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Joe's Funeral, Starring Me, Joe's Cat!
by Jon Sindell

"In closing, I say to the spirit of my brother, God bless you, Joe! May flights of angels bear thee to thy rest!

"Excuse me while I collect myself.

"And now, dear friends, in accordance with Joe’s express testamentary instructions, I would like to invite Joe’s beloved cat, Muffin, to say a few words in remembrance of Joe.


"Ah, she's scratching. We will wait. After all, as Joe once said, if you’ve got an itch, scratch it. Sound advice, no?

"Gawd, still scratching. Muffin?

"Good lord, she's stretching. Fair enough, can't blame her for loosening the lithe, lovely limbs that Joe loved so well. Oh, how he admired them! As did we all, in the thousands of photos that Joe shared in photo albums, on Facebook, on Instagram, and in holiday calendars—every single year. That big lug had a love for his cat that was beyond compare. Beyond comprehension. Which is the reason he insisted—I can show you the clause in his will—that Muffin speak at his funeral.

"Good grief, Muffin, are you coming?

"Oh look, she’s flopped on her side in a pool of sunlight. Isn't that nice? Well, who could blame her? Here we sit, misguided humans dressed in dreary black and wallowing in gloom, while Muffin reminds us to seek the light—as Joe no doubt would want us to do.

"She’s up! And sauntering this way. Come forward, Muffin. Take your time. No need to hurry.

"She’s stopped! Trying, surely, to tell us something. Reminding us, I think, that we all must march—or stroll, as the case may be—to the beat of our own drummer. As did Joe, that lover of cats and colored rubber bands. He had quite a collection. Thousands and thousands, in all colors and sizes. Dear, sweet, odd old Joe.

"She advances!

"Oh, bloody hell, she’s stopped again! Rats!

"No, Muffin, it's a figure of speech, there aren't any— good grief, there she goes, chasing a non-existent rat into a pew. Which is fine. I'm sure she intends to lay it in the casket as a tribute to Joe, just as she laid so many dead sparrows and bloodied but undead mice on his pillow as he slept.

"Ah. She’s completed her escapade and is stepping forward. Pouting, of course. Look, I told you, cat, there are no rats. People, wait, I've got an idea. I'll put some of Muffin’s favorite treats in this censer and shake it. She comes! Don't anyone move.

"Here’s your treat on the lectern, kitty. Voilà! The wondrous power of canned `Ocean Feast!' Just speak into this. And now, dear friends, I yield the mic to Lonesome Joe's dearest companion, the, ahem, `Comely Comfy Queen of Cats.' Muffin?"

"Yes. Well. So many faces looking up at me. Some familiar, some not, all distressingly hairless and dull, but with one essential thing in common—an irresistible desire to gaze at me. Which is fine. I'm used to it, believe me.

"I have been asked to speak about Joe. Joe served me several varieties of `kitty treats.' But something's not a `treat' just because they call it that. In reality, they are dry and rather tasteless. I don't like them much. I ate them because I was hungry, that's all. Like anyone else, I prefer fresh-killed rodents and birds. On the other hand, I did somewhat like the wet food Joe served on my favorite china plate, the one with the bluebirds. My favorites were `Kidney Pie,' `Chicken And Liver,' 'Turkey And Rice,' `Mackerel,' 'Liver With Bacon,' 'Tuna Entrée'—the word `entrée' was both superfluous and precious, as it was the only course Joe served—and `Chicken With Gravy.' `Beef And Cheese' was okay, but they should leave out the cheese, it's disgusting. Generally speaking, I like canned foods that are creamy. I lick the wet part then eat the flesh. I also enjoy a saucer of cream, but I don't care for milk. Remember that.

"What else can I say about Joe? Wait, I remember—the oaf stepped on my tail once! But I got him. Teeth and claws, babe, teeth and claws.

"Well, will you look at that—Joe's cat-hating brother is signaling me to stop. No wonder Joe called him an arrogant jerk. Fine. Whatever. I've got stuff to do.

"So let me say in closing, I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at me so long. No wonder my people were worshiped in Egypt. If you'd like to gaze further, you will find more than three-thousand pictures of me on Joe‘s social pages. Also, I'm available to pose for pictures for a price, but be advised that I do not pose with children under eleven, and there is an extra fee for sitting on laps. Finally, If anyone would like to publish a book of photographs of me, I'll connect you with my agent.

"Enjoy the funeral. I need to eat."