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Astropup and the Good Cat
The previous episode, Astropup and the planet of the pirates, ended with Astropup’s friend the parrot being kidnapped by Cat People. They ordered Astropup to hand over the diamond from HMS Hesperus. The Parrot screeched “Don’t give them the diamond.” This has left our hero in something of a quandary. How will he solve the problem? Is there any such thing as a “good cat”? Listen on and find out.
Many thanks to Millicent Tirk for suggesting we include a duck with one wing as a character.
Read by Richard Scott. Story by Bertie.
Astropup and the Good Cat.
We dogs have our virtues. We know how to love. We are loyal to the end. We will lay down our lives for our masters. But I struggle to think
of a dog who was a born leader. Thinking for ourselves, and taking tough decisions, that’s simply not the canine way.
And so, when the cat pirates took the parrot prisoner, and roared away nto darkness on their motorbike, I was left at a loss.
I had a strange, creepy feeling, and I did not know what it was. I howled at the moon for a good five minutes before I realised:
I was alone. It was up to me, and only me, to decide what to do next.
The parrot had screeched “Don’t give them the diamond” - but the cat people had told me to bring the diamond, or they would kill him.
Oh dear oh dear, what was I to do? Arooooooh !
Back in my room, I curled up in my basket, but sleep did not bring me any peace. I was grunting and snarling at cat people in my dreams. Then I heard
the parrot cry out: “Get up you lazy pooch!” and I jumped to my four feet wagging my tail with joy. But oh, the parrot’s perch was empty.
It had been another dream. How I missed that bossy little bird. Then, I knew then that I could not let the cat people take him.
What did I care for money anyway? They could have the diamond.
By mid-morning, I was back at the Bank of Pirates. I had no appointment, and had to stand in a queue in the branch. When I got to to the front I said:
“Woof, RRRRRR RA WOOOF”. The human woman behind the till looked bemused:
“I’m afraid I don’t understand dog language.”
“AROOOOH!” I said, and began to cry. The monkey behind me patted my head and made a kind offer: “Allow me to translate.”
“Oh thank you,” I said. “I want to withdraw a diamond please. Here are the papers.”
The tiller looked at the documents, and tapped on her computer. She studied the screen thoughtfully:
“Are you the Parrot Major?” she asked.
“No. I’m Bonzo Astropup.”
“This account clearly belongs to a bird. He’s signed it with his claw mark.”
“Right-oh. But can I have the diamond?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head.
“Well can I see a man called Joe? He knows that it’s half mine.”
“Joe is away,” said the woman. “He’s on an interplanetary business trip. Shall I put a meeting in his diary? I see he has a slot at the end of next year.”
“Oh”, I said. ”It will be too late by then.”
I left the bank with my tail between my legs, and slunk back to the hotel. This was the pits. But just as you think things can’t get any worse, generally they do. Around my collar, I wore a little tag that automatically unlocked the flap to our room when I stood near it. I pushed my nose against the flap like I always did, but it didn’t flip like it was supposed to. I went downstairs to ask for help. The kangaroo at the reception desk said I had to pay up for another night. But how could I pay? The Parrot had deposited all our dog biscuits at the bank. And so now, I had no money, no food, and nowhere to stay. I was alone and destitute on the Planet of the Pirates.
I went out onto the Boulevard. It was a wide street, lined by palm trees. People and strange space creatures wondered up and down, some stopping to gaze through shop windows. Boutiques sold diamond-studded collars. The restaurants offered fancy menus. It was a place for fat cats and pampered pooches. But for a down-and-out dog, quite frankly, it was the biggest dump in the universe. I wondered all day, until the pads of my feet were sore and my empty stomach was growling for food. My head hung as low as the sunset. Where could I go? I turned down a side street, and found a rubbish bin. A mouse was nibbling at a moldy piece of cheese. I growled and he ran off, but I couldn’t eat the cheese because its smell was too puke-inducing. Next I lay down in a doorway, defeated, cast-out, alone, and several million light years away from my dear Jenny. So this was to be the end. I would die of hunger on this cold step. It was then that a catty voice said:
“Hey dog, can you shove off my step?”
I opened one eye and saw a cat. Not a cat person, but a scraggy black and white ally cat. GRRRRRRRRR ! I showed him the yellow of my teeth.
“Steady on !” he said backing off. “Don’t you know there’s a truce on this island?”
“Yes,” said I, “And last time I pointed that out, a cat said it didn’t count because he was a pirate.”
“Well I’m no pirate,” said the cat. “So keep your halitosis to yourself put your gums away.” I should have had him for my dinner, but there’s no fun in chasing a cat who doesn’t run. This cheeky feline stood his ground and didn’t so much as arch his back or put out a claw. I stopped growling. What was the point?
“That’s better,” said he. “Where are you from anyway? You don’t look like a stray.”
”I’m from Earth. And my friend the parrot has been kidnapped by Cat People.”
“Kidnapped you say? Why would anyone kidnap a parrot?”
Since I had nothing better to do, I told him the story of the the sharks, the space wreck, the diamond, the bank, and the ambush the previous night.
“Quite a tale,” said the cat, licking his paw, “Seems like you’ve been double, if not triple, crossed. The Cat People must be working with the Bank of Pirates. If the Parrot does not come back to claim his diamond, the bank will keep it, pay off the cat pirates, and be even richer than before.”
“But the bank said we could trust them,” I objected.
“Well surprise, surprise, they lied about that too.”
Such treachery was all too much for my poor little brain. I began to shake and to whimper.
“There, there,” said the cat, as he put his paw on mine. “Don’t cry, I’ll help you.” Sympathy from a cat? This was a new one on me. But it was kind of nice.
“Oh dear oh dear, what ever shall I do?” I asked, still shaking. The cat rubbed himself against me, as cats do with humans. Normally that would have given me the cat creeps, but it was almost comforting .
“You still haven’t told me your name,” he said.
“Oh. I’m Astropup. Who are you?”
“They call me, The Good Cat.”
“The Good Cat?” How weird that name sounded to my floppy ears. You see, my mother had a saying, “There’s no such thing as a good cat.” And after meeting feline folk across the galaxy, I was yet to prove her wrong. But in this situation, who else could I turn to?
“I pick up most of the gossip around these alleys,” said the Good Cat, “But your story is news to me. Let’s go and ask the duck with one wing. If there’s so much as a murmur of a rumour, she will have heard it ”
The Good Cat led, and I followed. She jumped over a wall. I squeezed through a gap in the fence. She hissed at a stray dog. I gave him the old “whatever, don’t mess with me” look. He snarled back: “Call yourself a canine, Cat-lover.”
“You don’t understand,” I said, “This is the Good Cat.” And he gave me a look like I had gone loopy or something.
I knew that we had arrived, when I saw a flap with the sign of a one-winged duck on it. We pushed our way through the flap, and I could hear the sound of bird music and cat meowing. Back on Earth you would never hear the sound of cats and birds singing in harmony, but this was a strange planet. We followed the sound down into the basement. Here we found a crowded watering hole. This low dive was packed with all sorts of creatures, but more cats than anyone else. Some colourful birds were dancing on the stage. The Good Cat led me through the crush to a corner where a white duck with one wing sat on a pile of comfy looking straw. She had big blue eyes, as if she had been drawn by Walt Disney. My new friend introduced me.
“What happened to your wing?” I asked.
“Lost it in a gun fight” she replied in a sassy voice. My eyes moved from her wing to a big bowl on the floor. ”Say, help yourself to biscuits, doggy,” she said. I needed no more encouragement than that, and I stuck my snout into the bowl. The Good Cat said: “He’s starving, poor thing,” and began to tell her my story.
“That’s sure some tale,” she replied.
“Don’t you believe it?” I asked, looking up from the bowl.
“Oh I believe ya, alright,” she said. “I’ve never met a dog who didn’t tell the truth. Some say that your kind are too dim to lie, but of course I don’t believe that either. It’s just the way you dogs are.”
“Yes, we have honest hearts,” I said.
“Well I heard those cats landed,” she said. “They say their pirate camp is just north of drift-wood beach.”