Requested by cheriestar on the Kink Meme at "funwithpenguins". Songs used are the Decemberists' "The Chimbley Sweep" and Todd Rundgren's "Marlene".

Marlene, perched on the gift shop roof, stared up at the clouds and sighed. She'd ended it with Fred that day. Despite his flaws - in Skipper's words, being "dumb as a sack of hammers" chief among them - she missed him. It had been nice to feel loved, even if it turned out not to be true. Having someone with whom to talk, to joke, to sit beneath the stars ... or rather, the smog, light pollution, and occasional air traffic, but the thought was what counted.

She rolled onto her side and curled up, deciding to go to sleep; she could wake up early enough to be back in her habitat before the zoo opened, easily. It was a pleasant night. Sleeping out in the open might help clear her head.

Just as she was drifting off, a raspy but not unpleasant voice broke into song somewhere below her.

"In Pembroke City, when I was young, I lived by the castle keep, and twenty-five pennies is all I earned to work as a chimbley sweep ..."

"What on earth ...?" Marlene hopped up onto the outer wall and glanced down at the grass below. The surprisingly powerful voice was emitting from a small striped figure, who was ambling along beside the wall, kicking a pebble.

"... on the rooftop in dead of night, you'll hear me cry, I'll shake you from your sleep-"

"You certainly have!" Marlene called down, chuckling as the skinny little cat nearly jumped out of his skin.

"Aah! Oh, sorry, ma'am, didn't see you there!" he called up. "Sorry, didn't mean to wake you."

"It's okay." Marlene smiled. "Please don't stop singing. I don't mind."

"Oh, uh, this song's not really suitable for a lady's ears," said the cat, shuffling his paws and scratching his ear nervously. "Shall I switch to something else?"

"If you like. But first, I forgot to ask your name - do you mind telling me?"

"Name's Max!" said the cat, beaming up at Marlene. "What's yours?"


"That's a nice name. Hey, I know a song about a girl called Marlene, do you want me to sing that?"

Marlene thought about it, looking down at the enthusiastic smile on Max's face. Despite the fact that he looked like he hadn't eaten in days or bathed in years, she couldn't deny he was kind of cute when he grinned like that.

"Whaddya say I get my guitar and join you?" she said, finally. "I'm sure I can pick it up as I go."

"Oh, that sounds great!"

"Okay, give me a few minutes ..."

When Marlene returned, Max was still waiting patiently where she'd left him. She leaned over the wall and, much to Max's surprise, dropped a large fish onto the grass beside him. He looked at it in amazement, then back up at her. She shrugged nonchalantly.

"Eh, I'm watching my weight anyway. Go ahead, you could use a decent meal."

Max joyfully ripped into the fish, Marlene watching him happily as she tuned her Spanish guitar. When he'd eaten his fill, he looked back up at her and said "Ready?"


"Okay ..." Max cleared his throat and began to sing again. "Marlene, Marlene, you're the prettiest girl I've ever seen ..."