first time Mr. V let me out by myself. One day I was giving myself a back rub in the backyard when I saw the biggest nastiest crow up in the tree above me.

The biggest, nastest crow smallHe was acting like he wasn’t interested when suddenly he flew down with his claws outstretched towards my belly. I twisted around and tried to get out of the way but I wouldn’t have made it if Prince had not come flying out of nowhere and nearly taken the crow’s head off. You all right? Prince asked. I nodded. Prince walked off but just him saying that to me made my day! I promised myself I would get that crow and make Prince proud.

So when the crows first started taking my food I hung back, figuring I would wait a while. The morning Mr. V’s talking about I was hiding around the corner waiting till the crows had stuffed themselves. Then I charged out and before they could fly away I grabbed one of their wings. The crow screamed and cawed but I wouldn’t let go. It was great! I was so into it I didn’t hear Mr. V until I saw him come running around the corner swatting his arms like he was being attacked! For a split second I lost my concentration, the crow wrenched away and I was left with a mouth full of feathers. But the next time…You better believe the NEXT time I’ll get him.

 

If you can’t remember who Prince is, click HERE to read the blog where Prince is introduced.

If you want to read about the time when Prince and Jonesy first met click HERE.

 

The Diet and the Tree

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

MR. VINÉGAR

Peter Elbling is Sour Mr. Vinégar

LUNCH HOUR

Ms. Graben eating.Ms. Graben is on a new diet this month. It’s her third this year. I don’t know what this one entails but by her own admission she has so far dabbled with the Atkins diet, the Baby Food diet, the Blood Type diet, the Tapeworm diet – I shudder at the thought, The Cabbage Soup diet, the Grapefruit diet, the Maple Syrup diet – is that even possible? The Carbohydrate Addict’s diet, the Eat More Weigh Less diet, the Donate Your Duplicate Organs Diet (a kidney weighs 3 pounds). – The No Crave Diet, the South Beach Diet, and finally, the Beer and Ice Cream Diet – which, I believe, she has never left.

Ms. Gupta expanding her sari before she eats.

Ms. Gupta expanding her sari before she eats.

It’s my thighs, she moans. They keep getting bigger. Why don’t you try eating less? I suggested at lunch one day. All the women laughed scornfully. We diet because of men, Ms. Gupta said, shoveling another helping of curry into her mouth. You want us to have hourglass figures, Ms. Snickety sniffed. I don’t want anything of the sort, I said. I just wish I didn’t have to listen to this insane whining all day long. (Since the dismantling of our cubicles we can now hear one another breathing as well as any number of other bodily functions.)

Oh, Mr. Vinegar, you’re such a party pooper, Ms. Graben said. You want us to have hourglass figures, don’t you Mr. Chang? Is that where the bosom sticks out one way and the bottom sticks out another? Replied Mr. Chang. It looks like it would hurt. This was far too graphic for Ms. Snickety who quickly swallowed several spoonfuls of her carrot, bean and thistle soup.

In my culture, said Ms. Gupta, we celebrate a woman’s figure regardless of its shape or size. There was a strained silence. In the past six months Ms. Gupta had been packing on the pounds at such an alarming rate that I feared she might burst.

Mr. Karl thinking about squirrel foodMr. Karl's trail mix

 

How do you feel about it Mr. Karl? Mr. Chang asked. Mr. Karl was staring at the half-eaten bowl of trail mix in front of him. I can’t feel a Goddamn thing, he replied. My doctor said my blood pressure’s too high and he’s got me eating squirrel food three times a day. I don’t know how the little buggers survive.

 

 

Ms. Graben drinkingMs. Graben downing a shot.We sat silently for a moment and then Ms. Graben said, I have to eat every two hours because I have diabetes. She reached for her little flask and took a long healthy sip. And what’s that for? I said. To help me forget that I have it, she replied.

Ms. Gupta asked, What are you eating, Mr. Vinégar? – wiping some rice from her chin. I’m eating a bread, cheese and tomato sandwich, I replied. Whoo! Big spender, Ms. Graben said. Ms. Snickety giggled and snorted a thistle up her nose, which led to a lot of coughing and choking and back slapping before she regained her natural color. Time to go back to work, Mr. Karl said.

Large woman stallAs we left the conference room, Mr. Chang said, About your thighs, Ms. Graben. Have you tried wearing bigger pants? That’s what I do. Ms. Graben fled into the rest room and that was the end of our lunch hour.

I should mention that Ms. Snickety insisted that Mr. Chang apologize to Ms. Graben, but Mr. Chang inadvertently made things worse when he tried to wipe the remaining thistle off of Ms. Snickety’s nose with his dirty napkin.

Mr. Chang spent the rest of the day in the stock room wondering what had just happened.

 

 

I guess I better give Jonesy his turn now…

JONESY

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.Mr. V on stairsThere’s this tree across the road that I like to climb. I sit at the top and watch the people walking back and forth underneath. It’s very cool because they don’t know I’m there. 

One night I was up there and it was about the time when Mr.V usually calls me to come in. And I thought, I wonder if he loves me as much as he says he does. So before he could call me, I called him – thirty seconds of the longest saddest howls you’ve ever heard. They were so like, sad, I nearly made myself cry.

Then the door swung open and there stood Mr. V in his robe. I couldn’t tell if he was upset or pissed. So I howled even louder. He rushed down the stairs tripping over himself and ran across the street to the tree. The first thing he said when he got there was, Shhhh! For God’s sake! You’ll wake the neighbors! So that’s it, I thought, You’re more worried about the neighbors than you are about me! So naturally, I double tripled the yowling.

 

The tree

Oh my god! You should have seen him. He leapt up and down and waved his arms, and made promises – I could’ve had anything I wanted at that moment – and all the time frantically looking around in case one the dreaded neighbors came out. It was so funny. Then he pointed to different branches telling me the best way to get down, like I didn’t know.

I pretended to try and follow his directions but then I stopped as if I was scared. He tried to climb the tree! It was like an elephant trying to climb a bar stool.  He slipped and scraped his knee. I thought, Well, I guess he is trying to get me down so when he wasn’t looking I ran down the tree, rubbed against his legs, and dashed up the steps and into the apartment. I could hear him thumping behind me cursing under his breath. I ran under the bed and stayed there for the rest of the night.

I don’t do this sort of thing very often but every now and again it’s necessary to make sure everyone knows who’s really in charge.

 

 

Mr. Vinégar + Bath + Jonesy = Disaster!

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar Jonesy Chronicles

 

MR. VINÉGAR

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogBy four months, Jonesy had matured from a six-week-old kitten into an irrepressible eight year old.  I had been forced to establish certain rules.  No leaping on my thighs with outstretched claws.  No racing across my computer keyboard while I was working, and definitely no staring at me while I sat on the toilet.  But his unflagging energy and curiosity I could not contain, especially when it came to the dining room table.

Jonesy Being Naughty

Click on the play button to see Jonesy being naughty.

Jonesy in tree in Mr. Vinegars' CatastropheSo one morning, I carried him down the backstairs into the enclosed yard – and let him go.  He immediately climbed the large avocado tree, raced up and down the steps, and worried all the plants.  When, after ten minutes I picked him up to take him upstairs, he howled as if I was strangling him.

Mr. Vinégar's backyard Mr. Vinégar's Catastrophe

 

I took him downstairs every day for longer and longer periods until he knew the backyard intimately.  Then when I felt he was ready, I opened the door and let him go.  After an hour I called him and thanks to Mr. Pavlov, he came bounding up the stairs. 

From then on I let him out from morning till night.  I know of people who have trained their cats to swim, jump through hoops, and even count to ten but I don’t believe cats should be submitted to that sort of humiliation.  As long as he comes when I call him I’m perfectly satisfied.

 

Ok…it looks like Jonesy is especially anxious to tell his side of the story…

JONESY

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.I’ll always remember that first day I went into the garden by myself.  It was great! I climbed the tree, chased leaves, and rolled around in the sun.  From then on I spent as much time as I could in the garden.  But I noticed that Mr. V didn’t mention what happened when he tried to teach me how to swim.  First he showed me pictures of cats swimming.  He kept saying,  See Jonesy you can do that.  The next time he had a bath he called me in. 

Jonesy Bathtime Mr. Vinegar's CatastropheMr. V was lying in the bath, and being naturally curious I stood on the edge.  Then I bravely stuck my foot in the water.  Good boy Jonesy, said Mr. V.  This went on for a week or two.  Then he laid down in the water and told me to walk across his chest.  Eazy Peezy, I thought.  And so I did.  But then he had to push me before I was ready…

Jonesy in bath Mr. Vinegar's CatastropheThe next time I was sitting on his chest he lowered himself into the bath so that the water ran over him and onto me.  I was so surprised that I tried to leap out of the tub.  I slipped, fell off his stomach, and down into his nether parts.  Naturally I stuck my claws out to get a grip.  The next thing I knew I was flying across the bathroom and he was leaping cursing and screaming and using language I’ve never heard before or since.  That was the end of the swimming lessons.  And all the other lessons, too

Pavlov's Cat Mr. Vinegar's CatastropheIt’s funny that Mr. V thought he was training me.  Pavlov Shmavlov, gimme a break.  I was training him!

And it was easy as fish pie to train him.  Here’s what I did:

It used to be that when I meowed outside the door, he’d open it and I’d run to the food bowl.  But it was frustrating waiting for him to clean the plate, open the can, and pour the food.  So instead of meowing, I howled.  That changed things.  Now he got the food ready before I came in the door.  After a couple of weeks of that I thought, he’s ready for step three.  So I began to meow as I came up the stairs.  I couldn’t have planned it better.  Now when I arrive, the door is already open and the food is waiting for me on my plate.  He learns quickly.  Even better, I don’t have to give him a treat. 

To see another video of Jonesy doing crazy things see the post “The First Month.

 

The Burning Bed

Mr. VINÉGAR

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogI vividly remember the day I presented one of my greatest creations to my co-workers at Globes and Maps Inc.  Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out quite the way I had anticipated.   It had been some time since I had been “Employee of the Month” and the idea that Mr. Chang had received the award for two months running simply for making a list of all the new countries (33) that had formed in the past twenty years had spurred me into action.

I had asked my co-workers to gather in the break room and when I arrived everyone was already there except for Ms. Snickety.   I placed the large white comforter I had brought with me onto the bed, which Mr. Karl used for his after lunch cat naps.

Mr. Vinegar's new inventionSomeone’s scribbled on it, Ms. Graben remarked.   It’s not scribble, I replied, it’s a map of Africa.   That Ms. Graben couldn’t recognize a map despite the fact that she had worked for Globes and Maps for twenty years explained why Globes and Maps was in the trouble it was.  Are we sending beds to Africa?  Mr. Chang asked.  No, we’re not.   I said, trying to maintain a cheerful demeanor.   Shall I wait for Ms. Snickety?  I asked Mr. Karl.  No, he said.  Hurry up, I’ve got things to do.

 

 

Mr. Vinegar's inventionMr. Chang in Mr. Vinegar's catastropheI plugged the electric comforter into the socket.  Oh, I love those, they’re so snuggly, Ms. Graben shrieked.  May I have a volunteer?  I asked.   Me! Me! said Mr. Chang.   All right, Mr. Chang, please get under the comforter.  He took off his shoes revealing two large pink toes protruding through his white socks, and got under the comforter.

What we have here, I continued, appears to be an ordinary electric blanket.  But as you’ve all noticed there is a map of Africa on it.  Now will someone please tell me the hottest part of Africa?  Ms. Gupta in Mr. Vinegar's catastropheDon’t you know?  asked Ms. Gupta.  Of course I know, I replied.  I want — The Sahara desert!  Mr. Karl snapped.  Correct, I said.  And so when someone turns the electric blanket on, – Mr. Vinegar's new inventionhere I pressed the button – the Sahara desert turns red! I finished off triumphantly.   All the nights I had spent designing and redesigning were finally paying off as that section of the comforter began to glow a deep, sensual fiery throbbing red.

Or they would have paid off had Ms. Snickety not chosen to enter the break room at that moment.  Seeing Mr. Chang lying beneath what appeared to her to be a burning blanket, she threw her hot coffee onto the blanket before anyone could stop her.   The ensuing sparks, smoke, and sputterings not only sent everyone scurrying from the room, but also set off the sprinklers which in turn alerted the fire department.

 

Mr. Vinegar and Ms. SnicketyThe rest of the day was shot – as was my presentation.  I was willing to forget the incident but others were not so forgiving.  Ms. Snickety refused to apologize for her actions, Mr. Karl blamed me for being unable to take his customary cat nap, and Mr. Chang pinned a photo of his scorched toes on the bulletin board to remind everyone how he had “taken one for the team.”

 

 

I left early and was greatly relieved to find Jonesy waiting for me when I got home.

 

As always, Jonesy wants to chime in…

JONESY

Jonesy's thinking. Mr. Vinégar blog. Peter Elbling.Mr. V was so upset when he came home from work today that he left the front door open.   That made me super stoked because I finally got to see what was going on outside.   I had only been looking out the screen door for a minute when the most ginormous cat I had ever seen came over the top of the stairs and swaggered right up to me.

 Mr. Vinegar Jonesy and Prince

I hadn’t seen another cat since the shelter and I got so excited I stood on my hind legs and smacked the door just to say hi.   Was that ever a mistake!  His eyes narrowed to dark cold slits, his back arched up, and he growled, Do that again and I’ll rip your gonads out.   I was so startled I forgot to tell him I didn’t have any.   As it was I lost my balance and fell down.   By the time I got up again he was gone.   I must admit he scared me, but I was more lonely than scared, and I was afraid he wouldn’t come back.

 

But he did.  The next day!  I was sitting behind the screen door dying to go outside when he appeared again.  This time I just sat there.  He came right up to me and said, You owe me!  You don’t know how lucky you are to be here.  If it weren’t for me Mr. V wouldn’t have taken a cat in the first place.  I didn’t know what he was talking about so I didn’t say anything.  He looked into my eyes and said, Are you stupid?  I didn’t know what to answer.  He slapped the door with his paw and gave a low growl that made my hair stand on end.  But at the same time I was excited.  Then Mr. V came running in and shooed Prince away.  But that wasn’t the end of Prince by a long shot.

(To find out what Prince was talking about see the blog “Beginnings“)

 

 

The First Month

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar/Jonesy Chronicles

Mr.  Vinégar
Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogSo that Jonesy wouldn’t be lonely I barricaded one half of the kitchen, left him some balls to play with and made recordings of my voice singing… “I Tawt I taw a puddy tat,” so that he wouldn’t be lonely. He yawned. 

 

 

By chance he found an old cardboard box I had forgotten to throw out and he played in it for hours.  He also amused himself playing with his tail and other parts of his body.

Jonesy Taming his Tail

Click on the play button to see Jonesy attacking his tail.

 

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinegar

When Jonesy managed to climb over the barricade I had no choice but to let him roam the whole apartment.  He hopped up and down the stairs to the loft, searched every nook and cranny, explored every drawer and cupboard, and sharpened his claws on my sofa.  Fearing he would ruin the sofa completely, I immediately bought him a scratching post.

Jonesy from Mr. Vinegar

He’s lost his marbles!

According to the manual, as soon as I came home at night I was to go over to the post, scratch it and exclaim with great enthusiasm, That feels so good!  Oh my goodness, does that feel good!  Ooooo!

I hoped that this would encourage Jonesy to do the same.  I did this for several days, feeling incredibly foolish as I did so.  I finally gave it up after a couple walking beneath my window yelled out something about getting a room.

Fortunately, Jonesy had understood what I was trying to teach him and attacked the scratching post as if it was his enemy.  Now I left for work confident that my sofa would not be ruined.  The moment I returned home Jonesy clambered all over me purring happily.  After I fed him, he’d race backwards and forwards, leap in the air, climb the curtains, until a short time later, exhausted, he would lie down wherever he was and quickly sink into the arms of Morpheus.  As often as not I would wake in the morning to find that he had crawled onto my bed and had fallen asleep on my chest.  I couldn’t believe how much pleasure this furry ball of innocence gave me. 

Oh, Jonesy just woke up and has something to say…..

JONESY

Jonesy's Thinking. Mr. Vinégar Blog. Peter ElblingI was surrounded by brothers and sisters when I was born and then by lots of cats in the shelter, so of course I was lonely all by myself in the apartment!  And having Mr.  V’s voice coming out of nowhere at odd moments scared the daylights out of me especially when he began to sing.  If it wasn’t for that voice I might still be behind the barricade.

Jonesy from Mr. VinegarAs soon as I climbed over Mr. V taught me how to use the scratching post.  When I did he gave me a treat.  I hoped this would be different than the name thing but sure enough as soon as I got into the habit of using it he stopped giving me treats.  I thought maybe if I pooped on the carpet he would give me treats to go in the litter box but it didn’t work that way.  The balls he gave me were all right but the box was better.  I liked hiding in it and then jumping out as he walked past and digging my claws into the fleshy part of his thighs.  But best of all was falling asleep on his chest.  His stomach was nicer because it was softer but it made so many noises during the night that it woke me up. 

 

 

The Name

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar/Jonesy Chronicles

Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar Blog

Mr. Vinégar's Catastrophe. Jonesy gets his name.

 

 

 

A week after I brought the kitten home I had still not named it.

 

Marmalade, Ginger, Boots were much too ordinary, Ivan was too stern and Sparky too psychotic.   I was at a loss and so asked my co-workers for suggestions. 

 

Why don’t you name it Princess? Said Mr. Chang.

Mr. Chang

Ms. Graben

Because it’s a boy, I replied. But that would be different, he said. I’m not going to call it, Princess.

 

 

What about Kahlua, Ms. Graben, chimed in.  That’s a nice name. Or Cassis?  Or Crème de Cacao! she shrieked.

 

 

Since I was not interested in exploring the rest of Ms. Graben’s liquor cabinet I moved on to Ms. Gupta.

Ms. GuptaGanesh is a great Indian name, she said. He’s the Lord of success and Remover of obstacles. But isn’t Ganesh an elephant? I ventured mildly.  Oh dear, Ms. Gupta sighed.  You know so little about Indian culture.  I held my tongue but the irony is that Ms. Gupta is not Indian!  Her real name is Brenda and she’s from the North of England.  Five years ago she couldn’t have located India on a map of India but she married an Indian by the name of Prayan and since then curry has run in her veins.  Prayan wears pants and shirts, eats hot dogs and watches football.  Ms. Gupta insists on wearing saris, burning sickly sweet incense and playing endless hours of sitar music until I think my ears will bleed.

Ms. SnicketyBefore I could change the subject Ms. Snickety, Mr. Karl’s secretary, offered no names but advised that whenever I called it I should reward it with a treat.  That way it’ll always come when it’s called.  It’s Pavlovian.

Mr. Karl

Just then Mr. Karl exited the restroom and in a perfect Pavlovian response Ms. Snickety vigorously sprayed the office with an odor remover.  Actually it was Mr. Karl who came to the rescue.  Name it, Jonesy and be done with it, he growled.

Jonesy was the nickname of a former employee we had all admired who had since taken her designing skills overseas.

Jonesy from work I thought it an excellent idea since the name suited either gender. I tried it out later that evening and to my delight, Jonesy responded.

Over the next week or two whenever I called Jonesy by name I gave him a treat.   By the end of that time he came whether I gave him a treat or not. Mr. Pavlov would have been proud.

 

Now I’ll give Jonesy his two whiskers…

JONESY

Jonesy's Thinking. Mr. Vinégar Blog. Peter Elbling.What he doesn’t tell you is that for the first week he called me Lady.  That’s right, Lady!  I didn’t know any better and I was beginning to get used to it when a neighbor came by to look at me.  She turned me upside down and pointed to a scar down there and started laughing.  From then on my master called me Jonesy.  Talk about confused.  I’m probably scarred for life.  But after a while I got used to Jonesy.

Whenever he had called me Lady he gave me a treat, but now that he was calling me Jonesy he gave me two treats.  I hoped he might change my name again and give me three treats but then he stopped giving me treats altogether!  And I still came whenever he called me.  Even now after all this time, I still do it!  I can be fast asleep in one of my other homes – I’ll get to that later – and all of a sudden I hear Jonezee! Jonezee!  piercing my dreams.  Jonesy sleepingIt doesn’t matter how comfortable I am, something makes me drag myself up and go home.  It’s not only infuriating, it’s embarrassing!  Other cats, Prince especially, always make fun of me when it happens.  Jonsey, your master’s calling.  Off you go like a good little boy.

But two can play at that game.  Now I often wait until the middle of the night and then I howl outside the door and I don’t stop until Mr. V opens it.  Oh yes, when I figured I’d have to give him a name, a lot of unflattering ones came to mind but in the end I settled on something simple and easy to remember – Mr. V.

 

Beginnings

Peter Elbling's The Vinégar/Jonesy Chronicles

Mr. Vinégar

Peter Elbling Mr. Vinégar BlogHello, my name is Mr. Vinégar and I am employed at Globes and Maps Inc., Once one of the most renowned maps and globe makers in the world.  It has been going through a difficult period because of the internet and other new-fangled technological nonsense.  Mr. Vinegar The magnificent Mt. Everest hanger

As the idea man it has been my job to reverse this tsunami.  Some of my efforts, such as creating a map of Brazil on coffee cups, have been successful, others such as printing maps of Mount Everest on coat hangers have not.

For some time I searched for a companion to ease me through these difficult periods. One morning, just over two years ago as I was leaving for work I saw a large tabby cat outside my screen door. (I later discovered that his name was Prince).  As Mr. Vinégar's Catastrophe Prince: Checking things outsoon as I opened the door he strolled inside and began sniffing in the corners, looking into the cabinets as if he was making a report for the landlord. Then he sat on the steps leading to the loft and allowed me to scratch his neck. Seemingly satisfied, he walked out into the sunshine and disappeared.

Prince’s behavior confirmed that I should get a cat. They cleaned themselves, were mostly quiet, I hate noisy anythings, ate relatively little and could entertain themselves for hours with a paper bag.  Mr. Vinegar Take me! Take me!

So, a few days later I went to a nearby city shelter. The noise was unbelievable. Yapping, barking dogs, shrieking parrots, a neighing pony and even a grunting pig all fought for my attention. The pimply-faced female volunteer led me into the cat section, two small rooms filled with numerous wire cages. The second I set foot in the room every cat, no matter its size, age or color, rushed to the front of its cage and pressing its nose against the wire mesh mewed and howled in a shameless pleading manner.

It was so nauseating that I was about to leave when I noticed a kitten, orange in color with white paws and ears that were better suited to a bat, sitting quietly in the middle of its cage. It seemed shell-shocked, which was not surprising considering the surroundings. I bent down and spoke to it. It barely moved. I poked my finger through a hole in the wire. The kitten stuck out a pink tongue and licked it. I immediately asked the volunteer, Has it had its shots? Oh, yes, she replied. It’s been neutered, too. Well, I said, no wonder it’s catatonic. The volunteer assured me the operation had taken place over a week ago and that the kitten had long since recovered. May I hold him? I asked.Mr. Vinegar I looked in Jonesy's eyes

The volunteer took the kitten out of its cage and put it in my hands. I held it up to the light to look in its eyes – the eyes can tell you whether it would pee in the wrong places – but they seemed lacking in any hidden agenda. Then I noticed it was purring. He likes you, said the volunteer. I cradled the kitten against my chest and the purring got louder. He’s a sweet little fellow. He won’t get much bigger, will he? Not much, the volunteer assured me. And he’ll be easy to control? Oh, yes, said the worker. Very well, I said. I’ll take him. It was only when I got home that I remembered Prince’s visit. I must have passed the inspection.

Now I’ll give Jonesy a turn…

JONESY

Jonesy's Thinking. Mr. Vinégar Blog. Peter Elbling.“He who feeds me daily,” or “Mr. V” as I have come to call him, has asked me to contribute to the blog he is writing. At first I thought a blog was something I threw up last week and even after he explained what it was I wasn’t so sure. Cats have very short memories – otherwise how could we gobble down cans of “REAL SALMON and CRABMEAT IN SAUCE” day after day after day and still think it’s delicious. But after sleeping on it I decided I had better go ahead otherwise the facts would get so twisted I wouldn’t  recognize myself. So here goes.

I vaguely remember being born in a cardboard box under a bed. I think there were five of us but as I was blind for the first couple of weeks there could have been six.  Or ten.  Who knows?  Who cares?  All I know is that whenever it was my turn to get some milk my mom would say, too late, and go off leaving me with my mouth open and my stomach empty.  One day, the box was put in a car and we were driven away. The car stopped, the box was put by the side of the road and the car disappeared. People came by and oogled us and then, just like that, one of us was gone. And then another. Soon I was the only one left. I was there for hours. It could have been days. I was so hungry I didn’t even have the strength to whine and I had become good at whining. Then someone took me to a shelter. Jonesy. Mr. Vinégar blog. I could get used to this

That place was crazy. People don’t know that a cat’s hearing is TEN TIMES more sensitive than theirs and since I have big ears I was in agony. I was put in a special place – we’ll talk about that later – and then I was returned to my cage. I was surrounded by cages full of other cats and kittens. There was fresh food every day and my litter box was kept clean. There was nothing else to do but groom, eat, groom, sleep, groom, poop, and then groom some more. I thought, I could get used to this.

Then the door opened and one of the workers came in with someone trailing behind them. All the cats and kittens immediately ran to the front of their cages and yelled, TAKE ME! TAKE ME! TAKE ME! I didn’t know if I was supposed to do that or not so I just sat there. All of a sudden I saw a pair of eyes staring at me. It Mr. Vinégar Do Something!was not one the workers but an old man with not much hair, wrinkled lines on his face and a nose like one of those screechy birds I saw when I came in. He stuck his finger though a hole in the wire and wiggled it about. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do so I didn’t do anything. The other cats screamed, DON’T JUST SIT THERE. DO SOMETHING!  The only thing I could think to do was to lick his finger. So I did. It tasted yucky. The man pulled his finger out. The cats groaned, OH NO! YOU’VE Jonesy. Mr. Vinégar blog. I could REALLY get used to thisBLOWN IT! Blown what? I thought. I got so flustered that I was about to shout, TAKE ME! TAKE ME! when the worker unlocked the cage. I was so surprised I peed myself. She lifted me out and put me in the man’s hands.  The other cats all shouted, PURR! PURR! FOR GOD’S SAKE, PURR! So I did. I PURRRRRED. The man held me up to his face and I cranked the purring up a notch. Then he cradled me against his chest. I was surprised because it was warmer than I expected. The man said something to the worker and she closed the cage – without me in it. YOU’RE IN! The other kittens shouted. I licked the hand again and the man tickled my neck! I thought, I could get used to this, too. Then the man followed the worker out the room. YOU LUCKY SON-OF-A-GUN! The cats shouted as my new master carried me out of there.