Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Ernie Saga

I feel sorry for Ernie, our cat. He sits at a glass door looking out longingly at the birds and the squirrels that flash playfully into view. I think he wants to eat them. Kibbles and an occasional indoor mouse just aren’t enough.
He meows pathetically and cocks his head to one side and licks his lips. I don’t let him out for a very good reason: he’s a house cat and there are perils out there to which he is not accustomed; coyotes, dogs, rattlesnakes and owls.
Yes, owls. Stories abound in Topanga of large birds of prey carrying off cats and even small dogs. One woman tells of an owl swooping off with her little Portia. That’s her Pekingese, not her granddaughter. She ran down the street in the direction of the bird, screaming and swearing. The terrified owl dropped Portia on the road.
The dog was OK but that wasn’t the end of the story. A car swerved to miss the Pekingese and scraped another car. There was a fistfight. Sheriff’s deputies were called. Meanwhile, a man who claimed he was once abducted by occupants of a UFO saw the dog drop from the sky and thought it was an extraterrestrial.
He summoned other believers by blowing on a ram’s horn. They surrounded Portia, who was pretty bewildered by all of the commotion. This also attracted a large group of Christian fundamentalists who thought the dog a manifestation of the Holy Spirit dropped from the sky to pronounce the end of the world.
The Christians began praying loudly and shoving the abductees aside, a confrontation that eventually turned into a riot. This attracted the attention of the sheriff’s deputies who’d been handcuffing the two fist fighting motorists. The deputies called for backup.
The media picked up the call on their scanners and sent in traffic helicopters to check it out. Since Topanga is near the ocean, rumors began circulating that terrorists had come ashore and Topangans, cooperating with local police authorities, were trying to repel the invaders.
Others from Malibu and Woodland Hills heard the reports on news radio, armed themselves and headed for the fight. When the chopper pilots saw the armed militia coming over the hills, they assumed that the terrorists had formed an army and a full scale invasion had begun. The U.S. Air Force was summoned.
Fighter jets roared over the Santa Monica Mountains blasting everything in sight, including a few collaterals who bled much like real people, but were only collaterals and shouldn’t have been in the way of the bombs in the first place.
Naturally, everyone ran like hell except for Portia’s owner who got so angry at the bombardment that she began screaming and running and shaking her fist in the direction of a fighter jet that had just launched a missile at a building that housed the Topanga Feng Shui and Yoga Society of which she was a charter member. The pilot of the jet swooped low and gave her the finger which really enraged her. She called an Arab friend who was a known member of Al Qaeda.
Word spread among Islamic radicals that America was in disarray and it was time to invade. They alerted cells in L.A. peopled by movie set designers and Hollywood extras who armed themselves and marched on Topanga. Naturally they were greeted as visiting foreigners who are always welcomed here, so everyone stopped fighting and organized a Welcome to the Mountains party.
Soon they were all happily guzzling Two Buck Chuck and making out, including the woman who owned Portia, leaving the dog to stagger back to its house alone and whine pitifully at the door. But the music and the moaning were so loud that no one heard the poor creature. Soon Federal authorities moved in and arrested everyone under the Patriot Act for collaborating with terrorists and for violating laws against passion moans that exceed a wren’s tweet.
Topanga is empty now except for me which encourages animal predators to roam free, and that’s why Ernie is not allowed to leave the house. The End. (That’s one hell of a story, Al. I know.)


Joe Wilson said...

I just read this post aloud to my girlfriend and she and I had a good laugh. What a story and it's amazing that it's all true. She said, "Poor Ernie" when I was done.

Joe Wilson
Molalla, Oregon

twinkbait1 said...

I bid one Euro for the movie rights.

'Nuff said for the dollar...

Lynn C. said...

I cannot wait to read this to my husband! I have been home not well and feeling sorry for myself. The Ernie Saga caused me to laugh out loud and it felt wonderful. Thank you, thank you, for sharing your AMAZING thoughts with us.
Lynn C.

Edy Bronston said...

You have an evil mind.......I love it!

Ann Shields said...

After I laughed in the manner of LOL, I urge you to keep them coming. You really need to do a script and use Will Farrell racing around the hills creating chaos of his own.

Anna said...

Wow, I thought animal kingdom was only in my backyard. Every morning my two very large dogs crouch very low to the ground, to catch squirrels, maybe a few ominous black crows who strut about the backyard. My pets nocturnal activities, I don't question. Sometimes you will hear the clicking of the possums warning each other, "here comes that big down shawn".

Anna Maria Ballard
Los Angeles, California

constance said...

ONLY in Topanga.

EffSnO said...

Holy Cow! Portia's master (shouldn't call her a mistress) is some kind of protagonist. Is she available for hire for theme parties, or is she trying to remain anonymous?

Diane Germano said...

I got a call early yesterday from an extra's casting director and he told me to get to Topanga. It sounded suspicious. He said the job was paying $125.00 for the day, plus food. I told him, no matter how unimportant I may be, there are no small parts, only small actors.

With that, I slammed down the phone and I DID NOT show up. Now, I'm relieved I didn't! What in Heaven's name would I do without you, Al?

Say hello to Ernie and Portia for me.


Ivan G. Goldman said...

Come on, whaddaya think we are? Gullible? Nobody fistfights in Topanga.

Michele McGee-Yepiz said...

Al, funny outline for a screenplay. But in 1966 a similar storyline titled “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming" showed in theaters. Your Topanga account sounds as if its fabrication happened while you sat in your wife’s gazebo sipping martinis.
That refund YOUR PRESIDENT pledged could solve Ernie’s problem and your conscience, the source of your gilt-trip and cause of your drinking. That government chump change would cover the $160 Kittywalk, an outdoor feline portable nylon mesh cat enclosure where Ernie could enjoy fresh air and bird-watching while sunning at minimum risk of encountering predators in your backyard. (The Penthouse style is a mere $6 addition but the best is a combination that will fritter away $270.)

laurelpaley said...

OH this is funny. OH OH OH.

Kanani said...

Ha ha ha ha! I love it.
I will post a link to this on my blog!

Kanani said...

Okay Al,
I've put up a link to this on the LA Times Pressmen's blog. I've auto-scheduled it to go up on my blog tomorrow morning. You can view it here right now!

lightlug said...

This sounds a little like the
Beverly Glen Art Fair except we have a belly dancer to liven things up.
It's a great yarn Al. Keep up the good work.

Tom Pincu

jo4hn said...

One of the finest collection of mule fritters with which I have ever come in contact.

bizarrely yours,

Long-time RN said...

Ah, found the blogspot! Shaking my Midwestern head and laughing at the cascade of drama stemming from a cat looking out the window. A great way to start the day, a smile on my face and a California visual in my head!
Most enjoyable and look forward to future entries.
Cathy B

Chris said...

Thanks for the chuckle to go with my morning coffee today.

Russ M said...

You're right, Al. Stories do abound in Topanga, and now I know who starts them. Hilarious!

jan said...

The Great Topanga Invasion. You could get a lot of celebrities to do cameos.
Don't worry about getting used to blogging, Al. I've just figured out how to post comments. Just keep writing.

Duckie said...

I had a "Topanga" cat name "Sooosie". He was coyote-and-owl-proof (and knew how to handle himself around my dogs who probably thought they were cats) as was his predessor, "Rags" who eventually attracted a night-pack of coyote's to his white chest patch. So when "S" was about 15 and I observed him "bonk" into the wrought iron fence (some of the spokes were loose but he miscalculated) I decided his hunting days were over. He languished as an indoor cat for another few years until I released his spirit to the winds. Ha! Ha! coyotes and owls (who waited in vain outside the fence by my bedroom window). Long Live Sooosie! Long live Ernie! And Portia too!

janfoli said...

Well, Al, you really had me going for a while.

Because Topanga and Venice (my home) are so similar in numbers of characters, I thought the story entirely possible for far too long before the joke got to me.

It was another winner, thanks.

Frankecpa said...

Friends use to live in Topanga - guess they got caught up in the "party". Great story - made not only my day but my week as well.

Margie - Simi Valley, CA said...

Could you please move that glorious bit of mayhem to Simi Valley for a few days? We'll supply the coyotes and the fundamentalists if you will supply the rest of the party! Once again, Al, a great laugh for a Wednesday morning; keep 'em coming!

Simi Valley

John said...

Did you get the idea for this at one of those L.A. By God Times staff meetings with the newest boss guys?

T. said...

You are incredibly funny, albeit a bit strange.

PaniaK said...

No matter how much my cats beg and plead, they're NOT going outdoors. I'd rather not have that chaos in Chatsworth, thank you very indeed.

VERY FUNNY, Al! Love your writing!

boychik said...

Students of the genre will recognize this is a shaggy dog story, albeit with a Shakespearean feline cast in the lead.

oscar said...

Hi Al

I too have seen small pets woefully taken away by coyotes up on Saddle Peak. My story was not quite as good as yours though.


twinkbait1 said...

While "Ernie" was fun, I'd personally like to go back to "nudity."

Al, could we please make the next installment something to the effect of, "A Long History of Nudity" along with "illustrations"?

I can suggest some Web sites!

So is the opposite of "boychik" the blogger, "Gurlman"? I hear boychik likes pastrami too. Dunno what that's about.

eveline said...

Here, no coyote and I have no cat at home. But I leave every night a plate for The Cat. I do not know him he does not know me. He comes and eats (if the menu is ok) around 4 am.
Until your story he had no name. Now he is Ernie.

Thanks Al

Gabriela ZabalĂșa-Goddard said...

Oh, please say it ain't so! Where do you come up with this stuff? HA HA HA.Loved it!

Glogal said...

I love cats, and I love Ernie, and I love you beyond imagining ! When are the new Pulitzers due ?


Ann Shields said...

Gosh when my cat brings in a partially dead bird, chirping weakly, no excitement of your nature ensues. I am envious. I can hardly stand to praise them for their succeess, the little creeps.
Ann Shields,
Ventur, California

Jeffrey Martinez said...

Hey Grandpa. This is Jeff just saying good luck on your new blog.
I also liked the story.It reminds me of the times you use to tell stories to me and nicole in the car.

herbfaerie72 said...

As the owner of 8 indoor cats I am now further convinced of the wiseness of not letting them out. Here I was, concerned with only their personal safety, never dreaming of the havoc that could ensue by them getting out.... Too funny!