Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty….Achoo, Part II
"Stand at attention, face west, and solute Fort Knox!" Thundered Thurston Howell the Third.
Thurston Howell IV rolled his eyes very carefully so his father wouldn't see. Saluting Fort Knox had always seemed just a bit extreme to him. And now, standing in a grass hut somewhere in the depths of the South Pacific, it seemed even more bizarre.
"It's on the loose it's on the loose it'sontheloooose!" Gilligan ranted loud enough for the natives on the neighboring island to hear, as he ran through the encampment. The entire Howell family, (minus Madeline who'd imposed on Ginger and Mary Ann by moving in with them so she wouldn't have to talk about her engagement) poked their heads outside the door to investigate.
"What's the matter little Buddy?" The Skipper asked urgently.
He already had a good idea of what had happened. After all Gilligan had been hanging out with the lion and all of a sudden he was running around panicking that it was 'ON THE LOOSE!'…It didn't take a professor or anything to figure out what was amiss.
"It's Leonardo…he…he got out of his cage?" Gilligan was out of breath.
"Oh goodness gracious!" Mrs. Howell gasped, fearfully grabbing both of her children.
"What happened to his cage door, he couldn't break it?" The Professor burst.
"What happened to Chip?" Mary Ann mumbled, hoping for the worst. She realized in the moment that such a thought was so horribly out of character for her and to a degree it bothered her…but she just couldn't stand that Chip! But on the inside, she was just bursting with excitement that Gilligan was in one piece!
"He ate it!" Gilligan frowned.
"He ate it!" Everyone cried in unison. No one believed him.
"The boy's obviously suffering from some kind of strain." Thurston remarked.
"Oh but Thurston what if?" Lovey asked, running her fingers through her smaller daughter's blonde hair protectively.
"Nonsense Lovey. A lion eat a Howell! How dare he…!" Thurston practically laughed at the thought.
"But Thurston…" Lovey complained as the family ventured back inside their quarters.
"See Gilligan! Now you have the Howells all upset!" The Skipper reminded.
"I'm sorry Skipper I just…"
"Gilligan, do you feel alright?" Nora asked.
"Well yeah I…"
"Have you eaten any strange fruits or berries or…"
"No, the Lion got out of his cage by eating it! I swear!" He said quickly.
"Gilligan you're probably just seeing things again." The Skipper was frustrated. "Why don't you just go back into the jungle and find your lion friend, he'll be there. We promise."
"But Skipper I…"
"We promise." The four said at once as they summoned poor Gilligan back into the jungle.
Gilligan sighed. Right as usual he was being made a mockery of. But this time, he'd show em! He'd capture that Lion, right in front of all of them! Yeah, that'd show em…and maybe he'd find Chip in the process. He'd disappeared off somewhere…
A little while later, Mr. Howell took Natalie golfing, at his wife's insistence that he spend some quality time with her and that he cool off from hearing Madeline's rather shocking news. He was still very angered by it.
What was he supposed to do with Natalie anyway? At first he tried having her play, but the clubs were far too big. So instead, he had her caddy. It was a much more efficient way of getting around. When he finally found a nice place to putt for a while, he put her on a near by rock and told her to just watch quietly. Natalie just stared at her father with big blue eyes as he talked.
He was going on and on and on about finance and the game of golf, and she didn't understand one bit. She'd never really spent time with him alone before and didn't know what to expect. She often wondered what he did when he was away from her, but she certainly didn't think he was hitting a ball across a patch of dirt. What was the point in that?
"Thurston! Don't make Natalie caddy!" Natalie turned when she heard her mother's angry but gentle call.
"Well you said to spend quality time with the girl…where's Gilligan, he's not around to caddy."
"That doesn't mean Natalie should do it!"
"Lovey she's too little to play, the clubs are her size after all, there isn't anything she can do but carry them."
"Well, then have the Professor make a little one so that she can play. Thurston, she's a little lady and a little girl. Ladies shouldn't caddy and the clubs are her size, they're too big for her to carry!" Lovey scolded.
"Look Lovey, it's Madeline and Ginger…perhaps you should join the conversation?" Thurston suggested.
"Oh yes, perhaps I should. Oh you're so full of good ideas darling!...Accept for a few!" Thurston was surprised at how quickly his wife could go from scolding him to praising him to scolding him once again. "Oh of all the ridiculous…having a little girl caddy, Thurston!" She then left in a hurry, following her older daughter and the voluptuous movie star on their walk through the jungle.
"Oh that woman! Worried about propriety and Lions…" he mumbled as he went back to working on his golf swing, "thank the good Lord she's not worried about the Detroit Lions….do I have shares in them? Oh thank God, no I don't!" He continued to laugh at the little joke he'd made…certainly Lovey would never understand that one.
Natalie shook her head and when he wasn't looking, snuck off in order to find something a little more adventurous to take part in that afternoon. Walking a few feet away she noted that she had three distinct choices: spending the afternoon with Dad…who didn't notice she was even there, spending it with her mother, sister and the movie star…and then there was the third choice: playing with the lion.
"That Gilligan is such…such a strange young man." Nora laughed as she and the Professor walked hand in hand through the jungle. They were on the way to check up on Leonardo, who they were sure was still caged.
"Oh he's harmless, and sometimes very helpful…he just gets a little overzealous about things sometimes." The Professor explained, pushing back a palm frond as they made their way into the small clearing where Leonardo was being kept.
"Ha Roy look!" Nora's eyes grew wide.
"Good heavens!" The Professor couldn't believe his eyes when he saw that the Lion had indeed bitten a large chunk out of his cage door.
"He's escaped!" They gasped.
"Ahhahahahhahahahhahhhhhh!" Mrs. Howell, Ginger and Madeline screamed as they ran back into the encampment.
Mr. Howell had arrived back, by himself, about an hour before and was lounging on his chaise listening to the radio. Everyone else who was present came out of their perspective huts when they heard the ladies' screams.
"Good gracious! What is it Lovey?" Thurston Howell asked worriedly.
"What's the matter, Mrs. Howell, Ginger?" The Skipper was alarmed also.
"I was worried about this." The Professor sighed calmly as he and Nora walked back into the encampment from the other direction.
"How can you be so calm?" Ginger asked him, looking critically at Nora again. Thurston IV stuck his head out of the supply hut's door when he heard Ginger's voice. He'd been helping Mary Ann look for something.
"Professor, we just heard Leo-Leo…achoo!" Mrs. Howell sneezed.
"We just heard Leonardo out there." Madeline finished her mother's sentence.
"Did you see him?" All three women shook their head no. "I guess Gilligan was right." The Professor admitted, almost begrudgingly but the young sailor was not there to hear it.
"You mean, he ate through the bars of his cage?" The Skipper almost didn't want to ask.
"In one clean chunk." Nora replied.
"Leonardo's recent…uh…snack, if you will…" The Professor thought this was the best way to phrase this. "Indicates a sharp change in his behavior…I'm afraid he might be dangerous."
"Chunk, do we have peanut butter?" Gilligan asked excitedly as he came back into the camp. He'd really been craving peanut butter lately.
Mrs. Howell looked around. Gilligan's reemergence reminded her that there was one very important person missing.
"Thurston…" She began calmly. "Where's Natalie?"
"Oh no." He recalled not having seen the girl since the middle of his golf game well over an hour before. Without another word, Lovey passed out.
"Where could she be?" Mrs. Howell lamented. She lye on her own chaise now as the other castaways tried consoling her.
"Mom, it's okay. I'm sure we'll find her." Madeline comforted as Gilligan fanned her.
"Yeah I'm sure she's ok, she's probably with Leonardo!" Gilligan burst, stopping very suddenly and realizing just what he'd said when Mrs. Howell burst out crying again.
"What'd you say that for you dunderhead you….uggghhh!" Mr. Howell yelled at Gilligan. In reality, he knew he was the one who would never live down the mistake of loosing his daughter and the guilt was consuming him.
"R-O-O-A-A-A-R!" They heard the animal thunder no one would question that he seemed to be coming their way.
The whole group tipped the two dining tables over and hid behind them, just as they had done the last time a Lion had washed ashore on the island. Almost everyone was nervous as the beast approached. Gilligan, was smug in the knowledge that he'd been right about the whole thing. He would've defended the Lion but he secretly thought he might've eaten Chip, who no one had seen all day. The Skipper was very trusting of the Lion's motives and was secretly armed with a steak knife.
The Howell twins felt guilty and nervous at the thought that the Lion might've eaten their baby sister. They both knew they could've treated her a bit better over the last five years she'd been alive. Mary Ann was nervous that the Lion would go after her next and was worried about Mrs. Howell's mental and emotional state. Lovey was still sobbing…and sneezing interchangeably, Thurston was trying to console her but she wouldn't let him touch her.
Ginger was pining over the Professor and secretly praying for his safety. He and Nora were planning on trying to capture the Lion as it walked through their camp.
"R-O-O-A-A-A-R-R-R!" The Lion's growl was louder this time and shook each one of them to their core. They knew he was near when Mrs. Howell and her children began to sneeze again.
"Oh Thurston I don't want to look!" Lovey whispered.
"Oh yes you do Lovey." He said. She looked up and saw the Lion emerge through the shrubs, Natalie riding on his back looking more like the ring leader of a circus than a poor child held captive by a wild animal.
"Natalie!" She wanted to shriek but held back. She needed to sneeze but was afraid to, the hairs on the back of her neck were standing up. And if she'd been wearing her mink, she was sure it's hairs would be standing on end as well.
Mr. Howell reached over and pulled his daughter off the Lion's back as it walked by them, almost feeling free of guilt now.
"Oh there you are my little baby tax-deduction!" Mr. Howell laughed, pulling his daughter onto his lap.
"Thurston!" Lovey didn't like it when he called Natalie this.
"Lovey, what else am I supposed to call her?" He asked. He thought this was the perfect nickname. "She is my little tax-deduction."
"Thurston, that makes me think you wouldn't love her if you couldn't deduct her." She said, taking the girl in her arms and hugging her tightly.
"Well of course I would. She's the cutest little Howell after all!"
"Mom we all know that's just how Dad expresses love." Thurston IV reassured.
"Oh my baby you're alright! Why ever did you go off with a Lion?" Lovey inquired.
"Because it was like the circus and you said I couldn't go. And Mommy I really wanted to." Mrs. Howell was taken aback at her daughter's answer. She had told Natalie the circus wasn't for polite little boys and girls of society.
Natalie, the twins and Mrs. Howell all sneezed at once and the Lion growled angrily, frightening everyone even Natalie and Gilligan.
"Nora, now!" The Professor called as he and Nora prepared to charge the giant Cat with a net and a flare gun.
The Professor was not at all shocked when Leonardo turned his aggression toward him and he began to fight back.
"Professor no!" Ginger shrieked, jumping between him and the quarter ton Lion.
To be continued…