Thanks and welcome!
And, snuggling beneath the orange antimacassar, we meet two new characters and learn the name of one character we've already met.
Otis and Evan: a serialized novel by jabney:
Then, as if in counterpoint to the rather stiff, but rather grand, ambiance of the first class smoking lounge, something furry casually walked-on to my lap.
"Kelly, don't you go bothering the passengers. This is first class, not steerage, you know!" It sounded awfully like the voice of our steward, but how did he get from our cabin to the smoking lounge that quickly? And how did he grow a mustache that quickly. Otis gave him a puzzled look. I might have too, but I was occupied in an elegantly synchronized petting ritual with a small cat. Organized and directed by the cat.
"Kelly?" I said to the two-legged determined-looking disciplinarian who was rapidly approaching the quite relaxed Kelly.
"She's a rascal, that one. I'm so sorry sir."
"Not at all," said Otis, "Evan is no doubt honored that Kelly chose him over somebody from steerage. And he doesn't seem to be in too much pain." This said as Kelly started to give me a gentle bite on the finger she had been licking. I drew my hand away quickly. The cat looked at her uniformed pursuer then resumed licking.
"That's the way to do it sir, don't let 'em start biting but let 'em keep their dignity in the process. Good job, sir."
"Name's Evan," I said, "Evan Ferg."
"Then would the other gentleman be Mr Otis Ferg?"
"Correct, sir. Do you know all the passengers by name?" Otis said, with as look that said, I'm prepared to be impressed.
"No sir, as of right now, the only first class passengers I know the names of are the ones my brother James has been reciting ever since he got his copy of the manifest for his rooms."
"His rooms?" Otis said.
"Young James is determined to make Purser someday. That requires attention to detail, as our village priest, Father..."
"...the late Father Toomey?" I said.
"...Why yes sir!" (he crossed himself and, after a harumph from Otis, I did too,) "Has James been talking your ear off already?"
"Nothing like that," said Otis, "In context, your brother's conversation was quite appropriate to the occasion."
"I'm glad to hear that sir. But I might suggest that you treat his further efforts at story-telling in much the same way as Mr Evan Ferg treated Kelly's initial attempt at nipping him with her teeth."
"No need to go reminding her of that," I said as Otis reached over and started to rub one of the paws of the audibly purring cat, "We're all the are best of pals already."
"Uh, Mr Otis Ferg, I should warn you..." Too late. Kelly let Otis know of her disdain at having a set of human nails so near her own painstakingly sharpened claws by giving him a quick demonstration of her superior armament.
"She can be quite the hellion when she doesn't get her smoke, sir."
"The cat smokes?" said Otis.
"Oh not cigars like you gentlemen are smoking. No sir, she likes to have her hashish, does our Kelly."
"Tell me, uh..."
"Jerry, not Gerald? And your brother is James, not Jimmy, right?" Otis said as Jerry nodded appreciatively. My friend continued, "So Jerry, where might Evan or I find the fumes capable of mollifying our good friend Kelly?"
"That'd depend sir. When we were in port, Kelly liked to sit next to some upholsterers from the Ottoman Empire when they'd finished their work for the day. Wouldn't touch the mint tea, but she was awfully attracted by that hookah."
"Ah, so we'd need a hookah, then?" said Otis.
"No sir. Kelly doesn't concern herself with the method. But that's the problem, see. When she's around that kind of smoke, she doesn't concern herself with other things either. Things like balance."
I stroked Kelly's nose and said, "That could be a real problem for a ship's cat while at sea."
Otis said, "We'd want to keep her indoors for several hours after, then. Do you think your brother would object if Kelly visited our cabin?"
"I think James would go along with that, sir. As long as you made sure there was a litter box and a bowl of water in the room."
"And food too," I said.
Jerry laughed and said, "Kelly does quite well for herself in that department already sir. Has half the crew convinced she's starving. As if!"
"We'll be sure to help her watch her waistline, then," said Otis. "Only low calorie lobster and caviar for the queen."
"Good luck finding anything low calorie on this menu," I said, pointing to the cream-colored sheet of heavy paper sitting on the mahogany table next to me. This must have been a cue for Kelly, because she moved from my lap onto the table, making sure to block the fattening printing from our view. Did I mention before that I like cats?