Halcyon Days (The Perks Of Being A Paragon)
The Accidental King
Mr. Meow boldly walked into his classroom at Cardboard Box Academy, ready as always to teach his students a new lesson in the subject of How To Be A Cat; really the only subject in the entire Academy’s curriculum. As he entered, each student, from Abyssinian to Toyger, perked up and sat at attention. He took roll call, marking down all twelve students with the name Meow, both foreign exchange students named Nyan, the one ‘delinquent student with a heart of gold’ known as Hiss, and so on. All present, accounted for, and buzzed on catnip. Perfect. “Students, have you heard the legend of ‘The Accidental King?’” Quite a few paws rose; more than he expected for this rather obscure tail… tale. One of the students with her paw down spoke up “I thought today’s lesson would be about mice.” Another chimed in “No, that was the past three days. I thought today was about mackerel.” Mr. Meow raised his own paw to call for silence. “Well those are all vitally important subjects on How To Be A Cat, I believe this story is also crucial to your growth as felines.” They sighed, but perked their ears to show they were listening. Mr. Meow purred. “Now, allow me to begin the tail… tale.”
“There once was a black cat known as ‘Blessed Bombay.’ He was a rather foolish cat, and he lacked ambition to such an extent that it was unusual even for our kind. If he chased a mouse, he gave up after five paw steps. If he started to climb a tower, he jumped off in boredom halfway up. He was too lazy even to chase those dreaded Red Dots!” The kittens all gasped at this. “Yes! Indeed! Despite his laziness and lack of ambition, he was blessed with extreme fortune. Every mouse he failed to chase died of a heart attack moments later. The towers he failed to climb fell on their side, allowing him to scale to the horizontal top. Every Red Dot he failed to chase stopped directly in front of him, unmoving. This ‘power’ came to be known as “Black Cat’s Path.” The kittens mewled in excitement. “If I had that power, I’d be the laziest, fattest cat ever!” said Waddles. “You already are!” cried out Hiss. Waddles hissed, himself, in reply. The other kittens rolled on the floor to the east and west end of the class, taking sides between the two embattled felines. “Enough, kits! Enough! Now, to continue the story. Blessed Bombay’s power came with a price: An inextricable (several cats looked confused at the word) secondary power called “The Bliss of Ignorance.” Blessed Bombay eventually, accidentally, became ‘The King of All Cats.’ He benefited in every way from his power. His subjects, unfortunately did not.”
“What do you mean that his subjects didn’t benefit, Mr. Meow?” asked Nyan. Mr. Meow stood tall, proud and pleased that at least more than half the class was still listening. “The implications of this power could be seen as selfish. It’s not a certainty that one cat’s fortune can cause another’s misfortune… but it is a distinct possibility. Fate, such as it is, was always on Blessed Bombay’s side. Yes, even to the detriment of others. During the great milk drought of ’88, Bombay never lacked for cool milk. Not because he hoarded it; he merely stumbled upon some wherever he stepped. When chew toys went missing throughout the realm, Bombay’s never seemed to disappear. The inequity was clear and staggering. He would have been deposed, but he somehow avoided each attempt." The kits looked sad at this development. “So what happened in the end?” The best part of the story, at least for Mr. Meow. “In the end, through the one unselfish act of sharing his chew toy with another cat, Blessed Bombay saw the world as it truly was. How his power was hurting others. I would be remiss (the kits once again looked confused at this word) if I did not mention that he still tried to keep his power as it was, for a time. Despite knowing the cost to others. In the end, though, he grew. Matured. He could no longer bear the Bliss of Ignorance, nor the Comfort of Selfishness. He wished away his power. All luck left him, and he was just a regular cat, like any other." “Meow, so super happy ending?” Mr. Meow shook his head. “Not entirely. For his poor leadership, he was instantly deposed. All his chew toys were confiscated and distributed to those without chew toys. In fact, he was chew toy-deprived for the rest of his life. It was happy though, in a way. Blessed Bombay was able to then on live the rest of his life in a state of intelligence and activity. Well, activity for a cat. His power was gone; replaced with something many would argue is far better: A sense of purpose.” Waddles perked up “Porpoise? I love porpoises!” Hiss snickered “What? You love to eat them?” Mr. Meow sighed. Such was the life of a cat teacher.
The kits who had listened, approximately 51% of the class in fact, talked amongst themselves. “Purr, would you have kept that power? It seems stupid to give it up!” Purr’s voice was soft and pleasant, easily making her one of the most popular cats in class. “I would definitely give it up. It’s better to think of others than yourself.” Hiss scowled. “Who cares about others? If they aren’t you, aka Me, they’re a secondary concern at best.” The kits once again rolled to either end of the class, taking sides between the two opposing positions. Mr. Meow opened a tin of catnip; a well-deserved treat for any teacher of kits. Well, I at least got them to consider the moral of the story and encounter opposing viewpoints. I call that a small victory! I wonder if Doxx will ever visit again, and if she would like to hear this story. It’s rather purely cat-like in culture though. Might not translate well. This catnip is really good… I’m sleepy.
The kittens, locked in furrocious debate as they were, did not even notice their hardworking teacher drift off to sleep.