I know that my post schedule has been a bit off, I’ve had some pretty crazy deadlines in the world where I make money, but I have kept up on my writing – it’s just been done in long hand so I needed to transcribe it all into Word before I could post it. I’m going to catch up over the next two weeks by posting on additional days as the stories become internet ready. In the mean time enjoy a story inspired by our cat, Charlie, who is a violent hunter on occasion.
|You can see it in his squinty stare, he’s a killer.
Charlie the Hunter
The grass was bright green and swayed in the breeze. It was short grass, trimmed by the men who came, the men that Charlie avoided. They carried loud things, things that hurt Charlie’s ears. He didn’t like that. Charlie gazed out across the yard. This was his domain; from house front to sidewalk, this yard was his hunting ground. He gazed from his position under the bushes. The leaves and branches brushed the top of his head. It did not disturb him, it helped to hide him. It kept him camouflaged so that he could stalk his prey freely. His eyes were golden with slashes of black that we’re thin from the sunlight. A leaf thrashed to his right and his head swiveled to spot whatever made the noise. His eyes intensified on the bush. The leaves were long and thick. They were moving in the wind. It was just the wind, nothing more. Charlie continued to scan the yard, blinking occasionally, getting lazy as he waited. Maybe it was time for a nap?
That’s when he heard it: pah, pah, pah. That was the noise he was waiting for. Pah, pah, pah – quick staccato beats of soft foot pads against the concrete. They were soft, they were quick; they were the tapping toes of lizard feet. This was what he was waiting for! The Lizard Legion had been making inroads into the yard for weeks now, venturing farther away from their strong hold next door. They came, daily now, crossing into the new landscaping that the female human had been working on. Fewer bushes, fewer places for Charlie to hide, and more rocks that were sun heated. The Legion liked the rocks but so did Charlie so there was no way that the rocks would be taken without a fight. Charlie stalked out of the bush, crouching low, tail down, ears back and crept up the lawn toward the invader. The lizard had a unique skin tone, an iridescent blue and green like little bejeweled scales on a dragon. It was unaware of Charlie’s approach. It looked around, ignorant of its impending doom, slowly approaching one of the rocks that had been baking in the afternoon sun. Its approach was slow, but its stride was quick, continuing the repetitive three steps at a time that Charlie had noticed in the first place.
Suddenly the lizard turned toward Charlie’s position, it was checking its back! Charlie wasn’t close enough to strike so he crouched lower in what little grass there was. Damn the humans for trimming it so low! This could end his hunt. Although the lizard was moving slowly now Charlie knew that it could take off like a shot if it saw him. Charlie stayed low and still and waited to see what the lizard would do. The lizard stood, belly low to the grass, and twitched its head back and forth sharply looking everywhere but, apparently, not seeing anything. It turned back toward the rock; the promise of warmth was too good to pass up. The rock shone with a matte grayness that was so attractive to cold blooded creatures, especially those of the Lizard Legion. It continued on its trip toward the rock: pah, pah, pah… pah, pah, pah. Charlie resumed his stalking. He was within reach quickly, slowing only to make sure that his footsteps were as soft as they could be – the lizards of the Legion felt through their feet. Then, just as the lizard was about to reach the rock, Charlie leapt into the air, baring tooth and claw, and struck with the deadly confidence of a hunter commissioned by the local Council of Cats.
Charlie was cleaning his claws and basking in the sun when he was approached by Vader, one of the members of the Council of Cats. Vader, a large black cat carrying a few extra pounds that swung like a church bell around his belly when he walked, approached from the front door of the house. He sat, distinguished, behind Charlie and waited to be seen. Charlie knew he was there but made him wait. Charlie and the Council had not seen eye to eye lately. The council had been in negotiations with the resident canine interests who had complaints that there were fewer and fewer lizards in the yard for them to find and chase. It was, apparently, a past time that they held dear and Charlie’s killing of the creatures had dramatically reduced the population eliminating much of the fun that one of the dogs wished to have. After a good wait, and a thorough claw cleaning, Charlie acknowledged Vader. “You’ve killed again.” Vader’s tone was matter of fact and flat. Vader, even though a member of the Council, was the most even keeled and reasonable of all of its members. He cared more about a functioning household and naps than a few dead lizards. Charlie didn’t respond and continued to stare at Vader, occasionally blinking so as to not upset the Council member. “The Council has already been informed and they are requesting that you be present at an audience with the canine representative. Charlie rolled his eyes. The canine representative would be the large dopey white dog, a female named Maggie. She was the one most affected by his hunting. She was loud, abrasive and has few social graces. She and Charlie had gotten off on the wrong foot during their first meeting which led to a great deal of blood shed (all by the dog) and a great deal of panic (all in the cat). Since then they kept away from each other for the most part, and when Maggie does have a gripe she brings it up with the Council. “You are to appear before the Council before the female human feeds us this evening.” Without waiting for a response Vader turned and left, twitching his tail slightly as he walked away. Charlie sighed to himself and enjoyed the heat of the sun while he could before the meeting of the Council.
A bug buzzing by his ear woke Charlie from his nap. His head darted around trying to find the source of the noise. It was a fly, small black and erratic in its flight pattern. Charlie batted at it with a lazy dissatisfaction. He could catch the fly, he thought, but why? There was no sport in fly hunting, no honor. Flies are disgusting creatures, eaters of poop and refuse. Their wings carried them like a kitten on catnip around the house and yard. Flies only wanted to be wherever they weren’t at the moment, they constantly looked for escape. Sure, they may have presented a challenge to Charlie when he was younger and more hot headed, but now they were simply an undesired distraction, an insufferable waste of time. Charlie yawned and stretched as the fly made its way out of the yard. He lay on his side taking in his surroundings. It was late in the afternoon. Soon the human female would feed them. Soon he would need to appear before the Council. He stood up, stretching out with just his front paws, and started heading toward the house, toward the Council of Cats.
Charlie entered through the dog door in the back. It led directly to the kitchen where he was met by his brother, Frankie. Frankie is a dog, brindle and white, but when Charlie was adopted Frankie became his brother. Frankie sniffed at Charlie, from his head to his tail, getting an idea about where Charlie had been all day. Charlie let him do it, he was his brother after all, and Frankie was Charlie’s only ally when it came to the canines of the house.
“You’ve been hunting again, I can smell it.” Frankie’s voice had just a bit of nervous energy to it. He hates conflict and often tries to play peace maker whenever there is conflict in the house whether it be with the other animals or with the humans, Frankie doesn’t care for fighting. “Maggie is going to ask them to censure you. She really wants to chase those lizards.” Charlie grimaced at what Frankie told him. Maggie was a petty and jealous animal. She has toys and bones and Frankie to play with, but she still insists on chasing lizards. She doesn’t even eat them! Frankie led Charlie to the washer and dryer, where the Council of Cats meets. “Good luck,” Frankie whispered under his breathe and then took his place beside Maggie on the floor to the right of the dryer.
Above them, looking down on Charlie, was the Council of Cats. Boo, their leader, was sitting in the center at the top of the dryer. Boo is large, with similar white and orange coloring to Charlie, but older by at least twice as many years. His face wore a smug grin that caused Charlie’s tail to twitch. Boo was the newest animal to the household but had already taken the top place in the Council. When the humans first brought Boo to the house he was a sickly and injured animal. Through some calamity he had a large sore on his neck that was completely exposed – no fur, no skin. At his old residence Boo had been a fighter, he still stunk of it, but at his age he was starting to lose those fights, especially when other cats would gang up on him. It was no secret that Boo was a bully, it was through intimidation and bribery that he had reached the head of the Council of Cats. To Boo’s right was Vader, only half paying attention to proceedings. Vader had been the previous head of the Council but, in the interest of keeping peace in the house, had backed down when it became clear that Boo wanted the position. Vader had been in an accident and was too old and out of shape to put up a fight if it ever came to that. To Boo’s left was Shimshim, a neurotic brown Brindle who can’t keep her attention on anything for more than a few seconds. Even as everyone gathered, she made to leave several times before Boo finally had to keep her in place with his paw on her back.
“Charlie the Hunter you have been brought before the Council today to respond to accusations that you have defied the orders of this group and continued to attack and kill, with impunity, the lizards that come into the yard,” Boo’s voice was full of relish as he spoke the charges. “Have you anything to say for yourself?” Charlie looked up at the Council, tail twitching behind him, and said nothing. “Very well,” Boo announced, “The Council recognizes the canine delegate.”
Maggie, the large white female stood and began to address the Council her voice a howling bark, “Due to his blatant defiance of your ruling in regards to the hunting of yard lizards I request, no, demand that he be censured to keep him from hunting for a time to be determined by your wisdom!” Maggie turned to stare Charlie down at the end, making a low growl as she finished. Charlie’s tail twitched and he held her gaze, but otherwise did not respond.
“Very well, if you have no response…” Boo didn’t even get a chance to finish his sentence before Charlie stood and turned to leave. “Where are you going?” Boo shouted, “If you kill another lizard we will pull your license!” Charlie continued to walk, unfazed, Maggie barked loudly and Frankie looked around shocked. Frankie knew that Charlie’s complete lack of respect for the Council would be his downfall, but he never thought that the Council would attempt to pull his license. Without a sanctioned hunter the house may be overrun with vermin of all types. The Council didn’t realize what they were doing. Frankie trotted away from the gathering to catch up to his brother. Charlie’s tail was still twitching.
“Charlie, you need to be careful, they’re serious!” Frankie was truly concerned; he knew that hunting was very important to Charlie. Charlie looked up at Frankie and motioned him over to the window. Charlie led the way while Frankie scanned around to make sure that they weren’t being followed. Charlie led him to the dining room window where they could see the yard next door, the home of the Lizard Legion. “Charlie, what does this have to do with anyth…” Frankie stopped as he noticed the large gathering of lizards making a circle next door. They didn’t seem to be communicating, but then a few of them started rolling bird eggs into the circle. A large one, Frankie assumed it was their leader, tapped his foot three times and then the eggs were taken away into a nearby bush. Then the lizards dispersed. Frankie looked down at Charlie, “Something’s going on. Do you know what it is?” Charlie shrugged, but kept his eye on the bush where the eggs were placed as his tail continued to twitch. “Is this why you keep hunting them? You think they’re up to something?” Charlie looked up at Frankie and gave a single head nod. Frankie considered the implications. Then they heard the female human come into the kitchen to prepare the food. Both Charlie and Frankie dashed to eat.
The next day Charlie made the decision to investigate the Lizard Legion and the bush that he and Frankie had watched them hide eggs in the day before. Creeping under the bushes, but only when the wind rustled the leaves so as to cover the sound of his movements, he crossed from the front door to the edge of the lawn where it met the neighbor lawn. Hunkering down beneath the leaves and under a shadow, Charlie staked out the bush watching for Lizard Legion activity. For most of the day there was nothing, the lizards must have been sunning themselves, and Charlie passed the time chewing on blades of grass and napping. It was the afternoon when he saw the first bit of suspicious activity. A group of lizards were assembling near the base of a tree. There were several dozen, it was a remarkable how easy it would be to kill them all. Charlie’s claws extended reflexively. He watched as they approached the tree and, one by one, made a chain of bodies up its trunk. They reached a branch that contained a bird nest and the lizard on the branch crawled into the nest and nudged out one of the eggs with its snout. When it got the egg over the lip of the nest it used one of its feet to keep it steady while rolling the egg back toward the chain. Once at the chain it used its front feet to hand the egg to one lizard that then passed it down to the next lizard and so on and so forth until the egg safely reached the ground where it was rolled to the hiding place behind the bush. Once the egg was safely moved all of the lizards scattered away from the tree. The Legion was collecting eggs, but for what Charlie had no clue.
With the coast clear, Charlie crept toward the bush where the eggs were hidden. He moved slowly, as if he were stalking prey, and kept a careful eye out for any lizards or other animals. Lord knows what the Council of cats would think of all this, and if the canine Maggie found out? Just her barking alone would ruin any chance he had of finding the truth. Slinking between shadows and undergrowth, Charlie made it to the bush. Sniffing the air to confirm that there wasn’t a lizard waiting beneath it, he poked his head into the bush to get a better look. Charlie was taken aback by what he saw, there were dozens of bird eggs under this bush, stacked three eggs high. Just as he was realizing the scope of the egg theft Charlie heard the crinkle of grass behind him. He darted his head and saw a lizard that must have been on its way to check on the eggs. It saw Charlie and turned to run. The Legion couldn’t know that Charlie knew about the mysterious egg repository, even though he had no idea what they were collecting eggs for. Without thinking, instincts and muscle taking over, Charlie pounced and killed the lizard. If it hadn’t seen Charlie before the attack it never would have known what hit it.
“Meow.” It was a trill sound, soft and confused. Charlie looked up on the fence that enclosed the back yard with a freshly killed lizard in his mouth and there was Shimshim staring down at him. Charlie stared for a second, but before he could do anything Shimshim was off. She couldn’t tell the Council, Boo would pull his license for sure! Charlie raced after Shimshim, dropping the lizard as he ran. He needed to convince Shimshim not to turn him in! They rounded the corner and nearly slammed into the canine Maggie.
“What’s all this?” Maggie asked, looking truly confused.
“He has killed again,” Shimshim said as she hid underneath the large canines body. “I watched him do it. The body is in the yard.” Maggie growled and forced everyone inside.
An emergency session of the Council of Cats was called immediately. The canine Maggie pinned Charlie in a corner with growls and bared teeth so he couldn’t escape. Frankie, who was napping, came as quickly as he could, running through the living room and nearly knocking over a coffee table as he ran, barking at Maggie to back off. Her barking stopped but she didn’t move her body.
“What did you do?” Frankie asked as he took his place among near the dryer. Charlie just hung his head and waiting for the inevitable. Boo sat purring on top of the washer so pleased with himself that it couldn’t be hidden. Shimshim sat back and to the side of Boo, keeping her head low worried about Charlie doing something even though he was trapped on the floor. Vader was the last to arrive and yawned as he took his place on the washer.
“This won’t take long,” Boo grinned, “I’ve been looking forward to this. Due to your inability to abide by the decisions and rules of this council we hereby rescind your license to hunt effective immediately.” Charlie bowed his head and got up preparing to leave. “Uh uh, not so fast,” Boo stopped Charlie in his tracks, “There is no way that you just walk out of here. You and I both know that just pulling your license can’t stop you, we’d have to declaw you to do that, so in addition to pulling your license we are also confining you to the crate.” The air left the room as soon as Boo said it. The crate, that was bold. Normally the humans only used the crate to carry the animals to and from the vet, not a pleasant place. Charlie especially hated the crate. He was an outdoor cat who only tolerated the indoors. Being cooped up in the crate would be… It would be bad, very bad. “Maggie, if I may ask a favor, would you please escort…” Boo didn’t have a chance to finish his sentence. Charlie cried out and jumped over Maggie. She barked in reaction, loud and hard! Frankie barked at her in reaction, getting in Maggie’s way to keep her from chasing after Charlie. Shimshim panicked and dove to hide behind the washer. Boo hissed and clawed at the air. Vader, not amused, yawned and lay down on the washer to wait it all out. Charlie dashed through the kitchen and cut a hard left toward the dining room. Boo jumped down to try and catch him, but got caught up in Maggie’s barking and Frankie’s road block. Charlie raced through the living room and down the hall, bounding into the human’s bedroom and hiding.
The next few hours were tough. The Council searched through the house with Maggie, sniffing and listening to the very edges of their animal senses. But as heighten as those senses might be, Charlie is a specialist, a hunter, and even though his license is pulled his skills are not. Charlie hid, in the human’s closet, tucked behind some particularly smelly shoes. It would cover his scent for a while and the human female, trying to help with the human male’s allergies, would keep the other animals out if they did catch whiff of it. Charlie got down to thinking. He needed to know what the Legion was doing and being on the run from his own household was going to make that a lot tougher. The door opened with a thud. Charlie tensed and pulled back further into the closet. A shadow cast across the floor, bending into the darkness. Charlie poised his legs in preparation to pounce. If they did find him there was no way that he was going to be put in that crate without a fight! A head peeked into the closet, Charlie’s claws poked out. The head came further in and just before Charlie could strike he saw that it was Frankie!
“Hey Charlie, I thought you might be in the one place they aren’t allowed. I just wanted to check up on you.” Frankie kicked the bedroom door shut and gave his brother a friendly lick on the head.
With the human bedroom door shut Charlie and Frankie were free to rest on the bed. They curled up next to each other and Charlie’s tail twitched as they talked. Frankie rested his head on his front paws and gave a sideways glance at Charlie, who was staring at the spinning blade of the ceiling fan.
“They’re collecting eggs? Why would the Lizard Legion be collecting eggs?” Frankie’s question was the same one Charlie had been mulling over all day. Lizards don’t eat eggs, at least not bird eggs. There was so little to go on and now that he wasn’t able to hunt the lizards would have free reign in the yard… Charlie’s head perked up and his tail lay flat; of course, they had free reign of the yard! Either Maggie or Boo, or both, wanted the lizards to have that kind of access. But what for?! Charlie stood up and looked out the human’s bedroom window. He scanned the backyard; the window had a great view of everything, and didn’t see anything. Charlie turned and looked toward the door, then at Frankie.
Frankie stood and jumped off the bed heading for the door, “I’ll help get you out, but getting back in the house when you find whatever you’re looking for is all on you.” Frankie pawed the door open and reconnoitered the hall; no one was there. Frankie motioned to Charlie who made his way out into the hall. Frankie led the way out toward the main part of the house. In the living room the snoring of the female canine Maggie was loud, but that was good; it meant that she was asleep. She was their biggest obstacle. Frankie went ahead of Charlie and stood in front of the sleeping giant while Charlie snuck past. He hid in a corner by the kitchen as Frankie came up behind to clear the way ahead. All the cats were away. Boo was likely in the garage, Vader was probably asleep somewhere and Shimshim was more than likely wondering around the yard nervous and twitching. This was going to work. Charlie gave one last look at Frankie, who looked back and nodded, before diving out the dog door and making his way out of the backyard, over the fence that leads to the safety of the neighbor’s yard. He curled up under a bush, deep in a planter, and got some much needed rest.
The next morning Charlie got to work. There was plenty to do, plenty to watch. He didn’t have much time, maybe a day, before the humans would be calling for him and the more time he spent in the house the more likely it was that Boo and the canine female Maggie could get him locked into the crate. He started on the roof, overlooking the front yard, making sure that the wind was blowing his scent away. He gazed down feeling safe, none of the other cats dared walk the roof, and settled in for a stakeout. He didn’t have to wait very long. Apparently something had the whole Lizard Legion spooked. Charlie could see motion in the grass, dozens of lizards all streaming through the grass in a variety of directions. All of them seemed to be in quite a fit. They were all scurrying around the bush where they were hiding the eggs, popping in and out from it. A group of three lizards, probably leaders based on how the other lizards moved out of their way as they walked, went into the bush and all the other lizards evacuated and waited, what appeared to be anxiously, outside. After a few seconds the three leaders came back from out and the lead lizard tapped its foot which caused two other lizards to rush into the bush and roll one of the eggs out. Charlie was getting ready to leap down and take them all down when he heard the approach of another animal. Ducking back past the lip of the roof he waited to see who it was and what they’d do.
“Is that for me?” It was Boo! And he was approaching the Lizard Legion without any of them running away. Boo walked with a confident stride and batted away any lizards that got in his way. The lizard leader nodded its head and directed the lizards rolling the egg to push it toward Boo. Boo stopped it with his paw and licked his chops. “I’ve been looking forward to this. Are you sure it’s ready?” In response the lizard leader nodded and then approached the egg, tapping it with his foot two times. The egg shook from within. It started to wobble and tremble. A tapping could be heard on the shell, the chick was about to break out. Boo and the Lizard Legion watched and waited. The chick broke free and made a hole large enough to release him from the shell that had been his home. Just as he was getting his wings free and making his first peeps Boo lashed out with his claws and scooped up the chick into his mouth! Charlie was appalled. Is this what those eggs were for? Easy pickings for Boo!? It was one thing to hunt a bird, there was sport in it and a natural order to it, but stealing the young and serving them up without a way to escape or fight back? That wasn’t fair and it wasn’t becoming of the leader of the Council of Cats. It was abhorrent! Charlie’s claws flexed instinctively but just when he was about to strike Boo began to speak, “Excellent, keep up the good work and I’ll make sure you have free reign in the yard. The Council has already pulled the hunter’s license and I’ve tricked the large female canine into helping us. The hunter even ran away last night! He won’t come back if he knows what’s good for him. All is going according to plan!” And then Boo laughed a deep evil laugh and the lizards all opened their mouths and made a breathy hiss.
Charlie couldn’t let this stand. Not only was Boo disrupting the household by letting these vermin run rampant all over the yard but he was collecting and murdering baby birds. Driven into a hot rage Charlie screeched out a hissing roar and leapt from the roof with claws and teeth bared! Boo, caught by surprise, saw him too late to avoid the blow. Charlie’s weight slammed into Boo’s thigh and claws and teeth dug deep into the fur and flesh making Boo cry out! The Lizard Legion, seeing that the hunter was not under control as promised, dashed back to the other yard. Boo, a brawler in his youth, did not just roll over and give up. He unleashed his claws and swiped back at Charlie hitting him in the shoulder. Charlie, the more agile of the two, lunged back in toward Boo’s body and hugged him tight, sinking his claws into Boo to hold on while biting deep into Boo’s neck. Boo squealed and twisted his whole body, shaking Charlie loose. Charlie rolled away on the grass of the yard and Boo used that split second to attempt to escape. He just needed to get back into the house! If he could then he could call the canine and let her deal with Charlie, maybe permanently? Boo ran for the fence and leapt from the ground toward the top, but before he could reach it Charlie was on him and had leapt up and clawed into Boo’s back before flipping him in mid-air and throwing him back down on the lawn.
Both cats were screeching now at full “cat fight” volume. All the other animals inside could hear what was happening and began to react. Maggie was barking while running around the house looking for Boo. Frankie, worried for Charlie’s safety, ran from the dog door in the kitchen to the front gate hoping to be able to see what was going on. Shimshim hid underneath the dining room table and her head darted all around expecting danger. Vader, who had been napping, raised his head before sneering and rolling over to hide his ears. Boo and Charlie traded blows like boxers, with tooth and claw pulling tufts of fur and blood in each strike. Boo kicked Charlie off enough to be able to jump over the fence. Charlie followed close behind. Boo landed next to Frankie who ferociously barked at him, stunning the cat in place just long enough for Charlie to re-engage. Frankie bared his teeth and growled ready to move in, but Charlie turned to look at him and Frankie knew that this fight was between Charlie and Boo only.
The two cats circled each other in the back yard as Frankie watched. Shimshim stared from a window in the living room. Her eyes glued to the action. Boo and Charlie hissed and moaned, neither seeing an opportunity to strike. Then, like a bull in a China shop, the female canine Maggie came rumbling out of the dog door, still barking. She made a charge at Charlie but was tackled by Frankie before she could catch him. “Maggie no!” Frankie barked, “Boo is up to something! We can’t get involved!” Maggie was pinned by Frankie’s chest, but she whined and barked to be let up.
“Get up, you idiot! Destroy Charlie before he takes over your yard!” Boo’s commands were loud but weak. He could see his power dwindling as no one came to his aid. Charlie took advantage of Boo being distracted and lunged, biting teeth into Boo’s neck, grabbing his back with claws and then tearing at Boo’s stomach with his hind claws. Boo cried out in pain, a cry of surrender and defeat. He was battered and bloody. They both were, but Boo couldn’t take anymore punishment. Charlie got up, sat next to the lump that was Boo on the back lawn and began to lick his wounds. “What are you all looking at?” Boo asked, breathy and tired. “This is why we had to punish him! He can’t be trusted!” Vader and Shimshim came out and Frankie slowly allowed Maggie to get up off the ground.
“He’s a liar.” Charlie’s voice was soft, but clear. “He made a deal with the Lizard Legion, said they could take over the yard as long as they kept him in as many baby birds as he could eat.”
“No!” Maggie barked, “He said that I could chase the lizards!”
Charlie sighed, “That was a lie too. You were nothing but muscle to him. Someone he wanted to use to control me.”
“You have no proof, “Boo sneered, “why should they believe you?”
“How about we go look in the front yard?” As Charlie spoke he jumped up on the yard gate and released the latch to open it. Frankie picked up Boo by the scruff of the neck and the other animals followed him out to the front lawn.
When they got there they caught a line of lizards all leading to the bush where the eggs were kept. They were trying to hide the evidence. When they saw all of the house animals they froze, some of the lizards closer to their own yard made a break for it. Vader, not willing to waste any more of his own time, grabbed one of them before it could run.
Vader looked the lizard deep in its cold marble eyes as he spoke, “Lizard, are these eggs for Boo?” The lizard nodded. “Are they in exchange for territory?” The lizard nodded again. Vader growled and tossed the lizard aside; it ran to freedom when it landed. “Boo, we get the truth now or I let the dog eat you.” Vader motioned for Frankie to put Boo down. He did, but growled as they waited for Boo to speak.
“Fine, “he said, “it’s true. I’m getting too old to hunt anymore and the lizards offered me fresh meat in exchange for the new rocks in the yard. But Charlie kept killing them! He needed to be stopped or they would stop delivering my treats.”
“You mean you lied to me?” Maggie sounded truly hurt and she cried softly at Boo’s betrayal. “I just wanted to chase things…”
Vader approached Charlie, “I think we owe you an apology, son. How about you get back to hunting and show these lizards why they don’t come to this yard?” Charlie smiled and looked at the remaining legion members in the yard. When they realized what was about to happen all of the lizards attempted to scatter, but even though Charlie was hurt, he was still quicker.
That night, when the human female called them all to be fed, things were back to normal in the house. Vader sat at the head of the Council of Cats, the canines kept to their business of treats and squeaky toys, Charlie kept the yard safe from invaders and the human female kept finding Boo somehow locked in the travel crate.
Am I Still A Geek?
In the past I would have no problem identifying with this statement:
I am a geek.
I don’t think that this is any kind of real surprise to anyone who reads this blog or knows me, but it’s not something that I bring up that often for public consumption. Working in toys has really activated my geekery gene and since that is what I’ve been spending so much time on turning it into content for the internet seemed like the next natural choice. But as I’ve gotten back into my geekier pursuits I’ve noticed that I’m not feeling particularly connected to “geek” as a community – and I don’t know how I feel about that.
Why do we care?
In all likelihood you probably don’t, but it’s very possible that we are about to see a change to geek culture and since geek culture has been mainstreamed any changes that come are likely going to affect the entertainment industry in a massive way. I think my identity crisis is just a symptom of something bigger… maybe.
Being a geek is nothing new and we are somehow still in a geek culture golden age. If you were to tell me twenty-five years ago that some of the most popular things on YouTube, videos that were getting MILLIONS of views, were of people playing Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games I’d laugh until I passed out. Put on top of that the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most popular, profitable and unstoppable franchise factories making household names out of characters that no one knew of merely a decade ago? And the fact that Star Wars as a universe is still chugging along in mainstream media? And that I can find Iron Man action figures in just about every single armor that he has ever worn both on screen and in the comics? I tell you my little teenage heart would burst.
But it was not always this way.
I like to frame myself as a “proud geek,” but if I’m being honest that hasn’t always been true. Even in times as geek popular as now I tend to hold that part back from the spotlight. In the past I have justified this hiding because of my “brand.” On this blog and on social media I preferred to be an actor first, focus on career related things… and every once in a while toss in an obscure movie reference, mention that I need to go play D&D, or talk about Iron Man. But that was not very authentic in how much of my private identity can be tied back to what are considered geeky (sometimes VERY geeky) things.
Although some of the geeky things have gained a hip status, the fact of the matter is that all the cool popular people playing or involved in this stuff are a very small, niche part of the people who play and participate in the core of geekery. The core audience still carries the stigma that was turned into stereotypes used in TV and movies, especially in the late 70’s through the 90’s. Hell, that was my bread and butter for most of my young acting career.
You can see it in the faces of cosplayers, Magic the Gathering players, wargamers and hard core D&D enthusists; there is an underlying fear anytime they are around people outside of their community that they will be made fun of. And I totally get that, I have also had that fear.
I think that Simon Pegg has presented the best definition of the modern geek:
As he points out, this doesn’t just apply to things like superhero fans and Warhammer 40,000 players but sports fanatics and people who love cars too. But the stigma doesn’t follow the latter the way it does the former. Jocks and nerds may be satisfying the same itch deep down, but society in general views them in very different ways and always at odds.
I was at Rose City Comic Con this year. It’s the first con that I’ve been to since San Diego ComiCon back in either 2012 or 2014 (I can’t remember) and even longer than that since I went to a convention of any size that wasn’t related to the entertainment industry in some way shape or form. This year felt different than what I remember.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my dad and I going to comic cons all over Southern California (mostly the Shrine Shows in L.A.) looking for old Iron Man back issues, checking out old toys and collectables, and doing our best to bargain down a price with the dealers. At these shows I built a very impressive collection of Yoda memorabilia, got my first Iron Man action figure from the defunct Secret Wars line, and completed a volume 1 collection of Iron Man comics.
I would spend my days reading comics and coming up with adventures for all my favorite characters in my head. The reading material came in handy for auditions as well since I was merely a passengers for nearly a decade. I was proud to know as much about the Marvel Universe as I did. I knew Doctor Who lore and stories that would surprise adult fans. I knew Star Wars down to the Tonnika sisters. But I had very few people that I could share all this with.
Junior High School, the worst of all the “schools” in my opinion, was when I met my core group of friends, people I still know and love to this day. Jeff Garvin was my entry point to the group. He and I met doing Annie with a community theater group (another thing that is generally considered pretty geeky, but that’s another blog post altogether). We shared mutual interests, Star Wars and comic books in a general sense, and he introduced me to his Dungeons and Dragons group. Jeff, Dan and Scott became my best friends through school.
In addition to D&D we shared other common interests in movies and music. Star Wars and Indiana Jones were big favorites and we spent way too much playing the original X-Wing and TIE Fighter computer games. We tried some other RPGs and Dan, Scott and I all started playing Warhammer 40k. We had each other’s backs. We were our own little community and we could run in the circles of other geek communities without effort.
At Rose City Comic Con I was the outsider. Even though I’m an over 40-bearded-beer-gut-guy (a description that has come to be the standard archetype for the stereotypical geek) I saw the distrustful looks that came from the cosplayers and gamers and comic book fans. I imagine I must’ve looked like a dad who was missing his kid, especially since I was there by myself. There was a part of me that wanted to say, “Don’t worry I’m totally one of you.” But even writing that seems condescending and pointless, especially since geekdom and fandom are plagued by toxic jerks right now. I can’t find fault with the suspicious looks. If you didn’t know any better I could be one of those entitled, angry and anonymous man-children screaming about The Last Jedi. Toxic Fandom is the culmination of people who felt powerless finding a voice and, in most circumstances, trying to claim ownership on a fictional world that should be open to everyone. When that kind of “fandom” finds other people who feel the same we get things like what we saw with recent Star Wars stars leaving social media.
But that’s not what I want to see. Sure there will always be jerks, but in general the community is at its best when it is supportive of each other and when people who want to learn about and participate in the geekery are welcomed. Even though I got a lot of side-eye yesterday, the folks at the convention we all very polite and super excited about what they were doing there. That’s the part I like. That’s what I’d like to see more of.
To that point I’m going to start talking about my geekier pursuits here on the blog more. I may not feel like I’m directly linked into the community like I used to be, but I still D&D like a boss, build and paint 40k armies competently, and can still throw down in Supernatural continuity conversations with the best of them. The old saying goes “be the change you’d like to see” and I’d like to help put some positivity back into the geeky stuff that I love.
Please join me! Tell me about the geeky stuff you love in the comments. Introduce me to that thing you like that maybe you’re self conscious about. Let’s build a better community without entitlement and toxicity.
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Tagged as awesome, books, comic books, comic movies, commentary, DandD, doctor who, dungeons and dragons, fanboy, fantasy, fiction, friends, fun, Games Workshop, geek, getting old, Han shot first, hobby, horror, in real life, internet, iron man, Lego, Marvel, mordheim, movies, nostalgia, personal, pop culture, rambling, random facts, reading, sci-fi, star trek, star wars, storytelling, super-heroes, television, toys, video games, Wolverine